Tag Archives: spring practice

Alabama wins A-Day, spring practice and Michigan didn’t learn too much

How about one more look back at A-Day and spring practice as a whole. Here’s today’s beat column as it appeared in that old-fashioned product delivered to front doors called a newspaper.

TUSCALOOSA — Kick off the cleats and slip on the sandals.

Sure it’s still mid-April, but on the football calendar final exams concluded Saturday. The 15-practice spring ended with a final showcase under the watchful eyes of a mostly-packed stadium and a detail-oriented commissioner.

Of course Alabama won A-Day. Coach Nick Saban confirmed it just moments after the scrimmage concluded.

“One thing that never happens in college football is no one ever has a bad spring and no one ever has a bad spring game,” he said. “We didn’t have one either.”

So what did the world learn in the last few weeks?

“Not much,” is what Saban’s preferred response. The first 14 workouts are as controlled as in-season practices. Only close friends of the program scale those walls. And when the curtain falls on A-Day, vanilla is the only flavor served.

“Well, you didn’t see anything new,” Saban promised. “Unless you want us to just email Michigan what we’re doing and anything new that we’re doing. So what do you think you saw that was new? Did you see anything new? If I would have seen anything new out there, I would have been upset.”

He did see a few new faces to big things.

T.J. Yeldon lived up to his five-star hype with an MVP performance and 179 all-purpose yards. Playing with the second-team offense against the No. 2 defense, Yeldon had easily the best spring debut of any freshman who graduated early to participate.

“I mean, the kid can play,” quarterback AJ McCarron said. “But it’s definitely different … you can play this ball, but it’s different when the lights turn on and you’re playing LSU.”

Click here for the full column.


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Photo gallery from A-Day locker rooms, sidelines

Trent Richardson and Nick Saban in pregame locker room.

And now, a few more looks behind the scenes at yesterday’s A-Day Game. See what we saw as media coaches for the spring scrimmage. It’s worth your time. I’m certain of it.

Behind the scenes: A-Day 2012


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Video of Richardson, Barron, Hightower putting hands, feet in concrete on quad

This was the scene nearly 24 hours ago at Denny Chimes. Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, and Dont’a Hightower made it official and joined (and rejoined) the ranks of permanent Alabama football captains. Watch until the very end when Hightower dares Barron to wipe concrete on Richardson’s face.

 


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My self-serving column from A-Day media coaching experience

Here it is. My column from the sidelines, locker rooms and interview rooms of A-Day is complete. Read it here and enjoy the only photo you’ll see of this 100-percent objective reporter in team gear. 

TUSCALOOSA — Nobody likes a bragger so prepare to hate me.

I win. We won. Winning is fun.

Photo by Marc Torrence

My college football coaching debut couldn’t have gone better Saturday afternoon in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Forget that “media coach” tag; it’s time to accept credit when credit is due. I have no doubt my sideline inspiration made the difference. Nobody gave our underdog White team a chance against the No. 1 offense.

Defense won the day, and T.J. Yeldon had a say. But it comes down to coaching. Always and especially when you win.

First, some background. Every April, Alabama allows a few media members a behind-the-scenes look on A-Day. We’re called coaches, and Alabama provides coaching shirts and hats. In three years covering Alabama, I coveted my neutrality. But, for a few hours, I embraced the coaching persona.

Watching Saban work

So, there we were, standing in the pregame locker room as commissioner Nick Saban addressed the team. We’re usually kept a few miles from a moment like this, so soak it in we did.

Saban greeted each of the six media coaches after the speech and reminded us to lay off the officials. I made no promises.

Then came the trash talking. Long snapper and all-around good guy Carson Tinker was first. He was wearing crimson. He was going down. Even the 6-foot-6, 335-pound lineman got the business. This was no exhibition. The White team plays to win.

Over in our separate locker room, the pregame meeting was intense. Don’t for a second think defensive coordinator Kirby Smart was there for a picnic. Quite the wordsmith at the dry-erase board, Smart explained the plan.

