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December 27, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Alex Scarborough

Alex Scarborough
  (12:01 PM)

Welcome to another turn in the ESPN chat room. I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season and are looking forward to the new year. We're only 11 days until the BCS National Championship game in Miami. So let's get started.

Brad (Gadsden,Alabama)

Alex, Who has the best chance to handle Tyler Eifert on the Bama Defense?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:04 PM)

I'll be writing about this for tomorrow. Tyler Eifert is a unique talent that I believe Alabama will counter with several defenders. Look for Adrian Hubbard or Nico Johnson to chip on the line and either a safety or cornerback to pick up in man coverage. Alabama could also play it safe and go zone, dropping C.J. Mosley back to defend the intermediate route.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What is the worst College Football Bowl Game that Alabama has Played in?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:05 PM)

I wouldn't even know where to start with that one. The first disappointment game that came to mind was a few years ago when Alabama was walloped by Utah in the Sugar Bowl.

Don Hunter Charlotte, NC [via mobile]

Can Kirby Smart recruit players like Saban?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:07 PM)

Not in the same manner, but with the same effectiveness. Smart is much more personal with players, friendly and jovial. Saban can cut up but he's all business. He shoots straight with recruits while Smart is more likely to connect with them on a more personal level.

terri (visalia ca)

I hope you had a nice X-mas & will have a good 2013. In your eyes, who was the BEST

terri (visalia ca)

Who do you think was the best past Roll Tide player that made it to the NFL? What is Kenny The Snake Stabler doing now?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:10 PM)

I'm assuming those questions went together. I hope you had a merry Christmas as well. The first player I had come to mind was Joe Namath. What he did as quarterback of the Jets was quite remarkable. Derrick Thomas, Bart Starr and Ozzie Newsome all had great NFL careers as well. I think we very well could add some young guns like Julio Jones and Trent Richardson to that discussion before it's all said and done.

Johnny Hairball (Los Angeles)

Alex, First of all. How is everyone faring with the bad weather in Alabama? Been watching from afar and it's always an area for concern. My question: After the upcoming NC game, we're gonna lose several All Americans on the OL. Who do you see coming in to fill the spots vacated by Jones, Warmack and Fluker?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:12 PM)

Everyone in Tuscaloosa is doing fine. Last I heard the damage in Mobile was significant but for the most part everyone took the proper precautions and the cleanup has begun. As far as the offensive line, I expect Ryan Kelly to do quite well at center when Barrett Jones leaves. He's all but a shoe in. You're looking at Arie Kouandjio as the front runner to replace Chance Warmack at guard, whether that's at right or left guard is undetermined. Pairing Cyrus Kouandjio and Anthony Steen on the left side could be an option. Right tackle will be a battle between Austin Shepherd and Juco signee Leon Brown. If Laremy Tunsil chooses Alabama, he might have a chance to compete there as well.

Kevin (Jacksonville, Alabama)

Who else do you see Bama landing before signing day?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:15 PM)

There are a few guys I'm keeping an eye on. Kendell Beckwith is down to Alabama and LSU and will make his choice on Jan. 4 at the Under Armor Game. Laremy Tunsil and Vonn Bell are two others to watch. Check out TideNationESPN.com and holler at our recruiting guru Greg Ostendorf (@GregO_ESPN on Twitter) for more in-depth information. You never know, Alabama could be a dark horse for Reuben Foster or Robert Nkemdiche before we hit national signing day.

Greg S. (Cookeville, TN)

Alex in your do you think we get Tunsil after just getting Hill on th O Line ?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:17 PM)

I'm not sure how much Hill would factor into Tunsil's decision. I think when you're talking about a five-star guy he's not going to make his choice based off of who might be coming in with him. Incumbent starters would be a factor but Alabama is likely losing D.J. Fluker and Cyrus Kouandjio could be an NFL guy after next season so the door to play early is wide open.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Will the Tide try to expose the weak Irish secondary deep with Amari Cooper on a frequent basis? Or do you think it will be a couple of shots off play action, assuming they can run the ball against the formidable ND front seven?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:19 PM)

I think we're more than likely looking at the second option. I think what we saw against Georgia will probably determine a lot in this game. Alabama couldn't stop the Bulldogs pass rush and Notre Dame's is just as effective. The best way to counter that is running right at the defense and passing off play action.

Brian (Tuscaloosa)

Who are the five or six recruits Alabama finishes with?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:20 PM)

I don't expect Alabama to sign that many. As far as who Alabama might be in play with, I'll refer you to my previous answer.

prizby (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

of the uncommitted top players or possible decommitting players (from Auburn), who are Nick Saban and his staff focusing in on the most and who will most likely be seen in Tuscaloosa in the fall of 2013?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:20 PM)

One guy I've been keeping an eye on is DL Dee Liner. He's got great size and would fit well in Saban's scheme.

