Daily Archives: October 1, 2012

A look back: Brent Calloway at running back (video)

With Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart out for the year with knee injuries, possible help for the running back rotation could come from Brent Calloway, who has worked at H-back since the spring.

Calloway, a redshirt freshman, has played in three games this year, catching one pass for minus-2 yards.

At Russellville, he was the state’s Class 5A Back of the Year as a senior in 2010. He rushed for 1,974 yards and 29 touchdowns.

He spent the fall of 2011 at running back, and here is some video of him working at the position at the time. It was taken by former Daily Bama Blog editor Michael Casagrande, who was extremely good with the camera:

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Remembering Billy Varner

Retired University of Alabama Police Department officer and former Bear Bryant driver Billy Varner has died today at 76.

Varner met the legendary Alabama coach while a bartender at Tuscaloosa Country Club and the two became friends. Varner eventually became a bartender at Indian Hills Country Club, near where Bryant lived. At Bryant’s request, Varner eventually worked to become an officer with the UAPD and worked with Bryant from about 1975 until his death in 1983.

ESPN.com ran an excellent piece about Varner in May, and you can read it by clicking here.

In 1981, Sports Illustrated ran a story about Bryant chasing Amos Alonzo Stagg’s all-time college coaching wins record. Varner is featured in parts of it. Click here to read it. Frank Deford wrote it, and while it’s an excellent piece of writing, keep in mind that it’s not always complimentary of the University of Alabama. At the time, some folks felt as if it revealed too much about Bryant, such as at one point on a drive to Birmingham, the coach asked Varner if he had passed all his places to go to the bathroom. It’s put more bluntly than that in the story.

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Highlights from each of the first five games (videos)

Hey, since Saturday is off for Alabama, why not take this time to look at the season highlight videos so far. Each one comes from ESPN and is a minute to three minutes long:

Alabama 33, Ole Miss 14

Alabama 40, Florida Atlantic 7

Alabama 52, Arkansas 0

Alabama 35, Western Kentucky 0

Alabama 41, Michigan 14

Mosley grabs another player honor from Tide coaches

Who is Alabama’s most valuable player through five games?

You could make a case for linebacker C.J. Mosley. Alabama’s coaches have recognized him as one of the team’s players of the week following every game this year, including Saturday’s 33-14 win over Ole Miss.

Mosley was honored today along with five teammates by the Alabama coaches. Defensive back Dee Milliner and Mosley are the defensive players of the week. Wide receiver Amari Cooper and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker are offensive players of the week. On special teams, kick returner/wide receiver Christion Jones and place-kicker Jeremy Shelley were selected.

Through five weeks, here is the list of who has gotten a player of the week honor and how many times:

Offense
Two:
Eddie Lacy, D.J. Fluker
One: Amari Cooper, Chance Warmack, AJ McCarron, Kevin Norwood, Michael Williams and T.J. Yeldon

Defense
Five:
C.J. Mosley
Two: Dee Milliner
One: Robert Lester, Adrian Hubbard and Nico Johnson

Special teams
Three:
Cade Foster
Two: Dee Hart
One: Christion Jones, Jeremy Shelley, Vinnie Sunseri, John Fulton, Cody Mandell and DeAndrew White.

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Tide’s Hart, White out for the season

Dee Hart against Western Kentucky. (Copyright photo by Brennen Smith of The Decatur Daily)

DeAndrew White had eight catches and a pair of touchdowns this season. (Copyright photo by Gary Cosby Jr. of The Decatur Daily)

Running back/kick returner Dee Hart and receiver DeAndrew White will miss the rest of the season after suffering knee injuries in Saturday’s 33-14 win over Ole Miss.

“The MRI indicated that both Dee and DeAndrew sustained knee injuries that will require surgery and they will be out for the year,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a statement released this morning.

Hart is a freshman and fourth on the team with 88 rushing yards. He also has two catches for 18 yards and four punt returns for 50 yards. White, a sophomore, has caught eight passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

Both have used their redshirt seasons already, but even if they hadn’t, they each have played in two many games to qualify for a medical redshirt season.

This is the third offensive weapon Alabama has lost to a knee injury since the start of the season. Running back/fullback Jalston Fowler went down in the second game of the year.

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SEC honors Tide’s Christion Jones

The Southeastern Conference honored Alabama’s Christion Jones as special teams co-player of the week today.

He returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown in the Crimson Tide’s 33-14 win over Ole Miss on Saturday. It is the eighth longest return in school history. For the game, he had 161 all-purpose yards, including 142 on kickoff returns and 19 receiving yards on two catches.

Missouri’s Marcus Murphy is the other co-special teams player of the week after returning a punt 66 yards for a touchdown against Central Florida.

