Tag Archives: BrettAtBama Analysis

BrettAtBama Analysis: Western Kentucky

Alabama took its second-straight nonconference in-a-row, as the Tide handled Western Kentucky 35-0. Here’s my view on the good and the bad from this game.

The Good: AJ McCarron seemed to mix up his offensive options rather well, finding four wide receivers and three running backs in his 14-for-19 and 219 yard performance. His corner and out routes for touchdowns were perfectly placed.

Cody Mandell was really on his game today. Averaging 44.8 yards per punt and placed two inside-the-20.

The Bad: Warning, this list is a little long since this was actually a huge win for the Tide.

The offensive line got beat in pass protection quite often. With the microscope on the tackles (Cyrus Kouandjio and D.J. Fluker), there was laziness. It does not matter how big you are, if you aren’t in front of your blocking assignment, you aren’t much help at all.

But, to their defense, McCarron could have let go of the ball earlier a few times to avoid the sack. The sacks were a collective effort between bad protection and a overdedication to making the big play.

My final, and biggest, problem with Alabama’s performance was Jalston Fowler. Fowler had absolutely no business in the game as the Tide held a 28-point lead over a Sun Belt team with less than ten minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Why would you not give Dee Hart an opportunity to reestablish himself after his knee injury and let freshman Kenyan Drake get some work since his redshirt was ruined with a carry against Michigan?

Now, the No. 2 running back and the No. 1 fullback (which was going to be crucial later in the season) is out for the year, potentially. Does anyone else see a little bit of Tyrone Prothro in this?

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BrettAtBama Analysis: Depth Chart

After ruining the hype I created for the event, Alabama head coach Nick Saban released his depth chart one day later than expected.

Nonetheless, now it is time for me to give my thoughts on every position and how it ended up after preseason camp.

If you have not seen the depth chart, you can either scroll down to the post below this one to view or it open it by following this link: http://www.brettatbama.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/nick-saban-releases-depth-chart-for-michigan-game/

Quarterback: Status quo. AJ McCarron has been the guy since Week Three of the 2011 season and no one has come close to challenging him since. I have a feeling that will remain the same until he leaves Alabama.

Runningback: Now here is where my interest climbs a little bit. First things (or in this case, players) first, I would consider this the end-all-be-all for the injury talk surrounding Eddie Lacy. He has looked incredibly close to 100 percent ever since he returned after missing spring practice. I must admit, I was skeptical of it all for a little while, but he has looked to good to doubt recently.

Jalston Fowler is not the topic of discussion at this position, either. He was the No. 2 the whole way once Lacy returned. The real headline here is T.J. Yeldon.

Yeldon had a phenomenal spring training, and the sense around the program was that Dee Hart and Yeldon had some battling to do after Yeldon stepped in and proved himself immediately. Yeldon continued his break-neck pace up the depth chart and won his share of the second-string job.

How these two will rotate is tough to guess. My prediction: Fowler will come in as a third-and-short back, while Yeldon’s pass-catching ability and shiftiness will make him an appealing option when the situation suits him.

Lacy is still the most experienced all-around back the Tide has, and the game is his to dominate at the start, but Fowler’s brute toughness and Yeldon’s edge speed plus his catching ability will earn him some playing time, probably against Michigan.

Wide Receiver, X: As expected. DeAndrew White blew the doors off in camp after recovering from his nagging injuries over the spring. Amari Cooper starting the season in the No. 2 slot is not very surprising to me. He showed consistency in practice and really separated himself from Marvin Shinn and Danny Woodson, Jr., after an injury to Chris Black sidelined him.

My best guess is that Cooper will only start in five wide sets, and will be what I call a windbag guy. If someone needs a break after a few deep routes in a row or a good hard hit, Cooper will come in and relieve them.

Wide Receiver, Z: Well, hello, Kevin Norwood. You may remember Norwood as the guy who toasted Tyrann Mathieu in the BCS National Championship Game last year. Now he’s the guy that beat out Alabama’s best deep threat, Kenny Bell, for a starting job.

Simply put, Norwood was just too good from January to now to keep him out of the starting lineup. Norwood’s confidence shot up after the national title game and before anyone knew it he was out making plays with the best of them. He seems to always be in the right spot at the right time.

