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My name is Eric. My love of and loyalty to the University of Alabama football team is unparalleled and completely inappropriate. I hate all other teams, and wish them peril. Also, you can hear my music at www.reverbnation.com/EricBlackerby or www.youtube.com/EricBlackerbyMusic

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Playoffs? PLAYOFFS!

A Look Back

Ole Miss Fans, Having Never Won Anything Before
The last time I wrote here, back when my home computer allowed such things to occur, we had just lost to Ole Miss and I was trying to temper expectations and help some of y'all to feel like I did at the time. I was enjoying watching the progress of Blake Sims, and had come to the conclusion that we just weren't a championship team this year. And that was OK. I've spent a lot of the past year learning perspective and trying not to put so much energy into college football and not focus so much of my own happiness on its outcomes.

My God, what a difference 2 months makes.

After that fateful game in Oxford, TJ Yeldon got emotional and basically promised that we would not lose again. Shades of Tim Tebow in 2008 had me wanting to feel optimistic again. I admit that I wasn't as high on the future of this particular team that week. After Florida lost to Ole Miss in '08, Tebow cried on TV and promised that they would not lose again. And they didn't. And we haven't either.

 It's fun that Ole Miss has to settle for that place in the world. But this is not about them anymore, other than that I would like to congratulate them for finally ending a season in Atlanta. The Peach Bowl is very nice for a lower tier school such as them. Have fun, Rebels.

The week after losing to Ole Miss, we had to travel to Fayetteville, AR, to play Bret Bielema's Razorbacks. I don't have time to talk about how much I love that big goofy bastard they have for a coach now. The dude is awesome, says crazy things from time to time, acts like a kid coaching a game, and wants to play the exact type of football that
I adore. But I didn't adore it that night. Arkansas tore us up in the trenches and we could hardly run the ball. Blake Sims, and our offense as a whole, played as poorly and predictably as they have all year and we only won 14-13. Blake was lucky not to have thrown 4 or 5 INTs that night. We really should have lost. If not for Bielema inexplicably abandoning the run too early towards the end, we probably would have. Thanks, Bert!

So then we come home to play Texas A&M, and even though it's at home, I'm terrified. I'd never been so unsure of what the outcome of a Bama game was going to be as I was that day. I figured we could either beat the hell out of them or they could beat the hell out of us with their offense, which to
that point had been a high flying operation. Our offense, which had looked dominant against Florida earlier in the year, was falling apart at this point, special teams play was laughable. Bobby Williams' job was being called for by pretty much everyone. Ryan Kelly and Kenyan Drake were out at the time and those were two huge problems. 59-0 later, we saw what Alabama was actually capable of this year if we played with the right attitude and leadership.

At kickoff of the Tennessee game in Knoxville, it had been 2,926 days since the Vols last beat the Tide and they just knew they were going to change that this year. Butch Jones was doing everything he could to become the next combination of General Neyland and God, according to UT fans, and with Lil Jon in their corner, they felt like they'd never fail to convert another third down again. They played Turn Down For What every single time they had the ball. Blake Sims and company were completely unfazed. Blake converted FOUR 3rd down conversions on one drive to put us ahead 34-17 in the 3rd quarter and that was pretty much that, with Tennessee tacking on a worthless FG to make it look better. 34-20. Blake threw for 286 yards and ran for 41 more in the game and Amari Cooper owned their secondary like always.

Congrats to UT on their moral victory, since they didn't end up losing by 40 or anything like usual. But shoutout to Josh Dobbs, who I think will make them alot better next year. But still, we woke up Sunday having not lost to Tennessee since Mike Shula's last season in Tuscaloosa.

LSU always scares the shit out of me and it doesn't matter that they had lost to Auburn by like 5 touchdowns earlier in the season. LSU always matches up well with us in the trenches and they are always ready to play their best game of the year against us. So of course, it would take OT to escape Death Valley with an emotion victory. TJ Yeldon fumbled at his own goal line at the end of the game and clearly LSU was about to score an easy TD and put the game away. It was over. We were going to lose. But then LSU OL Vadal Alexander shoved A'Shawn Robinson after the play was over and got flagged for it, which caused LSU to have to settle for a FG. Then LSU kicked the ball out of bounds on the kickoff, setting us up in great field position. Blake Sims was the stuff of legend on those final drives. We tied the game, then Blake won it with a TD pass to DeAndrew White in OT. LSU fans were so sad. And now we've beaten them 4 times in a row, which is astounding considering the history of this rival. Just another testament to the greatness of Nick Saban.

I was supposed to have gone to the Mississippi St game in Tuscaloosa, which would have been mine and my wife's first ever Alabama game to be there for, but it turned out we couldn't afford it. That all worked out ok though, cause a friend gave us tickets to the WCU game the next week and we had a blast.

The Bulldogs were having one of their most promising seasons ever, coming into this game undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation. But Vegas still had them as underdogs against Alabama. Funny how Vegas knows about these things sometimes. The final score of 25-20 doesn't tell the whole story. It was 19-3 Bama early in the game and 25-13 before Clown Shoes Mullen added a TD at the end just to make it look better. He wasn't even trying to win at that point. Typical loser mentality from a loser program. Congrats to them on ending their season in Miami though.

