Alabama fans enjoyed a pep rally on Saturday afternoon at Miami Beach.
Click here for 23 photos from the event.
Alabama fans enjoyed a pep rally on Saturday afternoon at Miami Beach.
Click here for 23 photos from the event.
Derrick Henry had a decent day for the East squad in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl today. Here’s the Associated Press story:
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Alabama running back commit Derrick Henry ran for 53 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl on Saturday, showcasing the form that made him a key recruit for the Crimson Tide.
Henry also scored on a 2-point conversion to help the East team beat the West 15-8. When the decision was made to go for 2, Henry knew he could get in.
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Henry said. “I’ve been looking forward to this game more than watching Alabama play. This is the height of competition, and I wanted to show I can play.”
Wide receiver James Quick announced that he’d stay in his hometown and play for Louisville, which is fresh off a Sugar Bowl win over Florida. Quick scored on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Auburn commit Jeremy Johnson for the East.
The West went ahead 8-7 with just less than seven minutes to go when Max Browne, a Washington state high-school passing record-holder from Sammamish, Wash., completed a 16-yard TD pass to Derrick Griffin. Browne, a Southern California commit, followed with a 2-point conversion pass to tight end DeSean Smith, who has committed to LSU.
Alabama beat Oakland 65-45 at home Saturday, breaking a two-game losing streak and three-game home losing skid.
Alabama junior guard Trevor Releford led the way with 18 points and four assists, while Levi Randolph added 15 points for the Crimson Tide (8-5). Trevor Lacey managed only four points on four foul shots, but he passed out seven asssists.
Reserve center Moussa Gueye had four points and nine rebounds. Alabama guard Andrew Steele returned after missing seven games with a sports hernia. He had two points, four rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes on the floor.
“The challenge on the interior to guard Corey Petros, their second leading scorer, was tough but I thought Nick and Moussa did a terrific job on him,” Grant said. “Overall, we had a great effort from all of our guys defensively. Oakland got the edge on offensive rebounding but otherwise I thought the intensity and focus was really good today.”
Petros had two points for Oakland (7-10), while Duke Mondy led the way with 11.
We’ve got a link to The Decatur Daily’s photo gallery from today’s BCS media day at Sun Life Stadium, which will host Monday night’s Alabama-Notre Dame game.
Click here to view 50 images. You don’t need a subscription to view Decatur Daily photo galleries.
Other galleries from this week:
Click here for photos from Alabama’s arrival at Miami International Airport.
MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — Hand some of these Alabama football players a microphone, and they’ll go to town.
That goes especially for sophomore outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard (42) and freshman offensive lineman Alphonse Taylor. They took the microphones from two Birmingham television stations and interviewed each other and teammates Xavier Dickson (47), a sophomore linebacker, and freshman Cyrus Jones (8), a freshman receiver.
They put on a short show today at the BCS media day at Sun Life Stadium.
Hubbard asks Taylor what it was like to block him on the scout team. Taylor asks Hubbard what it’s like to play for Alabama. They ask Dickson how fast he runs the 40-yard dash, casting a little doubt on his answer. They also claim Jones looks like a character from “Friday Night Lights” called Water Bug.
Anyway, it’s about two minutes long, so it won’t take too long.
Each day until the BCS National Championship Game, Daily Bama Blog contributor Brett Hudson will count down to kickoff, giving us bits and pieces of that day’s significance to Alabama and Notre Dame. Today is two days until the game, which means Brett is examining the number “two.”
–Alabama’s opponents are averaging 2.46 yards a rushing attempt by way of 421 carries for 1,037 yards.
–Alabama is No. 2 nationally in points allowed per game with 10.7, behind Notre Dame’s 10.3.
–Notre Dame has given up only two rushing touchdowns this season.
–Notre Dame has gone for a 2-point conversion twice and made it once. The Irish have not seen an opposing team go for 2.
–Notre Dame is tied with Florida State, Toledo and Ball State for second in the nation in field goals made with 24. Oklahoma State in No. 1 with 25. Alabama has made 15 this season.
