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 (12:01 PM)
Welcome to another hour-long chat about all things Alabama football. Thanks for joining me. As always, we'll do this on a first come, first served basis. So without further adieu let's get this thing going.
alex do you see chris black being used as returner this year either punt return or kick return
Alex Scarborough (12:02 PM)
I do think he'll have a chance to compete there. Dee Hart is a guy I'm paying attention to in the return game, but Black has the skills to play a role there as well. Saban has mentioned Christion Jones, Cyrus Jones and Amari Cooper having a shot there, too.
should bama be worried about the long snapper this year that an underrated position but every team needs a good one.
Alex Scarborough (12:04 PM)
I wouldn't be too worried about it, but it has to be a concern. For so long Alabama was able to rely on Carson Tinker, who was nothing short of a sure thing. After all, when you make one mistake snapping the football it can mean a big swing in momentum. And while Alabama fans should feel good about Cole Mazza, until they see him perform in a game environment, you never really know.
alex who do you think the second best running back is on alabama roster right now disregard age or classification
Alex Scarborough (12:07 PM)
I'd have to give it to Kenyan Drake, who will likely be the No. 2 tailback on the depth chart anyways. He's arguably the most explosive runner on the roster and has some size on him to boot. The true freshmen -- Derrick Henry, Tyren Jones, Altee Tenpenny and Alvin Kamara -- all have promise but they'll have to prove what they can do at this level before I can put them ahead of anyone currently on the roster.
Have you heard anything about any of the freshmen standing out?
Alex Scarborough (12:10 PM)
I can't say about the incoming freshmen, but there were a few standouts among the early enrollees. O.J. Howard looks like an impact player at H-back/TE and Derrick Henry could get a handful of carries per game at tailback.
shane m (toney alabama)
whats your pick for this years champion
Alex Scarborough (12:12 PM)
That's a tough one. I don't know if I wouldn't put my money on Alabama and Ohio State meeting in the title game, but Florida, Georgia and Michigan all have a legitimate shot.
Where do you see Reuben Foster and Dee Liner fitting in this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:13 PM)
Given the depth, I'd say that odds are both play on special teams. Foster has a chance to be something special at linebacker and could carve a niche out for himself like Denzel Devall did last year. Liner, if he can rush the passer, could be a third-down option.
Name five true freshman you see that could have an impact this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:14 PM)
O.J. Howard, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Maurice Smith, Raheem Falkins. The likeliest to make a noticeable impact is Howard.
1993 Bama Grad (Orlando)
Where will Dee Hart fit in this year? Tough luck the last two years.
Alex Scarborough (12:15 PM)
I think we'll see him used primarily on special teams as a returner and as a third-down back. The staff would be wise to limit his carries until he shows he can stay healthy over an entire season.
1993 Bama Grad (Orlando)
Will we have a better pass rush from the D-Line this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:17 PM)
There's certainly the potential for it to improve if a guy like Adrian Hubbard steps up and someone like Davlin Tomlinson comes out of nowhere to surprise people. The line will be more athletic as a whole, but losing a guy like D.J. Pettway hurt.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Should the Tide be concerned about your cousin Bo taking additional visits?
Alex Scarborough (12:18 PM)
Unfortunately we're not blood related but I called him "Cuz" once. He took it in stride. But getting back on track, I don't think Alabama fans should be worried. He'll enjoy the process but he's firmly in the Tide's camp -- not to mention the fact that he lives in Tuscaloosa.
What is your opinion on oversigning? Do you think the Tide can win without JUCO's and oversigning? Thanks
Alex Scarborough (12:21 PM)
I think it's an overrated thing, to be honest. You could point at Bradley Bozeman taking a grey shit, but if you look closer you'll see that he's recovering from a major injury. Most of the time there's a reason for it happening and in today's time where nothing is certain in terms of a commitment, it's easy to see why it happens.
What does of the Verbal commit of David Cornwell mean to Bama's recruiting class of 2014? Do you think it will "turn" or flip any other top recruits?
Alex Scarborough (12:25 PM)
He's already selling Alabama to Cam Robinson, the top OT in the class, Cam Robinson. I think seeing that you'll be playing alongside the best recruits is attractive to a lot of prospects. It's almost like gaining momentum in that respect.
How do you see O.J. Howard being utilized this season? With him enrolling in the spring one would expect him to have a great chance of becoming a big part of the offense.
Alex Scarborough (12:26 PM)
I see him having a good chance at playing significant reps at H-back. There's a lack of depth there and there really isn't another player on the roster with his ability to catch the football and make plays with the ball in his hands.
Which of the younger players do you see making a push on special teams to make their way to the playing field?
Alex Scarborough (12:28 PM)
I'd argue that Landon Collins was a star on special teams last season and could very well blossom into one at safety now that Robert Lester is off to the NFL. Another guy I'd pay attention to is linebacker Reggie Ragland. He'll have an opportunity to break into the rotation this season.
