Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pre-Season - 2013

Tide Fans – Howdy friends! Guess what time of year it is?? Only the greatest time of the year…it’s football season!! Yes, the long wait is over…no more counting down the days and feeling depressed when you realize there’s like 115 days until kickoff. It’s here…it is here!!! Can I get a Roll Tide? I got so fired up the other night – they were replaying the Alabama-LSU game, and even though I know what happens, I still get nervous watching it…and then I get soo pumped when TJ takes that screen pass in! I did that move that you see on the directv commercial where the guy gets all excited and does a little excited jump, kick, punch move. You can see it here: Just so you know…this is pretty much what I do every time the Tide scores or makes and awesome play! Man I love The Tide! Ok, so let’s get down to business…I could go on and on about last season, and our 15th National Championship, but like Coach Saban says… I need to stay focused and look at this season, not dwell on last. Once again The Tide looks very good, and just about every major publication has us picked to win it all again. This used to bother me, but now I don’t let it because we have broken the Sports Illustrated cover curse twice! I know that Coach Saban constantly reminds his players to not dwell on what happened last season and become complacent, and I’m pretty sure Scott Cochran yells about it every day during workouts and practice. With the loss of some key players heading to the NFL, this team will need some new leaders to emerge and keep our team poised and motivated to navigate the SEC. This may be the most talented team Saban as ever had, but it takes leadership and experience to win championships…it’s time for some new guys to step it up! Let’s take a look at our offense first. Gone is the beloved “spin move” of Eddie Lacy…dang I will miss him and his power running that looked like you were watching film from the 70’s! I will forever remember his unbelievable runs in the SEC Championship game. Thank you Eddie…thank you for your awesomeness, your power, your big smile and your spin move…I wish you much success in Green Bay (which I think was a perfect fit for him)! Can someone say TJ? Yes folks…even though Lacy is gone, we have a ridiculous amount of talented running backs! TJ Yeldon will carry most of the load this season along with relief runs from a number of backs. Take your pick –Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart, Kenyon Drake, Derrick Henry, Altee Tenpenny (I love this name), and many more! I get chills just thinking of the talent we have back there…it is insane. I personally think you will see lots of TJ with help from Fowler, Tenpenny and Henry. Derrick Henry is the real deal…he is huge, and fast. I can’t wait to see what he does this year…I believe he will do the number 3 he wears justice! Another position we are loaded at is receiver. AJ will have so many targets this year…names like Amari Cooper, Kenny Bell, DeAndrew White, Kevin Norwood, Christian Jones, Chris Black…the list go on! Look for big things from Cooper…we have only just begun to see what he can do! Don’t be surprised to see sophomore Raheem Falkins also – he is turning some heads in practice! AJ McCarron returns for his 3rd year as starting quarterback. Before he is finished at Alabama, I am pretty sure he will go down as the greatest quarterback to ever play in Tuscaloosa. He has already won more championships than any QB in Alabama history, and could potentially (and hopefully) win a third this year. His leadership, poise, and deadly accurate passing skills are what control our offense. AJ gets no love from the national (or even local) media, which I think drives him to be even better. He is the key to us returning to Pasadena this year…he is The Man! You are going to see a lot of little kids (and probably grown men) wearing the number 10 jersey this year. Is it just me, or is it kind of weird seeing grown men with beer bellies wearing jerseys? Our area of most concern this season is obviously the offensive line. With the loss of all time everything Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, and DJ Fluker…we have some big big holes to fill. I know we have lots of fresh talent on the line…but that experience is so important here. Both the Kouandjio brothers will be fine, with Cyrus more than likely being a first round draft pick. Steen will be solid as he returns to his spot at right guard. Ryan Kelly will try and fill the shoes of Barrett Jones at center, and I have heard really good things about him. It looks as though Austin Shepard will play right tackle. Let’s hope these guys gel quickly and give TJ and Co. some big holes, and more importantly…protect AJ! Don’t expect