Western Carolina is a dirty ass team and that has always been the case. They are the team that tore Brodie Croyle's ACL in 2004. And in this game was no different. Jalston Fowler, Ardarius Stewart, Cam Robinson, Amari Cooper, A'Shawn Robinson, and Brian Vogler were all hurt in this game. A'Shawn was hurt on a blatantly dirty chop block play. And the refs did their part to give WCU a TD at the start of the game by blowing the whistle "accidentally" during a play, which gave them back the ball after Alabama had forced and recovered a fumble. Then the refs turns a blind eye to a WCU receiver pushing off Bama DB's and it was not a fun 1st quarter.

But I had a great time cause I was THERE for the first time in my life, in Bryant-Denny Stadium for an actual game. Singing Dixieland Delight in the 4th quarter and Rammer Jammer and making new friends of strangers. I loved seeing Tyren Jones get in the game and look every bit the part of the next great Bama back after Yeldon, Henry, and Drake. Altee Tenpenny could be that good too. I love seeing young guys play and show that they are going to be strong in the future.

The Iron Bowl would be a tale of two games for Blake Sims. After throwing 3 INTs in the first half, he led Alabama on 5 straight TD drives to bring the team back from a 33-21 deficit and turn it into a decisive 55-44 victory for us. 630 yards and 8 touchdowns would seem to be the stuff of a complete beatdown, but it's never enough for me when the opponent is Auburn. I'm still mad about Saban kneeling on the ball and NOT making it 56-0 in the 2012 Iron Bowl. And you can never count these fleas out of anything anymore either. Last year is a constant reminder of that, and the fact that we put up all that offense and 55 points and still only won by 11. I hope we score 70 in Jordan-Hare next year.

I still can't believe after we lost to Ole Miss and then looked like we did against Arkansas, that this team made it to Atlanta to even play in the championship game. Just about a month ago, it seemed like the SEC West was the State Of Mississippi's world this year. But, as has been the case for generations, the 50th best state in the Union doesn't get to sit at the big kids table for too long.

Georgia should've been the East representative in this game. They were the best team over there. But typical Mark Richt blowing at least one game a year that he shouldn't allowed a team that lost to INDIANA to be the SEC East Champion. Bad news for Missouri.

Alabama was favored by 2 touchdowns and if Missouri players and fans wanted to think that was a joke, everyone who took Bama and the points made money. Blake completed his first 10 passes and Bama looked to roll early, but Missouri is a scrappy little team and went into the 4th quarter only down 21-13 to us. But then, Saban told Kiffin to #RunTheDamnBall and The Derrick Henry Show was in fast production. This group of Tigers had no answer to that level of a run game and Bama showed that they are the best team in college football at this point. My favorite moment of the night came after the game when Allie LaForce was interviewing Blake Sims at midfield and she asked Blake if he was ready to win the national championship. Blake didn't give a PC answer or hesitate, he just simply said, "I sho' am". Love you, Blake.

BTW. Missouri's last national championship came in 1965. In Men's Indoor Track And Field. They ain't 'bout this life.



1. Alabama vs. 4. Ohio State. New Orleans
2. Oregon vs 3. Florida State. Pasadena.

I never thought I'd see this day. We actually have a playoff to decide the national champion of our favorite sport. I have no time for TCU and Baylor fans who are bitching about all this right now. Blame your own conference for not having a championship game or the intelligence to name a One True Champion, as it had stated it would. It played hardball wanting to get two teams in, and now you're both at home because of Ohio State, and you're mad at Bama? Just sit down.

All The Offense

Hiring Lane Kiffin now looks like one the best decisions of Nick Saban's career, as the Alabama offense has set records almost nonstop throughout the season. My first thought when the hire was made was that Amari Cooper was going to lead the SEC in receiving and that expectation has certainly been exceeded. I know Lane wants to be a head coach again and I wish him nothing of the best when he does leave us, but I hope it's at least a couple years from now. I want more than one season of this.
Alabama is averaging 37.1 points a game, which is 17th in the country out of 128 teams, and allowing 16.7 points a game, which is 4th.

Blake Sims has thrown for 3,250 yards, which beats the previous record for passing yards in a season, 3,063, set by AJ McCarron last year. Sims has also thrown for 26 TDs and run for 6 more, averaging 4.4 ypc when he runs it. Blake went 23-27 in the SEC Championship game, and that 85.1% completion % is the best ever in that game, breaking the previous record held by Jason Campbell a decade ago. His 281 total yards was also an Alabama record for yards in an SEC Championship Game.

Amari Cooper has been otherworldly, making Julio Jones's previous records look pedestrian. Several years back, DJ Hall was the first Bama WR to have 1,000 yards in a season. Julio set the standard in 2010 with 1,133 yards on 78 receptions. Cooper has 1,656 yards on 115 catches. He is the best to ever wear Crimson and will probably owe Lane Kiffin a Christmas card every year for the rest of his life.

Nobody in SEC history has caught more passes in a season than Cooper and his 12 receptions in the SEC Championship Game is also a record.