–Ole Miss was 2-for-2 on fourth down against Alabama’s defense. Both conversions came on the same drive, which resulted in a touchdown that made the score 27-14 midway through the second quarter.
MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — A pair of Alabama players were sent home for a violation of team rules, and today, Tide coach Nick Saban said the penalty was a matter of understanding consequences.
The players were identified as freshman linebacker Dillon Lee and Ryan Anderson, according to published reports. The news was reported first Friday night by The Crimson White, the University of Alabama student newspaper.
The two players went home by bus. From Miami to Tuscaloosa is about 20 hours.
“I talk about being responsible for your own self-determination,” Saban said today. “We clearly define the expectations for every player. We also clearly define the consequences, if those expectations are not met. We also have a leadership group that I spoke with before, that I would never make a decision without, sort of, their stamp of approval.
“So, the combination of all of those things, it’s very, very difficult. If you have children of your own, and your children don’t meet your expectations, and you have to sort of, whatever it is you do to, sort of, whether it’s punishment or whatever, it’s probably more difficult for you to do sometimes than it is for them. I think that’s certainly the case in this situation.
“It’s more difficult for me to carry this out than it may be, even, for the players, because I love the players. I love the players on our team, and I don’t really ever want to do anything that hurts a player. But does this hurt a player, or does this help the player understand the consequences of not doing what’s been defined for you do to, because most of the time, when you have those rules or regulations, those consequences can be significant in your life. … So, maybe it helps them learn, and I’m hopeful, in this case, it’ll help these guys learn. That’s the only reason do to it.”
MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — It was media day for the BCS National Championship Game at Sun Life Stadium, and Alabama coach Nick Saban spent about an hour speaking to reporters. We don’t have a transcript of his entire time on stage, but we’ve got his lengthy opening comment:
“Great to see everybody. Great to be here today. Good morning, everybody. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Orange Bowl Committee and everybody here in South Florida for the great hospitality they’ve provided our team, our coaches, our football families here. We really do understand all the hard work that they do, what they put in in preparation, as well as what they do in taking care of us while we’re here, and we certainly do appreciate that.
“You know, as a team, we certainly embrace the challenges that every season sort of brings, and we certainly want our team, our players to demand a standard of excellence that’s going to help them be all they can be, whether it’s personally, academically, or athletically, and certainly we’re here to try to take advantage of a great opportunity that they’ve created for themselves in terms of what they’ve been able to accomplish this yearvagainst a very good Notre Dame team.
“And I think the thing about having a great attitude toward trying to be all you can be, it sort of shares the responsibility that players and coaches have to continue to improve so that they can reach their full potential. We’ve always tried to develop a sort of be-a-champion sort of character with our players in terms of the importance of being a team, sort of respecting and trusting the principles and values of the organization and each other as teammates. We certainly want our players to be positive in the attitude that they have about trying to be all they can be and the body language that they present, and how it affects other people and the responsibility that leaders have to affect other people in a positive way. We want our players to be responsible for their own self-determination, which means that I can do my job. We define the expectation and they go about doing it in a way that’s going to help them be successful, and that certainly takes a tremendous work ethic.
“That is a combination of a lot of intangibles, whether it’s ability to give effort on a consistent basis, play with the mental and physical toughness to be a great competitor, and have the discipline to execute what you need in whatever it is you’re choosing to do. So those are some of the challenges that we have. It’s one thing to establish those things, it’s another thing to sustain them, and certainly our challenge has been to sustain them, and in some ways you fight human nature a little bit when you try to sustain those things in terms of people that have success kind of want to be rewarded for it and want to be able to take it easy, and success is not something that’s a continuum that you can
take for granted; it’s an ongoing process that you have to work at every day because you’re always going to have new challenges, and that’s certainly going to be the challenge for our team here in the opportunity that we have to play Notre Dame.”
This is my story for today’s print editions:
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Could Alabama’s lone loss of the year give Notre Dame the clue it needs to beat the Crimson Tide on Monday night?
