Top Alabama running back Damien Harris has said that he will return to Tuscaloosa for his final year of eligibility, stemming a ‘tide’ of players leaving for the NFL Draft.

Harris posted seasons of 1,000 yards in 2016 and 2017, and odds-on are that he will post another one in 2018 – although you can expect freshman sensation Najee Harris to take some of the load as well.

Running back teammate Bo Scarbourgh – who ironically could have been the top player in his position at just about anywhere in the land had it not been for Nick Saban’s policy of keeping his backfield fresh in terms of touches – has declared for the NFL Draft. ‘Big Bo’ battled injuries throughout his career with the Tide, and it may well make him a third-round pick come NFL Draft time.

Also declaring will be top wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who caught the game-tying touchdown pass in the National Championship Game, as well as defensive tackle D’Ron Payne, who was famous for his two plays against Clemson in the semi-final.

Having been thoroughly prepared for that next step,” Ridley said, “I am truly ready.” 

Meanwhile in Baton Rouge, top running back Derrius Guice has declared for the NFL Draft. A lot of SEC West teams will be glad to see the back of Guice, who ran for 1,251 yards and 11 TDs in his junior year.

 

 

hat Some people in Tuscaloosa are still up and drunk. Some people in Athens have kicked their wall, door and probably the cat. But whatever you have done, Alabama is the 2018 National Champion.

But not everyone on Alabama had a great day, and not everyone on Georgia had a bad one.

So here are your good days/bad days from yesterday….

GOOD DAY

  1. Tua Tagovailoa: Came on in the second half in the place of an awful Jalen Hurts and immediately put UGA’s defense on its heels with some bullet throws. Threw the game-winning TD that looked identical to the one Todd Blackledge threw against Georgia in the 1982 National Championship Game.
  2. Sony Michel: His 98 yards on 14 carries (that’s 7 yards a clip) at times embarrassed Alabama’s defense, and made him a lot more money when the NFL Draft comes alone. We are still wondering why in the hell Jim Chaney didn’t play him in the fourth quarter.
  3. Nick Saban: Had half a good game and still won the National Championship. Oh, and his recruiting showed how good he was, since Tua, Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith are all freshmen.
  4. The Ridley family: Calvin Ridley did nothing until catching the game-tying TD with a minute left, while Riley Ridley, his younger brother was fantastic. Kay Daniels, their 49-year old single mother, is going to get to retire after these two hit the NFL.
  5. Freshmen: We’ve mentioned three of the Alabama freshmen, but how about also mentioning Georgia’s Jake Fromm, two-TD speedster Mecole Hardman two?
  6. Roquan Smith: The UGA Butkus Award winner-soon-to-be-legend led the game 13 total tackles including 9 solo tackles. Mack Wilson of Alabama was impressive too with 12 tackles (7 solo).
  7. Kirby Smart: In his second year Georgia played for a National Championship. Not bad, Kirby. Not bad at all. We think we’ll see you here again soon.
  8. Alabama (second half): After an awful first half, Saban made the adjustments, came back beautifully, and silenced the home support. At times, it was relentless and the reason why everyone thought that Alabama would win the National Championship this year. But not in this dramatic manner….
  9. Rodrigo Blankenship: GLASSES KICKER WAS PERFECT!
  10. The SEC: Yeah, so our conference was down. But two of the best teams combined for one of the best games of the season and one of the greatest National Championship of all-time. So suck it, B1G!!

BAD DAY FOR…

  1. The refs: It was like the B1G was getting their own back for Ohio State not getting in the play-off. Their refs were awful – so much so that they looked like SEC refs. Not only did they miss numerous horsecollars and facemasks, but they also missed a false start on the tying TD. They also missed late hits, holding, and numerous other things – including Hardman’s heel blatantly (after replay) touching the line. The most irritating part of it? The ref at the start of the game and at overtime making long, drawn-out speeches in an effort to put himself in the spotlight. Can we have Ed Hochuli for these big games please?
  2. Jalen Hurts: Remember when we said that Hurts would be a problem for the Tide if he threw the ball? We were right. Hurts was TERRIBLE, overthrowing Calvin Ridley easily in the first quarter when there was a sure TD and going 3-8 for just 21 yards in the first half. Urgh.
  3. Malkom Parrish: Got targeted and torched all day long by Alabama QBs, even if a lot of the throws weren’t great. He will get a lot of the blame from UGA fans, but they probably won’t see him after this year. He was beaten like he stole something. He’ll be replaced by Ryan Gosling’s character in ‘Remember The Titans’.
  4. Jim Chaney: Went waaay too conversative in the second half and pretty much gifted the initiative to Alabama. Also, we still don’t understand why Sony Michel never had a touch in the fourth quarter – despite causing the Tide trouble all night long – and Nick Chubb (who didn’t seem to grind down the Tide’s front) held the ball not only for OT but the drive leading up to it.
  5. Andy Pappanastos: Word has it that the Alabama kicker is still walking from Atlanta to Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban can’t take imperfection.
  6. Mekhi Brown: Fighting one of the assistants on the sideline really isn’t a good look. He may have been very contrite afterwards, but he made an ass of himself. Oh, and his horror clothesline on Sony Michel should have gotten him a 15-yard penalty, too.
  7. Georgia coverage for the game-winning TD: Dominik Sanders got fooled, and Parrish went wandering. Why be so aggressive on 2nd and 26 with a kicker who’s last kick nearly nailed someone on the sideline? As much as Tua’s throw will go into Alabama lore, it really wasn’t a difficult throw to make.
  8. Nick Chubb: After all the highlights and talk, Chubb didn’t really manage to get anything against the Alabama front, running 18 times for 25 yards with a long of just 7. Sure, he’ll make money come Draft time, but Michel really shone when he didn’t.
  9. Javon Wims: It was actually a poor day for Wims even before he made his catch. He dropped two easy throws from Fromm…and then injured his shoulder which ensured that the Bulldogs lost a huge weapon.
  10. Mercedes-Benz Stadium/ Ticket holders: Locked out of the entrances because of Donald Trump’s motorcade (he left at half-time after creating the maximum possible disruption), fans missed kick-off, fought each other, and were generally really pissed off. Oh, and they all had to stand in the freezing rain while doing it. The only great story to come out of it was a member of the media meeting two elderly Alabama ticket holders who lost their tickets and he took them to guest services. Oh, and as for the stadium, there was a leak coming from the roof. Seriously, Atlanta?

