Monthly Archives: October 2012

Trick-or-treater gets a pretty sweet treat from Carson Tinker

Alabama long-snapper Carson Tinker said on Twitter he had a trick-or-treater tonight but wound up giving him something other than candy. That child probably liked the prize a lot more than candy:

That wouldn’t be enough for Alabama freshman receiver Amari Cooper, however:

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Julio Jones’ big catch in 2009: A view from New Orleans

Earlier this week, we brought you the video of Julio Jones’ memorable 73-yard touchdown in a 24-15 win over LSU in 2009.

Jim Kleinpeter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune has written an excellent piece about that game and that play. Click here to read it.

Alabama trailed 15-13 with fewer than 11 minutes to play when Jones caught a short pass from Greg McElroy, then turned on the speed to score a touchdown, putting the Tide ahead for good.

“We practiced that all week,” Jones told Kleinpeter. “A situation like that, I feel like I should just step up and make the play. I did what I had to do.”

Here’s the video:

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Alabama football coach Nick Saban addresses reporters Wednesday

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban addressed reporters this evening after practice. Here are the highlights:

Opening comments: “It’s the time of year when everybody individually and collectively as a team needs to play your best football, continue to improve. Everybody knows what it takes to do that by this point in the season. Everybody knows the formula that they have to use to get their best, how they prepare, how they praactice. How they prepare for the game is really important this time of the year because you face so many different things. Every week it’s a different offensive gameplan, different defensive gameplan. To play with good fundamentals, block protection, tackling, blocking folks, turnovers, ball security — so many things that affect the outcome of a game. Ability to focus on those things, regardless of the circumstances that you’re in, wherever you’re playing, is really critical to being successful.

“That’s the challenge. That’s what we’re trying to help our players do. We certainly want to help our players have the very best opportunity to be able to play their best. And everything we do all week this week, as well as the rest of the weeks.”

On AJ McCarron (back bruise) and Amari Cooper (ankle): I know you’ll ask about AJ. He’s been able to practice and did fine the last two days with no issues or problems. Amari Cooper practiced today and did a good job. You always see how he feels tomorrow. Yesterday, AJ practiced and was OK today, so that’s a good sign. Coop practiced today and we’ll see if he had any problems tomorrow.”

On Guy Bailey stepping down as the university’s president: “We were excited about having President Bailey here with us. I met his wife Jan. I’m very sorry that he’s not going to be with us in the future. I wish him and his family the very best. I wish them God’s blessings.”

On LSU’s pass rush: They are one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league. They’ve got two really good edge rushers. They have really good team speed. Their inside guys can rush as well. Even though they’re bigger, more physical guys, they do have quickness and they can push the pocket. When you have edge rushers and you push the pocket in the middle, the quarterback has a hard time stepping up away from that rush. The combination of those things make them a very effective team. If we’re going to have success throwing the ball, like I always say, you’ve got to be able to protect, route runners have got to be able to get open. They’ve got to catch the ball when they’re open. The quarterback’s got to do a good job of delivering the ball on time in the right spot.”

On having not needed to play starters in the fourth quarter: “We want our team to be able to play for 60 minutes. We’ve had an opportunity to play a lot of players, and we expect them to play for 60 minutes and compete to the same standard, regardless of who’s playing in the game. They’re all part of the team, too, and I haven’t always been completely 100 percent pleased with the way some of those guys have gone into the game and played.

“They’re young, they’ll learn. The experience is invaluable to them. There’s a lot of positives in what’s happened as well. We want to play for four quarters. That’s what we condition and train for. The fact that we haven’t had to do it is no fault of the players.”

On how LSU’s offense is different with Zach Mettenberger at QB: I think the difference probably is what they did differently with the two quarterbacks that they had last year who played. Jordan Jefferson did some different things than their other quarterback (Jarrett Lee). What they do this year is more like what they did when their other quarterback played. I think both ways that they play is effective. It’s difficult to defend, and it’s really difficult to defend when you don’t know which way they’re going to play. They’ve got a good team, they’ve got good skill guys, they can run the ball well, and they’re capable of making explosive plays on people.