TJ Yeldon has 932 rushing yards and Derrick Henry has 895.

It's entirely conceivable that Alabama could end the 2014 season with a QB that passed for 3,800 yards and 30 TDs, a 2,000 yard WR, and two 1,000 yard RBs.

If Alabama is to win its 16th National Title, it will have done so by winning the SEC Championship, beating Ohio State and beating either Oregon or Florida State. This could go down as the greatest season ever if all that takes place.

And I think it will.

Random Tidbits

In 2010, when Lane Kiffin left Tennessee for USC, he tried to get Blake Sims to go with him. He had tried to get Blake to play for him before in Tennessee and, in fact, Blake had been committed to Tennessee. He only switched to Bama when Lane left for Cali. Picture Blake as a Vol. Gross.

The University of Alabama decided to no longer play Dixieland Delight in the 4th quarter, after thousands of Bama students had been chanting "Fuck Auburn" during the song in the stadium for everyone to hear. So yesterday, during the SEC Championship Game in the Georgia Dome, Bama students sang the song anyway, without music, and with the offending words inserted. They ain't gonna be stopped.

At SEC Media Days in July, the media picked Alabama to win the SEC. They have only correctly predicted the SEC champ a few times in the past 15 years.

This is the 1st year of the SEC Network, the 1st year of the CFB playoff. Of course Bama would be the team to represent. How appropriate will it be for Alabama to win the 1st playoff?

"We ain't winning no championship with Blake Sims as our QB" - Bama fans in September. LOL.

God bless the child that can hold its own
God bless Atlanta, Bama's second home
God bless Missouri and that Tampa 2 Zone
God bless Amari, Blake, and A'Shawn

Thursday, October 16, 2014

BAMMERS: Everything is OK. Really, it is.

You thought you knew all about Alabama after the Florida game on Sept 20th. It's ok, I did too.

I thought we were the same dominant team that we had been since the Clemson game kicked off on August 31, 2008.

The Ole Miss game, despite the pile of utter garbage the refs were that day, proved that we weren't the team that we all thought we were. That we have come to feel we deserve to be. The Ole Miss game brought us back down to earth, didn't it? We no longer had delusions of 2014 grandeur, did we? Oh we did? Yeah, I know. I did too. I immediately got over the loss and turned my thoughts to the catastrophic destruction we were going to lay on the Razorbacks of Arkansas. This would be our comeback party. We'd beaten these sissies 52-0 each of the past two seasons. No way they would be a threat to us. I mean, they'll probably score, but there's no way they keep us under 40.

Well, shit.

So maybe we are not a championship team in 2014. And that's ok. Really, it is. Nobody wins it all every year and we are still in the middle of the greatest run in college football history. Nobody doubts we will win another title or two under Saban, depending upon how long until he retires. If he's here another decade, you can pencil us in for 2 or 3 titles in that period of time. And that's at the very least. And while looking forward to great success like that is fun, it also comes with the fact that there will be several seasons where we fall short. Mess up along the way. Lose to Auburn. Shit's gonna happen from time to time. But we will be the most consistent team in college football over the next decade. And that is one thing I am sure of.

What I'm not sure of right now is the outcome of this season. But we shouldn't be written off either. Not by the experts, and certainly by our own fanbase. Alabama is still one of the best teams in the country. We are stocked with a roster full of the top recruits in the country over the past 5 years. While things have gotten shaky lately, we do have a brilliant offensive mind at the OC position. And a QB that can do many things. Most of them good. We will be ok.

Even if we don't win it all this year. But don't think we have any worse chance than anyone else.

Roll Tide

P.S.- If I'm turning soft, it's probably because I am going to be a father soon. To a little girl. My first child. After my wife and I had been together and trying for over 5 years. It finally happened. So I apologize if not many things can happen in this game of football that will keep me down for too long.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bama-Ole Miss

A write this, it has been 3,998 days since The University of Mississippi's football team has beaten any Alabama team. Their last victory against The Tide came in Mike Shula's first season here. I hate to even remember those days. My wife is 27 years old and pregnant with our first child. She had yet to get her driver's license when that last defeat occurred, at the hands of Eli Manning.

In 2007, I was dating a girl who was a student at Ole Miss. I spent many a weekend in Oxford and the bed that I slept in had a picture on the wall above it: My girlfriend, with Eli Manning. Autographed. She was eat slap up with Rebel pride and I wish we had lasted at least until that football season started. I really enjoyed that town and that time. I brought a friend with me a couple times and we drove to Memphis and into Arkansas. Last I heard, she was married now and I hope her 2 little girls she had are healthy and happy. As for the woman, I hope she's absolutely miserable tomorrow. 

Ole Miss has a 5th year senior at QB, who they misguidedly believe to be the SEC's best gunslinger. In truth, he's no better than Jevan Snead, their last "Heisman candidate".Ole Miss was also highly overrated in Snead's final season, and talking trash with expectations of beating Alabama. That worked out.

