Chat with Alex Scarborough
Welcome to TideNation! On Thursday, reporter Alex Scarborough stops by to chat about the state of Alabama football.
Scarborough joined ESPN.com in 2012 after covering University of Alabama athletics and high school football for The Tuscaloosa News. He currently resides in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Send your questions now and join Scarborough Thursday at noon ET!
Alex Scarborough (12:01 PM)
Thanks for joining in on another hour of talking Alabama football. It's a bye week for the Tide, but there's still plenty to talk about. So without further adieu, let's get rolling.
Are we one more rb injury away from seeing Blake Sims move over or is he too valuable/Philip Ely not ready for the full time back up role for that to happen?
Alex Scarborough (12:02 PM)
I think that's a possibility but given the way Alabama's moved around Sims over the years, I expect them to finally keep him where he's at and see how he can progress. The guys I'd look at as RB replacements are Brent Calloway and Cyrus Jones.
Joel (Niagara Falls) [via mobile]
Mr. Scarorough, I consider Nick Saban to be far and away the nation's best college football coach. However, as a kid I was awed by "Bear" Bryant, and still view his legend and his record as untouchable. How do Bama's most intimate fans, on campus, among boosters and in the state of Alabama view Saban in relation to him ? Thank you.
Alex Scarborough (12:05 PM)
There's a clear line of delineation between the two coaches and their respective eras. When I came to Alabama, I expected there to be the constant comparisons between Saban and Bryant, and frankly there aren't many to be had. There's an understanding that Bryant was the best coach of his time and Saban the best coach of him. From my view point, I think it's refreshing to see folks allow Saban to operate in his own time. He's coaching under vastly different circumstances than Bryant ever did, both in positive and negative ways. To try and compare the two would be a stretch at best.
Darren (Decatur, Georgia)
Alex Kenyan Drake has looked explosive in the limited action he's gotten this year. Do you think he's good enough to move into the 3rd spot behind Yeldon?
Alex Scarborough (12:08 PM)
Absolutely. Coaches aren't asking him to be a starter and they're not even asking him to spell Lacy every time he's tired or needs to come off the field. As the third back, he can be fit in where his skill set will do the most good. What's concerning for Drake -- and is for any young RB -- is understanding scheme and protection. He's had five weeks to get ready for this moment. The question isn't whether he's talented enough -- heck, he's averaging nearly 10 yards per carry -- it's how well he picks up the playbook and shows coaches he can be trusted with more than the simple reads.
Jboogie (Atlanta, Ga)
Im concerned about tide starters dropping dur to injury like flies.Fowler, White, Hart. I sincerely hope coach that this doesnt cause impact to our effectiveness of staying explosive and keep puttng points pn the board...Your.take?
Alex Scarborough (12:11 PM)
You're right to be concerned. Any time two contributing players go down in one weekend, there's reason to reevaluate how you feel about the state of the program. That said, these injuries are not the deathknell for Alabama. Amari Cooper stepping up at WR makes up for some of the production lost by White. Christion Jones will likely resume punt return duties with Hart out and as we just discussed, Kenyan Drake has the potential to be a solid No. 3 at tailback.
Yes, we probably played our worst game of the year fundamentally. But I would really like to give Ole Miss some credit. They played ball. Instead of everyone panicking because we did not maul them, shouldn't we look at the fact that a) we were fundamentally unsound, b) they played a great game, but c) we still beat them by double digits?
Alex Scarborough (12:15 PM)
A voice of reason in a room full of panic? Kudos to you, Shaun. Yes, there is a reasonable way to look at Alabama's 33-14 win over Ole Miss, and frankly it's this: Alabama NEVER was out of control. The win was NEVER in doubt, even when Ole Miss held the lead for all of 15 seconds. The defense was fundamentally unsound for two drives, one that continued because of a pass interference play on third down and another because of Freeze went for it on fourth down. Ole Miss' no-huddle offense is capable of doing that to the best of defense, and the Rebs should be given credit. Freeze has that program headed in the right direction.