“But their offense is a lot like it was before Jordan JEfferson started to play last year.”

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Happy birthday, Alabama coach Nick Saban, from a special group

Dee Milliner said the team wished Nick Saban a happy birthday, although the coach essentially asked them to get to the business of football. (Copyright photo by Annie Bates)

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Alabama coach Nick Saban celebrated his 61st birthday Wednesday, although he claims he forgot until his wife, Terry Saban, reminded him in the morning.

His team reminded him, too, at the start of team meetings in the afternoon.

“All the guys when he walked in for the meetings said happy birthday to him,” Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner said. “We knew it was his birthday today. We tried to send him out to a happy point with his birthday, but he’s still the same old coach.

” ‘Yeah, guys, it’s my birthday today,’ but he was focused in, ready for the meetings to start.”

Milliner said Saban actually smiled.

“He did a little smile, but he’s Coach Saban,” Milliner said. “He’s always focused in on what he’s supposed to be doing.

When Saban talked to reporters after Wednesday’s practice, he opened by offering thanks.

“I probably ought to use this opportunity, not that it’s the most important thing happening, is I’d like to thank all the people who sent emails or called and wished me happy birthday,” Saban said. “It means a lot. I don’t get much opportunity to enjoy it this time of year, but certainly relationships mean a lot and people thinking of you makes you feel really good. I appreciate that and thank everybody for that.”

If Saban thinks the birthday wishes are finished, he is mistaken. On Wednesday night, LSU coach Les Miles was asked by a fan on a radio show if he would wish Saban happy birthday.

Miles said yes. Should we believe him?

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Thoughts from Wednesday’s Alabama football practice

An ESPN camera crew at Alabama’s practice today.

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Alabama worked out in full pads on a mild afternoon today, and just because it was Nick Saban‘s birthday, that doesn’t mean he was any less intense than usual.

We were inside the gates for about 16 minutes, and during that time, he corrected loudly several of the defensive backs briefly for not doing a drill correctly. We have video below.

We also watched Alabama receiver Amari Cooper, who twisted his ankle Saturday against Mississippi State. He didn’t participate in practice during our viewing periods Monday or Tuesday, but today, however, he looked better. He ran through some drills and looked fine although not 100 percent.

ESPN’s camera crew was at practice, filming with reporter Samantha Steele. The network is doing an “Inside the Program” piece on Alabama.

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University of Alabama statements about Guy Bailey stepping down

The University of Alabama announced today Guy Bailey will step down as the school’s president.

In a statement issued by the university, Bailey said he is resigning to attend to the health of his his wife, Jan Tillery Bailey.

Bailey was hired July 11 after serving as Texas Tech’s president for four years. He took over the post at Alabama on Sept. 5.

Guy Bailey’s statement: “Today I have notified Chancellor Witt that I am stepping down as President of The University of Alabama. This is a decision my wife Jan and I made together after much discussion about how we can best address her health, which is the most important priority in our lives. By announcing this decision today, I hope the Board of Trustees will be in a position to take the next appropriate steps during its meeting in Tuscaloosa this week. We want to thank the faculty, staff, students, alumni and our many friends for your warm welcome. My family and I appreciate your understanding and your prayers.”

Statement from Paul Bryant Jr., President Pro Tempore of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees: “We understand and respect that President Bailey’s priorities at this time must be focused on his wife Jan’s recovery. The Baileys are in our prayers and have our support. We will address the issue of presidential succession at The University of Alabama in a specially called Board meeting Thursday.”

Statement from Dr. Robert E. Witt, Chancellor of the University of Alabama System: “I respect and appreciate President Bailey’s decision. His priorities reflect his commitment to both his wife Jan and The University of Alabama. He and Jan will remain in our prayers.”

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Nick Saban talks Alabama football with ESPN

ESPN’s Samantha Steele spends the day with Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Here are a couple of clips.

In the first, Steele rides along with Saban to work. She mentions it’s his birthday, and he said he had forgotten until his wife mentioned it.

In the second, Saban talks a bit about his team and facing LSU. After that, Saban gets a birthday cake.