Only a 29-24 home loss to Texas A&M blemishes Alabama’s record as the SEC champion Crimson Tide (12-1) prepares to face the top-ranked Irish (12-0) in the BCS National Championship Game. The Crimson Tide struggled early to track down the Aggies’ quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, and Notre Dame running back Theo Reddick figures his team learned something by watching that game.
“We can take advantage of their secondary,” Riddick told reporters Thursday morning during Notre Dame’s BCS session with reporters.
Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner said he’s glad Riddick is picking on the Tide’s secondary. He said if Notre Dame thinks the secondary is a weak link, the Tide cornerbacks and safeties will get a chance to prove the Irish wrong.
However, Riddick brings up an interesting point: Could Notre Dame take advantage of its running quarterback the way Texas A&M did Manziel?
Monday will mark the fifth time this year Alabama has faced a quarterback who rushed for at least 300 yards this season: Michigan’s Denard Robinson (1,166 yards), Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace (363), Western Carolina’s Troy Mitchell (433), Manziel (1,181), and Golson (305).
Alabama limited Robinson to 27 yards and beat Michigan 41-14. Wallace had minus-14 in a 33-14 loss to the Crimson Tide. Mitchell rushed for 6 as Alabama blasted Western Carolina 49-0. And even though Manziel finished with 92 rushing yards in the win over Alabama, he managed only 41 after the opening quarter, as the Tide adjusted its pass-rushing scheme.
However, Manziel completed 24 of 31 passes for 253 yards, and that’s what Alabama defensive players say is the real penalty when facing a running quarterback. They have to cover receivers longer, and during that time, someone might slip open, leading to a big pass play.
“That’s a great weapon for any team,” Alabama senior defensive end Damion Square said. “A quarterback like that can make something out of anything he calls. He can call a play that ends up busted, and then the quarterback can scramble around for five seconds and create havoc for our defense.”
Manziel did that on his first touchdown pass against the Crimson Tide. While he scrambled, Alabama lost receiver Ryan Swope, who found himself wide open in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass.
“The longer (Golson) scrambles, the longer we have to stay with our receivers,” Alabama safety Robert Lester said. “When you have to cover for four or five seconds, it’s easier to lose somebody.”
Clearly, Golson hasn’t had the season Manziel has, even though both are redshirt freshmen. Golson had 13 fewer touchdowns and about 2,100 fewer yards of total offense. But Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said Golson can make athletic plays that not many quarterbacks can.
“Extended plays are how they make big plays,” said Smart, whose defense leads the nation in fewest plays allowed of 10 yards or more, according to ESPN’s statistics information department. “You look at their scramble reel, there’s a lot of plays that the guy has really great arm talent.
“I can see in my mind three plays we watched over and over, he scrambles to his right, throws it all the way across the field to his left to a wide open receiver where the guy just lost him. They had him covered, and they just lost him.”
Alabama has used backup quarterback Blake Sims as the scout-team quarterback to simulate Golson. But Smart said the scout team struggles to duplicate what happens when the quarterback scrambles.
“It’s hard to simulate a play that extends that long,” Smart said. “You can’t do it, you really can’t. You just play with great effort and great discipline and do your job as a defense.”
When: 3 p.m. today
Where: Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa
Records: Alabama 7-5, Oakland 7-9.
Alabama lineup: G Trevor Lacey, 6-3, So., 13.3 ppg., 4.0 rpg., 3.3 assists; G Trevor Releford, 6-0, Jr., 15.4 ppg., 2.6 assists; F Levi Randolph, 6-5, So., 7.4 ppg., 3.5 rpg.; F Rodney Cooper, 6-6, So., 12.4 ppg., 4.5 rpg.; F Nick Jacobs, 6-8, So., 4.9 ppg., 2.6 rpg.
Oakland lineup: G Travis Bader, 6-6, So., 20.2 ppg., 2.9 rpg.; G Duke Mondy, 6-4, Jr., 12.1 ppg., 4.3 rpg., 4.8 assists; G Ryan Bass, 5-9, Jr., 8.7 ppg., 1.8 rpg.; F Drew Valentine, 6-5, Sr., 8.7 ppg., 6.2 rpg.; C Corey Petros, 6-10, So., 13.5 ppg., 7.7 rpg.