them to be as good as last year (that’s next to impossible), but in time…these boys will be solid! Defense. Yes, we did lose a lot of talent on this side of the ball as well, but I think we have to potential to be even better this year than we were last. Some new names on the line as starters, but names that we have seen get some playing time this past season. Stinson, Ivory, and Pagan will be our front 3, with a myriad of talent backing them up. Saban will definitely rotate guys in and out of this spot, as well as pretty much every position on defense. We are solid at linebacker with the return of team leader CJ Mosley, Trey DePreist and Adrian Hubbard. Other names that you will see include Xzavier Dickson, Denzel Devall (he is going to be good), Tana Patrick and Reggie Ragland…all will see playing time. In the secondary we have returning starters Deion Belue, Vinnie Sunseri, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Saban will definitely rotate in several players here, as we have lots of talent…names like Geno Smith, Landon Collins, Cyrus Jones, Nick Perry…the list goes on! I feel very good about our defense…very good. Cody Mandell will return for his 3rd year as punter, and we will probably see split time at kicker with Cade Foster and Adam Griffith. We have a bevy of return guys with names like Christian Jones, Dee Hart, Cyrus Jones…I just want whomever will catch the ball and hold on to it. I hate fumbling a punt or kickoff!!! So much talent…but only 11 positions on either side of the ball. This team is loaded…they must stay focused and disciplined for us to reach our goal. We have been blessed this season with a somewhat favorable schedule – we need to make the most of it. There are several tough games with Texas A&M & LSU, and you never know what you are going to get from Ole Miss, Arkansas and Tennessee. Let’s not forget Virginia Tech…we really have no idea what their team is going to be like, but you can bet they will not be a pushover. Beamer will have them ready to play, and I am slightly nervous about this opening game. As most of you, I am pretty much in full football mode now. We are days away from kickoff, and Tide Football is all I can think about. The anticipation of a new season and the drive for 3 consecutive National Championships is all consuming to me now! We have the chance to make football history…a feat that has never been done (although we got screwed in 1966 which would have given us 3 in a row). We have the team to do it, but that doesn’t mean they are just going to hand us the crystal ball. We are going to have to earn it the hard way. I think for us to play in Pasadena this year we will have to go undefeated. I just feel that this year it is going to take a perfect run to make it happen. We have been very fortunate in the past with our 1 loss luck…I don’t think we get that break again…we need to win out. I know this post is getting long, but I just have so much I need to get out of my system! I want to take a moment to remember a very special person whom the Crimson Tide Family lost this year…Mal Moore. Mal meant so much to our program and our University…most of his entire life centered around Alabama football. He leaves a legacy that can be seen all over campus through the many athletic facilities he spearheaded fundraising efforts for. Without Mal, there would be no Nick Saban – Head Football Coach at The University of Alabama. Mal Moore is the sole reason Nick Saban came to Alabama, and his convincing him that this was the right place to coach. I will miss his smiling face on the jumbotron as he hands out National Championship rings to a variety of our sports teams, or greets the returning players from a previous year. And oh how I will miss his sweet southern drawl…dang I will miss that! Mal wore numbers 10 and 15 as a player at Alabama…it turns out that Mal was a part of 10 National Championships either as a player, coach or Athletic Director, his last one being number 15. Rest in peace Mal, and thank you for your dedication and true love for The University of Alabama. You are gone… but will never be forgotten! Roll Tide! A lot of expectations from our team this year, and I personally think we should live up to them. I think (and hope and pray) our team will not let all the talk go to their heads. We have some good leaders in AJ, and CJ Mosley who I believe will keep our team on target and have us heading out west for the big game! As long as we stay focused and play our game…I don’t see anyone topping The Tide! Practice is winding up, the game plan is set…it’s time to play some football! The chase for 16 starts in just a few days…can you feel the excitement! I am like a kid on Christmas Eve…my favorite time of year is here! It’s football time in Alabama…Let’s Roll! Jason