Alex Scarborough (12:16 PM)
I apologize for the all caps. Normally I'd use italics but that's not an option in this format. Don't worry, I wasn't yelling through my keyboard. Moving on ...
Who wins - LSU vs FL / SC vs Georgia? What are you looking for at these two games in regards to Alabama?
Alex Scarborough (12:21 PM)
I honestly believe both games are a coin flip. LSU hasn't been what we thought they would be on offense and UF has looked much better this year. I think Driskel is far from the elite QB some are making him out to be, but he has the potential to get there. That said, I give LSU the edge. From the Bama perspective, I want to see how LSU does bottling up the UF running game and how well they hang on to the football. Those are two things UA does well and could be points in the Tide's favor. On the other side of the SEC, I like South Carolina by the slimmest of margins. For as good as UGA's offense looked against Tennessee, it's defense looked just as bad. Had it not been for a few missed opportunities for the Vols, Dooley would have been the one celebrating. That's why I think South Carolina rides Marcus Lattimore and is able to create a few turnovers on defense to give Spurrier the win. Again, from Bama's perspective, I'm watching how well Connor Shaw throws the football and how the offensive line holds up against UGA's pass rush. In my opinion Shaw must get better as a passer to make South Carolina more balanced on offense and capable of challenging the likes of Alabama, LSU and FSU.
Ryan (West Palm Beach, FL)
With DeAndrew White going down for the season, should we expect to see Chris Black on offense this season when he's better or will he be redshirting because of his shoulder injury?
Alex Scarborough (12:23 PM)
I'm starting to think I'm becoming the minority in my belief that Chris Black will not see the field this season. I cannot understand a scenario where that happens. It's not worth burning the redshirt, and frankly he'd have too much ground to make up. If he were a sophomore or a junior and had proven himself before, that would be one thing. But he hasn't and it's not worth taking the risk of getting him in on a few games only to find out he's a few games from being capable of making an impact.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Who will Saban be depending on to step up on the outside now that DeAndrew White is out for the season? And how big of a loss is this for Alabama?
Alex Scarborough (12:24 PM)
Look for Amari Cooper's role in the offense to continue to grow. The same goes for Kenny Bell, and possibly rookie Cyrus Jones.
With so many RB recruits coming to Alabama, high likely is it that we see some transfers or decommits in the near future?
Alex Scarborough (12:25 PM)
Keep an eye on Altee Tenpenny and Tyren Jones. It's hard to believe that all three commit to the same school when it's all said and done.
Alex, it seems to me like with the way we have been winning this year, people are freaking out over the game against Ole Miss and how we didn't beat them as badly as we should. Do you feel the this team is getting judged differently in the sense that in the past a win was a win in SEC conference play and style points didn't come into play as much?
Alex Scarborough (12:27 PM)
The way they're being judged right now is a good thing. These are expectations the team has put on themselves because of how well they've played the last two to three seasons. If you don't have high expectations, you probably aren't playing that well to begin with.
Is it just me, or does neither Phillip Ely, Blake Sims, or Alec Morris seem like the QB of the future? Do you agree?
Alex Scarborough (12:29 PM)
I'm not ready to give up on Alec Morris. I've heard too many good things about the kid and watching him throw in practice hasn't been a let down. He's the biggest quarterback Alabama has right now. I have a feeling that if AJ were to go down with a significant injury there would be a discussion about whether Morris would become the guy. That said, Alabama fans should feel good about Cooper Bateman. There's a reason he's so highly regarded among scouts.
I think our new 3rd string rb well be better than the starters. What say you?
Alex Scarborough (12:30 PM)
Not so fast my friend. Yes, Kenyan has shown he's a very talented back, but look at the whole picture. He's had limited carries against second and third string defenses that have been worn out by Lacy and Yeldon for most of the day. He's good, but don't forget how talented both the guys ahead of him are.
JCD (New Port Richey, Fl)
There was a lot of talk on College Sports XM this morning about comments that Coach Sabin made yesterday evening. He said that maybe we should look at limiting the speed of the game from a players safety perspective. He got a lot of negative comments from that saying he is just looking for another advantage. Don't you think his comment may have stemmed from the injuries Alabama saw this past Saturday?