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Is Nick Saban curmudgeonly? The Alabama coach says he isn’t

Alabama coach Nick Saban says he’s not “curmudgeonly.” (AP photo by Butch Dill)

On the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference today, ESPN’s Pat Forde asked Nick Saban what he thinks about how some view him as “curmudgeonly.”

Saban can give as well as he can take, and he put his deadpan sense of humor on full display with his answer.

“I don’t know what that word means,” he said evenly. “I don’t think it’s accurate,  and I’m not sure I care.”

When given a definition of the word, he continued, again with an even tone: ”I appreciate the insight. I don’t think that people that know me would say that. I don’t think the players here would say that. I don’t know if that’s something that gets created somewhere outside of here. It’s not especially complimentary. I understand the words that I understand. I didn’t really understand that one. I’ve learned a lot today.”

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Alabama football’s C.J. Mosley: Hip not a problem now

C.J. Mosley leads the team in tackles. (AP photo by Jeff Roberson)

This is my story for today’s print editions:

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Ask Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley about the last time the Crimson Tide played LSU, and he will say he has mostly good memories. Mostly.

Alabama beat the Bengal Tigers 21-0 in January in the BCS National Championship Game, but midway through the third quarter, Mosley was sprawled on the Louisiana Superdome turf, uncertain if his career would continue.

Mosley dislocated his hip while getting tackled by LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson while returning an interception. Even before he was examined, he figured that might be the case because he had dislocated his elbow earlier in the year, and the feeling was similar.

“It was a great win. Things happen,” Mosley said. “You can’t prevent that. It was just a freak accident. But overall, we won the game and I was happy for the team and I was happy for the way I played.”

Mosley smiled this week as he said that, but at the time, it looked like a career-changing play. The television replay isn’t as gruesome as the one involving South Carolina Marcus Lattimore, who dislocated his knee this past weekend. But after it happened, as cameras showed Mosley lying on his side, his right leg appeared to be at an odd angle.

“At that time … I was like, ‘What’s going to happen?’ But once I found out what was wrong and found out how long rehab was going to be, I got my mind right and just got into rehab and got right back on the field,” Mosley said.

After an MRI exam, Mosley was told he wouldn’t need surgery and that rehabilitation would help him heal. Mosley said that took only about a month of rehabilitation work. Even getting the hip back into the socket wasn’t complicated — that was done on the field, before Mosley was taken off on a cart.

“Overall, the rehab time wasn’t long,” he said. “But day-by-day it kind of seemed like it. But I was lucky enough and blessed enough to get back on the field and do what I’m doing now.”

He said the only effect from the injury he still feels is a small loss of motion on his leg, but that hasn’t seemed to slow him down this year.

After the injury and his recovery time, the Tide junior has turned into Alabama’s most consistent player on defense.

He has 65 tackles, which is 29 more than safety Vinnie Sunseri, who is in second place. Last year, with the struggles with the elbow, Mosley had 37 stops.

Maybe a better indication of his value to the Tide defense isn’t the tackles. Instead, look at the player awards the Tide coaches give out each Sunday after a game. They usually honor two or three players each for offense, defense and special teams.

Mosley has seven awards, which is three more than anyone else on the team. The only time he wasn’t a player of the game was after the Tide’s 44-13 win over Tennessee. Even in that one, he had a team-high seven tackles and an interception.

“He’s more confident with everything he’s doing,” said Tide senior Nico Johnson, Mosley’s friend and fellow inside linebacker. “He’s having fun. I think his first couple years, he was more worried about the results. Now he’s just having fun and flying around, not worried about making a mistake. He’s able to accept, if I failed, it’s OK, I’ll put that play behind me and go on to the next one. That’s why he’s able to play at the level he’s playing at now.”

And as for those player awards, Mosley can smile about those, too.
When asked last week if he knew his name wasn’t on the list, he said, “Nah. I didn’t know. The only way I find out is when you (reporters) tell me.”

When a reporter joked about demanding a recount, Mosley laughed.
“Nah, it’s all right,” he said.

