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 turn in the ESPN SportsNation chat room. I'll be answering all your questions about and related to Alabama football over the next hour. And as always, we operate on a first come, first serve basis. In other words, be patient and I'm sure I'll get to your question in time. So without further adieu, let's get this show on the road.
How ready do you think Saban will have the tide for the A&M game? I think he wants to go in beat the daylights out of A
Alex Scarborough (12:02 PM)
Does the amp go to 11? Because I imagine he'll have the team as ready as humanly possible, and maybe a little more. Rest assured the staff has scoured the film to find the best ways to slow down Johnny Manziel while limiting the inconsistencies that plagued the UA offensive in the first half. But first things first, Virginia Tech is no slouch in Week 1.
Nick Saban (University of Alabama )
what my team chances of winning a 3 peat national championships
Alex Scarborough (12:04 PM)
If I'm an odds maker -- which thankfully I'm not -- I'd but Alabama as the team to beat along with Ohio State. The Tide will be talented, deep and experienced. You can't overvalue what it means to have a senior at quarterback. In other words, UA has the winning combination of parts. Now whether that actually translates to a BCS title is up for debate. History dictates that a three peat won't happen. It's simply not done, but if any team can do it it's Alabama.
any word if danny woodson jr is back on the team or will he transfer
Alex Scarborough (12:05 PM)
Last I heard a transfer could be imminent.
Alex i ask you this question couple months ago lets see if you change your anwser after spring...what will most likely happen IF possible..Two 1000 yrds recievers or Two 1000 yrd rushers for this upcoming season
Alex Scarborough (12:08 PM)
Goodness that's a tough one. I'd rule out two 1,000-yard receivers because of how difficult it is to have just one. Then throw on the fact that Alabama will have to rotate in five or six quality receivers, I don't believe there are enough receptions to reach that number. As for two 1,000-yard runners, that's possible but a long shot. It happened last season but if the numbers hold and Alabama uses five backs, it's going to be hard for the No. 2 guy to reach 1,000. I think we'll see something like a 1,000-700-500 split between No. 1, 2 and 3.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What College Football Players who are making the Alabama debut will be Great for Alabama in 2013?
Alex Scarborough (12:10 PM)
It depends on how you define "debut" because I could say that I think Reggie Ragland and Landon Collins will be special and that I'd classify their seasons as debuts because of how little they played in 2012. But as far as true freshmen are concerned, I think fans should keep an eye on O.J. Howard. He has star written all over him.
Chris B. (Gadsden, AL)
Which of the 2014 QBs do you think Saban and the other coaches have as their top prospect? I know David Cornwell is the top Pocket Passer, but Brandon Harris does not have to come to the summer camp right?
Alex Scarborough (12:12 PM)
After watching tape and reading up on Cornwell, I've got to believe he's the No. 1 target on the board. He reminds me so much of Ben Roethelisberger (sp?). He's big, tall and has a cannon for an arm. If he does well at camp, he'll have a committable offer and a tough decision to make.
Jameis Winston future Heisman?
Alex Scarborough (12:14 PM)
He's got the tools to be in that conversation and a solid spring piqued the interest of many. If he can make the reads and lead FSU to a BCS bowl in the next few seasons, I think he'll be one of the select few invited to NYC.
If Cornwell throws well for the coaches and they tell him they will accept his commitment does he pull the trigger?
Alex Scarborough (12:15 PM)
He says he's committing soon, so the timeline adds up. There is some tough competition to land his services, but I believe Alabama is right up there and could win out if things go well at camp.
Why has Ro McClain decided to retire rather than continue on with the Ravens?
Alex Scarborough (12:16 PM)
Tough to get in his head. After all he's gone through -- and put himself through, to be fair -- I can see why he might want to step away from the game for a while. He needs to figure out his life before he can get anywhere professionally.
Who is the field goal kicker in the Fall? Griffith or Foster? Have you heard anything about either one and their ability to be consistent from all distances?
Alex Scarborough (12:17 PM)
Both? I think we'll see plenty of both Griffith and Foster this fall depending on who is hot and what the distance is. Coaches have liked what Griffith did during the spring, but Foster really turned a corner last season.
Cornwell to Bama......what do you think?
Alex Scarborough (12:18 PM)
Could happen. Might happen. Not going to say it will happen because until camp has come and gone we simply won't know.
Do you think Cooper can surpass the accomplishments of Julio?