Alex Scarborough (12:34 PM)
That might have something to do with it, but the injuries Alabama suffered were mostly on the offensive side of the ball with White and Hart. Stinson went down but it doesn't appear to be serious and Belue's wasn't an issue of fatigue. I think Saban has a point when it comes to substitutions, but let's be honest. Spread offenses that go no-huddle are not and should not be legislated against. They're playing within the boundaries of the rules. You know how you stop a no-huddle? Don't allow a first down.
Mitch (New Orleans)
When was the last time BAMA beat LSU in a regular season game?I just can't remember that far back.
Alex Scarborough (12:36 PM)
In 2009 when Alabama won the national championship game.
What have you thought of Cyrus K.'s play so far this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:37 PM)
He's getting better and more consistent every week. He made one heck of a block early against Ole Miss on Saturday, pushing the defender 7 yards down field. He's had a few minor issues in technique, but the skill that earned him the status as the No. 1 OL coming out of HS is certainly evident.
Who has suprised you the most with their play this year? Positively and negatively.
Alex Scarborough (12:39 PM)
Positive on offense: AJ McCarron's striking efficiencyPositive on defense: C.J. Mosley in pass defenseNegative on offense: The TEs in the passing gameNegative on defense: Consistent pass rush from Adrian Hubbard
Newton (South Alabama)
It appeared the media hyped every team possible to overtake the SEC this season and all are slowly dropping by the wayside. Was there an uneven bias to find teams outside the SEC & will the upcoming playoffs give more SEC teams an opportunity to compete for the title?
Alex Scarborough (12:40 PM)
If you're looking for an end to SEC fatigue, don't hold your breath. It's going to be that way until another team finds a way to unseat the conference in the title game. That said, don't sleep on teams like Oregon and FSU. Both are where they are in the rankings for a reason.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Who's your pick to leave the swamp with a victory on Saturday?
Alex Scarborough (12:41 PM)
LSU but I'm not very confident. I like what Muschamp has done in Gainesville in a relatively short time.
If the Tide makes it to the SEC Championship do you think Georgia or South Carolina has a real shot at defeating them. Ill hang up and listen.
Alex Scarborough (12:42 PM)
Don't sleep on UF getting to the title game, too. But of all three of those teams, UGA has the best shot in my opinion. I say that because Aaron Murray would test the Bama secondary and the UGA line with Jarvis Jones is capable of exposing a sometimes shaky Alabama line in terms of pass protection.
Do you think that Bama should have taken their BYE week later on into the season? They really haven't gotten into the heart of the schedule yet and now they are off for a week.
Alex Scarborough (12:43 PM)
It may have been better to have it later, but don't discount the extra time the bye allows coaches to prepare for a new team in Missouri.
Which recruits do you think we close with?
Alex Scarborough (12:46 PM)
There are 21 commits in this year's class and one more in the 2014 class. Other than those, I couldn't tell you. You'd have to ask Alabama recruiting writer Greg Ostendorf. Find his work on TideNationESPN.com and follow him on Twitter at @GregO_ESPN.
Your thoughts on our O-line up to this point.
Alex Scarborough (12:47 PM)
Great early, shaky in the middle and improving of late. They have the most talent of any line in the country, it's just a matter of cleaning up small mistakes in communication.
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
Who do yo think is a bigger matchup problem for the Tide, Georgia or South Carolina?
Alex Scarborough (12:47 PM)
As I stated earlier, I think it's UGA. The combination of Aaron Murray and Jarvis Jones is a good one.
It seems that Yeldon has extreme potential, do you think Yeldon could lead the RB's as starter?
Alex Scarborough (12:49 PM)
Next year? Absolutely. This year there's no need for him to be the starter. Eddie Lacy is the clear cut No. 1 guy and he's earned that title. With another year in the system to learn the schemes and protection, I have no doubt Yeldon will be capable of being the lead dog. That said, if Lacy returns next year he may have to wait another season.
