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 (12:00 PM)
Welcome one and all! The season is about to get started so these chats will be a little fewer and further between. But don't worry there will be plenty of SEC folks on here that can answer your questions and I'll still come on occasionally. Nonetheless, I'm here now and ready to get started. As always, we operate on a first come, first served basis so be patient and I'll get to your question in time. Let's go!
One of the practice/scrimmage reports I read mentioned Luke Del Rio was the third qb up behind AJ and Blake. Was that more of just a random turn in the rotation or has he noticeably stood out among the three freshmen or even Morris?
Alex Scarborough (12:02 PM)
Saban said LDR was the third quarterback during the previous scrimmage, and he does have a shot to win that job, though I think it's Alec Morris' in the end. But don't count out LDR. He may have "walk-on" next to his name, but he turned down D-I scholarship offers to come to Alabama, and while he may not have the strongest arm in the world, he has some of the best mechanics and poise of a true freshman that I've ever seen. With his dad being a lifelong coach, that should be expected.
sylvester Egbeigwe abuja [via mobile]
who wil be a best player of dis year
Alex Scarborough (12:03 PM)
For Alabama or the SEC? In Tuscaloosa, I think it will come down to T.J. Yeldon or Amari Cooper. I expect big things from both of their sophomore campaigns, and AJ McCarron is a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender. In the SEC never -- and I mean never -- sleep on Jadeveon Clowney. He could be the player of the year. Another dark horse candidate I'm looking at is Florida tailback Matt Jones. He could surprise some people.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Do you think that the 2013 Alabama Crimson Tide College Football Team will play in a Bowl Game?
Alex Scarborough (12:04 PM)
It would be the biggest disappointment in the history of the program if they didn't.
Which defensive recruits are most likely to come in for the 2014 class (particularly at safety and defensive end)?
Alex Scarborough (12:05 PM)
Tough to say. I'm interested to see if Louisiana product Hootie Jones, who was on campus this past weekend, can be swayed to cross state lines. Alabama is pushing hard for the trio of Fournette, Robinson and Jones from the state.
Alex, Does it look like Derrick Henry will get a lot of playing time this season?
Alex Scarborough (12:07 PM)
It does, at least from what we hear of scrimmages. I'm told that all of the freshmen are expected to play this year, though it may be a little later for Alvin Kamara, who had his knee scoped. Henry has the size and speed to play at this level, no question. The things he needs to prove are protection, ball control and technique.
How does the new offensive line, compare to the previous, and can they create holes for our RBs like last year?
Alex Scarborough (12:10 PM)
I wish I could tell Alabama fans as whole to stop comparing this line to last year's now. Doing so will only disappoint you because of just how good last year's was. Those were five -- yes, five -- NFL caliber linemen being historically dominant. That's not to say this year's won't be good or even above average, but pump your breaks on asking for greatness. I like what I've seen from Ryan Kelly at center and I think Arie Kouandjio is capable of being a solid tackle or guard. Austin Shepherd will do well and we all know how good Anthony Steen and Cyrus Kouandjio are. They'll be one of the better lines in the league and they'll pave the way for the running game, just cut them a little slack now and don't hold them to an unreachable standard.
Alex Scarborough (12:11 PM)
Got a little heated on that answer, didn't I? Not trying to take it out on you, Charles, I just hear it asked a lot and I've been saving up that response.
Who do you think will go down as Bama's best back ever? Yeldon, Ingram, Lacey or Major Oglivie?
Alex Scarborough (12:12 PM)
A lot of things will have to go right, but not as many as you'd think for Yeldon to go down as the best. He's got all the talent in the world and had the best start of any rookie at the position in school history last yar. So long as Alabama gets good QB play next year when AJ leaves and team's can't crowd the box, I expect big career numbers from Yeldon.
Alex, Once again my Gators get hosed on the scheduling and UGA escapes playing Bama yet again, which is a joke!! That being said, I'm pumped to make the trip up to Tuscaloosa for the first time. What restaurant/bar would you suggest as a must stop? Thoughts on a preview for that game? Our big eared QB will be a senior and your boys will be rolling out a soph or frosh at QB?