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LSU’s Les Miles: Not using BCS tape for scouting purposes

LSU head coach Les Miles brings the nation’s No. 5 team into Saturday’s game. (AP photo by Eric Kayne)

If LSU coach Les Miles is looking back at the BCS National Championship Game tape as part of his preparation for Saturday, he’s not saying.

Although LSU’s 21-0 loss to Alabama was only about 10 months ago, Miles said so much has changed with LSU and Alabama the tape isn’t as much use as it would be otherwise.

“I recognize that’s a history some of the guys on the football team will carry with them,” Miles said. “That’s more of a last-year issue than a this-year issue. … Lot of new guys playing on both sides of the ball. Different uniforms. Different LSU team. Looking forward to playing well and being representative in our stadium.”

As for this year’s Alabama team: “A very, very quality opponent.”

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Basic details for Saturday’s Alabama-LSU game

McCarley Northway, left, and Shelby Allison at an Alabama home game earlier this year. Both are 11 and attend Union Hill School in Somerville. They attended the game with McCarley’s parents, Jim and Pam Northway, and McCarley’s older sister, Riley Northway. McCarley and Shelby appeared on the Bryant-Denny Stadium JumboTron, and according to Jim, about 20 different people asked take their photo. Shelby’s parents are Shannon Allison and Tim Allison. (Photo provided by Jim Northway)

Who: No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) at No. 5 LSU (7-1, 3-1)

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Television: CBS. Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson will call the game from the booth, while Tracy Woolfson will serve as sideline reporter.

Eli Adams is only 3, but he already is an Alabama fan, wearing his 2011 national championship hat. Eli and his mother, Scarlet Adams, live in Wetumpka. His grandfather, Hal Adams, submitted the photo.

Where: Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

ESPN GameDay: The popular show will broadcast from Tiger Stadium for the ninth time overall and the first time since 2009. The telecast goes from 8-9 a.m. Central on ESPNU and from 9-11 a.m. Central on ESPN. This is the sixth time the show has broadcast from the location of the Alabama-LSU game, including 1996 (Alabama 26-0), 2005 (LSU 16-13), 2008 (Alabama 27-21), 2011 regular season (LSU 9-6) and 2011 BCS game (Alabama 21-0).

The series: Alabama leads 46-25-5. LSU coach Les Miles is 5-3 against the Crimson Tide, which is a school record for wins against Alabama. Nick Saban is 3-4 against LSU, including 3-3 while leading the Tide.

LSU vs. the No. 1 team: The Bengal Tigers are 2-9-1 when facing the No. 1 team in the country, which includes 0-2 against Alabama. LSU fell 3-0 to Alabama at home in 1979 and 27-21 in overtime in 2008 at home. The two wins came in 1997 against Florida 28-21 at home and 2007 against Ohio State 38-24 in the BCS National Championship Game.

Three times in a year: Saturday will mark the third time Alabama and LSU have played in the span of 364 days, including last year’s regular season and BCS Championship Game. The Bengal Tigers have gone through that once before with Ole Miss in 1959-60. LSU won 7-3 on Oct. 31, 1959, but Ole Miss won 21-0 in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1960. Then on Oct. 29, 1960, the two teams tied 6-6.

Bama defense: The Tide leads the nation in total defense, scoring defense, pass defense and run defense. Last year, the Tide became the first team since Oklahoma in 1986 to lead all four categories at the end of the season.

Facing the old coach: Saban isn’t the only former LSU coach the Bengal Tigers have faced. They’re 5-3 against former coaches, including 3-3 against Saban and 0-2 against Paul Dietzel, beating him in 1966 and 1973 when he coached at South Carolina.

Perfect kickers: Alabama’s Jeremy Shelley hasn’t missed in 49 kicks this year, including 40 extra points and nine field goals. He appeared to miss an extra point against Tennessee, but the scorekeeper ruled it was a team miss because the fault wasn’t with Shelley. Only one other kicker in the NCAA FBS division hasn’t missed this year: Navy’s Nick Sloan (25-25 EXP, 7-7 FG).

Next for Alabama: The Crimson Tide hosts Texas A&M on Nov. 10. Either CBS will televise the game at 2:30 p.m. Central or ESPN will carry it at 6:45 p.m. Central.

