Thank you all for joining me for another turn inside the chat room. We'll be talking Alabama and SEC football for the next hour. As always, we operate on a first come, first served basis, so be patient and I'll get to your question in the order it's received. Let's get started!
Is there any indication that someone other than McCarron will be the place holder for kicks this season. He's arguably the one guy, who if injured, would almost certainly derail any title hopes and having him on the field for those additional 50+ plays a season where a freak injury could occur seems silly to risk. Couldn't Morris, Sims or Mandell be able to handle those duties at this point in their careers?
Your point is valid about risking injury to AJ, but the same point was true a year ago and he was still the guy holding kicks. I expect he'll continue to do so, though someone like Mandell could take over if necessary.
What will be the Coldest College Football Game that Alabama will play in 2013?
Tough question. I have a feeling the late game on the road in Starkville could be chilly. Who knows?
I'm a big Aggie fan.I was wondering what you thought about the A@M and Alabama game last year? Was it more of Alabama being worn down by LSU or A@M having a good game plan or combination of both.I don't see thru rose colored glasses,even though it was a great win the Aggies don't have the talent yet of some SEC schools.
I think it was a combination of both. Texas A&M got Alabama at the right time and the defense wasn't ready for what Johnny Manziel could do. From the Alabama perspective, you're encouraged by the way the offense and defense rebounded after a difficult first quarter. From an Aggies perspective, you have to feel good about the way they survived a late run by the Tide and found a way to finish them off on the road. With this year's contest in College Station, it's anyone's game.
Alex, what is the story on trey depriest?
"Suspended for violation of team rules" is as far as we've got, but it doesn't sound like what he did was horrible, otherwise Saban wouldn't have said that he'd be out only a short while. It's about proving a point. Alabama will need him come Week 1 and he'll be there.
I know Vinnie is a playmaker, but he is also quite a liability at times. How can he start over a guy like Landon Collins?
First off, Vinnie doesn't get enough credit for his athleticism. Sure the mistakes stand out, but he's been a playmaker for a few years now. Secondly, it's not about who is the most gifted player. Vinnie knows the system inside and out and has the trust of the coaching staff. That's something that took time, something that Landon is trying to establish. I get the feeling that Vinnie will start at safety early in the season, but by the end of the year he'll be fending off Landon.
Alex what your feelings about this team compared to your feelings about the previous two championship team at this point of preseason camp before season started I just feel this team is so explosive in so many areas this may be the fastest team coach saban ever fielded
You're right about it being potentially the most explosive offense Saban has had at Alabama. All the weapons are there. Overall, though, it's hard to get a gauge of this team because it hasn't been hit with an obstacle yet. Until that happens we won't know the mental makeup of the players and whether they have what it takes to get through an SEC schedule and compete for a national championship. It's not about talent for Alabama, it's whether or not the mental makeup is there when it counts.
With Fowler splitting time between RB and HB, is Drake going to be the first guy in to spell Yeldon, situation permitting? Also, how are Drake's pass catching skills? Thanks!
He's the presumptive backup to Yeldon as things stand now, though I'm hearing the backfield will be crowded this year with all of the freshmen contributing. Drake is plenty talented to play Robin to Yeldon's Batman. He's explosive and, yes, has some skill in the passing game. The major question for him and the other backs is how they pass protect.
How will Logan Thomas attack our corners?
I expect the Hokies to take some deep shots early and then use Thomas' legs to gain yards and extend plays. The secondary will get most of the attention, but the real key to me in this game is Alabama's pass rush. If they do what they did to Denard Robinson a year ago and keep him contained and under pressure, the secondary will be just fine.
Who will be, in your opinion, the first defensive back, LB, and D-lineman to come off the bench from what you've seen this season?
First CB would be Geno Smith, who looks to have locked down the nickel corner job. First safety would probably be Nick Perry, followed by Landon Collins. At LB, look for either Denzel Devall or Xzavier Dickson, depending on who starts. And on the d-line, I'm focusing on Dalvin Tomlinson, who could provide some help rushing the passer.
Is the O or D winning the line during recent scrimmages?
