Chat with Alex Scarborough
Welcome to TideNation! On Thursday, reporter Alex Scarborough stops by to chat about the state of Alabama football.
Scarborough joined ESPN.com in 2012 after covering University of Alabama athletics and high school football for The Tuscaloosa News. He currently resides in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Send your questions now and join Scarborough Thursday at noon ET!
Alex Scarborough (12:00 PM)
Welcome to another hour-long chat about all things Alabama football. As we do every week, I'll go through the questions on a first come, first served basis, so be patient and I'll get to your questions in time. So without further adieu, let's get started.
Chris W. (Montgomery, AL)
Hi Alex. Do you think that Cyrus Jones will get a lot of playing time at corner for the Tide? I thought he played pretty well in the A-day game after initially losing track of Kenny Bell on the game's first TD.
Alex Scarborough (12:02 PM)
He did play quite well after getting turned around badly on that first touchdown pass. He showed excellent quickness and good natural fluidity for the position. I think we could see him in a lot on nickel and dime formations this season. He needs to master the ins and outs of the spot better, which comes only with time, but in terms of talent there's no question he's got what it takes.
Do you think the Texas heat will play a factor in the game vs A&M or do you think alabama will be prepared for it since it an afternoon kickoff
Alex Scarborough (12:05 PM)
With all due respect to the heat in the lone star star state, Alabama is no walk in the park itself. The Tide will have just come off fall practice where the temps will be borderline ridiculous. I don't see the heat being a factor favoring either side in particular, but the home crowd will be an advantage for Texas A&M. Alabama hasn't been there in a long, long time, and it will take some adjustment.
Is WR Robert foster eligible and on campus
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What College Football Freshmen do you think will be the Best for Alabama?
Alex Scarborough (12:09 PM)
Accidentally hit two questions at once, so I'll answer both here. I have not heard anything officially on Foster yet, but I was told not long ago that he should make it to campus. And as far as freshmen to make an impact at Alabama, you're looking at TE O.J. Howard making a role for himself and RB Derrick Henry getting a few carries.
we already have 2 cb and 1 safety in this class if we get humphrey and ronnie clark. who will really still want to come, tabor, brown, hootie jones??? seems like not enough room.how many db's do we take and who is really that interested???
Alex Scarborough (12:12 PM)
I don't see Alabama taking more than one or two more past Marlon Humphrey, if he decides to come. Alabama signed three guys who could play the position in this year's class, so they got a good head start there.
Seth (Huntsville, AL)
All this talk about going to 9 games or staying at 8 is killing me. The more SEC games that are played are going to show SOS. Let us not forget, that SEC Network, which will be generating more money for the conference. I like the rival games, but come on, is 2 years too much time to wait and knock Tenn's teeth down there throat. I have been big on the rival games forever, but let's face it, times have changed. The biggest rival Alabama has now is LSU and because of Alabama's loss to Texas A&M last year, we want to destroy them. What are your thoughts? P.S. I hate Auburn too! ROLL TIDE ROLL
Alex Scarborough (12:14 PM)
As a fan of the game, I'd like to see a nine game conference schedule. It would be a better product, plain and simple. But I understand the push back from teams with out-of-conference games like South Carolina and Clemson, Georgia and Georgia Tech and Florida and Florida State. It's asking a lot to throw an extra SEC game in on top of that. And while I agree that SOS would be helped if they went to nine, I don't think it will make a difference when the playoff is instituted. The cutoff won't be quite so harsh.
we already have 2 lbackers, we probably only gonna take 2 more. which 2 to3 are the main targets to get. and we have a realalistic chance.????
Alex Scarborough (12:16 PM)
I'm going to have to direct most of the recruiting questions to my colleague and recruiting guru Greg Ostendorf. He knows best the specifics. You can find his work at TideNationESPN.com and reach him on Twitter at @GregO_ESPN.
Temarcus smith (woodbridge Va)
Do you think Alabama is letting the hype of their earlier success go to their head.
Alex Scarborough (12:17 PM)
I don't see it, but we'll know for sure when fall camp hits and we learn how this team battled through the summer where there's no coaches there to push them. But so far, so good in terms of battling complacency. Saban has it down to a science.
Who are some upcoming redshirt freshman or true sophomores to look out for this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:20 PM)
Kenyan Drake is poised for a breakout year at running back. He's arguably the most explosive back Alabama has on its roster. And on defense, I'm very interested to see Landon Collins, Ryan Anderson and Reggie Ragland's progression. I think Collins could be a difference maker at safety and the two linebackers could provide some much needed depth along the front seven.