 

Alabama’s Calvin Ridley: A rebound after 2016?

We know one thing about Alabama’s depth chart: It’s going to be deep. Real. Freaking. Deep.

Everywhere on an offensive line will be players who can catch a ball, run it quicker in pads than most people without a ball, helmet and pads on, and they will weigh about the 250-300lb mark. Running backs will be lightning bolts. Tight ends will be wide receivers.

2016 was meant to be a breakout year for Calvin Ridley – particularly after a freshman year when he had 89 receptions, 1,045 yards and 7 TDs, averaging a tidy 11.7 yards per reception. That was good for 33rd in the Nation, and not bad at all for a freshman start.

For 2015, we thought that this would be another monster year for Ridley. Sure, his quarterback, Jalen Hurts, was new, but the fall in stats was staggering. Ridley went from ‘trusted receiver’ to ‘not particularly trusted receiver’, falling to the 94th receiver overall in NCAA rankings in terms of receiving yards, with ‘just’ 769. His receptions fell to 72, and his average yards per reception dropped to 10.7. The only thing that stayed the same was touchdowns (7).

He also had five attempts as a rusher in 2016, and even scored a touchdown. He had one in 2015.

BIG FACTOR?

For 2015, Ridley was a factor in almost all of his games, getting thrown to at least 6 times in the last four games of the season, and grabbing two touchdowns in the play-off win over Michigan State. While he wasn’t a big factor in the National Championship Game, he put defensive co-ordinators at Clemson off enough that they seemed to forget about OJ Howard as the big tight end had the game of his life as the Crimson Tide battled their way to a National Championship.

In 2016, Ridley had no touchdowns in his last 4 games and was thrown to an average of a smidgeon under 4 times a game (Bearing in mind that he averaged over 6 yards per reception, you could argue that if Lane Kiffin/Steve Sarkasian/Nick Saban had used him more, he would have had even more of an effect on the game).

THIS SEASON

This year, it’ll be interesting to see how new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll uses Ridley. Ridley’s got an immensely smooth running action, can blow the doors off defensive backs, and bearing in mind his 6-1, 188lb frame, he’ll probably go to the pros after this year and continue a line of very good NFL receivers. Oh, and you would be surprised to see him in the backfield either, if Daboll’s looking to spice things up!

And what we do know is this: If Ridley’s used like he was in 2015, the SEC defenses in 2017 are going to be very worried indeed!

 

Scheduling: Saban turns down Wisconsin series offer

Nick Saban has turned down The University of Wisconsin’s offer of a home-and-home series, the Wisconsin State Journal has reported.

According to the report, ESPN had tried to push for having Alabama play Wisconsin at a Neutral Site, but Wisconsin AD – and  former legendary Badgers head coach – Barry Alvarez  said current coach Brett Bielma “countered with an offer to play a home-and-home series with the Crimson Tide — no specific years were discussed — but that Alabama coach Nick Saban declined.

CBSSports noted in an article that Saban is much happier with his Alabama team playing games at neutral sites rather than home-and-homes, and noted that Alabama haven’t played two BCS conference opponents in any one year.

Having said that, the report noted that Alabama HAS played Penn State (twice), Virginia Tech, Clemson and Florida State in the last five years (they have a 4-1 record). Here is a look back (and forward) at some of Alabama’s schedules.

BOTTOM LINE: While we’re looking forward to seeing Alabama play Michigan in 2012, Virginia Tech in 2013, and West Virginia in 2014, we wish Nick Saban would play more home-and-home games, because we still fervently believe that the best teams should be able to play in the harshest environments, instead of souped-up, big-for-TV regular season ‘bowl’ games that are games at Cowboys Stadium or the Georgia Dome. In other words, we’ll give the Crimson Tide less credit for winning a neutral site game than AT the Big House or AT Hokie Stadium or IN Morgantown (plus, the gameday atmosphere’s much better for home-and-homes, too!).