On the line, it sounds like a split. Overall the offense is winning, putting up a lot of yards through the air.
Do the players have a motto for this season yet?
Haven't heard anything specific yet, but if you listen to Saban the most repeated phrase I've noticed is "consistency of performance."
How bad is Amari Cooper's injury? Any reason to worry?
I watched him at practice pretty closely yesterday and I didn't see anything to indicate that his injury is anything other than a strained foot. He'll sit out a few practices, work with strength coach Scott Cochran and then be day-to-day for a while. I wouldn't worry until it drags on a week or more.
Amari Cooper will be fine to start vs. Virgina Tech, right?
I'd say so. And in the event he's not, Alabama has plenty of talent at the position to get by.
How does a guy leave Alabama on a medical hardship yet now plays at a DIV II school?
Reading Gulledge's comments, it sounds like Alabama's doctors weren't comfortable with the condition of his back and felt it wasn't safe for him to play. He, meanwhile, felt that playing was worth the risk. If JSU is willing to look past the medical concerns, then they can take him on scholarship and he can play right away.
Do you think Manziel will play against the Tide?
My gut says yes, but as the momentum builds in the investigation, I don't know, These things tend to move at a glacial pace, so I don't think there will be a decision to come down quickly enough to affect the beginning of the season.
What have you found out about the team after 2 weeks of camp?any nuggets?
Overall, they're in good shape. I like what Chris Black and Raheem Falkins bring to the table at receiver, and I expect both to have an impact this season. As I said earlier, I'm hearing that all the freshmen tailbacks will be a part of the rotation this season. On the D-line, watch out for Dalvin Tomlinson and Korren Kirven. I'll follow up with more during the course of the chat, I'm sure.
Will Adrian Hubbard emerge as this year's Rolando McClain/Courtney Upshaw?
He certainly has the talent, but I question his motor. When he's giving it 100 percent effort, boy does it show. And when he's not, well, it's underwhelming. If he's giving it his all every game, he can develop into a star pass-rusher in this league.
Coming off the LSU game, is Miss. St. the biggest trap game of the season?
I'd argue that Ole Miss is a bigger trap game. It will come on the heels of Va Tech, Texas A&M and Colorado State, and the Rebels gave the Tide one of its toughest games a season ago. If it was in Oxford and not Tuscaloosa, I'd be interested to see the line in Vegas.
Who is the 2nd string QB should McCarron go down? Has the highly touted Cooper Bateman received many reps?
It's going to come down to either Blake Sims or Alec Morris, and my guess is that Sims is the short-term option running the read-option and Morris is the long-term solution as he's the more pure passer. Bateman is coming along, but he's a year off from knowing the system and being able to compete for significant reps.
Defense garners all the headlines in the SEC. But are we looking at a potential "Golden Age" of Quarterbacks considering all the top notch signal callers that will be on THE campus of SEC powers LSU, UGA, FL, TAMU, and Bama in the coming years. Not to mention Oe Miss if Freeze continues to recruit at his current pace.
I don't know if it will come down to an age of prosperity, but for the next year it looks like the quarterbacks will be king. As Brock Huard pointed out this week, the SEC might be the best QB conference in the country this season. That said, this conference isn't going to change. It's still about what happens on the line of scrimmage. The big boys in the trenches don't get all the love, but they make the engine go.
How much does it help that Ryan Kelly was practicing as the starter while Barrett Jones was hurt before the Notre Dame game last season?
It was invaluable. The reps he got with the first team served as a springboard into this season. I expect big things from him this season.
Who has impressed you the most on O and D so far?
Aside from those I mentioned earlier, I like what I've seen from Reggie Ragland, Ryan Anderson, Cyrus Jones and Dalvin Tomllinson on defense. On offense, Altee Tenpenny, Jalston Fowler, O.J. Howard and Raheem Falkins have impressed me.
How awesome is it that both Trent Richardson and Julio Jones are in a commercial for fantasy football?
It is fun seeing those guys get some national attention. Both are in for big years.
So what is the deal with DePriest? What are the chances the suspension is longer than a week?
I'd be shocked if it lasted longer than that.
How about he wasn't going to play and Saban made room for an extra scholarship.