That being said, I think Bell will definitely be the first wideout off-the-bench when the Tide decides to go four wide. Bell’s deep threat makes safeties respect him and follow him, giving all the yards-after-catch room in the world to a precise route runner like Norwood and a natural-born playmaker like Christion Jones. Speaking of…

Wide Receiver, H: Christion Jones may not be the best route runner on the team (Norwood is), and he may not have the best hands (TBD), but he can see everything when he has the ball. What I mean by that is, as soon as he knows he has the ball, he sees the cut he has to make and where he has to make it before anyone else does, especially before the defense can crash to it.

Jones is the type of guy that the coaching staff will likely run plays specifically designed for him. He may not be able to run past his corner and dance into the endzone from the 10-yard-line because no one is close to him, but he’s liable to turn a five-yard drag route into a 35-yard backbreaker if the paly is run right.

Tight End: Michael Williams was the No. 1 guy here from the start, very much like McCarron. I am a little surprised that Brian Vogler settled in as the No. 2 guy at this position as opposed to trying his luck at a starting job as the H-Back. But, when you’re listed at 6-foot-7 and 258 pounds and have a little bit of athleticism, tight end is normally going to be the first position you’re tested at.

H-Back: This is the surprise of the depth chart to me. Kelly Johnson getting the start over Harrison Jones is incredibly interesting. I would breakdown Johnson here, but we really don’t know much about the kid. He’ll be under a pretty tight microscope on Saturday night.

Right Tackle: D.J. Fluker, like the rest of the offensive lineman, was pretty set in his starting job. With size like that, it would take a nuclear meltdown to bring him out of his starting job.

Right Guard: Anthony Steen showed more improvement over the course of the 2011 season than any other offensive lineman. That improvement is being rewarded by retaining his starting job.

Center: Barrett Jones. This depth chart has finally confirmed what the entire world already knew. Now it’s time to see if Jones can win a national championship as a starter at all three positions on the offensive line (I feel confident that’s never been done before).

Left Guard: Chance Warmack has been getting a lot of publicity in the offseason, and the good kind. When the scouts and NFL draft experts when into their offseason caves to study film before the football season, Warmack’s name was one that came out of the dust as a guy who translates well to the NFL game.

Left Tackle: Cyrus Kouandjio. Kouandjio turned heads from the day he stepped on campus. He showed the freakish athletic ability to succeed in the SEC as a true freshman last year until a knee injury ended his season. Kouandjio will likely have his fair share of attention, from the media and the suits from the next level, by season’s end.

Defensive End 1: Damion Square. As expected, no one could unseat him from his starting position. He performed too well for the Tide last year to be threatened by anyone.

Defensive End 2: This was more of a battle. I thought Quinton Dial would be winning this battle, but Ed Stinson was listed as the No. 1 on today’s depth chart. This entire situation is puzzling because Dial continues to practice ahead of Stinson, even today as the depth chart was released hours before practice.

I can see why Stinson would be the best bet for a team like Michigan, as he is more athletic than Dial and arguably a little bit better in the pass rush. But watch out, this No. 1 could be short-lived, more of a situational sub. Stay tuned.

Noseguard: Coach Saban does not care about this part at all, but is it legal to keep an Australian that still has his accent on the football field? I wonder if Jesse Williams still has his accent when he makes checks at the line.

Sam Linebacker: Sometimes I wonder if anyone at the college level can consistently block Adrian Hubbard. He disrupts the pocket with eye-popping consistency, which is perfect for Saban’s defensive scheme.

Mike and Will Linebacker: The names aren’t as interesting as the rotation will be. Trey DePriest is listed as a starting Mike and Nico Johnson as a starting Will, with C.J. Mosley as the alternate starter at both positions.

If I were in charge (disclaimer: I’m not. At all), I would use the Johnson/DePriest combo as a run stopping duo and use Johnson/Mosley as a passing situation tandem. Johnson will need a breather every now and then, which is when I introduce the Mosley/DePriest two-headed monster.

Again, this rotation is one of the most interesting developments of the depth chart to me. I think it would have been most ideal if the Tide could have gotten these three on the field at the same time, but too much shifting would have created problems eventually.

Jack Linebacker: Xzavier Dickson is everything Coach Saban wants in a Jack. He’s an agent of chaos. Although unproven with a lack of game experience, Dickson has all the potential in the world.

Cornerback 1: Dee Milliner used to be known as “toast” by select members of the Alabama fanbase for getting burned often in his freshman year. Now, he’s the most consistent man-to-man cover corner Alabama has returning. I guess that whole experience thing Saban preaches is true.