Alex Scarborough (12:19 PM)
I do, but here's the catch: Who is going to throw him the football in 2014? If McCarron were around through Cooper's entire career, I'd say to go ahead and give him the record book. But we'll have to see whether Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman or someone else can have the same type of success throwing the football that McCarron had.
I read an article rating Bama teams. The 09 team I think was one. Do you agree? I still think the D from 11 puts that team in the conversation.
Alex Scarborough (12:22 PM)
I like the 2011 team the best because of the defense, first and foremost. Also, we're going to look back on that roster a few years from now and become slack jawed at the number of NFL players from AJ McCarron to Trent Richardson to pretty much the entire defense. It's amazing how good that team was top to bottom.
phillip (DC )
what kind of pass rush will BAMA have this year? Who will do what?
Alex Scarborough (12:24 PM)
It will be better and more consistent than last season if Adrian Hubbard can apply the same type of pressure he did from the Sam LB position during the last three games against Auburn, Georgia and Notre Dame. Jeoffrey Pagan will have to step up at DE, Brandon Ivory needs to eat up blockers at NG and a guy like Dalvin Tomlinson has to emerge as a utility rusher who can add depth.
Courtney (Washington DC, District of Columbia (WASHINGTON, D.C.)
Alex, if you had to call it, do you see A&M being the toughest game on the schedule? Or will last year's lessons mean that another game is a sleeper threat for the team?
Alex Scarborough (12:25 PM)
Funny you ask because I'm working on something along those lines now for a story to run next week. But I do believe TAMU is the biggest threat to Alabama because of the star power (Manziel), the style of offense (uptempo), the location (College Station NOT Tuscaloosa) and the timing (the second game of the season). If this game were in mid October and it was at home, I'd give Alabama the edge. But all those other factors lead me to believe it will be a dogfight.
Jason (Charlotte, NC)
Is there a feeling of complacency in Tuscaloosa these days or do you think there is a hunger to do what no other team has ever done - three peat?
Alex Scarborough (12:27 PM)
Honestly it's a little early to say. I want to see the attitude of the team that returns from the offseason and has to battle through the dog days of preseason camp where the temperatures really test the mettle of some. But so far, so good for this team. Veteran leadership helps and the number of position battles going on keeps the edge on which is a good thing.
phillip (DC )
Do the players--especially the freshman and sophomores--understand their chance to make history and be immortalized in football lore? What more incentive can their be for these guys?
Alex Scarborough (12:29 PM)
I honestly don't think the younger guys have the time or energy to think too much about it. Most of them are fighting to win or retain jobs. On top of that, Saban doesn't have the historical mindset to allow his team to look back on their accomplishments. He'd rather they compete every day, not think about titles and let the chips fall where they may. ... From the outside a three peat is nice to talk about, but I guarantee in the football offices mum's the word.
Does Hubbard make the jump to be the stellar athlete we have expected? Not that he hasn't been solid, just not quite as disruptive as advertised.
Alex Scarborough (12:30 PM)
NFL scout types believe he has the tools to be a force at OLB. He certainly has the tools to make the jump, but I'm waiting to see if he has the motor to do it on every down. He was eerily quiet this spring which is cause for concern. He's got a lot riding on this season so it will be interesting to see how he comes back in the fall and whether he's eager to prove his stock.
What is your take on all the talk of Saban being the Princess of Darkness? Do you get that opinion of him when in contact?
Alex Scarborough (12:32 PM)
It's laughable how every offseason there's something like this. But in all honesty I can see why other coaches might call him the Devil. Or at least they may joke that he made a deal with the Devil. Saban's got this program humming like few have in college football history and he does it in such a business like way that it rubs some people the wrong way. I think people want to see him life the crystal football trophy and smile, not immediately begin worrying about the next year and the next recruiting class.
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
Is the Alabama basketball program in complete disarray with all the players transferring? Does Grant have a chance to replace any of these guys, late JUCO transfer perhaps?
Alex Scarborough (12:33 PM)
There have been a few guys that have come into the program and there might be one or two yet to come. But, yes, when you lose one of your top scorers it can send a program into scramble mode. Grant's seat is becoming awfully hot this offseason. It may be tournament or bust this year.
What do think of Alabama defense this year ? Can u compare to last years team
Alex Scarborough (12:35 PM)
Compared to last year's defense, I think you're looking at a more explosive and athletic group, but maybe not as consistent. Probably a better pass rush and a better back end to the defense at safety, but don't discount what losing veterans like Nico Johnson, Jesse Williams, Damion Square and Quinton Dial means up front.
