Monthly Archives: September 2011

Welcome to the swamp

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You’re looking live at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. The big-game feel is in the central Florida air.

More updates to come all weekend. Don’t go far. Also follow the twitter feed for bonus coverage.

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A video trip down Alabama/Florida memory lane

It’s another travel day for this sports writer, so this post was scheduled last night. I didn’t want you to go without today because of my trip to Gainesville. So here is video look-back at some of the great Alabama/Florida games of the past.

2010: Alabama 31, Florida 6

2009: Alabama 32, Florida 13 (SEC Championship Game)

2008: Florida 31, Alabama 20 (SEC Championship Game)


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Matured Kirkpatrick still bringing the swag

Kirkpatrick against Arkansas

There’s no denying the impact Dre Kirkpatrick’s had on the field this season. Just see the Penn State fumbles and last Saturday’s open-field tackling. Coming off what Nick Saban said was his best game in an Alabama jersey, Kirkpatrick faces a different challenge at Florida. Here’s what I wrote about him today:

TUSCALOOSA — Dre Kirkpatrick can chuckle looking back at his 19-year-old self.

As a 165-pound freshman, he spent most of his time on the sideline with nothing to do as established players fueled Alabama’s 2009 national title run.

“I was one of the little jokers on the sideline because I didn’t get much playing time,” he said.
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Now a junior and 25 pounds of muscle heavier, the cornerback has just as much fun with the game. Now, however, Kirkpatrick is doing it with big plays for the third-ranked Crimson Tide entering a Saturday meeting at Florida.

His eight pass-breakups already are better than his 2010 total and lead the team.

The only two forced fumbles of the season came by way of Kirkpatrick’s helmet at Penn State.

His biggest game, though, came last week. Six of his nine tackles came in the 38-14 pounding of Arkansas when the Tide secondary slowed one of the nation’s most explosive passing offenses.

His open-field tackling limited a few short passes to minimal gains instead of the home runs the Razorbacks are accustomed to hitting.

Each big hit drew a reaction from the player who still idolizes Deion Sanders, but Kirkpatrick kept his celebration to a un-Deion-like minimum.

Click here to read the rest of this story.


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Saban updates Mosley’s status for Florida

Updating Mosley’s status: All week Saban called linebacker C.J. Mosley “questionable” for Saturday’s game at Florida.

By Thursday night, he sounded less optimistic about the elbow injury healing enough for the sophomore to see playing time in Gainesville.

Speaking on his weekly radio show, Saban first said Mosley “probably” wouldn’t play. He later said the versatile linebacker would be out “for sure.”

The right elbow injury suffered early in Saturday’s 38-14 win over Arkansas kept him from practice much, if at all this week.

Live blogging Saban radio show

It’s that time of week again. The Nick Saban radio show is live on the air and I’m updating the action for those who can’t listen. Here’s the rundown:

Segment 4

  • Who does Saban call when needing advice on a game plan? He doesn’t. “Maybe I should.” In the offseason, he might reach out to other coaches.
  • Future opponent Georgia Southern runs the wish bone, so Saban talked to another coach who runs the style so they could be more familiar. That’s thorough preparation for a Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) team.
  • “I won’t be denied attitude,” will be used by the Tide this weekend.
  • Final thoughts: “Florida is one of the premier teams in our league. … and they had a tremendous amount of success at home,” Saban said.
  • Nobody asked about Eddie Lacy’s foot.
  • I promise if I’m ever invited back as a guest, I’ll ask the questions that actually matter about the game ahead.

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Revisiting before, after photos from Tuscaloosa tornado zones

The monthly series of photos from the areas hit hardest by the April 27 tornado was updated this afternoon. Take a quick tour around Tuscaloosa with new panoramic photos

First, here’s a look at Fifth Avenue in Holt. It’s the neighborhood I first visited three days after the storm to chronicle the efforts of Tide athletes helping with recovery efforts.

Remember you can click each picture to enlarge it.

Before

April 30

May 25

June 28, 2011

Aug. 22, 2011

Sept. 29, 2011

Here’s a series from Forest Lake

May 25, 2011

June 28, 2011

Aug. 21, 2011

Sept. 29, 2011

From the other side

May 25, 2011

June 28, 2011

Aug. 21, 2011

Sept. 29, 2011

Now into Cedar Crest.

June 29

August 21

Sept. 29, 2011

 

Finally, here’s one more panoramic photo from a spot on Forest Lake I haven’t visited yet.

Sept. 29, 2011

Click here for all of the posts related to the tornado.


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Photos of Tuscaloosa five months after the tornado

Forest Lake this afternoon

It’s been 155 days since the April afternoon we will never forget in the state of Alabama. Tuscaloosa became the focal point of the recovery effort from the April 27 tornado outbreak that wiped out entire towns.

About every month, I’ve ventured to the damage zone in Tuscaloosa to take photos and update everyone outside town on the progress.

As you’ll see, progress from a month ago is noticeable. Stay tuned later this evening for an update on the month-by-month photo series for a better idea of how far things have come.

Also, click here to read an excellent story by my Decatur Daily colleague Cody Whitlock. He wrote about the connection between the 2007 killer tornado in Enterprise and the April twister in Tuscaloosa. It’s worth your time.

