Mr. College Football: The Alabama offensive line is going to be fine Coach Nick Saban, as he likes to do from time to time, shook things up after Saturday’s scrimmage by saying: “We don’t have any starters on the offensive line-not one.” The fact is that Alabama’s offensive line is going through a transition. Three starters from last season are gone, including Outland Trophy winner Andre Smith, and Antoine Caldwell, an underrated center. A year ago a lot of Alabama’s offense ran through Smith. The offensive line was so powerful and so good that most of the time the Crimson Tide could just steamroll people and wear them down during the course of the game. This offensive line won’t be able to do that, but Alabama has recruited well and there is plenty of talent. It may take a few games but Alabama will have a good offensive line. But it will be different.
Saban says sacks are not the only way to affect the quarterback
With all the things the Alabama defense did well in during the 2008 season, there was one area it came up short. The Crimson Tide ranked a pedestrian seventh in the SEC in quarterback sacks. Even Vanderbilt – yes, Vanderbilt – slammed opposing quarterbacks to the turf more often. “I don’t want to overstate the importance of sacks because I think that’s what everybody views pressure as,” Saban said, pointing out there are other ways to harass a passing game. In fact, pressure is about “affecting the quarterback, whether you bat the ball (or) push the pocket so the guy can’t throw in the middle. Because we’re trying to defend the middle of the field and make him throw sideways.
Arenas’ newest role: leader
Whereas the Crimson Tide’s secondary used to be All-American safety Rashad Johnson’s territory, Arenas now sees it as his. “A lot of people were talking about how good we did last year, a lot of people kind of expected us to fold because I guess that’s been a tradition around here lately: good season, bad season; good season, bad season,” the outspoken senior said. “We’re hungry out there, we’re working hard. We’re working harder than last year. “Last year didn’t even happen to us right now, you know what I mean? We won all 12 but the (end) is what hurts. We’re working harder to get better.”
Offense is only question for Alabama
hope springs eternal in Bama Nation. After all, this season was supposed to be the breakout year for Coach Nick Saban’s team. Saban has been a recruiting phenom since his arrival from an ill-fated NFL experience in Miami. Saban is not afraid to put his talent to use early, and often. Sophomore linebacker Dont’a Hightower of Marshall County quickly found himself in the starting lineup as a freshman, and the 6-foot-4, 250-pound NFL star in waiting responded with 64 tackles. Hightower and the Alabama defense will be stout again this season. The Tide must replace quarterback John Parker Wilson, who settled down as a senior and was more consistent. Junior Greg McElroy and was impressive in the Manning Passing Academy this summer.
Kicking it with Nick Saban
He’s returned Alabama football to national prominence quicker than anybody could have imagined. Two seasons, to be exact. A year ago, Nick Saban guided the Crimson Tide to the doorstep of the BCS National Championship Game thanks to a 12-0 start. The finish to the season was a downer, but the message had nonetheless been sent. They start this season ranked No. 5 in the coaches’ poll, and you’d swear there’s an extra pep these days in the Denny Chimes’ bells as they reverberate across the Quad on the Alabama campus. Not since Bear Bryant was dominating college football in the 1960s and 1970s and on his way to becoming an icon in this state has there been a more indomitable presence on Alabama’s campus than Saban.