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 back for another edition of the Alabama football chat. I'll dispense with the pleasantries and jump right into it. Fire away.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Worst College Football Game that Alabama has Played in this season?
Alex Scarborough (12:03 PM)
In terms of the worst performance, I'd argue last weekend's loss to Texas A&M at home was it. The offense was erratic, the defense inconsistent. Johnny Manziel was allowed to run freely in the first quarter and jump out to a 20-0 lead before the Tide finally woke up.
clayton (fairhope al)
what do you think has to happen for the tide to get to the national championship?
Alex Scarborough (12:04 PM)
Pretty simple: Two of the three teams ahead of the Tide must lose. (That's Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame for those keeping score at home). There might be an argument for a one-loss SEC team getting in ahead of an undefeated Notre Dame but I don't see that happening.
Zane Mitchell (Denver)
Honestly, what do you think are the chances we can still repeat this year?
Alex Scarborough (12:07 PM)
Hard to say. On paper, it looks like Kansas State might be vulnerable with Baylor and Texas remaining on the schedule. Notre Dame has been shaky, too, and a date with USC won't be a picnic. It's hard for me to imagine Oregon losing a game, but I've said that before and it's happened. The one thing Alabama has going for it as compared to last season is the opportunity to play in the SEC Championship Game against a top 10 team. If Alabama dominates that game -- not saying it will just yet -- then that would leave a very favorable impression in voters' minds when the final votes are tallied.
Time to move on. Maybe this team has played better than it really is. The question marks on D-Line and the secondary have been recently exposed. Two questions. 1) Can the Tide be healthy enough and have the mentality to beat Georgia if the NCG is out of reach? 2) Looking at next year, do you think we will have the experience to fix these holes? O-Line seems to be the question mark next year.
Alex Scarborough (12:12 PM)
I can't imagine Alabama not giving its all against Georgia. Ask any coach in the SEC and they'll tell you the No. 1 goal is to win the conference first and foremost. There's pride in the SEC and Alabama will want to be the one puffing its chest out when the season is over, national championship game or not. As far as next year, Alabama will have options on the offensive line. D.J. Fluker staying or turning pro is a big piece to that puzzle, but Alabama has to feel good about having a tackle like Cyrus Kouandjio. Throw brother Arie in the mix at guard and a potential JUCO guy in Leon Brown and that's a good starting place.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
What happened to Bama in the first quarter? I don't recall them being hammered like that at the beginning of a game in the Saban era?
Alex Scarborough (12:14 PM)
Alabama got on its heels on defense and when the offense got the ball it couldn't sustain drives. The quarterback spy didn't work and the defensive line didn't do a good job of containing Manziel. Everything that could go wrong for Alabama in the first quarter did. Saban lamented this week that it took falling into a 20-0 first quarter hole to finally wake up and respond. Had Alabama done that earlier, maybe things would have been different.
Who do you think has the best chance to lose between the 3 undefeated teams? What percent chance to you give to Bama making it back the the national champtionship?
Alex Scarborough (12:17 PM)
If I'm forced to choose, I'm going with Kansas State. Baylor is no easy opponent and Texas could give the Cats trouble. As far as a percentage chance, I'll go with 50-50, because, hey, isn't EVERYTHING 50-50? It's either going to happen or not. (Yes, that's a cop out.)
Biggest disappointment (player wise) in the last two games? Biggest surprise (player wise) in the last two games?
Alex Scarborough (12:20 PM)
Hmm. ... I hate to call a player a disappointment, but I really expected Adrian Hubbard to show up more against Texas A&M last weekend. He didn't get after Manziel as much as I thought he would. My biggest surprise is D.J. Fluker. He more than held his own against an LSU defensive line that's arguably the best in the country. It looks like he's turned the corner.
Travis Hastings (San Mateo, CA)
Is there any doubt at this point that AJ will return for his senior season?
Alex Scarborough (12:24 PM)
Not in my mind. He simply hasn't played like himself the past two weeks. I've wondered how much the beating an SEC schedule has put on him. There's not quite the same zip on his ball as we've become accustomed to. I think he returns for another season, works on getting a little bigger and stronger as well as perfecting some of the facets of his game, and then presents himself to the NFL.
Everyone (In the Chat)
How many different ways can you answer the same question, "How does Alabama get back into the championship game."
Alex Scarborough (12:25 PM)
So you're saying you don't want another scenario where Alabama ends up in Miami? ...
If Texas A&M can do that to 'Bama's defense what would Oregon have done to them?
Alex Scarborough (12:28 PM)
I'm not sure how fair a comparison that is. I see Oregon as being a more perimeter based offense than Texas A&M. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies are a bit more physical, too.
gary smith (virginia)
how will the defense do this week will they put in another poor performance
Alex Scarborough (12:30 PM)
Against Western Carolina? For some reason I think they'll be fine.
