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The top-ranked University of Alabama football team amassed 308 yards and four scores on the ground en route to its convincing, 41-9, Homecoming-game win over Arkansas Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC) top-ranked rushing defense was on display, as the defensive unit held the Razorbacks (2-4, 0-3 SEC) to just 27 yards on the ground in the win.
On the offensive side of the ball, junior running back Damien Harris earned his seventh career 100-yard game and his third of the season, after rushing for a game-high 125 yards and two scores on just nine attempts. Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts and freshman running back Najee Harris also had rushing touchdowns in the win. Hurts went 12-of-19 for 155 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
On defense, junior defensive back Ronnie Harrison led the way with 10 tackles and one pass breakup, while senior linebacker Rashaan Evans tied a career-high with two sacks to go along with six tackles.
Alabama jumped on Arkansas early, scoring on the first play from scrimmage. Damien Harris burst through a hole and sprinted 75 yards to the end zone. The 75-yard streak tied Harris’ career long that he set last week at Texas A&M. Following senior placekicker Andy Pappanastos’ kick, the Tide led 7-0, just 15 seconds into the game.
The Crimson Tide added to its lead after the Razorbacks’ first series ended in a bad snap on the punt attempt, giving Alabama the ball on the Arkansas 25-yard line. Three plays later, Pappanastos split the uprights from 39 yards out to put the Tide up 10-0 with 11:36 left in the opening quarter.
The Alabama scoring continued after another Razorback three-and-out. The Tide rumbled 65 yards in eight plays, capped by Damien Harris bouncing off four different Arkansas defenders for his second touchdown of the quarter from four yards out. After the Pappanastos PAT, UA led 17-0 with 7:24 remaining in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, after an Alabama muffed punt that set up Arkansas at the UA 32-yard line, the stingy Tide defense knocked the Razorbacks offense back eight yards on the drive and forced another punt.
The two teams held each other in check until Alabama took over at its own 25-yard line with 4:39 left in the half. The Tide methodically drove down the field in nine plays, netting 75 yards, capped by Hurts accelerating up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run. Following Pappanastos’ kick, the Crimson Tide held the 24-0 advantage with 1:20 left in the half.
The Razorbacks responded by driving 76 yards down the field, setting up a final play from the UA three-yard line with three seconds on the clock. The shutout was kept intact as Harrison batted the pass attempt away in the end zone to end the half.
Alabama outgained Arkansas 275-111 in the first half, including 181-8 on the ground.
The Arkansas offense capitalized on an interception midway through the third quarter, going 48 yards on 13 plays to set up a 30-yard field goal attempt, which trimmed the UA lead to 24-3 with 4:16 left in the third.
The Tide responded with a heavy dose of the ground game, running five straight running plays for 58 yards before Hurts found freshman wide receiver Henry Ruggs III for a 20-yard touchdown. Ruggs’ fourth reception of the year, all of which have gone for touchdowns, put the Tide up 31-3 following Pappanastos’ kick, with 1:25 remaining in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Alabama continued to pour on the points, using a short field to go 35 yards on five plays, capped off by Najee Harris finding the end zone from four yards out. Pappanastos’ extra point extended the lead to 38-3 with 12:29 left in the game.
Following the Tide touchdown, the Razorbacks possessed the ball at their own 28-yard line when senior defensive back Hootie Jones tipped a pass attempt and sophomore linebacker Mack Wilson came flying in to intercept the batted ball at the Arkansas 40-yard line.
Alabama used another short field to put points on the board, driving 37 yards on five plays, finishing with a Pappanastos 21-yard field goal to further the advantage to 41-3 with 8:55 remaining in the game.
Arkansas then drove down the field, totaling 75 yards on 13 plays, finishing the drive with a three-yard touchdown pitch-and-catch. The point after was no good, giving Alabama the 41-9 lead with 3:03 left in the game.
Alabama returns to action Saturday, Oct. 21, against Tennessee at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT and will air on CBS.
An analyst on ESPN's College Football Live show earlier this week aptly noted it best that while last weekend's opening slate of college football games was billed as "The Greatest Weekend Ever," we are all definitely paying for it this coming Saturday.
The landscape for the sport we all love the most is fairly barren for Week 2, and in fact there are no matchups that actually match ranked teams.
Virginia Tech/Tennessee, Penn State/Pittsburgh, Kentucky/Florida and BYU/Utah are just a few of the contests that hold any semblance of intrigue at all. In other words, it's pretty slim pickings.
So it might actually be a good time for football fans to spend some time with their families or pursue some outdoor errands they've been needing to catch up on, at least until the opening slate of NFL games arrives on Sunday.
Apparently the oddsmakers feel that Saturday's home opener for No. 1 Alabama against Western Kentucky is going to be yet another yawner as the Crimson Tide enters the contest as a four-touchdown favorite.