He lost me at “All right …”

After the dizzying strategy session, one thought stood out. Smart just knew the Crimson (first-team) offense was going deep on the first play. Oh, he scouted this match-up. Smart told us he’s 1-5 in A-Day games. Winning matters to him, too.

Click here or here for the full column as seen in today’s newspaper.


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Victory claimed in my coaching debut/finale as White team wins A-Day

Nick Saban gives post-game speech to players in locker room.

There’s nothing like winning. And, as one of the media coaches for the White team, I’m proud to announce I’m 1-0 in a leadership role

Tomorrow, you can read all about the behind-the-scenes access we got this afternoon. Our White team took care of Crimson 24-15 in front of 78,526 in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Running back T.J. Yeldon was the star with 88 rushing yards and 91 receiving. Much more on that tomorrow. Gotta get writing. Back to being a journalist.


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A-Day Game will be replayed several times on CSS

The 2 p.m. A-Day Game will air live on CSS (Comcast Sports Southeast). If you’re one of the six million homes that gets the cable network, you can also catch a few replays. Here’s the list of air times:

Sunday, April 15 – 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 19 – 8 p.m.
Monday, April 23 – 1 p.m.
Sunday, April 29 – 9 p.m.

We’re headed to campus now. Stay tuned for live coverage throughout the day.


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Saban not changing A-Day anytime soon

It’s game day in Tuscaloosa. Expect regular-season coverage for today’s scrimmage. It starts with today’s print edition. Read all about it starting right here …

TUSCALOOSA — A few coaches across the country are toying with the idea of changing spring football games.

Bring in outside competition. Play it like an exhibition game, is the feeling.

Nick Saban and Alabama prefer it the way it is, though. When A-Day regularly draws north of 90,000 fans, why change it? Crowds could near last season’s record of 93,210 when the ball is kicked at 2 p.m. in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The free admission isn’t changing. Neither is the format. The Crimson Tide’s first team offense will line up on the Crimson squad with the No. 1 defense wearing white.

“It’s probably the closest thing we get to a game that we have until the opening game,” Saban said. “So this is a real opportunity and we play it as close to a real game … You can play these games best against the rest, you can use a point system, you can run a draft and I’ve done it every way you can do it and we’ve settled on it here doing it this way.”

Both second teams will also face each other and fans can expect at glimpse at another quarterback. Second-team passer Phillip Sims has been limited by a throwing-shoulder injury all spring. That could mean increased action for third-teamer Phillip Ely who redshirted as a freshman last fall.

Click here for the complete story.

It’ll be a different look than most visitors are used to, but Saban prefers keeping the spring action in-house.


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A-Day video rewind: Revive memories of past spring games

It’s A-Day Eve in Tuscaloosa and traffic appeared heavier this afternoon. It’s almost like a Friday in the fall. Almost.

To get you ready for A-Day 2012, take a look back at video from the last few as captured by my camera. Enjoy. See you tomorrow.

2011

2010


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Roll call: Who is coming to Tuscaloosa for A-Day tomorrow?

A-Day 2012

The weather forecast looks perfect for Saturday in Tuscaloosa. Sunny with a high of 84. It’s shaping up to an ideal afternoon in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

So, will that bring you out to the scrimmage? Could it be a record crowd of 92,000-plus? We’ll see.

 


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Vinnie, Sal Sunseri ‘joke around’ about Alabama-Tennessee rivalry

Vinnie Sunseri doesn’t wear the same colors as his dad anymore, but that doesn’t change their relationship. Well, not too much.

Vinnie Sunseri

Sal Sunseri is now the defensive coordinator at Tennessee after coaching Tide linebackers for three seasons. They still talk all the time, but the younger Sunseri misses seeing his father on the practice field in Tuscaloosa.

When they talk, football comes up.

“He asks how practice goes,” said Vinnie Sunseri, a safety and rising sophomore with the Tide. “I ask how practice goes. I’m still his son and he’ still my dad. I just try to talk to him like that.”

So there’s no trash talking?

