19 August 2011
The University of Alabama football team began it's post two-a-days part of the 2011 fall camp on Thursday. This brief section just prior to the beginning of classes will have just four practices and one scrimmage before the 105 man roster is expanded on the first day of the fall semester. The weather in Tuscaloosa continued to be mild for August, but Coach Saban decided to give the squad an even bigger break from the weather, moving the full pads practice inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.
Here's what you need to know:
While the quarterbacks were the only players wearing black no contact jerseys during the media viewing period, Coach Saban acknowledged a few minor injuries during his post practice media conference.
Dre Kirkpatrick has what the staff is calling a "leg contusion". In case you don't speak medical-jargon, that's a fancy way of saying that he has a deep bruise. Obviously that's not serious, but he will likely not practice again until Monday. That means he'll likely miss Saturday's scrimmage, which will give more opportunities for Phelon Jones and John Fulton. DeMarcus Milliner and DeQuan Menzie will both be starters along with Kirkpatrick when Bama opens in the nickel defense, and that's left Jones and Fulton waiting for reps at times. If Bama were playing a game on Saturday, Dre would be playing.
Arie Kouandjio was in black after fan day, and Coach Saban told the media today that he has a minor injury to the patella tendon in one of his knees (that's the tendon behind the kneecap). He aggravated that at practice on Thursday and will likely be held out of practice until Monday. That means that Austin Shepherd and Tyler Love will likely get more reps at right guard, though we could see Alfred McCullough get some time there to keep him fresh on the tackle responsibilities.
Brandon Ivory has sprained a knee, though Coach Saban indicated that it should not require surgery. Ivory is behind a host of talented players on Bama's defensive line, though he would probably be listed third on the depth chart (if there was an official one) behind Josh Chapman and Nick Gentry. He'll likely miss the the scrimmage, which will give increased time to true freshman LaMichael Fanning.
Fanning has been one of the more impressive newcomers in terms of size. He's got the frame of an offensive tackle, but the temperament of a defensive linemen. The staff loves his ability to use his big frame to gain leverage on offensive lineman - something especially important to a 3-4 nose guard. He's athletic enough that he could see some time at defensive end, similar to how Bama used Kerry Murphy last year. Thankfully the Tide is deep enough on the defensive line that neither Ivory, nor Fanning, should have to play this year. Chapman and Gentry are both seniors, though, so these guys need to start preparing to carry a heavier load in 2012. Ends like Jesse Williams and Quinton Dial are capable of sliding inside, but the 2012 line will be better if they can stay outside.
While Duron Carter has yet to be cleared by the University's admissions office, his father Cris was at practice on Thursday. That could be a sign that Duron will be joining the team soon. It could also be a sign that the elder Carter, who has been retired from the NFL since 2002, just wanted to watch a football practice. Either way, it appears as though the hold up with Duron is over the transcript from one of the on-line classes he took through a junior college to replace a poor grade previously earned in the class. No one is questioning the validity of the grade, but Bama has yet to actually receive the transcript showing that the grade was earned. When Duron is able to join the team, he will have to practice twice with no pads, and then twice in shells before he can put on full pads. So if he were able to join the team on Friday, he could be in full pads by Wednesday. That would probably give him enough time to participate in the final scrimmage of the fall camp on the 27th.
Coach Saban didn't give anyone in the media an opportunity to ask about Jeff Stoutland and Joe Pannunzio being mentioned in the Yahoo.com article about NCAA violations at Miami. He brought the subject up himself, offering this statement:
I know nothing about Miami. I don't have time to deal with what's going on in Miami. I know what goes on in this program, and I know that we do things correctly. We do have people in this organization who worked there. Before those people were ever hired here we did an NCAA check to make sure they passed all compliance criteria and that they didn't have any red flags relative to compliance history. We certainly did that in both of these cases. Now if any of these people had any wrongdoing I'm sure the NCAA will investigate it in due time, and if they did anything wrong I'm sure they will get the appropriate punishment, which we would do if we had any internal problems in our organization. But we're going to continue and control and manage what we do in our organization and do it correctly, and that's basically all we can be concerned about. I don't think anything else needs to be said.
Forrest Gump would have said, "That's all I have to say about that." But we'll forgive the coach for not being up on his fictional Alabama football history. This is obviously the big story in college football right now, and the mention of two guys curently on Bama's staff in the article means that it won't be going away any time soon for the Bama football program. Coach Saban strongly limits media access to his assistants - the coordinators do one press conference in the preseason and at bowl games it is typically a requirement that they be made available. So don't expect to hear anything from Stoutland or Pannunzio; at least not a direct quote from either guy. And given Coach Saban's final sentence, I'd guess we're not going to hear much else from him about it unless more facts come out that require further comment.
Otherwise, things were on Thursday the way that they have been for the last week or so.
Blake Sims is still working primarily with the running backs, wearing a white jersey. He is still taking reps with the quarterbacks, though.
Christion Jones is working primarily with the wide receivers, though he is taking some limited reps with the running backs. When Sims was working primarily with the quarterbacks there were more reps available for him at running back. With Sims working more with the backs, Jones is concentrating more on receiver. Yes, Bama has a lot of numbers at receiver. But Bama also has very little established depth at receiver, and Jones has had a solid enough camp that he is definitely in the conversation when it comes to young receivers getting a chance to play - especially with Darius Hanks set to miss the first two games.
There is no change at quarterback. I still think that Phillip Sims would be the starting quarterback if Bama were playing Kent State on Saturday, but A.J. McCarron certainly has a chance to change that. He's had a solid week of practice, and a solid performance on Saturday could catapult him back into the lead. That last sentence is exactly why Coach Saban hasn't named a starter. He doesn't want either guy worrying about catapulting anything, or pressing to make plays when they aren't available in order to change their spot on a depth chart that doesn't yet exist. Both guys are still going to play against Kent State, and both guys will likely play in the first half against Kent State. I don't expect that we'll see an absolute "this is the guy" quarterback until week four when Arkansas comes to town. That could change if either guy blows up in the next two weeks, but there just isn't enough separating them at this point to expect that to be a real possibility.
Bama will practice again on Friday in it's final tune-up for the second scrimmage of the camp. In past seasons Coach Saban has used the second scrimmage to simulate a game day as much as possible. The team will likely eat a meal together on Friday night, probably catch a movie together, and likely stay at the hotel together. This gives the new guys (players and staff) a chance to get a real feel for how things will be on September 2nd and 3rd. With that in mind, I would not be surprised to see Bama in shells on Friday. That's usually how Bama practices on Friday of a game week.
Either way, we'll have our normal report. We will also try to give you what we feel like is an upated "organizational" chart. And, yes, I know that this article is being posted "nxojkt late" as Ell called it yesterday. I keep strange hours. What can I say?
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