Alex Scarborough (12:16 PM)
I personally love the Alabama-Florida matchup. The Saban-Muschamp angle is great on its own, and I expect Alabama-LSU type physicality. It's tough to say how it will turn out without knowing who the Tide's QB will be and if Florida's will return (yeah, I think he could blow up and become an early draft entry). But as far as restaurants and bars, I'd go to Archibald's for BBQ because it's the best you'll have and it's a real Tuscaloosa experience. And for a drink, hit up Alcove Tavern. It's not the typical college bar and it's off the beaten path, but it's the best spot I've found. And on game day do yourself a favor and grab a Yellowhammer on The Strip.
Chris W. (Montgomery, AL)
Alex, on a scale of 1-10, how would you grade Alabama's secondary and o-line at this time?
Alex Scarborough (12:18 PM)
I'm not good with numbers, which might explain my chosen profession, but I rate the secondary as a 6 with plenty of room for improvement and the o-line as a 7.5 with the same caveat. Why? Because both have so much to prove. We still don't know who will start at strong safety and who will play nickel corner. There's not a lot of CB depth. And on the line, the chemistry must improve. When that does we could be talking a higher number.
Erk Mccurdy (Statesboro,Georgia)
How is Derrick Henry recovering from his injury and will he be ready for the start of the season ? I think he and Yeldon could be the next pair of BAMA backs to be a great one-two punch .
Alex Scarborough (12:19 PM)
There have been no signs of a drop off post injury, and he looks ready to go, if not eager to do so. He will play a role, but don't sleep on Kenyan Drake being the No. 2 tailback and key contributor. He's a home run threat every time he touches the football. His explosiveness is something to see, though he needs to improve on his ball security and blocking like all young backs.
Alex Scarborough (12:20 PM)
Oh, and don't forget Altee Tenpenny. Physically, the youngster is darn impressive.
Darren (Decatur, GA) [via mobile]
Alex, been reading about Landon Collin's and Reuben Foster's talent finally showing through on the field. What do you expect from these two this season? I think both can be future All Americans.
Alex Scarborough (12:21 PM)
The talent is certainly there. Landon will see the field plenty in dime and nickel situations and could challenge to start at strong safety by the end of the season. As far as Reuben, look for him to start out on special teams and slowly work his way into the rotation. Had he started out this spring it would have been very interesting to see where he'd be on the depth chart now. He seems to be picking things up quickly.
Chris (Singapore )
Do you think the uncertainty in the O-line and D-Line give Va Tech a chance to win? What odds or percent? Thanks...
Alex Scarborough (12:23 PM)
Simply put, No I do not. Had Va Tech not sustained the attrition of the past month I would have liked their chances for an upset, but so many players have been sidelined that I can't see Beamer and Co. challenging the Tide. As I said on radio the other day, Logan Thomas would have to play Johnny Manziel's best game just to give his team a chance.
Chris (Singapore )
Do you think any freshman will play on the defensive line? If so, who? Thanks for the great Tide coverage!
Alex Scarborough (12:26 PM)
I do. Redshirt Davlin Tomlinson can do some things and some of the true freshmen like Dee Liner, A'Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen could all play a role, according to Saban. And thank you for the kind words on the coverage, of course.
After his one game suspension, does Saban let Geno Smith reclaim his "Star" role right away? Should we expect to see him, Jarrick, or someone else in that role vs A&M?
Alex Scarborough (12:27 PM)
Depends on what happens in the season opener. Should Jarrick or someone else play well it will be hard to take them off the field. That said, I know Saban likes Geno personally and as a football player. I think he sees real potential in him and wants him on the field. I'd be surprised if he wasn't back out there Week 2 and beyond.
What's the ceiling for McCarron's draft stock? If he has a similar or slightly better year than last year and wins another Nat'l Title where should he look to get drafted?
Alex Scarborough (12:30 PM)
Absolutely. If he puts up comparable numbers he could be a first round pick. He's got enough arm talent and he's gotten bigger physically. Plus he's not viewed as high risk because of the system he comes from and his record as a winner who makes good decisions with the football. GMs might not go crazy over his potential, but they'll feel good taking someone like him.
Chris (Singapore )
Any freshmen other than Derek Henry and a receiver to play against Va Tech? A&M?
Alex Scarborough (12:32 PM)
See, that's a tough one because you're asking whether they'll play from Day 1 and I don't think that will happen. These guys need to come along in terms of understanding the playbook. That said, look at Henry, Howard and Falkins on offense. Falkins is a big target receiver who could be used in the red zone.