Cornerback 2: Deion Belue’s spring practice and fall preseason camp was so good, fellow JUCO transfer Travell Dixon had to leave the program to find significant playing time.

Belue, like Milliner, is talented, and he may be better at coming up on the run than Milliner is. But what Belue lacks is experience. The near upset at Arkansas and the upset at South Carolina in 2010 can both be attributed to inexperience in the secondary. Belue will have to shake off the young-guy reputation quickly.

Strong Safety: Alabama might have the best safety in the SEC in Robert Lester. He has a knack for the ball, making his first big play in the previously-mentioned 2010 Arkansas game (a interception with a lengthy return that basically sealed the game).

He’s also in his fifth year in the program. He knows everything there is to know about playing at Alabama, especially the on-field schemes, and now he’s ready to expand his leadership role on the team and be the general. Saban would lose sleep at night at the thought of having to play without him. Seriously.

Free Safety: Vinnie Sunseri and HaHa Clinton-Dix are listed as co-starters basically for the Nickel package. Since the coaching staff has fallen in love with how Sunseri plays the Money (nickelback) position, he will move there when necessary and open the spot for Clinton-Dix.

In most cases, coaches list two guys as the co-starter at a position when they have not made a final decision on that position just yet. In this case, it’s because the both of them will play just as much as starters anyway.

BrettAtBama Analysis: Kentucky

Thanks for coming back for more on this big game with the Wildcats. Overall, I know the loss puts the Crimson Tide at 2-3 in SEC play and in desperate need of a major run in order to satisfy the tournament expectations, but, there are some good things to be gathered from this game that give evidence that a magical run is at least within the realm of possibility.

Look at JaMychal Green. He was borderline dominant against the nation’s best shotblocker and potential No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Anthony Davis. He clearly did not let a bad game affect his confidence, and seeing that performance from him is good for both the on-court scoring aspect and in leadership, in not getting rattled and continuing to do what will win games.

Trevor Lacey has been on fire. He was a little slow to begin the season after playing his entire senior season of high school on some ligament damage in his knee. He averaged five points per game on 21.8 minutes per game in the first five games of the season, but in his most recent five games, he has averaged 10.6 points per game on 32.4 minutes per game.

Finally, the Tide knows how to play on the road. Since the beginning of SEC play, Alabama has played at Georgia, at Mississippi State and at Kentucky. Georgia was an NCAA tournament team last year (a controversial one, but still) and Mississippi State has been the surprise of the season in the SEC West, winning the Coaches for Cancer Classic over competition such as Texas A&M and Arizona. Kentucky, well, they’re Kentucky. Rupp Arena is the toughest arena to play well in, no doubt about it.

So, in short, let’s not hop off of the bandwagon, folks. I know a 12-4 conference record was not good enough to make the tournament last season, but this year, the nonconference schedule was much more difficult and the Tide still came out two or three games better than it did last season. At this point, I feel like 11-5 with an SEC tournament win or two would get access to the NCAA tournament this season.

BCS National Championship Live Blog: Analysis of 1st half

Well, well, well. The Rematch has delivered great football as expected throughout the first half, with Alabama leading LSU 9-0.

I feel like Alabama’s defense has been absolutely phenomenal. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said he watched every LSU offensive play in the last 5 years, and that intensive preparation has been rewarding in the first half. The Tide has been able to stop everything LSU has tried, which is a lot. We have seen the speed option, downhill running, outside running and pass attempts of different philosophies (precision routes like down-and-outs and curls, and speed routes like drags).

Now, it’s my turn to do what you all were doing. FAKE!!! IT’S A FAKE!!!! Excellent execution by the Crimson Tide. But, this leads me into a drawback from the first half: missed opportunities.

After a momentum changer like a successful fake field goal, the need for a touchdown is huge. To have a field goal blocked in that situation will hurt the Tide as the game goes on. Those points could be missed.

The same can be said for the possession that ended in the second field goal. A third-and-one inside the 20, with relatively good blocking on the play, and the stop is still made.

Overall, Alabama is playing better than it did on Nov. 5th. I was convinced of this even after the earlier loss, and the first half of this game has confirmed it for me: Alabama is better than LSU. The Tide defense has been downright oppressive and the offense is clicking nicely against a great defense. Enjoy the second half, everyone.