Alex, do you think LaMichael Fanning will be playing some valuable minutes this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:29 PM)
It's so hard to tell with him seeing as he played so little down the stretch last season. Really, after the Missouri game he didn't see the field much at all. While there's no doubt about his level of talent, he needs to show he can turn the corner in terms of understanding and polish before he plays valuable minutes.
Who do you think will be the back behind Yeldon? I've been hearing big things from Derrick Henry.
Alex Scarborough (12:31 PM)
While Henry will play a role, I see Kenyan Drake as the No. 2 guy. He played well last season and doesn't have the injury concerns of Dee Hart or Jalston Fowler.
Do you see more LBs (Hubbard, Dickson, Ragland)getting snaps at DE this year when Bama plays spread-hurry-up teams (Ole Miss, Texas A&M, etc)?
Alex Scarborough (12:34 PM)
That could be a possibility, especially Hubbard and Dickson. Dickson already practiced this spring at defensive end and Hubbard has the size to play with his hand down as well. Alabama will need to get more athletic up front in order to better handle mobile quarterbacks.
what kind of an impact will reuben foster make ?
Jake (State Farm)
How is Rueben Foster doing? Do you think he'll challenge Depriest for the starting job?
Alex Scarborough (12:36 PM)
I don't see him challenging a guy like DePriest who is quietly one of the best players on the defense. Don't be surprised if he develops into an early round draft pick. But I do see Foster as having the potential to contribute early on special teams and eventually earn some late-game reps on defense.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will Cyrus Koundijo be drafted higher than any of his fellow lineman from the championship team were this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:38 PM)
Seeing as Chance Warmack didn't go until 10 overall, I'd say it's a good bet Kouandjio goes before that. He's a top-5 guy, in my opinion.
What's the word on the Place Kicking front?
Alex Scarborough (12:39 PM)
Cade Foster won't regress in terms of handling kickoff and long-range field goal duties, but it remains to be seen whether or not he can take over the short- to medium-range attempts. Adam Griffith will have every chance to compete for the role vacated by Jeremy Shelley.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Cornwell is the highest rated QB of the Saban era, but Cooper Bateman is not chopped liver either. Do you think one of these guys brings another Heisman to Tuscaloosa if Saban stays their entire career?
Alex Scarborough (12:41 PM)
A Heisman? Well that's certainly too early to say. In terms of sheer talent, I'd say both are in that discussion, but there's much more to it than that. We need to see what both can do with decision making and anticipation before we know whether or not they can even start at this level.
How much do you see Saban letting AJ and the offense open up the downfield passing game with what has to be one of the deepest WR groups in the conference?
Alex Scarborough (12:44 PM)
The offense should be more explosive, but I expect the run-pass balance to remain the same. At the end of the day, this is Saban's offense and it's based on winning up front and running the football.
John Fulton was a big-time recruit (#4 CB) and has been in the program for 3 years. Is this the year he steps up and becomes a great CB? or does he just not "get" it?
Alex Scarborough (12:45 PM)
I wouldn't say he doesn't "get it" but I don't see him developing into a starter. He's a solid contributor just not an All-SEC type of talent.
How's Fowler coming along? Back to pre-injury form? I can only imagine what Lacy/Yeldon's numbers would have looked like last season with Fowler being the lead blocker behind that O line
Alex Scarborough (12:47 PM)
He's coming along slowly. I was a little surprised not to see him take some carries during the A-Day scrimmage, but that's probably the staff being cautious. If healthy, he can be a valuable weapon on offense by playing an H-back type of role where he runs, blocks and catches a few passes out of the backfield.
What's the biggest area of concern on the roster? Backup qb?
Alex Scarborough (12:50 PM)
Long term, you'd have to point to quarterback because it is such a key position. But as far as this season is concerned, I'd say cornerback is the biggest concern. Outside of Deion Belue, Geno Smith and John Fulton, there's not much there in terms of quality depth.
What do you think is a "better" player? the first pick in the NFL draft or the Heisman Trophy winner?
What do you think is a better evaluation of "talent"? 1st pick in the NFL draft or Heisman winner?
Alex Scarborough (12:54 PM)
The first overall pick is usually the more talented of the two, but the better player isn't always so clear cut. When it comes to who helps his team best on the college level, I'd say the Heisman Trophy winner is usually the guy.
Are Cook, Paige going to qualify?
Alex Scarborough (12:58 PM)
Paige seems to be the biggest question mark of the two. But from what I understand, he needs to get his scores up a hair to get in. Time, however, is running out.
Alex Scarborough (12:59 PM)
Well, that's all the time we've got folks. Remember to come back for another hour-long chat at the same time and place next week. Cheers!