Michael Proulx (Toronto, Ontario)
Alex, first thanks for your appreciated updates and stories on the Tide. My question concerns over-signing and 'grey shirts - considering the 2014 class who might be susceptible to a grey shirt if Bama gets its targeted recruits?
Alex Scarborough (12:34 PM)
Thanks for the sentiment. I try to bring you all the best coverage of the Tide possible. As far as projecting the 2014 class, that's hard to do at this point. When it begins to fill out and the numbers get tighter we should be able to look and see how it's shaking out. For now, though, I think Alabama likes who they've taken and I can see all of them landing in Tuscaloosa.
David (Clearwater FL)
who has the biggest shoes to fill this year with so many players leaving for the nfl
Alex Scarborough (12:36 PM)
Austin Shepherd might be that guy because of the effect D.J. Fluker had both as a leader and as a physical force in the run game at right tackle. Other than him, look to center Ryan Kelly just because of the innate amount of responsibility at the position. One other guy is Brian Vogler, who fills in for Michael Williams at tight end, who was quietly one of the biggest contributors to the Tide's success on offense the last two years both in the passing and the running game.
Alabama's Defense better or worse than last year?
Alex Scarborough (12:37 PM)
Can I split the difference and push? I think right now it's a step behind in term of experience and depth, especially in the secondary. But by season's end this could be a defense that was more talented and makes more big plays than it did last year. There's a lot of potential out there, but we all know what a dangerous and volatile thing potential is.
Brandon Al [via mobile]
In the next few years with Cornwell and town (baring nothing crazy happens)coming in do you see Morris ldr and Bateman getting "lost in the mix"
Alex Scarborough (12:39 PM)
I don't, at least not as things stand now. So much of playing the position is understanding the nuances of the offenses and earning the trust of the staff. And while Cornwell might be talented, he won't have a leg up on guys like Morris, LDR and Bateman in that respect. Give those guys time to develop before moving on to the next option. Personally, I think Morris could make a very good quarterback in this offense. He's big, has a strong arm and a good delivery. He can be reckless with the football sometimes, but he has potential.
David (Clearwater FL)
Does Coach Saban ever mentioning a time line on his coaching career? example, I would like to coach until i'm 66 or 67
Alex Scarborough (12:40 PM)
Never. He's a guy who has a remarkable ability to stay in the moment. Even during the offseason he's tuned in. I think even he'll be surprised when the moment comes and he realizes he can't do it anymore.
Alex, as we all know, the SEC released the 2014 football schedule yesterday. Do you know if this is another "bridged" schedule as it was in 2013?
Alex Scarborough (12:41 PM)
Technically it is because it is likely to see changes in 2016 when the SEC's committee looking into scheduling comes back with its findings. We could be looking at a change to the current 6-1-1 format and possibly a move to nine conference games a year.
Mitchell Spoon (Troy,AL) [via mobile]
What is the biggest concern for the secondary as far as being able to challenge the passing abilities of Texas A&M, LSU and Georgia (Should Alabama and Georgia face off in the SEC Championship)?
Alex Scarborough (12:42 PM)
Depth and defending the long pass. I believe in a lot of the first-teamers ability, but the guys behind them are very inexperienced. Getting a youngster like Cyrus Jones contributing could be vital to stabilizing the unit.
Sam (Sugar Land, TX)
Alex, what have you seen in freshman defensive back Maurice Smith so far?
Alex Scarborough (12:44 PM)
Physically, he's impressive. Good size, good quickness, good fluidity. You can see why he was so highly rated. But in this system it takes time. Saban coaches these guys directly and until he trusts them completely, they don't see the field. He could be a lot like Geno Smith last year and come on late in the season and contribute. Another guy I see in that same mold is Eddie Jackson, FWIW.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will the impact of Geno Smith's suspension be minimal given the depleted talent on the offensive side of the ball for Virginia Tech? Should Saban have suspended him two games given he's underage?
Alex Scarborough (12:45 PM)
Yes and no, respectively. As I mentioned earlier, I don't see Va Tech giving Alabama a lot of trouble. And while I did think Saban might go for a two-game suspension, I believe one game proved a point. The kid is from Atlanta and was probably dying to play in front of the home folks on national television to start the season. He knows he messed up. Adding a game onto that might have been overkill.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
True or False, Todd Gurley and TJ Yeldon will not only compete for a SEC Championship this year, but a Heisman Trophy as well?