Other than VA Tech, A&M, and LSU who are some teams on Alabama's schedule to watch out for?
Alex Scarborough (12:22 PM)
I'm going to keep beating the Ole Miss drum because someone has to. To my mind, the Rebels gave Alabama one of its hardest games last season. When Bo Wallace and that offense can get going downhill and pick up the pace, they're hard to stop. And we all know how Alabama has struggled in the past with uptempo offenses. After facing Va Tech and TAMU the first two games, you have to wonder what Alabama's mindset will be in Week 4 when Ole Miss comes to town.
What is your opinion on a 9-game SEC schedule?
Alex Scarborough (12:23 PM)
I'll refer you to my earlier post. The gist: I would love to see it but it's unnecessary and not evenly enforceable because of some schools annual out-of-conference matchups.
Cameron N (Linlithgow, Scotland)
Hi Alex, who will be the second running back along with TJ Yeldon? Will it be fowler etc or will one of the freshmen see some action?
Alex Scarborough (12:25 PM)
I think you'll see Kenyan Drake win the job. He's the most explosive back Alabama has and could be a nice change of pace to Yeldon who is a more between-the-tackles runner. Fowler and the others will get their carries, but I think it's Drake who winds up No. 2.
If no one steps up as the backuo QB could Cornwell or Harris come in and win the job as a true freshman? Assuming that we land one or both of the QBs.
Alex Scarborough (12:26 PM)
It will be very, very difficult for a true freshman to come in and win the starting job right away. In fact, I'd be heavily against it. The task of learning an offense AND adjusting to the speed of the game at this level is monumental. That's why a redshirt season is so valuable to guys like McCarron, who were able to bide their time and learn the position.
Ben (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Hey Alex. I enjoy all of your Bama coverage. Sunseri's lack of speed seemed to get exposed a little in the SEC championship. Is Landon Collins just not picking up the defense or is there another reason why he doesn't start?
Alex Scarborough (12:29 PM)
First off, thanks for the kind words. Secondly, I don't believe Collins was any worse off than any other freshman in terms of understanding the defense and its intricacies. Even if he were further along, I don't think he would have replaced Sunseri. I think we'll see a little different role for each guy this season where Sunseri's positives (playing in space, tackling) are accentuated and Collins gets to roam around and play deep safety a little more.
Who is going to provide the pass rush this year? I feel like that will be key to three peating
Alex Scarborough (12:32 PM)
The main guy is outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard, who finished last season strong with three sacks in the final three games. If he can get consistent pressure on the quarterback, that will open up things for guys like Xzavier Dickson, Jeoffrey Pagan and possibly Ryan Anderson.
Alex, top 3 games on the schedule this year, for you?
Alex Scarborough (12:33 PM)
In order: TAMU, LSU, Va Tech. For more detail, check out the opponent rankings story I wrote a week or so ago: http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/alabama/post/_/id/13445/ranking-alabamas-2013-schedule
What's the latest on Derrick Henry's recovery and your take on the chances we see him as the #2 back some time this year.
Alex Scarborough (12:35 PM)
Hearing only good things thus far. He got the cast off and has been posting pictures online of his workouts fairly regularly. I have full confidence he'll be back and ready to go by fall camp. That said, I see him more as the No. 3 or 4 back. He should get a few carries a game.
Do you think we will lose the permanent rivalry with Tennessee eventually? Also just saw where A&M and South Carolina are permanent rivals. Should be a fun series to watch.
Alex Scarborough (12:37 PM)
I think it's just a matter of time, which is a shame. That's a rivalry that dates waaaay back with a lot of good old fashioned bad blood mixed in.
With Kirby Smart turning down head coaching offers for another summer is it fair to assume that he feels the job will be his when Saban leaves?
Alex Scarborough (12:38 PM)
I don't see it that way. I think he feels like he's in the driver's seat, meaning he can wait for the perfect job to come around or he can stay where he is and be comfortable. And when Saban leaves, if he's still here, he'd be the clear cut guy for the job. No question.
Issac (Palm Beach)
People say that our defense wont be as good as last year or the year before that.....But I gotta feeling that our defense can be better then last years team ? What do u think ?
Alex Scarborough (12:40 PM)
I'm skeptical it will be as good as 2011 or even 2009. It could be on par with last year, but replacing a shutdown corner in Dee Milliner and a three-year starter in safety Robert Lester won't be easy. I think two years from now you'll see a stacked defense when guys like Geno Smith, Landon Collins and Reggie Ragland all come into their own.
