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!

 

Alabama LB arrested on domestic violence charges

Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson has been arrested on third-degree domestic violence charges, according to a report by AL.com.

The former 5-star recruit was arrested on Monday night with another charge – misdemeanor criminal mischief – also on the list.

Anderson made 25 tackles last season, and it was hoped he might play more games for the Crimson Tide in 2015.

You know, if he stays out of jail.

BOTTOM LINE: The arrest of Anderson isn’t great PR for Nick Saban, who gave a second chance to DT Jonathan Taylor, who was arrested while he was at Georgia for domestic violence against his girlfriend. Taylor signed for the school in the off-season and has started classes in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama DL arrested

Alabama defensive linesman Jarran Reed has been arrested and charged with DUI by police in Tuscaloosa, according to various reports.

Reed, who transferred to Alabama from East Mississippi Community College in the Spring, had a blood alcohol content of 0.13, above the limit of 0.08.

Reed was driving a white 2011 Dodge Charger, according to a TPD news release, when an officer saw him collide with another vehicle at 1:50 a.m. while backing out of a parking spot. Reed attempted to exit the parking lot, but the officer stopped him, the TPD release stated. The incident occurred in the 2400 block of University Boulevard, or the City Fest lot in Tuscaloosa. A field sobriety test was conducted when there was smell of alcohol in the car,” AL.com’s report said

We are disappointed in Jarran’s actions and this is obviously not the kind of behavior we expect from our players,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a statement. “It is a privilege to represent the University of Alabama and there are responsibilities that go along with that privilege. We’ll evaluate the situation and determine the appropriate discipline so better choices and decisions can be made in the future.

This hasn’t been a great week for Alabama Football. A week earlier No.3 running back Kenyon Drake was arrested for obstructing a governmental operations. Apparently, Drake decided that a police cordon around the area where his car was parked – not that the car was involved in the alleged crime – didn’t apply to him, and despite police warnings, went to get his car, where he was duly arrested.

Alabama RB arrested

Alabama running back Altee Tenpenny has been arrested for pot possesssion, it has been reported.

AL.com reported that Tenpenny was stopped by police in Little Rock, AR on March 21 because of an unoperational license plate light, and then police looked in the bar, smelled marijuana, and searched car, finding “a clear plastic bag filled with 2.1 grams of marijuana“, which the player admitted to knowing about.

He was later charged.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said: “I’m aware of the situation with Altee and this is obviously not the kind of behavior we expect from our players. In addition to any punishment he may receive from a legal standpoint, we will have some internal discipline as well as education that he will be responsible for working through.

He will appear in court April 10th.

Alabama running back arrested

Alabama running back Dee Hart was arrested in Tuscaloosa….although it seems as though he’s no longer a part of the Crimson Tide.

After news that Hart had been arrested for possession of marijuana and giving false information to the Tuscaloosa Police Department, Alabama released this statement: “Dee Hart has not been a part of the football team since the bowl game and has not participated in any of the off season program. Hopefully he will learn from this mistake and continue to work toward completing his degree, which he is on track to do by the summer.

He was also questioned for trying to use counterfeit money at a gas station, too.

This follows up to Tony Brown’s arrest on January 19th for failure to obey and resisting arrest.

BOTTOM LINE: Hart was a part-time player for the Crimson Tide in his freshman and sophomore seasons, but he’s no longer on the Alabama team because he’s either trouble or with Derrick Henry and TJ Yeldon on the team, he’s surplus to requirements.

No Title? No problem! Bama’s No.1 on National Signing Day

No Championship? No problem for Nick Saban.

The Alabama Crimson Tide was AGAIN the No.1 recruiting team on National Signing Day, with a tremendous signing day haul.

It included: Three of the ESPN 300’s top 10 players (OT Cameron Robinson, DE Da’Shawn Hand, CB Tony Brown), and the No.10 and No.12 players in the nation, too (ATH Bo Scarborough, and CB Marlon Humphrey).

They also stunningly picked up OLB Rashaan Evans from Auburn High school – who had also been rated highly, despite many thinking – including Auburn itself– that Evans was a cert to play in Jordan-Hare. The move seemed to have annoyed Evans’ mother, who seemed clearly worried about what people in the area would think. Saban described the process: “All the people you’re going to make unhappy….you’re going to make more people happy here”. Evans has been described as the ‘next Melvin Ingram‘, by Bleacher Report, although that will have to be seen to be believed.