Before last year's game, Bo Wallace did several interviews in which he talked trash about Alabama. We had just beaten Texas A&M 49-42, and he took the opportunity to point out that he felt like Ole Miss had far better receivers and overall talent around him than the Aggies had, and therefore they would have no trouble putting up a lot of points on Alabama's defense. Then-freshman WR LaQuon Treadwell also promised that Ole Miss would upset Alabama. When it was all said and done, they tucked tail and drove back to Oxford with a 25-0 defeat. Keep talking, boys.

This year, you would think that Wallace and his cohorts would think that the right thing to do would be to remain humble, be confident but not boastful, and prepare with everything in them to actually beat Alabama. 

You would be wrong. Wallace is again running his mouth. But so is everyone in the state of Mississippi. Ole Miss isn't the only team over there looking forward to a big game on Saturday. Mississippi St plays Texas A&M and they are looking to make a statement as well. The Secretary Of State actually went on the Paul Finebaum Show yesterday and declared this to be the biggest weekend in the history of the state of Mississippi, as far as college football is concerned. He said that when both their schools win, as he believes they will, that he should just make Monday a state holiday for everyone to celebrate. His employees should know that they are indeed going to be headed to work on that day. They are apparently going to have huge movie screens on the Grove for the fans to watch their expected victory over the best team in the land. ESPN's College Gameday is even going to be there to see this and you know they are all rooting for Alabama to fall. They always are.

After 4 games, Alabama is averaging 42 points and 500 yards of offense a game. Give Lane Kiffin the credit he is due, or ride the Sims Train like I have been doing since August, but no matter who you are, you can't deny that Alabama has an offense unlike any we have seen in Tuscaloosa in recent memory. While it is true that we have yet to face a team that was ranked higher than 75th in yards allowed, the obvious improvement is obvious. Alabama Football is no longer "football in a phone booth". Sure, we can line up and smash you while setting up play action here and there if we want. But we can also run the pistol, the HUNH, or hell even the wishbone if we chose. We can do anything we want right now, and with Kiffin calling the shots, we will probably see 50 different formations. That's an exaggeration, but you get the point. We've never seen a receiver like Amari Cooper get so many balls thrown his way, and everyone knows it coming. But they can't stop it. You can't just line up your best DB on Cooper and hope to shut him down, because as soon as you do, Kiffin will shift Coop to the other side of the field at the last moment or put him on a linebacker. Julio Jones was the most talented WR to ever play at Bama, and I can't even imagine what kind of numbers he could've amassed with this level of downright outscheming everyone that we are doing right now.

But if we can get past all the bravado and bragging about how good Alabama is, and talk about the actual matchup for a bit...

This is where I have to be fair to Ole Miss. They really do appear to be a little better than they usually are. It may not be the same song and dance for them as it has been for the past 50 years. Their defense has improved a lot and is probably the best they've had in several years. They are 4th in the nation in total defense. This will easily be the best defense Alabama will have faced to this point. Robert Nkemdiche is an NFL player right now, but the Rebels only rank 67th in sacks, which is 8th in the SEC. They will have to do better than that to get to Blake Sims, who has proven that just getting to him isn't a guarantee that you will stop him. Nkemdiche isn't the team leader in sacks though. That would be Marquis Haynes, who doesn't even play all the time. So we will have to watch out for him. But the Rebs are only 34th against the run, which is pretty terrible considering their Charmin soft schedule thus far. They've seen nothing like TJ Yeldon, Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, or even Altee Tenpenny. Tyren Jones tore a ligament and had to have surgery, or I'd put him in this mix for some late game carries as well.

Serderius Bryant, D T Shackleford, Denzel Nkemdiche (Robert's brother), and Keith Lewis are all solid players at linebacker, with Shackleford being the heaviest hitter, and Bryant the best at using his speed in open space. 

Ole Miss has 3 DB's who will be missing this game, and their starting corner Senquez Golson might miss the game as well. So we might have a true freshman at one of the corner spots in this game for Sims to exploit. 

Bo Wallace currently has a 71% completion rate and has thrown 11 TD's so far, but he also has thrown 6 picks. So I think we can expect a pick or two from him, which should make one of the major differences in this game.

The Ole Miss running game is almost worthless without Jeff Scott, and doesn't even earn much of a mention here other than to say that. 

The WR's and their TE Evan Engram make up as fierce a group as Alabama should see this year, provided they can catch all the balls that Wallace throws at our DB's and LB's. LaQuon Treadwell is no worse than the 2nd best player in the SEC at his poition. Second only to our guy of course. But he's not all they have. They have 3 or 4 other guys that could fill the top role for them if they didn't have Treadwell. Eddie Jackson and Tony Brown will have to eat a few bowls of wheaties before this game, as this will be their first real test since West Virginia, when Brown didn't even play. 

Ole Miss's offensive line is complete garbage outside of Laremy Tunsil. They are 52nd in sacks allowed, so we should be able to harass the QB plenty, which is another reason we should get a couple of picks out him, and probably the biggest reason they can't run the ball that well. I really think we could play dime and nickel and bracket their receivers the whole game and shut them down without even focusing on the running game. But that's just me.