Given the attrition in recent years, it's a fair criticism. If Alabama's going to compete for national championships year in and year out, it must also deal with the spotlight that comes with that.
Who starts in the secondary vs Texas A&M?
Alex what is your prediction for the V-Tech game? Personally I feel it is going to be a beating and we should win by at least 14 -21 points.
Accidentally hit two questions at one, so here's both answers: I expect there to be a field full of DBs against Va Tech with Sunseri and Clinton-Dix at safety, Belue and Fulton on the boundaries and Smith and Collins at star and money.
Alex, I might be moving to Baltimore in the near future. Which jersey should I get: Courtney Upshaw or Terrence Bernard Cody?
Get Cody's. You can fit all your friends and family in it, too.
Why are we playing Ole Miss at home 2 years in a row?
A fluke in the scheduling that goes back to when Texas A&M and Missouri joined the conference.
Long time since I been a part of the chat. Really miss it. Concerning RB depth, do you see all the Freshman playing? If not, who gets the redshirt?
Glad to have you back and I hope you keep returning. I do expect all of the freshmen to play since they all bring something a little different to the table. I'll post a link to a story I wrote that goes deeper into it, but as far as who is most likely to get a redshirt I'd say it may be Tyren Jones. He feels like the odd man out when you consider each player's unique set of skills. http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/alabama/post/_/id/15758/tide-depth-at-running-back-growing
Looking ahead, there is a lot to be excited about for the current recruiting class. Toss out a name you are glad we have at least a commitment, and a name that you want badly to commit.
The name I think is most important that's already in house is a tie between David Cornwell and Christian Miller. Both are very, very talented. Selfishly, the one I'd like to see wind up at Alabama just so I could see him play every week would be Leonard Fournette. He's absolutely the real deal, and after spending some time with him, I think he has the mental makeup to be a star.
What do you make of Saban's lack of negatism in press conferences? He appears to be pleased. Could this team actually be so focused he cannot fuss?
Before DePriest's suspension, I was wondering what on earth he could complain about. Now I wonder whether the mood has turned a little bit. Reading between the lines I think he feels very good about his team, but as it gets closer to the start of the season and the heat turns up we'll see how his comments change.
Alex what happened to you answering my question about your prediction for the V-Tech game. You said you accidentally hit two questions at once and was going to answer my question but I did not see an answer.
Woops! I like the spread you threw out. I don't see Va Tech matching up well enough on offense to make it a close game. Right now I'd say Alabama by 17.
How has John Fulton been looking? I feel like all offseason we heard how Geno Smith was going to be CB#2 but now it seems he's slipped behind Fulton?
"Eager" might be the best word to describe what I've see out of him. He knows this is his last shot and I think he's ready to show he hasn't been a bust. I think he'll be the second cornerback to start the season with Smith coming on in nickel situations. But watch out for Cyrus Jones, who looks very comfortable at corner after playing wideout last year. He has all the tools to be a playmaker on defense.
Where do you see Coach Saban focusing on during practice other than the secondary?
We only get to see the first few periods of practice, which usually consists of individual drills, so we mostly see Saban with the DBs. However, I think a big point of emphasis has been execution, no matter how cliche that sounds. I don't think he was pleased with the number of turnovers last season.
Are practices more or less intense than previous years? Who's the most outspoken younger players?
Freshmen don't get to speak to the media, so it's hard to answer that question. One young guy who I know likes to talk, though, is Geno Smith. He's a cornerback so that comes with the territory. As far as practice mood is concern, it compares favorably to years past. It's not been quite as vocal without Courtney Upshaw or D.J. Fluker shouting, but the effort has been there from what I've seen.
How much do you think TAMU/Johnny Manziel will miss Cliff Kingsbury at OC?
In a normal situation, I'd say a good bit. And while I do feel it will have some effect early on, I trust Sumlin's ability to keep the offense going. And so much of what JM does is improv anwyays.
Thanks Alex...Roll Tide!
You're welcome, and thank you to everyone who joined in. If I didn't get to your question this time just be sure to come back next week and try again. Same time, same place. Hope you have a good rest of the week. Football season is almost here!