Jeff (Montgomery, Alabama)
I think two of the top 3 will lose. I have no doubt about that. The real question is how do we match up against Georgia? I think SEC Champ goes to BCS title game.
Alex Scarborough (12:36 PM)
Even taking away the NCG implications, the matchup with Georgia is intriguing. Alabama's front seven will fare better against a pocket passer, but the secondary will be severely tested. If Zach Mettenberger was made to look like a pro QB against Alabama, what will Aaron Murray do? On the other side of the ball, it depends which Georgia defense shows up. If it's the one that allowed Tennessee 40-plus points, Alabama could run away with the game.
Do you think that losing to A&M will help us refocus on the keys to any games? IE (tackling, containment on outside, and better man coverage?)
Alex Scarborough (12:37 PM)
I think so. At least that's what Saban and players have been stressing all week -- a return to the fundamentals.
Wouldn't you agree that Bama got too cute with the play calling on the goal line. If Bama runs the ball 4 straight times they get in and win the game. If your team is believed to have the best run blocking O-line in CFB why didn't they utilize it?
Alex Scarborough (12:40 PM)
Agreed. ... Alabama didn't find any consistency on offense in the second half.
Do you still have any doubts about who is the best receiver on Bama's team? Cooper is by far the best receiver and if people re-watch the interception to Bell on 4th down, they will see Cooper open behind him. Got to give your best receiver the ball in that situation. (before it is brought up, that was a rub route, the defender played it perfectly, AJ had one read, if Bell was covered, the 2nd option was Cooper in the corner)
Alex Scarborough (12:45 PM)
I haven't had any doubts about who the No. 1 receiver was since the Ole Miss game. He's got the entire game: good hands, quickness, strength and ball skills. ... I'll say this, though: Watch out for Chris Black next year. He's got the look of a top-flight receiver. Had it not been for a shoulder injury, he'd be making a significant contribution this season.
Will Eddy lacy ever be in the hiesman race?
Alex Scarborough (12:47 PM)
No, not this year and probably not the next. He's not a feature back in the way you'd think of a 20-25 carry a night guy. That and he needs to find a way to stay healthy week in and week out.
Should there be a different defensive back presentation against teams that go 4 wide and match Vinnie up in man coverage going forward? He is a down hill player who struggles to turn and run with receivers.
Alex Scarborough (12:49 PM)
I think there should. Vinnie is great when the play is kept in front of him but struggles when the ball is in the air and he's forced to turn and run. If John Fulton and Geno Smith continue to develop, I think we see a move to more pure cornerbacks in four- and five-wide receiver looks next year.
Whats better: to loose a close game and play your best football or win a close one and play your worst
Alex Scarborough (12:51 PM)
Ask Saban and he'd say the former. I'd say the latter. If the ultimate goal is a national championship, wins are all that matter. There's something to be said for finding a way to win.
Do you think McCarron's emotion takes too much control of him sometimes? Such as the goal line interception, seems like he just wanted to make a play that wasn't there
Alex Scarborough (12:54 PM)
I don't necessarily see it that way. I think AJ struggles when he's not playing with emotion actually. That interception on the goal line was a case of forcing a pass that wasn't there, but there wasn't much else to be had on that play overall. They ran everybody to the short side of the field and didn't create much in the way of spacing.
Casey (Kandahar, Afghanistan)
As a UGA fan, I just wanna start by saying I can't wait to watch UGA and BAMA square off in the Dome. BAMA is a great team and this should be a great match-up for both squads. My question is, who do you think is the better RB up to this point....Gurley or Yeldon? Gurley hasn't had the line that Yeldon has had but both are sensational players. Who would you choose?
Alex Scarborough (12:57 PM)
Good question. I've seen more of Yeldon, so I'd probably go with him even knowing how good Gurley has been this season. What's impressed me all season about Yeldon is how he has the complete package. He can run inside or out and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He's explosive while still being physical. He needs to get better in pass protection but in terms of grading a true freshman, he'd have to get the highest marks possible.
Looks like the recruiting class is getting close to being full. Who do you see the remaining spots (5 or so) being held for?
Alex Scarborough (12:58 PM)
You'd have to head over to TideNationESPN.com and ask our recruiting expert Greg Ostendorf. He's more plugged into the recruiting side of things than I am.
How much did the lost impact recruting.
Alex Scarborough (1:00 PM)
I don't think it impacted it negatively at all. In fact, the environment being as electric as it was at Bryant-Denny was a positive thing for recruits to experience.
Alex Scarborough (1:00 PM)
Well, that's all the time I've got today. As always, lets do this again at the same time and same place next week. Enjoy the games this weekend!