“No, we joke around,” Vinnie Sunseri said. “I’ll say he doesn’t look good in that orange and he’ll say I don’t look good in that crimson, just little jokes like that.”

Though Sal Sunseri took the Tennessee job back in January, his wife Roxann and youngest daughter still live in Tuscaloosa. So the comfort of family remains nearby for the young Alabama safety.

“I still have to go home and let her do my laundry and cook for me,” Vinnie Sunseri said with a smile.


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A-Day regional telecast to reach 6 million homes

Here’s a story from today’s newspaper detailing the television plan for this year’s A-Day Game. It’s a little different from the past few years, so pay attention.

TUSCALOOSA — In a few short years, A-Day went from a gathering to a happening.

Nick Saban’s arrival in 2007 packed Bryant-Denny Stadium and was televised live on CSS. That fueled national interest and expanded coverage.

For the past three years, the ESPN family of networks beamed the A-Day signal coast to coast.

Now it’s back on the regional CSS network for Alabama’s final spring rehearsal set for 2 p.m. Saturday. The cable channel isn’t offered by every Alabama cable company and reaches 6 million total homes in 13 states. Cable operators who offer CSS include Comcast, Charter, Knology and a few other local operations.

ESPN opted against continuing its live spring game coverage, so the spotlight will dim slightly in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The broadcast will still air live online at ESPN3.com, but it will likely be blacked out in Southeastern states where CSS is offered.

Saban noticed the programming change.

“I think the exposure is great, but I think some people have cut back a little on that this year and most of the games are being done regionally,” Saban said. “But I do think anytime there’s any kind of exposure, it benefits the players. It gives the players exposure. … I think it’s a real positive.”

Tide offensive lineman Anthony Steen had no idea ESPN wasn’t coming to town this weekend until told by a reporter Thursday.

“I figured it was,” he said. “That is disappointing.”

For CSS (Comcast Sports Southeast), it’s a chance to pick up extra viewers.

Click here or here for the complete story from today’s paper.


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Take a look at A-Day rosters

The following just arrived from Alabama. Here’s the matchup you’ll see Saturday afternoon in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

(Since the rosters are so long, use the jump so we don’t blow out the entire homepage)

Continue reading

Inside look at Kirby Smart teaching middle linebackers

Watch Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart work with middle linebackers Thursday afternoon. You’ll see Nico Johnson (35), C.J. Mosley (32), Dillon Lee (25), Trey DePriest (33) and others.

 


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Up-close video of Scott Cochran motivating injured Alabama football players

The folk hero that is Scott Cochran was in prime form this afternoon working with injured players Blake Sims and Arie Kouandjio. These videos are always a hit. Add this one to the list.

 


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Colin Peek, current Tide TE Brian Vogler go way back

Any story that includes a phone call to Holla McGhee is a good one for me. Count this one in that stack …

TUSCALOOSA — Colin Peek vividly remembers the day he met Brian Vogler.

The former Alabama tight end got a call from defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who had a star recruit in town for a 2009 summer camp.

Vogler was practically a Peek clone, so Smart wanted the two to meet.

Turns out their connection extends well beyond the visual similarities.

Peek’s mother, the former Kathryn Collins, was close friends with Vogler’s mother Christina at the University of Florida. Through conversation, Vogler also found a tie to the next generation.

“He actually dated one of my older sister’s friends,” Vogler said as he cracked a smile, “and I got a lot of great stories out of that.”

Too weird, Peek thought.

“They say it’s six degrees of separation,” Peek said with a chuckle, “but I truly believe everything in life is probably three degrees of separation at this point.”

Now Vogler, a Columbus, Ga., native, is primed for a larger role in the Tide offense, in which Peek enjoyed success as a member of the 2009 national title team.

Vogler is working both at the traditional tight end position once occupied by Peek and the hybrid H-back spot Brad Smelley played a year ago.

Peek likes to think he had a role in Vogler’s decision to choose Alabama. It started with Smart’s introduction.

Click here to read the rest of the story.


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