The last time Ole Miss beat Alabama, George Bush was in his first term in the White House, Finding Nemo was in the theaters, Apple had just launched the itunes store, and Lebron James had yet to play in an NBA game.

Alabama is 51-8-2 all time against Ole Miss.

I think Bama will have to ride the first wave of emotion from Ole Miss. It wouldn't surprise me for Ole Miss to score first, but don't expect them to do shit after the 1st quarter. Might see something like 17-10 at halftime with a final score something like 31-13.

Roll Tide.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Alabama Players On Watch Lists For Postseason Awards

The Lombardi Award  is presented annually by the Rotary Club in Houston, TX, to the nation's best college football lineman (offense or defense). This year's list includes two Alabama players: G Arie Kouandjio and DE/DT A'Shawn Robinson. In my opinion, A'Shawn has the best chance because he will be one of the most feared players in the nation at his position and should be a guy that gets 10 or 15 sacks and over 20 tackles for loss. I think he's the best in the SEC.

A'Shawn Robinson

Last year's winner: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh.

Past Alabama Winners: Cornelius Bennett, 1986.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

A.J. Cann, South Carolina , G
La'el Collins, LSU , OT
Reese Dismukes, Auburn, C 
Trey Flowers, Arkansas , DE
Leonard Floyd, Georgia, LB 
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee, LB
Chris Jones, Mississippi State, DT
Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State, LB 
Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss, DT 
Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M, OT 
Ramik Wilson, Georgia, LB

The Butkus Award is named after the greatest linebacker of all time, Dick Butkus, and is awarded to the best linebacker in the nation. LB is my favorite position on the field so I am always happy when Bama is represented here. This year's list includes two Bama players to watch out for:  Trey DePriest and Reggie Ragland. I can't help but think that Reuben Foster could make some noise, but that'll probably be in 2015. DePriest is expected to be the leader of Bama's front seven on defense, so he could have a huge year.

Reggie Ragland

Last year's winner: CJ Mosley, Alabama. 

Past Alabama Winners: Derrick Thomas, 1988; Rolando McClain, 2009; CJ Mosley, 2013

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Leonard Floyd, Georgia
Kris Frost, Auburn
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
Braylon Mitchell, Arkansas
Ramik Wilson, Georgia

The Nagurski Award is given to the top defensive player in college football. The award is named after Bronko Nagurski, who played for Minnesota in college and for the Chicago Bears in the NFL. Alabama has never won this award, but this year we have three guys on the list: S Landon Collins, LB Trey DePriest, and DL A'Shawn Robinson. Again, A'Shawn is a beast. Expect big things from this man.

Trey DePriest

Last year's winner: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Alvin "Bud" Dupree, Kentucky, DE
Trey Flowers, Arkansas, DE
Leonard Floyd, Georgia, LB
Dante Fowler Jr., Florida, DE/LB
Markus Golden, Missouri, DE
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida, S
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia, LB
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee, LB
Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State, LB
Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss, DT
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, S
Ramik Wilson, Georgia, LB
Gabe Wright, Auburn, DT

The Outland Trophy is named after John Outland, of the University of Kansas, who was named All American at two different positions in the very early days off football: offensive tackle and halfback. Can you imagine that these days? The award goes to the best interior lineman in college football(offensive or defensive). Alabama has three on this list: C Ryan Kelly, G Arie Kouandjio, and DL A'shawn Robinson. I don't have to tell you which one of these guys I am highest on. However, 8 out of the past 11 years the award has gone to an offensive guy and Kelly has the chance to be a Barrett Jones type of leader and player this year and all of our past winners were O-Lineman.

Arie Kouandjio


Last year's winner: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh.

Past Alabama Winners: Chris Samuels, 1999; Andre Smith, 2008; Barrett Jones, 2011

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Vadal Alexander, LSU, G
David Andrews, Georgia, C
Evan Boehm, Missouri, C
A.J. Cann, South Carolina, G
La'el Collins, LSU, OT
Reese Dismukes, Auburn, C
D.J. Humphries, Florida, OT
Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M, OT
Alex Kozan, Auburn, G
Mike Matthews, Texas A&M, C
Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss, DT
Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M, OT
Corey Robinson, South Carolina, OT
Brandon Shell, South Carolina, OT
Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss, OT
Gabe Wright, Auburn, DT

The Mackey Award is given to the best tight end in college football who best exemplifies the play, sportsmanship, academics, and community values of NFL Hall of Fame TE John Mackey. I think most people know who that is probably gonna be. OJ Howard was an under-utilized man among boys in his true freshman campaign last season. Lane Kiffin knows what he has in this guy and whenever he's not trying to get the ball to Amari Cooper, it will probably be going to OJ Howard. OJ can play across the middle like a traditional tight end, and can block like a lineman, but this guy could line up at wide receiver and be one of the elite guys in the country there as well. Barring injury or the Apocalypse, I'm gonna just go ahead and predict that OJ Howard will be the first Alabama TE to win this award. 