Noteworthy: Alabama has lost five of its last six, including its last three at home. … In the last five games, opponents have outscored the Crimson Tide by 9.0 points a game in the second half alone. … Lacey leads the Southeastern Conference by making 44.6 percent from 3-point range. … Alabama and Oakland met for the first time last season with the Crimson Tide taking a 74-57 win. … This is Alabama’s final non-conference regular-season game of the season, as the Tide opens SEC play Tuesday at Missouri. … Oakland University is based in Rochester, Mich. … Former Alabama head coach Wimp Sanderson will serve as the color analyst on CSS’s television coverage of the game.
This is my opinion column for today’s editions:
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Alabama ranks first nationally in total defense, and it’s a large reason the Crimson Tide will enter Monday night’s BCS National Championship Game as a 10-point favorite.
But who deserves the credit? Is this Alabama head coach Nick Saban‘s defense, while Kirby Smart is little more than a glorified position coach who has the coordinator title and draws a nice salary? Or has Saban simply laid down the guidelines for Smart, who has taken them and imagined something that’s a little different and just as productive as what his boss might produce?
The truth is somewhere in between.
Certainly, the defensive-minded Saban has coached since 1973, two years before Smart was born. Saban coordinated his first defense in 1983 when Smart was 7. In addition, Smart had only one year of experience as a defensive coordinator (2001 at Division II Valdosta State) when Saban hired him in 2008.
It didn’t seem like such a big deal when Saban named Smart the defensive coordinator. After all, we all just knew for an absolutely certainty Smart wouldn’t be allowed to run the actual defense, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Sarcasm intended.
But if football is a class and Saban is the teacher, then Smart is the A-plus student. He willingly says Saban has made him the coach he is today. And that’s an awfully good one.
Part of managing a team includes replacing yourself on your coaching staff, and Saban, the ace defensive coordinator, has replaced himself with … an ace defensive coordinator.
Smart, 37, really does run Alabama’s defense. Of course, Saban has the final say over Smart’s plans. But has taken the base of knowledge Saban has given him and created something that can win big.
Because of that, Smart has earned such trust from Saban he gets more freedom to do what he wants than offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. To be fair, Nussmeier has coordinated Alabama’s offense for only 13 games. Meanwhile, Smart has had five years to prove over and over he deserves the long leash Saban gives him.
“We speak the same language and have been on the same page for a long time, so I have total faith, trust and confidence in what he’s doing during the game in terms of calling the game as well as making adjustments,” Saban said recently.
It’s easy to get confused about who actually runs the defense because Saban almost never allows his staff members to speak to reporters. Saban always serves as the spokesman for the defense, leading reasonable people to believe he created it and runs it.
The no-interview policy is nothing against Smart. Instead, Saban has told reporters he wants one voice — and one voice only — to represent his program.
But when Smart gets a rare chance in front of reporters, as he did Thursday in a 40-minute session, he looks a little less like a Barney Rubble look-a-like and a little more like a potential head coach.
The players say Smart has shown he can be just as tough as Saban. When Smart first joined the Alabama staff, he handled the safeties. Robert Lester, now a senior and a three-year starter, was a freshman destined to be redshirted that season.
Lester said he struggled so badly to understand one day, Smart told him to get off the field.
But the players say Smart also teaches and analyzes exceptionally well, too. Lester said Smart telling him to get off the field helped focus his attention. Smart eventually got through to him, and you see the result today.
Linebacker Nico Johnson said when the defensive players leave the field, Smart is there, already giving the answers to any questions they possibly could have.
Johnson said it’s why he is called “Coach Smart.” He’s the coach of the defense, and he’s, well, smart.
When Smart leaves for a head coaching job, it won’t be gloom and doom for Alabama defense. Saban will find another bright young coach to handle.
But at that time, we’ll see if Smart has absorbed Saban’s biggest lesson — don’t forget to replace yourself. When Smart becomes the head coach, he’ll need his own ace coordinator to imagine another great defense.