Keenan (Atlanta, GA)

What players are the Tide targetting to close out the recruiting season after the big commitment from Foster?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:21 PM)

Again, I'll refer you to my previous answer. There are likely a few more out there that the staff is talking to but there really aren't that many spots remaining in the class.

John (Troy, Alabama)

Do you think that AJ McCarron will be a successful quarterback in the NFL?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:23 PM)

It depends on how you characterize "successful." I don't believe he has the arm talent of your typical All-Pros but his competitiveness and decision making skills are top notch. Will he be an All-Star? Probably not, in my opinion. But could he start in the NFL? In the right situation and under the right direction, absolutely.

Brad Barnett (Vestavia Hills, AL)

Is anyone academically ineligible for the BCS game?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:23 PM)

We've heard of no one yet. Still a few weeks away, though.

Keenan (Atlanta, GA)

Are you surprised C.J. Mosley came back for his senior season? What part of his game do you think needs to improve the most?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:26 PM)

I guess you could say I was surprised. I would have put it at 51-49 leaving before. I wasn't sure and I'm still unsure of what more he can do in terms of production. The only thing holding him back is his size, but even he admits he's not a 250-pound type of linebacker. It's a risk returning, in my opinion, but it always is for a player who was likely to get drafted int he first place. I love his game and his athleticism in space. I'm not sure there's one thing you can point to whether it's run defense or pass coverage that I can honestly say he needs to improve dramatically at.

John (Troy, Alabama)

I was wondering about Alabama's schedule as far as traveling to the BCS championship game. When do they leave as a team for Florida?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:27 PM)

The team will fly down Jan. 2.

BEVERLY (PANAMA CITY, FL)

I keep on hearing bad rumors that Coach Saban is leaving us. A coworker has even said that it was said that his friend said that it was true. What have you heard?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:30 PM)

There's always one friend out there that knows it's true or untrue, isn't there? From my most recent conversation with athletic director Mal Moore, I believe in more fully that Nick Saban isn't going anywhere. Saban didn't enjoy the factory atmosphere of the pros and the lack of reward in terms of player development. Yes, he's a competitor and of course money will be a factor. It's foolish to say that it wouldn't be. This is a business after all. But Saban is in the perfect situation at Alabama with a university that's more than happy to support the football program with big contracts and better facilities.

Jazson (Opelika, AL)

Hey Alex, do you believe like I do that Lacy will go Pro and if so who has the best chance of backing up Yeldon next year? Will it be Hart or Fowler coming back from injury or maybe Drake? Do any of the new guys coming in have a great shot or will they have to prove themselves on special teams first?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:33 PM)

Fowler will get his carries but I expect him to be the primary option at H-back, something we saw him play more and more before the injury. That said, I think Drake might have the best shot to become the No. 2 back with Lacy likely bolting for the pros. I say that because Hart will be coming back from his second major knee injury in as many years. Of the newbies, I don't see any one in particular making an instant impact on offense. Derrick Henry will have to find a role and Altee Tenpenny and Tyren Jones could benefit from some seasoning and time in the weight room.

Jay (Tuscaloosa, AL)

You didn't mention Montravius Adams in your previous recruiting post. Do we have a decent chance of signing him?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:35 PM)

I do, but everything I read points to Georgia being the frontrunner.

Kevin (Jacksonville, Alabama)

Is Ely or Blake Sims a legitimate contender for the QB job in the post-McCarron era?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:37 PM)

I don't believe so. I don't see Alabama running the read-option full time and Ely doesn't possess the arm talent of an Alec Morris or a Cooper Bateman. Had McCarron decided to leave early, one of the two might have been in play, but with Bateman and Morris benefiting from a full season of seasoning I expect those two to duke it out for starter in 2014.

Mike A (Louisville, KY)

Will Alabama have any of their injured players back for the big game.

Alex Scarborough
  (12:38 PM)

Expect Barrett Jones and Jesse Williams to be a full go for the game. Kenny Bell is the next likeliest candidate, but I'm still uncertain of whether he'll get medically cleared in time to get the reps he needs to play a significant role in Miami. None of the others (DeAndrew White, Dee Hart, Jalston Fowler) are near returning.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Who do you think will step in for Williams and Square up front next season for Alabama? Is this the biggest area of concern, along with OL, in 2013?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:40 PM)

I like the depth coming back next year so I'd say the second biggest area of concern would be in the secondary at cornerback. That said, look for Brandon Ivory and Darren Lake to battle at nose guard and D.J. Pettway, Jeoffrey Pagan and a few others to see time at defensive end. The rotation loses some front line guys but it will be plenty deep and talented next season.

Brad Barnett (Vestavia Hills, AL)

Any update on Barrett Jones? They said Kenny Bell might be ready by Jan. 7; any chance of seeing him?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:40 PM)

Barrett said there's no question he'll be ready to play. That was before the Christmas break. He should be reevaluated by now and we could get an update from Saban at this afternoon's press conference. Same goes for Bell.