Saban added that he saw the Electric Slide video on YouTube that had everyone laughing, and was sorry that no-one saw his ‘Wobble’. “I do that pretty well, too”, he said, in a rare lighthearted moment.

No Alabama signing was under a three-star recruiting valuation for the Tide, who also added former Florida State QB Jacob Coker (not counted here) as well as former Georgia TE Ty Flournoy-Smith, who is getting a second chance in Tuscaloosa.

 

 

 

Alabama back-up QB to transfer, New one coming?

Alabama back-up quarterback Luke Del Rio has said that he’s leaving Tuscaloosa, although it’s not knowing where he will end up.

The player, who decided to walk on at Alabama despite being offered scholarships at Oklahoma State, Oregon State and Colorado State (according to Bama recruiting website TideSports.com) said via Twitter: “I had an incredible year at Bama, it’s sad to say that it will be my last,I’m excited for the next chapter of my life and what it will bring.”

His decision to leave – just days after the arrival of new offensive co-ordinator Lane Kiffin, has further fuelled rumors that Florida State back-up QB Jacob Coker could be transferring from Florida State, although the player himself dismissed that as ‘rumors’ before the Seminoles’ National Championship win over Auburn.

The rumor mill went on overdrive after an article by CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman, which seemed to connect Alabama coach Nick Saban to Coker……who’s currently nursing a torn meniscus after blowing it out in November.

Feldman’s article notes that Coker is a “lifelong Alabama fan”, which certainly got tongues wagging.

BOTTOM LINE: Rumor. Speculation. Don’t you just love the college football off-season? If Coker was to come to Alabama, it might well be Saban and Kiffin’s recruit of 2014.

Saban fires secondary coach

Nick Saban has fired secondary coach Greg Brown after a season which saw Alabama struggle in the backfield.

Alabama, who gave up 180.3 yards per game, struggled in their final games against Auburn and Oklahoma. In the Auburn game they gave up a game-winning touchdown at the end of the game, and against Oklahoma, they were consistently troubled by Sooners QB Trevor Knight.

The responsibility for coaching the defensive backs has fallen to current defensive co-ordinator Kirby Smart, who also gave up his linebacking coach position to Kevin Steele, who comes from the director of personnel position.

Alabama hires Lane Kiffin as new OC

Alabama has hired Lane Kiffin as their new offensive co-ordinator – just days after previous incumbent Doug Nussmeier went to the job at Michigan.

The last time SEC fans saw Kiffin was when he walked out of Tennessee in 2010 to take the USC job, and he left a mess behind him. He was then fired mid-season by the Trojans in 2013 after they were schellacked by Arizona State. Before that they had lost to Washington State.

Kiffin had been invited by Bama Coach Nick Saban to evaluate the team’s offense in mid-December, a move that some saw as a sign that Nussmeier was not going to be coming back for the 2014 season.

The job for Kiffin should be a fairly simple one: Give the ball to running back stars Derrick Henry and TJ Yeldon, who will form one the SEC’s best thunder-and-lightning partnerships (it’s between them and Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall (if UGA can keep both fit/out of trouble). Alabama will be starting a new quarterback now AJ McCarron has completed a great four years in Tuscaloosa, where he won two National Championships.

We also anticipate more of a hurry-up offense to compete with Gus Malzahn at Auburn, which at times, seemed to fluster Alabama’s defensive line. We also anticipate the recruiting of great speed from Tuscaloosa, so Baylor and Oregon should be watching their backs from last-minute steals from the Crimson Tide.

Saban said: “We are excited to have Lane join our staff. He is an outstanding and creative offensive coach who has great experience both at the college and NFL level. He has a very good understanding of the game and I have always been impressed with what I saw in the games he called. He coaches with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm, and also does an excellent job as a teacher. Lane will be an outstanding addition to our coaching staff and we look forward to him and his family joining us at the University of Alabama.”

BOTTOM LINE: If Nick Saban was impressed with the games that Lane Kiffin called, he obviously wasn’t referring to the 2013 season, when USC flat-out stank. But let’s be honest, the Kiffin hire is going to be a massive risk for Alabama, bearing in mind Kiffin’s past, which this blog hasn’t mentioned before. The other bottom line is that the only person getting super-wealthy out of this deal (we think that Kiffin probably came pretty cheap for Alabama, and that Kiffin’s on a pretty short contract), is Jimmy Sexton, the college football superagent who shares Saban and Kiffin as clients.