OJ Howard

Last year's winner: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Rory Anderson, South Carolina
Evan Engram, Ole Miss
Hunter Henry, Arkansas
Malcolm Johnson, Mississippi State
Jay Rome, Georgia
C.J. Uzomah, Auburn

The Rimington Trophy goes to the best center in College Football, and is named for Dave Rimington who played center at Nebraska from 1979-1982. Ryan Kelly represents Bama and should do well in 2014.

Ryan Kelly

Last year's winner: Bryan Stork, Florida State.

Past Alabama winners: Barrett Jones, 2012.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

David Andrews, Georgia
Evan Boehm, Missouri
Dillon Day, Mississippi State
Reese Dismukes, Auburn
Max Garcia, Florida
Mike Matthews, Texas A&M
Elliott Porter, LSU
Jon Toth, Kentucky
Joe Townsend, Vanderbilt
Cody Waldrop, South Carolina

The Bednarik Award is presented by the Maxwell Football Club to the best defensive player in college football and is named after Chuck Bednarik, who was one of the most devastating tacklers in the country for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949-1962.. Alabama is well represented here with three guys: Landon Collins, Trey DePriest, and A'Shawn Robinson


Last year's winner: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:
Alvin "Bud" Dupree, Kentucky, DE
Trey Flowers, Arkansas, DE
Leonard Floyd, Georgia, LB
Dante Fowler Jr., Florida, DE/LB
Markus Golden, Missouri, DE
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida, CB
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia, LB
A.J. Johnson, Tennessee, LB
Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State, LB
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, S
Robenson Therezie, Auburn, S
Ramik Wilson, Georgia, LB

The Maxwell Award is named after Robert "Tiny" Maxwell,  a Swarthmore College player and coach, and is given annually to the best player in college football. Alabama had never had a player win this award until last year, when AJ McCarron took it home. He should've taken home the Heisman too, but that's another argument for another day. Four Alabama players are on the preseason list this year: QB Jacob Coker, WR Amari Cooper, RB TJ Yeldon, and RB Derrick Henry. I have no idea why Coker is on here, since he's yet to take a single snap as a starter or in an Alabama uniform at all, but I guess it's just a testament to the respect that everyone has for Nick Saban that most people expect the Alabama QB to be a major player for this type of attention. I think Derrick Henry is the best in the country, but his ultimate candidacy for this award will depend upon how many carries he gets, splitting time with TJ Yeldon and a couple of other guys. 

TJ Yeldon

Last year's winner: AJ McCarron, Alabama.

Past Alabama Winners: AJ McCarron, 2013

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Sammie Coates, Auburn, WR
Alex Collins, Arkansas, RB
Mike Davis, South Carolina, RB
Jeff Driskel, Florida, QB
Todd Gurley, Georgia, RB
Nick Marshall, Auburn, QB
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State, QB
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss, QB
Jonathan Williams, Arkansas, RB

The Thorpe Award is named after Jim Thorpe, and goes to the nation's top defensive back. Landon Collins has a chance to be the best safety in college football and will have a very good shot at winning this award.

Landon Collins

Last year's winner: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State.

Past Alabama Winners: Antonio Langham, 1993.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Vernon Hargreaves, Florida, CB
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, S
Tre'Davious White, LSU, CB

The Biletnikoff Award is given to the nation's most outstanding receiver, and is name after Fred Biletnikoff from Florida State. Amari Cooper headlines any list of great receivers in college football right now and should have his best season yet, with Lane Kiffin on the sidelines.
Amari Cooper

Last year's winner: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Sammie Coates, Auburn
Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss

The Doak Walker Award goes to the best running back in college football every year, and Bama has a couple guys on this list. TJ Yeldon, and Derrick Henry. The SEC is well represented here, no thanks to Auburn, with 11 total backs. Roughly 1 in 5 RBs on the complete list are from the SEC, with none being from Auburn.

Derrick Henry

Last year's winner: Andre Williams, Boston College.

Past Alabama winners: Trent Richardson, 2011.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Tra Carson, Texas A&M
Alex Collins, Arkansas
Mike Davis, South Carolina
Todd Gurley, Georgia
Terrence McGee, LSU
Josh Robinson, Mississippi State
Kelvin Taylor, Florida
Jonathan Williams, Arkansas
Trey Williams, Texas A&M

The Walter Camp Award is awarded to the Player Of The Year in college football. Alabama places 3 on this list: Landon Collins, Amari Cooper, and TJ Yeldon. I think Henry could be on the list later on in the season, but that will depend on how many carries he takes from Yeldon of course.


Last year's winner: Jameis Winston, Florida State.

Here are the rest of the SEC players on the list:

Mike Davis, South Carolina, RB
Todd Gurley, Georgia, RB
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida, CB
Nick Marshall, Auburn, QB
Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss, S
Ramik Wilson, Georgia, LB

These are just preseason lists based on past performance and hype, so expect several of these players to fall off as the season goes on and many more players to be added by December. But Alabama is well represented with 10 total players on the preseason watch lists, and with a few of the young guys that should step up, added to the fact that we will be in the playoff, it's a safe bet that at least one of these awards will be heading to Tuscaloosa.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Alabama vs USC, 2016

On Sept 3, 2016, the Alabama Crimson Tide will face off against the University of Southern California in Arlington, Texas.