Tuscaloosa tornaodo: Five months later.


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Odds shift during week for Alabama at Florida

First, I’m no expert in the world of the Las Vegas sports books. Judging by the money they pull in, these guys know a lot more about the world than me.

So it’s worth noting a few shifts in the betting lines for Alabama’s trip to Florida on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide opened the week as much as a 6-point favorite to beat the Gators by a few of the operations. During the week, the spread narrowed. Now, most say Alabama should win by four.  Take a look at the screen shot below tracking the movements of the line from the Wynn Casino.

Click to enlarge.

Then click here to see the movement of all the major point spreads on the Vegas Insider website.

The changes aren’t exactly monumental, but something to keep in mind watching the action Saturday evening. Keep an eye out for my expert score prediction on game day.


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Video of Nick Saban news conference

Here’s a look at Nick Saban’s Wednesday news conference where he addressed Florida, it’s quarterback John Brantley, the new-look Florida offense, and playing in the Swamp on Saturday night.

 


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Saban vs. Muschamp: Master vs. … padawan?

It’s been written about more times than I can count. Still, I took my swing at the Nick Saban/Will Muschamp dynamic heading into Saturday’ game in Gainesville for today’s paper.

TUSCALOOSA — Will Muschamp was nearing his limit of Nick Saban questions Monday.

Then came the “Star Wars” question. His face contorted, critical mass achieved.

Asked if there was a “master versus padawan” feel to Saturday’s meeting between Florida and Alabama, the first-year Gator head coach lost interest in the subject.

“My mindset is to do a great job for the University of Florida,” Muschamp said matter of factly.

(Click here to watch the video of the question, answer)

It was his final response after a handful of similar questions, minus the sci-fi angle.

Yes, Muschamp rose in the coaching ranks as an assistant for Saban both at LSU and the Miami Dolphins. And yes, he attributed a lot of his coaching knowledge to the man he’ll face at 7 o’clock Saturday evening in the biggest game of his first head coaching job.

But this isn’t the first meeting between the two men who share similar demeanors and styles.

Click here to read the rest.


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A good read on former Tide RB Terry Grant

Remember Terry Grant? The 2007 leading rusher on Nick Saban’s first Alabama team?

Well he’s back in football. After losing snaps to Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram,  Trent Richardson, and nagging injuries knocked him down a few pegs on the depth chart by the 2009 national title run.

He graduated that season and was done with football.

Click here to read which former teammate convinced him to get back into the game. The Toronto Sun story is a pretty good read on a player who once had a really good season in crimson and white.

Update: Another former Alabama player landed on a Canadian football team roster. Click here to read about where ex-Tide receiver Earl Alexander is now.


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Saban updates Tide injuries

Nick Saban just finished his news conference. Injuries were noted. Here’s what he said:

Linebacker C.J. Mosley is expected to be a “game- time decision” with his elbow injury. He hasn’t done much in practice.

On Eddie Lacy, Saban said the running back hasn’t practiced much this week but was expected to do more tomorrow and was hopeful for him to contribute Saturday at Florida.

More later.


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Video of Eddie Lacy from Wednesday practice

Here is a look at Eddie Lacy (42) from today’s practice this afternoon. You can see he wasn’t participating in all drills and walked gingerly on the injured toe. Stay tuned for Nick Saban’s comments on the matter later this evening.

 


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A few notes from Wednesday practice

The weather couldn’t be nicer this early-fall afternoon here in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide were back outside for the third straight day — the second in full pads. Here’s a quick rundown of the observations from the media viewing period:

  • Linebacker C.J. Mosley was back out there again today, but like the last two days, he wasn’t doing anything during our time to watch. His right elbow is still wrapped from Saturday’s unnamed injury.
  • Running back Eddie Lacy was also moving slow again today. He was limping slightly and not participating in all individual drills. The toe injury that he returned from against Arkansas appears to be giving him trouble through three practices this week.
  • Coach Nick Saban is expected to give an update on the status of both at this evening’s news conference. Stay tuned for that.

Video of Lacy at practice is also coming up very soon.


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AJ McCarron takes heat, matures as top QB

There’s been a lot said about Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron in the past week. Looking back, it’s about the same time of the year Greg McElroy started taking heat in his first season starting in 2009.

Only he was throwing interceptions and facing notable declines in his effectiveness when the critics came out two seasons ago. McElroy took it personally, as he said in interviews.

McCarron hasn’t had a voice since he’s been off-limits to reporters all season except following the Penn State game. He’s also completing 66 percent of his passes and hasn’t thrown an interception since the opener against Kent State.

His teammates have noticed a difference in his performance.

“Absolutely. We did check a lot of stuff at the line of scrimmage,” center William Vlachos said. “That shows the confidence the coaches have in him. He’s matured very quickly this year and I couldn’t be prouder of him. The biggest thing that stands out to me is the decisions he has made. He hasn’t gotten us into any really bad plays or anything like that. Manage the game very well and made good decisions and the coaches trust him to go up there, identify things, check it off, and get us in the best play we can be in.”

What do you think. Is McCarron living up to his potential? Leave a comment below.


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