BOTTOM, BOTTOM LINE: Since he was fired at USC, Kiffin appeared on College Gameday where he came off as humble, and we couldn’t help but be impressed. Kiffin’s job – if he just does the OC job and doesn’t do a lot of recruiting (which has got him trouble in the past) – will have some pressure taken off because at Alabama, there only seems to be one man who deals with the press: Nick Saban

Did Alabama OC Nussmeier bolt for Michigan before he was fired?

Alabama offensive co-ordinator Doug Nussmeier has taken the vacant offensive co-ordinator’s job at Michigan. 

Michigan only announced on Wednesday that head coach Brady Hoke had fired Al Borges after three years at Michigan.

Nussmeier was Alabama’s OC and quarterbacks coach for the last two years, coaching an offence that included a quarterback Heisman candidate in AJ McCarron, a RB who’s now starring in the NFL in Eddie Lacy (and other great running backs including TJ Yeldon and soon-to-be Heisman Candidate Derrick Henry), a host of great wide receivers including Amari Cooper, and not to mention a SEC Championship and National Title.

Because of their dependency on the defense, Alabama didn’t have to post gaudy numbers offensively. This year they were 49th in passing yards, 25th in rushing yards, and 18th in points scored, according to the ESPN report.

Nussmeier was the offensive guru at the University of Washington prior to coming to Tuscaloosa.

The favorite for the job – in the media’s eyes – is one Lane Kiffin, who was invited to Tuscalossa around December 16th to ‘evaluate Alabama’s offense’. Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban also share the same agent – one Jimmy Sexton.

Saban was nice about his OC leaving: “He is a bright coach who works hard and brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to work each and every day. Our production and balance the last two years has been very good and he also brought a lot to the table in terms of coaching the quarterbacks. AJ (McCarron) had one of the best seasons and careers of any quarterback here, and that says a lot when you look at the history and tradition of that position at Alabama. We wish Doug and his family the best and appreciate all they did to help us be successful with the program at Alabama.”

THE BOTTOM LINE: It’s interesting, because we’d argue that offensively, Alabama had their problems during the season. They struggled with a beaten-up Virginia Tech in the opening game of the season, and weren’t great against Colorado State in Week 3. They struggled in the first quarter against Kentucky. They only put up 20 at a poor Mississippi State team. Oh, and they lost the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma, in which AJ McCarron was pretty terrible all game long. And when there was a chance for a comeback using Derrick Henry – who was sensational during the game – they opted not to take him out of the game despite him not looking gassed.

Why are we making this argument: Because if this story is true, we don’t think Nick Saban worked all that hard at keeping Doug Nussmeier in a job. If Nick Saban really believed in Doug Nussmeier and his play-calling, Nussmeier would have been offered a ton of money (according to Bruce Feldman at CBSSports.com, he’s going to become one of the top five paid OCs in college football). Why? The University of Alabama could afford it. And they could afford it even more with the ton of money they are going to get from ESPN with the SEC Network deal. We think that Saban was quite happy for Nussmeier to go, so the Crimson Tide could start afresh after having no SEC Title or no Championship for the first time in the years.

CONSPIRACY THEORY: Al Borges was told he wasn’t coming back before the Kansas State game, but Borges pleaded with them to keep it quiet until after the National Championship Game. So they did, in deference to him. Doug Nussmeier was hired in the interim period between the SEC Championship Game and Sugar Bowl. In fact, Nussmeier told Saban and the team he was leaving prior to the Sugar Bowl. That was one of the reasons Alabama’s offense from offensive line to quarterback to TJ Yeldon was pretty inept all night long.  They were unmotivated. Again, Nussmeier hasn’t announced anything, but that’s coming. But again, Saban – who seemed to want an up-tempo offense after Auburn beat him – wasn’t too worried about him leaving.

CONSPIRACY THEORY 2: Doug Nussmeier already knew his job at Bama was in jeopardy the minute Nick Saban got Lane Kiffin to evaluate the offense on December 16th, after the Auburn loss.

 

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