The last time Alabama played in AT&T Stadium, Bama chicken-kicked Michigan 41-14 to start the 2012 season and this would be another great start to a championship run like that one was.

Alabama was supposed to play Penn State in this game, but according to Nick Saban Penn St "Bailed out on us".

Of all the big time non-conference games in recent years, this might be the biggest and most anticipated one of all. I know I've been wanting to play USC for about 10 years. Back when we'd have had no business thinking we could win against them. Back when Auburn thought they could beat them. I've always wanted these guys. And now we are going to get them.

This will be the 8th time in history Alabama and USC will have met. This will be the first time Alabama and USC will have played each other, barring a playoff matchup, in 31 years. Bama beat USC 24-3 in the Aloha Bowl in 1985.

Alabama leads the series 5-2.

Alabama and USC split the national title in 1978, even though USC beat Alabama that year. You can still piss off some old Trojan fans by bringing that one up.

USC is 21-11-1 all time against the SEC. But that won't matter on this night.

Alabama and USC have combined for 26 national titles, 66 bowl wins, 272 first team All-Americans, 797 NFL draftees, 52 College Football Hall Of Fame players, and 7 Heisman Trophy winners.

John McKay. USC Head Coach from 1960-1975.
 Won 4 national titles.
Paul "Bear" Bryant

USC Fullback Sam Cunningham
In 1970, the two schools played in one of the most important games in history. USC won the game 42-21, thanks to a huge game from African American fullback Sam Cunningham, who is credited with having a lot to do with college football becoming integrated in the south. Cunningham ran for 135 yards and 2 TDs on only 12 carries and the Trojans outgained Alabama by 300 yards. Bear Bryant personally sought out Cunningham after the game to congratulate him. Bryant already had one black player on the freshman squad, and people say that Bryant would have already had more black players on the team if he had thought it was socially acceptable at the time. Whatever the case may be, getting embarrassed in this way changed the way Bryant and Alabama saw things and paved the way for future Hall Of Famers like Ozzie Newsome to come along over the next several years. This game helped to reinforce what had already started and won over a lot of the ignorant fools who were going to fight it because they wanted the Tide to win and the message was clear that to win you needed to have the best players, regardless of the color of their skin.

The Cowboys Classic. Bama and USC. This will be awesome.

Lane Kiffin on the Alabama sideline.

Nick Saban coming off back to back titles. OK, I'm not gonna get carried away there.

“We are excited to participate in a game that is such an attractive matchup for the nation’s fans. The 2016 Cowboys Classic not only brings together two of college football’s most tradition-laden and successful programs, but teams that in 1970 played a significant role in shaping the history of the game. At USC, we have always tried to schedule as many outstanding nonconference opponents as possible because we believe that should be part of the experience our players get when they come here. The Trojans versus the Crimson Tide in Arlington will certainly be such a game.”
                                                                               - USC Coach Steve Sarkisian

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

SEC Media Days: I'm Back

A lot has happened in the year since I was last able to write here. I won't bother with catching up on old times, since we all know the good and bad things that happened in 2013. I will just start from this week, my favorite week of the offseason.

SEC Media Days is kicking in Hoover right now. This event will always hold an especially fond place in my heart, for obvious reasons. For those who don't know, or remember, go HERE. And you can also read THIS excellent article by @JonSolomonCBS that will catch you up on the past craziness that has been SEC Media Days.

But they've already forgotten about me because of this guy:

Alabama Fan With $300 National Championship Ring Hat


The past couple weeks, we've had to deal with a couple of off the field incidents, as is always the case during the summer for most major college football programs. Speedy back up running back Kenyan Drake had yet another brush with the law, and while this most recent case was much ado about nothing, it remains to be seen how it will affect his playing time and position on the team. Whatever happens, it should go without saying that Nick Saban will make the best decisions and we should respect whatever he does as he clearly knows what he is doing.

Huge defensive lineman Jarran Reed was arrested for DUI after he crashed into a parked car in his 2011 Dodge Charger. The incoming JUCO transfer blew a .13 on the breathalyzer. Alot of fun was made of Auburn QB Nick Marshall after he was caught with marijuana in his car during a traffic stop in Georgia last week, but that has nothing on this. While Marshall's actions were idiotic considering the position he is in, he didn't put anyone else in danger other than himself, and that is of course debatable these days with the changing views on and more knowledge of marijuana. But what Reed did, without question, put himself and anyone else with him or around him in danger and I doubt we see him on the field for awhile this year. I have faith that Saban will punish him justly and that Reed will learn from this. As bad as it is, people do make mistakes, especially young people, and there is always room for forgiveness and this can be put in the past if Reed does whatever Saban has in mind for him from this point forward.

 "We are disappointed in Jarran's actions and this is obviously not the kind of behavior we expect from our players," he said. "It is a privilege to represent the University of Alabama and there are responsibilities that go along with that privilege. We'll evaluate the situation and determine the appropriate discipline so better choices and decisions can be made in the future." - Nick Saban.