Others honors include Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (offense, freshman), Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings (defense), Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche (defense), Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews (offensive lineman), Jadeveon Clowney (defensive tackle), Georgia tailback Todd Gurley (freshman) and Georgia tailback Keith Marshall (freshman).

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Opinion: Tide will see no-huddle again — and maybe when it counts the most

This is my column for today’s print editions:

TUSCALOOSA — No. 1-ranked Alabama polished off Ole Miss 33-14 on Saturday night, but ultimately, that game could mean more than an ordinary win over a team the Tide usually beats.

Running back De’Anthony Thomas has helped Oregon score about 52 points a game. (AP photo by Ted S. Warren)

The Rebels gave Alabama a solid workout against the no-huddle offense, and this won’t be the only time this season the Tide sees this particular attack. For example, Tennessee went to the no-huddle this year and used it to score five offensive touchdowns in a 51-44 loss to fifth-ranked Georgia. The Tide will play the Vols on Oct. 20 in Knoxville.

But if you want to look down the road to, say, Jan. 7 in Miami, Alabama could see the reigning champion of the no-huddle offense, Oregon.

It’s not unreasonable to anticipate this possible matchup. Alabama is No. 1 and Oregon No. 2 in the major polls. Each of the past three BCS National Championship Games have featured one of those two teams.

Good luck in getting Alabama coach Nick Saban to discuss the possibility of playing in Miami, much less against a particular opponent. But after beating Ole Miss, he was willing to talk about his unhappiness with the way the no-huddle occasionally dinged his Crimson Tide and his respect for how the Rebels do what they do.

“I don’t think people give Ole Miss enough credit. Their offense is difficult to defend with the no-huddle situation and the perimeter speed they have,” said Saban, whose team gets an open date Saturday.

Oregon averages about 52 points a game and runs an average of 85 plays, which is 20 more points and 14 more plays than Ole Miss. Only four FBS teams average more plays than the Ducks: Marshall (92), Arizona (88), Louisiana-Monroe (87) and Houston (87).

Alabama ranks second nationally in total defense behind Tommy Tuberville’s Texas Tech team, but the Tide is first in points allowed.

Alabama has given up only five touchdowns this season, but two came against Ole Miss. And they were the first two sustained touchdown drives against the Tide’s starters this season. Michigan scored twice with the help of long passes, while Florida Atlantic drove for a touchdown against the Tide’s reserves.

The Rebels’ first touchdown covered 13 plays and 75 yards, while the second lasted 16 plays and 70 yards. Alabama managed to avoid more damage with the help of five sacks and three interceptions.

“At times, I think we got tired on the longer drives when we couldn’t sub players because if they don’t sub, you really can’t sub because when they snap it quick, you aren’t ready,” Saban said.

Saban said the problems revealed themselves early, but the Tide eventually grew accustomed to the pace.

“We weren’t ready to play when they hit the first big touchdown on their first drive,” Saban said. “Guys were still looking at the bench trying to get a signal. We got better as coach as the game went on. I think the players got used to the pace of the game as it went on, and I think we played a little better.”

Alabama defensive back Dee Milliner said the Tide needs to clean up its approach, which he figures the Tide coaches will make a priority this week.

“There were some things we could have capitalized on that we didn’t,” said Milliner, who made an interception, broke up four passes and had a sack. “We still have got to get better. We’ve got to watch film and try to regroup.”

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Sagarin ratings still think Tide is No. 1

Alabama’s rating in this week’s Sagarin computer rankings stayed relatively the same after the Tide’s 33-14 home win over Ole Miss.

Mathematician Jeff Sagarin compiles computer rankings for both USA Today and the Bowl Championship Series. In the ratings he does for USA Today (which include margin of victory), Alabama has 99.71 points, which is .25 down from a week ago. No. 2 Texas has 91.71, followed by No. 3 Florida (91.14), No. 4 South Carolina (90.92) and No. 5 Oregon (90.85).

In the Sagarin ratings for the BCS (which do not include margin of victory), Alabama is No. 2 with 93.80 points, which is .5 more than a week ago. LSU (94.37) is first. Florida (93.69) is third, followed by Georgia (92.85) and Ohio State (91.17). In the introduction to the rankings, Sagarin says these ratings are “politically correct” and less accurate.

Don’t worry about the Tide not being No. 1 in this set of rankings. Sagarin also says it takes more than five weeks for his ratings to have enough information to produce rankings that are based only on this season and eliminate any possible preseason bias.

Of the other five computer rankings the BCS uses, the Billingsley Report and Colley Matrix have released rankings. Billingsley has Alabama at No. 1, LSU second and Oregon third. The Colley Matrix, which is put together by Alabama-Huntsville professor Wesley N. Colley, has Alabama fourth, but keep in mind it’s early, and Colley’s computer program had the Tide eighth the previous week. Oregon State is No. 1, Notre Dame at No. 2 and Florida at No. 3.

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