Do you think the national impression of AJ gets negatively impacted since he doesn't play much in the second half of games? I don't think he has thrown a pass in the 4th quarter.
Alex Scarborough (12:51 PM)
I don't necessarily think it hurts him because most voters will have tuned out by then. I think the general perception of Alabama QBs as game managers does the most to hurt his chances. Like I said last week, if AJ is going to get in on Heisman talk, he'll have to do so against LSU.
Do you think AJ McCarron should be ranked higher in the hiesman race? I mean he plays in the strongest conference and you will never see a offense put up 800 plus yards against any SEC defense. Should strength of conference be considered?
Alex Scarborough (12:51 PM)
Sure, he plays in the strongest conference. But have we seen him go up against a top-tier defense yet? I don't think so.
I saw some practice footage of the RB'S practice on Tuesday, who is the huge RB wearing number 45?
Alex Scarborough (12:52 PM)
I believe you were looking at walk-on Trey Roberts. They had him wearing 45 for the scout team.
Jay (Tuscaloosa, AL)
SEC rules attempt to limit signing classes to 25 players. With various options that can be played, how large will the Alabama class be this year.
Alex Scarborough (12:53 PM)
I think they sign a full class. They get one back from last year since Brandon Hill has not enrolled yet.
Brian (Oak Harbor)
I?m so tired of the SEC is the greatest of all and if Oregon was in the SEC they wouldn?t be a 500 team. I agree yes they have great defense, can?t deny that. My only thought is preparation; yes with weeks to prepare the SEC has proven to slow the Ducks down. But during a regular season schedule with only a week to prepare I just don?t seeing the SEC stopping the Ducks offense and I am sure the Ducks defense could hold their own. What are your thoughts on what the Ducks would do in the SEC? What are your thoughts on a playoff and teams only having a short time to prepare for not only the Ducks, but other PAC-12 offenses? I could see the PAC-12 making a run with the crystal ball the way the SEC has done with the BCS.
Alex Scarborough (12:55 PM)
I don't think the Ducks would be a .500 team in the SEC. Chip Kelly has amassed way too much talent, and you're right about SEC schools having several weeks to prepare to play them in a playoff situation. That does play into it. That said, I don't think they would be capable of going undefeated in the conference. There's too much size in the SEC and it would eventually wear down Oregon. They'd be competitive, but better than a 10-win season? I don't think so.
Do you think football networks / commentators are becoming prejudiced towards Alabama due to the consecutive championships and heismans? Perhaps it is getting old to the media...
Alex Scarborough (12:56 PM)
No. Not at all.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
If you could only have one, who would it be, Bobby Humphrey or Shaun Alexander?
Alex Scarborough (12:57 PM)
Give me Shaun in today's game because of what he can do catching the ball out of the backfield and breaking out in the slot.
I think FSU matches up with Bama much better than any other team (outside of the SEC) agree ?
Alex Scarborough (12:57 PM)
Agreed 100 percent. Now, ask me that question at the end of the season.
Levi (overseas (Qatar))
Is it too early to predict Cooper as the next go to guy?
Alex Scarborough (12:58 PM)
I don't think it's too early. I want to see what Norwood does when he's fully healthy, but what we saw against Ole Miss wasn't an aberration. Cooper has the talent to be the No. 1 receiver in this offense, and if you'll remember there were chunks of drives where he was the only WR on the field.
Conner (Mobile, AL)
Do you think AJ leaves after this year and how high could he go in this upcoming draft?
Alex Scarborough (1:00 PM)
As of today, I don't see that happening. He's still got a lot to prove in terms of showing he can make all the throws all the time. He doesn't have the benefit of other QBs throwing the ball 50 times a game.
What grade would you give Nussmeier to this point?
Alex Scarborough (1:00 PM)
Because we're under the gun, I'll make it quick: B+... I'm waiting to see the whole playbook come out.
Alex Scarborough (1:01 PM)
Well, that's all the time we have today, folks. Thanks for stopping by and participating. Hope to see you here again at the same time next week. Enjoy this weekend's games.