Scratches (the Gump, AL)

After picking up Robert Foster and adding Chris Black to Amari Cooper, how scary is the Tide receiving corps gonna be next season? These guys are so young.

Alex Scarborough
  (12:42 PM)

I'll give you the words right from cornerback Dee Milliner's mouth: ""Man, they're going to be very interesting and very scary for opposing defenses. You got a lot of guys that can go down the field as a vertical threat, a lot of guys that can go across the middle. We've got different guys that can do different things at all times."

Scratches (the Gump, AL)

Do you think there's any way Saban would take Reuben Foster back after dropping us and getting that tattoo?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:43 PM)

Never say never when you're talking about a guy as talented as Foster. But, no, I don't see Reuben ending up in Tuscaloosa.

John (Troy, Alabama)

What is the economic impact of going to the BCS national championship game for the university?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:44 PM)

$$$$$$ <--- That's the impact. You're talking about millions of dollars in merchandising, free advertising for the University and a likely bump in the number of college applications.

Mike (Cartersville, GA)

Alex, do you believe that Bama will begin in a throw first plan against Notre Dame, kind of like they did against LSU, Texas A&#x26;M

Alex Scarborough
  (12:45 PM)

They very well could, but it all depends on the look Notre Dame's defense throws at them. I expect Alabama to run the ball early and work in the pass off of play action. This should be a slugfest.

Myles Underwood (Tuscaloosa, AL)

Hey Alex, I am from the hometown of Dee Liner, and I know many people have seen him wearing lots of Alabama stuff recently. I have not talked to him personally, but from the people I have talked to it seems like Bama is the favorite right now. If Liner ends up commiting to Bama how will it impact our recruiting class, and will it spur any other big recruits to join the tide?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:46 PM)

Liner's commitment would be a big boost for the class, likely sending them up in the rankings. As far as whether there would be recruits that follow his lead, I'm not so sure. As I said before, I don't see Alabama taking a full class this year so there aren't that many spots remaining.

Kevin (Jacksonville, Alabama)

Any chance Brice Ramsey flips from UGA?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:47 PM)

None that I've heard.

John (Troy, Alabama)

What has been so far the defining moment of the Nick Saban Era at Alabama?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:48 PM)

I always recall what he said after winning the first national championship at Alabama, basically saying it's not the end, it's just the beginning. He's built a program that competes for championships year in and year out.

Kevin (Jacksonville, Alabama)

Any ideas on the new DBs coach? Are there any other staff changes on the horizon?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:49 PM)

Nothing new on that front as of late. I don't expect any sort of announcement until after that title game.

Myles Underwood (Tuscaloosa, AL)

What about Reuben Foster? I know him and Liner have developed a friendship so if he flips to Bama is there any chance Foster follows?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:50 PM)

That could play a role, but to be honest Foster has a lot of friendships with guys at UGA. I'm not sure if that will play any crucial role when he makes his final decision.

Mike (Columbus, Ohio)

When I look at the Ole Miss game, Alabama only rushed for 125 yards. That scares me when I think of Notre Dame's front seven. Do you have any ideas why Alabama had so much trouble rushing the ball in that game?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:55 PM)

I'd point to a lack of commitment to the run in that game. Alabama ran the ball just 34 times against Ole Miss. To give that number context, the Tide averaged 40.4 rushing attempts per game during the season. Running the ball effectively means letting a tiny snowball turn into a large one by continuing to push it down the hill even when it doesn't seem you're not gaining much momentum with each shove.

Myles Underwood (Tuscaloosa, AL)

Thanks for all the info Alex! Roll Tide! #roadto15

Alex Scarborough
  (12:55 PM)

You're welcome, Myles.

Scratches (the Gump, AL)

How great is Nussmeier? His gameplan seems almost identical to McElwain's, but we've been able to throw deep with more success than last year. Does that have more to do with coaching or talent at the receiver positions?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:56 PM)

I'm glad to see someone give Nussmeier credit, rather than get on his back about running the ball more. That's been rare during the second half of the season. I like what Nussmeier has done with the offense and look forward to changes next season as the receiver corps gets deeper and more talented.

Kevin (Jacksonville, Alabama)

How valuable was Jeremy Pruitt?

Alex Scarborough
  (12:58 PM)

Very much so, especially on the recruiting trail. He was big in the state of Alabama and in the panhandle. Alabama will miss his contacts with coaches in the state and his ability to convince prospects to come to Tuscaloosa. Florida State has a dynamic duo of recruiters now in Pruitt and Craig.

Alex Scarborough
  (12:59 PM)

Well folks, that's all the time I've got today. I hope you all enjoy ringing in the new year. Remember to stop by TideNationESPN.com every once in a while to stay up to date on all the Alabama football news leading up to the game in Miami. Cheers!