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Flashback: Bear Bryant and No. 1 Alabama wins at LSU in 1979 (video)

Alabama has faced LSU twice while ranked No. 1, and both instances came at Baton Rouge, La.

Bear Bryant‘s 1979 national champions squeeked by the Bengal Tigers 3-0, and in 2008, Nick Saban‘s team won 27-21 in overtime at Tiger Stadium.

We have two videos from the 1979 game for you. The first in the short highlight film, and below that, is the beginning of the Bryant show the following day, as the legendary Tide coach gives his thoughts on the game. Of course, Bryant and host Charley Thornton indulge in soda and chips from the show’s sponors first.

Younger Alabama players learn to watch for the tiger at Tiger Stadium

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – Because Alabama is playing at LSU on Saturday, the veteran Crimson Tide players have a big lesson to pass along to their younger teammates this week:

Watch out for the tiger.

LSU has had a live tiger as a mascot since 1936, beginning with “Mike I.” The current tiger is “Mike VI” and has remained on duty since 2007.

LSU parks his cage in a special place for home football game days: by the opposing team’s locker room.

“We pretty much let everybody know now,” said Alabama’s Damion Square, a fifth-year senior defensive end. “Anybody that’s been through it before, we kind of let the younger guys know that as soon as you come out of the locker room, to your left will be a live tiger. Be ready for that. They’re pretty much ready for it.”

We’re told legendary coach Bear Bryant always had a special greeting for Mike — he always tipped his hat to him.

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Alabama’s Barrett Jones: Up the middle is perfectly fine play

Alabama’s Barrett Jones said he likes running the ball up the middle. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Count Alabama center Barrett Jones as a firm believer in running the ball up the middle.

Head coach Nick Saban related Monday his wife, Terry Saban, grumbles about that particular strategy. Apparently, Jones hears grumbles from others, too.

“Fans always say, ‘They keep running the ball up the middle.’ And I want to tell them, ‘Well, first of all there’s about 20 different plays that go up the middle. It’s not just the same play.’ They don’t call, ‘Hey guys, up the middle on one,’ ” Jones said. “It may not be exciting but it’s worked well for us. I think most really good teams in Alabama history could run the ball pretty well between the tackles.”

What are some of those plays? Well, Jones isn’t willing to break out the playbook.

He hesitated in answering before saying, “I’d have to get a greaseboard and draw them up for you.”

When told it’s fine to have second-and-six, Jones replied, “That’s right, nothing wrong with second-and-six. Second-and-six is better than second-and-16.”

When Saban was asked about that strategy Monday, he smiled and said, “You kind of sound like my wife. She grumbles at night when I go home because we run the ball up the middle.”

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Thoughts from Tuesday’s Alabama football practice

Tide safety Robert Lester in practice.

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — The Crimson Tide spent this afternoon working out in helmets, shoulder pads and helmets. We were allowed through the gates for about 16 minutes.

Here are some thoughts about what I was able to see.

–Freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper dressed out but didn’t go through any drills for the second straight day. He is nursing an ankle injury, but while he walked slowly and with a limp Monday, he appeared to move along with much less of a problem today.

–Starting quarterback AJ McCarron looked fine. He bruised his back Saturday against Mississippi State, but if you didn’t know that, you wouldn’t think he was hurt at all. We watched him throw, and he appeared comfortable.

–As you would expect from a three-year starter, Robert Lester seems to run through all the defensive back drills perfectly. Maybe he saves his mistakes for when we’re outside the gates, but when we’ve had a chance to watch him, he always looks so solid he could teach it to the younger guys.

Nick Saban seemed to pay particular attention to the defensive backs when they went through a tackling drill. He emphasized they were going to need to make sure their tackling was good this week.

–When the defensive backs worked through their nickel alignment, which includes five in the secondary, walk-ons on the offensive side wore the jersey numbers of important LSU players, including receivers James Wright (No. 82), Chase Clement (88), Jarvis Landry (80) and Odell Beckham Jr. (3). Spencer Ware (11) and true freshman Jeremy Hill (33), a rising contributer, were represented in the backfield.

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