Alex Scarborough (12:47 PM)
Ooh, nice setup. I say true, though I wouldn't put money on it. The volatility of this league and college football as a whole is always surprising. I can see Alabama representing the West in the title game, but I can also see either Georgia, Florida or South Carolina coming out of the East.
Could Reuben Foster leapfrog other LB and play along side CJ Mosley in certain package?
Alex Scarborough (12:48 PM)
By season's end, I think it's possible. But at ILB, he would have to beat out a very capable guy in Trey DePriest. His best shot would be coming on as an option in nickel, and right now it looks like Hubbard, Dillon Lee and Ryan Anderson are all ahead of him there.
CHRIS B. (ALABAMA)
WHO DO YOU THINK WILL BE THIS YEAR'S COOPER AND BREAKS OUT TO BECOME ONE OF OUR BEST PLAYERS BY SEASON'S END?
Alex Scarborough (12:49 PM)
The guy I point to is Chris Black. I think he's got the chance to be a special receiver, though the depth at that position will be hard to overcome. He's got all the tools, catching and running with the football very well.
Hypothetical, what if McCarron goes down? Who is going to be the guy to come in?
Alex Scarborough (12:50 PM)
Short-term I look at Sims running the read option. Long-term I see Morris coming off the bench. Morris is the best option from a pure passing perspective.
Saban complaining about Oline play,that's Saban being Saban and coachspeak right? gotta have something to work on or a real concern?
Alex Scarborough (12:51 PM)
There might be some truth in that, but for months he wasn't complaining about it at all. For him to suddenly have reservations makes me think twice about what's really going on.
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
Will the Geno Smith suspension give Jon Fulton a chance to finally showcase some of the talent many have been expecting to see since he arrived in Tuscaloosa four years ago?
Alex Scarborough (12:52 PM)
Even before Geno was suspended John was coming on and looked like he had the starting job opposite Deion locked up. He'll have every opportunity to hold onto it.
Mitchell Spoon (Troy,AL) [via mobile]
How much has Kenny Bell progressed since his broken leg against Auburn and do you think he will be as explosive or even more explosive this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:53 PM)
On the football field, he doesn't look a step slower. He's saying he's back to 100 percent, which means he could return to the home run threat he was a year ago. He and McCarron seem to have a special connection.
Ttown Dick (Tuscaloosa)
Alex, your opinion please. I've always thought more of The Hat than most LSU fans. And they have closest talent pool to Bama. I'm afraid this year could remind everyone of 2011 v 2010 Bama - addition by subtraction. I'm a LOT more concerned about the LSU game than aTm. How are they shaping up?
Alex Scarborough (12:54 PM)
With everything going on in College Station, I think you're right to worry about LSU. They have a tremendous amount of talent and a great coach. Les gets grief, but the man produces year after year.
Scratches (the Gump, AL)
What amount of playing time do you expect from Jai Miller?
Alex Scarborough (12:55 PM)
Not a lot, especially early on. Physically he's obviously there, but you can't discount a learning curve after so much time away from the game. He'll contribute on special teams and could carve out a role on defense with time.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
Are there any legitimate gripes for Bama, or others, when looking at the permanent cross division opponents listed on the schedule released yesterday?
Alex Scarborough (12:57 PM)
After this season's schedule, heck no. Alabama dodged a bullet this year. Getting Florida will be difficult, but not insurmountable.
Michael (Athens, AL)
What will be the Tide's toughest hurdle this season?
Alex Scarborough (12:58 PM)
Itself. Talent is not the question. There are so many future NFL picks on this team and the coaching staff is top notch. The real obstacle is what happens between the ears. Can this team overcome adversity and take every game seriously? Those are the questions I'm looking to see answered this season. Getting Va Tech, TAMU and Ole Miss early on will tell us a lot, but Alabama will have to clear a major obstacle against LSU late in the year.
Alex Scarborough (12:59 PM)
Well folks, I hate to say it but that's all the time I've got. I tried to get to all of your questions, but you guys went all out today. I love it. Please stop by next time I'm in the chat room and we'll get after it again. Have a great final weekend before game week is here. Cheers!