BrettAtBama Analysis: The Nonconference Season

Before sitting down to give you my Analysis on the nonconference season, I had a few conversations with avid Alabama basketball fans and some fellow experts as well. The one thing I didn’t expect to hear was an outright disappointed, but I did hear it a few times. Now, I can see how some may be a little disappointed, but I still feel like the nonconference season has been a success as a whole.

When the season started, I felt like it the nonconference season would come down to four games: VCU, Georgetown, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State. I felt like the record in those four games would be key. Also, I thought the Crimson Tide would likely drop a game they probably shouldn’t, simply because, while the team has clearly made significant improvements from last season, the Tide is not on the level of teams like Duke and North Carolina that can beat most teams while not playing their best basketball.

The Tide went 2-2 in those two games, handily defeating VCU and Oklahoma State, then getting beat by Kansas State and losing a heartbreaker to the Hoyas at home. The loss that should not have happened did indeed happen, in the loss to Dayton. But, the pleasant surprise of the season, and possibly what makes the SEC schedule so promising is the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

While the tournament was over a month ago, we got to see all of the potential in this young team. If Anthony Grant is able to get performances like that out of his team often during the SEC schedule, this team could be yet another 12-4 SEC team, and with the nonconference schedule and record Alabama netted this season, that will surely be enough for the elusive NCAA tournament bid.

Overall, I’ll give the nonconference season a B+. The Puerto Rico Tip-Off was a great accomplishment for the Crimson Tide, and the ability to play a team as great as Georgetown so closely is truly remarkable. But, the losses to Dayton and Kansas State may have shown that Alabama does not play well on the road, and teams that don’t play well on the road normally end up in the 10-6 range, which might not be enough to be a solid tournament bid.

BrettAtBama Analysis: Post-Oklahoma State

In these most recent games, we have seen a microcosm of what I talked about in the BrettAtBama Analysis posted after the loss to Dayton: both the good and bad things about having a nucleus of talent that is so young and inexperienced.

Against Kansas State, Alabama gave up way too many offensive rebounds and began to look discouraged when their pressure defense was not enough to break the flow of the Wildcat offense. The Tide then did a great job of bouncing back and doing almost everything right in the big win over Oklahoma State.

Trevor Releford has stepped up and become a leader for his young backcourt mates that needed a nudge in the right direction after suffering three losses in the past four games. Nick Jacobs has gotten some timely baskets to keep the Tide offense afloat and the contributions of Tony Mitchell have been phenomenal of late.

*****Quick update note. If you’re wondering why the men’s basketball team has not been included in the Semester In Review series, that’s because I was waiting on this game to be played. That post will be up shortly. Also, there will be a BrettAtBama Analysis on the nonconference season and a BrettAtBama Breakdown on the SEC schedule after the game at Georgia Tech.

BrettAtBama Analysis: Post-Dayton

Everyone, let’s all take a second to calm down. Sure, Alabama did just travel all the way to Ohio to lose to a at-a-glance inferior Dayton Flyers team, 74-62. But, Alabama basketball fans have to realize that, just like in the sport Alabama fans know better, football, having a young team will cause inconsistent play.

This was also the first true road for the freshmen on this team: Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper and Nick Jacobs (Retin Obsahon is not included because he looks to be headed for a redshirt season, and Moussa Gueye is actually a community college transfer, therefore a sophomore in NCAA eligibility). The only game the team had played outside of Coleman Coliseum before tonight’s game was in Puerto Rico.

So, to get to the point, I don’t see much of a reason to lose optimism about this team based on this loss alone, especially when you consider that the Flyers are a consistent threat in a rather strong basketball conference, the Atlantic 10. Young teams will have inconsistent spurts. There will be times (see: the Puerto Rico Tip-Off) where we will see all of the great potential that this young, talented team has. Then, there will be times (see: the Dayton game) where we will be knocked down to Earth and realize these are 18-19 year old kids battling with battle-tested, 22-year old seniors that have seen it all, and then some.

Now, for those that were able to watch the game, the three-point shot defense was, to put it nicely, lacking. Also, Dayton showed a little bit of zone defense, which Georgetown was able to shut down Alabama’s halfcourt attack with. Also, JaMychal Green was once again in early foul trouble, leaving a void in the frontcourt that needs to be filled.

Moving forward, I don’t feel like this loss is an apparent season-ender like the Tide suffered last season to St. Peter’s. But, Alabama does need to make some adjustments and improvements on both ends of the floor, as well as perfect the mental aspect of college basketball for the freshmen before two more big non-conference games, against Oklahoma State and Kansas State.