I am sure Saban has a couple of replacements in mind whenever Kirby Smart leaves but do you know of any candidate who has the recruiting connections to the state of Georgia that Smart has?
Alex Scarborough (12:37 PM)
I want to indulge the question, but it's really too tough and too early to say. What might happen, and what I expect would happen, is that Saban would go after the best pure coach available regardless of recruiting connections. From there he could move around the coaches he has to fit the areas of need, meaning he could swing Napier or someone else to Georgia if need be.
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Does TJ Yeldon project to have more potential in the NFL than Lacy, Richardson, or Ingram?
Alex Scarborough (12:39 PM)
I wouldn't necessarily put it that way, though I believe he has first-round talent. He's a better all-around guy than those three, but he doesn't have the explosion of a Richardson, the moves of a Lacy or the power of an Ingram. But he's above average at all those things and may be better in terms of the sum of his parts.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
I know he wants play RB, but with the depth at the position, do you think Derrick Henry eventually moves to OLB, or defense?
Alex Scarborough (12:41 PM)
That's such a tough thing to answer since we haven't had the chance to see him go against an SEC defense. I'll say this, though: Expect him to have every opportunity this season to prove he can play RB. After that, it's anyone's guess what happens. Part of me does believe he winds up at another position before it's all said and done, but we're a long way off from seeing that happen.
Satan (Hell (or Texas, can't tell the difference))
What did I do to Florida to make them compare me to Nick Saban?
Alex Scarborough (12:42 PM)
It's the offseason and people say really strange things when they're in a room full of boosters and alumni.
In response to the Kirby question, is it not setting up for Kirby to take over in 4-5 years. I would love to see Saban walking the sidelines forever, but at some point he will retire. Kirby would be a great replacement and he seems very content.
Alex Scarborough (12:44 PM)
With every year that passes where Kirby doesn't leave, we get closer and closer to a "head coach in waiting" situation. However, I do believe this will be his last year at Alabama. Some job -- I don't know which yet -- will come open and they'll offer him complete control and he'll have to take it. Now, I can foresee a scenario where Kirby leaves and then returns when Saban goes into retirement. That's a more likely situation to me than Kirby sticking around and waiting.
Jacob (New Orleans)
Who is the 2nd-best coach in college football, and how close is he to Saban?
Alex Scarborough (12:47 PM)
Great question. I'd have to go with Urban Meyer because of his track record and what he did with Ohio State in his first season. But I like Chris Peterson, Les Miles and Bill O'Brien, too. The guy to me worth watching is Will Muschamp, though. He's quietly building a monster at UF and he's doing it in the same way Saban has built his programs.
My third and last question, as you have been kind to answer the first two. Im showing my ignorance here, but please explain the Jack and Star LB positions. People talk about them like everyone knows what they are, and I'm probably the only one who does not. And is there a third position? Nickel? Ok, so I'm confused.......
Alex Scarborough (12:50 PM)
No worries. It can be confusing. Essentially the Jack position is the weak side linebacker in a 3-4 set. He's a hybrid guy who can stand up and cover a TE or H-back but also has the size to rush the passer in a down-lineman position. Think of Courtney Upshaw. ... As for Star, it's a third cornerback position in the nickel. He plays inside and has the tools to cover a receiver but can also help in run support. Think of a guy like Vinnie Sunseri who is a tweener S/LB. It can also, however, be used as a pure cornerback position too depending on whether it's a passing team or not.
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
The Hogs new coach, Bret Bielema.... a challenge to Alabama in a few years or just another hamster on the wheel?
Alex Scarborough (12:53 PM)
I want to see what he does on the recruiting trail this season before I say definitively. But in order to not duck your question completely, I'll say this: I don't like the attitude he had at Wisconsin. He took shots at the SEC and complained about a lack of honor in recruiting. He's changed his tone since, but if he really has the mindset that coaches should be gentlemen recruiting, then he's in the wrong place.
Alex Scarborough (12:59 PM)
Well folks, it looks like our time is up. I'll be back here at the same time and place next week so please stop by and get your questions in early. In the meantime, please continue to check out TideNationESPN.com for all your Alabama coverage. Follow me on Twitter at @AlexS_ESPN, my colleague Greg Ostendorf at @GregO_ESPN and get all the latest Tide news at @TideNationESPN. Cheers.