RB Altee Tenpenny was cited for possession of marijuana back in April, and LB Dillon Lee was arrested for DUI also in April. These guys are all for sure in Saban's doghouse. Thankfully, we have plenty of depth and every single one of these guys, while very talented players, has at least a couple other guys who can take their spots without us noticing a difference.

"The time for leniency has ended. The use of “internal discipline” is no longer enough. Nick Saban needs to tighten the reins on his program, make an example of someone publicly, and send the message to every one of his players that the offseason has ended, the time for work is here and any instances of poor behavior will not be tolerated." - Alex Scarborough. You can read his full article on all this HERE


As of this writing, Alabama has picked up 3 big time commitments for the 2016 class. Nick Saban is ridiculous and it is obvious that the man never sleeps. While Steve Spurrier is making jokes and pressing the flesh with the media, this is what Nick is doing: Preparing for future national titles. It is exactly why he is the very best there is.

4 star DT Benito Jones, Wayne County HS, Waynesboro MS. 
6'0 280
Chose Bama over Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida State 
Those who have seen him in person say that his hand-quickness, strength, and ability will make him among the top 2 or 3 guys in the country at his position when he graduates.

5 star CB Shyheim Carter, Kentwood HS, Kentwood, LA
6'0 185
Chose Bama over Georgia, Clemson, Mississippi St
Carter is considered the No. 1 DB prospect in the country in his class. Physicality is where is excels, so he fits the mold of a Dre Kirkpatrick of the future.

5 star ATH Demetris Robertson, Savannah Country Day School, Savannah, GA
6'0 165
Chose Bama over Auburn, Clemson, Florida

Robertson could be an elite talent at corner, safety, or wide receiver and is considered the No. 1 athlete in the country for 2016.

All 3 of these guys should be in the overall Top 30 when those lists come out in the future. Robertson and Carter have already been invited to the US Army All American Game.

Keep in mind, these kids won't set foot on campus for 2 years, but this is how you build a program that competes year in and year out for the top spot in the land.

News, Notes, and Links 

Jacob Coker, Jeff Driskel Potential SEC Villians 
"He’s no McCarron. Let’s get that out of the way first. Unlike his predecessor, Coker is about as unassuming as a major talent can get. He started out as a humble three-star recruit, and his disposition has remained the same. But with the runaway hype machine that’s surrounded his landing at Alabama -- not to mention that he transferred to Alabama in the first place -- you’ve got the perfect recipe for blind dislike."

Lane Kiffin also gets a mention of course.

Alabama's Flight Records Reveal Controlled Chaos Behind Securing The Nation's No. 1 Recruiting Class 
"Not even perhaps the most successful coach in the nation was immune to becoming just another frequent flyer in search of new talent. To determine just how frenzied this period was for Nick Saban, AL.com, through the Freedom of Information Act, obtained the logs of the 24-year-old plane (N1UA) registered to the Crimson Tide Foundation — the fundraising arm of the Alabama athletics department — that carried Saban and his staff to their destinations."

Steve Spurrier: Bama SEC Favorite
"Spurrier, who enters his 10th season leading the Gamecocks, called Alabama "the favorites" to win the SEC, in large part because of its recruiting efforts. The Crimson Tide wrapped up their third straight No. 1 class in February and have never finished outside of the top three in ESPN's rankings since Saban's first year in Tuscaloosa in 2007. With 16 current ESPN 300 commitments, they are well on their way to another top class."

Someone Hung An Alabama Flag In Texas A&M's Stadium 
"Someone -- perhaps an Alabama fan working as a construction worker doing renovations at Texas A&M's Kyle Field -- decided to have a little fun with the Tide's new SEC rival Monday morning and flew an Alabama flag outside of the stadium"

He got fired for it.

ESPN Projections For Each SEC Team Have Alabama Winning It All
"The Crimson Tide is projected to win 9.9 games and has a 4 percent chance of going undefeated. In addition to its 22.6 percent chance of winning the SEC, Alabama has a 38 percent chance of winning the SEC West. Alabama is the favorite in every game and has at least a 64.5 percent chance of winning all but the LSU (57.5) and Auburn (57.8) games"

Obviously, Alabama will win more than 10 games, but I like the way they crunch the numbers here.

"Auburn is the favorite to win every game this season except the Iron Bowl, but the Tigers have only the fourth-best odds of winning the SEC title for a second straight season."


Kirby Smart Is The Smartest Assistant Coach In College Football
“My family’s so happy in Tuscaloosa,” Smart said. “My wife loves it. We’ve got 6-year-old twins and a 2-year-old. We’ve been very fortunate. I moved seven times the first seven years I coached. The last, I guess, eight, going on eight, I’ve been in the same place, and my kids only know one place. So for us that’s very comfortable.”

Kirby Smart Ranks 4 Best Alabama Players He's Coached 

Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Javier Arenas.

Tide 2014: Coker Needs A Chance, Not Crushing Pressure
"If Coker doesn’t come right out of the gate looking like some combination of Joe Namath, Peyton Manning, Y.A. Tittle, an M1A1 Abrams tank and Secretariat, the fan backlash could be the biggest thing since … well, since the last second of the 2013 Auburn game. There is no meltdown like that of an angry Alabama fan."