With the departures on the d line, who do you see coming in to fill these roles to increase the pass rush?
Alex Scarborough (12:41 PM)
The guy I'm focusing on is redshirt freshman defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson. He's been praised early and often by the coaching staff and was mentioned recently as a possible guy to rotate in with the first-team defensive line. With his quickness, he could be a threat to rush the passer.
1) who wins the job at RT? 2) Who starts at the receiver positions next fall?I know this will be speculation but i'm curious what you're seeing out there. I've liked DeAndrew White since he walked on campus but i'm afraid that he's not really gonna get a lot of playing time based on the reports i'm seeing. Your thoughts
Alex Scarborough (12:45 PM)
The RT job is Austin Shepherd's to lose after a solid spring. But keep an eye out on juco transfer Leon Brown making a push. And at wide receiver, you're looking at Amari Cooper, Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones starting as of today. While I kind of like DeAndrew White more than Norwood in terms of big play ability, what Norwood has done in big games cannot be undervalued. And watch out for Chris Black challenging Jones for the starting slot.
Bryan (Va. Beach)
Is it me or has this years recruting starting off a little slower then in years past? Just reading RN looks like other schools have gotten off to a fast start on getting verbal commits, you see it picking up for Bama?
Alex Scarborough (12:47 PM)
It has felt a little slower in terms of the sense of urgency, but the commitment numbers aren't really out of line for this time of year compared to years past. Alabama is just doing what it's always done by being patient and selective and letting the evaluation process play itself out. Some schools go quickly and some don't. Alabama is the latter. By the time it's said and done Alabama will be among the top five classes as more commitments are a given.
Is Reggie Ragland just big or does he have power like a donta hightower ?
Alex Scarborough (12:49 PM)
I don't know if he quite has Dont'a's power, but he does pack a punch. I've heard only good things about his ability and what I've seen in practice backs it up. He moves around very well for a guy his size.
BamaGoon (Moody, AL)
Blake Sims starts for his senior year, and then Morris, Bateman, Delrio, and Cromwell fight it out for 2015. More true or more false?
Alex Scarborough (12:56 PM)
False. I don't see Sims as a long-term option at quarterback, even if that's just for a few games. Saban wants a guy who can run the offense, and not run in the offense like Sims does. Right now, Sims just can't make the throws to be a legitimate threat in the pocket. The battle between the other quarterbacks will take place next season, not 2015.
With Phillip Ely transferring is there any chance Bradley Bozeman wouldn't have to gray shirt?
Alex Scarborough (12:57 PM)
If I'm counting correctly, Ely's transfer along with Woodson's puts Alabama right at the number of scholarship players allowable. I don't see UA changing its plans with Bozeman this late in the game.
Drake (Canada )
Do u think Landon Collions could be better then Mark Barron ?
Alex Scarborough (12:58 PM)
Way too early to say. Let's see a few games where he plays significant reps first. But in terms of talent, I think he's right there with Barron at his age. Collins really has the whole package in terms of size and athleticism.
why do you see Kenyon drake ahead of derrick henry for the number 2 job? derrick is a 6 foot 3 240 pound beast who runs a 4.4 40 time. he also has more rushing yards than any other player in history. explain
Alex Scarborough (1:00 PM)
If this game were all about measurables like size and 40 times, then it would look a lot different than it does today. You need to dig deeper into things like pad level, fluid hips and eyes and patience when picking the running lanes. While Henry is awfully impressive, we just don't know if he has all those things yet. He was a beast in high school, but you can get by on raw talent at that level. In the SEC, you need more. You need the intangibles.
Based on your Blake Sims post, why keep him QB and not move him to exploit his talents elsewhere. Is he merely a guy to bring in when the game is at hand to run the clock down and save red shirts?
Alex Scarborough (1:01 PM)
He is more valuable as a guy who can run out the clock and provide a change of pace at quarterback than he would be anywhere else. Frankly the wide receiver position is full and so is the running back corps. And just because he won't be a starter at QB that doesn't mean he's not valuable there. He's dependable and can really provide some neat options to OC Doug Nussmeier should he choose to run some wildcat and other read-option things.
Alex Scarborough (1:02 PM)
Well that's all the time we have today, folks. Thank you again for stopping by and I look forward to doing it again at the same time and place next week. Remember you can stay up to date on all the latest Alabama football and recruiting news at TideNationESPN.com. Cheers!
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