Let's face it, there was a huge amount of overreaction from Week 1, and that was certainly reflected in the latest polls and I think it's also reflected by the Tide being such an overwhelming favorite over a Hilltopper program that has not exactly been a cupcake opponent for many teams over the years. Western Kentucky won 12 games and the Sun Belt Conference title a year ago, and as it showed last week, albeit against a not-great measuring stick opponent in Rice, that it still has plenty of talent and yet another high-octane offensive attack. You will not see Jeff Brohm's team simply lie down for a huge paycheck.
While many elite teams such as Oklahoma, Tennessee and Clemson were getting upset or just avoiding being bit by the upset bug last weekend, Nick Saban's team restored some sense of order with an easier-than-expected romp over Southern Cal, and this has brought forth much renewed national love for the Crimson Tide and individual players such as true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts.
And you have to know that once again Saban is detesting all of the hoopla regarding his squad, and all the "outside clutter" that comes with it.
Now Saban must get his players to return to earth, and prepared to play a team that is capable of causing more than a few problems if Alabama shows up lacking any sense of focus or urgency on Saturday.
Alabama has not always performed at its highest level in these type of non-conference games, but I think the fact that the Hilltoppers gained 649 total yards of offense last Saturday, including over 550 yards through the air, will at least get the attention of the Crimson Tide defensive unit.
The Hilltoppers may hit a few big plays before adjustments are made, but I think the Alabama defense will also have plenty of opportunities to force a few big mistakes provided it is able to effectively pressure WKU quarterback Mike White early and often.
It may be a slow start again for the still-developing Alabama offense, but once Hurts, Blake Barnett, Damien Harris and company begin to settle in and take advantage of the holes that will be available against a vulnerable Hilltopper defense, the expected Tide roll will slowly but surely begin to come to fruition.
Like many of you, I am anxious to see how the quarterback rotation goes with Hurts and Barnett, and whether there will be more explosive plays and more deep shots to targets such as Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart.
All in all, it should be a solid second win of the season for the nation's top-ranked team.
Alabama 42, Western Kentucky 14
As part of the ongoing relief efforts surrounding the flooding in Louisiana, Alabama gymnastics coach Dana Duckworth, ReadBAMARead and Two Men and a Truck are combining for a donation drive on from through Wednesday, Aug. 31.
“ReadBAMARead was born from the need to lend a helping hand after a natural disaster,” Duckworth said. “And while our primary focus is on childhood literacy, we are always ready to lend a helping hand where it is needed. We are grateful to Two Men and a Truck and everyone who is able to lend a hand to our neighbors.”
The drive is being held in the parking lot of the Northport Winn Dixie on Highway 82 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Wednesday. As part of the next round of relief aid, Duckworth and company are looking for kitchen items, cleaning supplies, pet supplies, toiletries and linens as well as clear storage bins and toys for the children affected by the floods.
“What we found after the April 2011 tornadoes, is that after the initial round of aid comes through, the needs of those affected change as they move into the recovery and rebuilding stage,” Duckworth said. “We’re trying to meet those needs with this drive.”
Duckworth and other volunteers were on site Saturday, Aug. 27 from 7:30-11 a.m. - and the response over the weekend was impressive.
Here is a list of items needed:
It is now two weeks before Nick Saban's Alabama football team, the reigning SEC and College Football Playoff national champions, opens up the 2016 season against the Southern Cal Trojans in Arlington, Texas.
Of course the Tide will enter the upcoming season with significant questions at positions such as quarterback and running back, and the recent indefinite suspension of offensive lineman Alphonse “Shank” Taylor after a DUI arrest only muddies the Crimson Tide picture a bit more.
During Media Days in Hoover, Saban, entering his 10th season at the Capstone, addressed several topics related to his 2016 Alabama squad.
On continued development of his UA players, even during the off-season:
"We continue to try to develop our players in so many ways, even over the summer, where we have all of our players now for summer school in terms of personal development programs, whether it's mental conditioning for success, peer intervention for behavioral issues, leadership, communication, all of these things that create value in players that help them be more successful in life, and obviously academics is a big part of that."
On the progress his 2016 team has made as it heads into fall practice:
"So, our team has had a very good offseason. I've been very pleased with the progress that we made. We obviously lost some really, really good players from last year's championship team, good leadership, good people. Great team chemistry. All things that are intangibles that are difficult to build, and our challenge is to recognize as they develop, because those things just don't happen overnight. You know, it's a work in progress. And it's certainly been the case with our team this year.”
On the still-ongoing quarterback battle that includes returnees Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett and David Cornwell and newcomer Jalen Hurts:
"For the third year in a row, I'm standing up here talking about somebody's going to be a new quarterback for us. Somebody's got to win that job. Somebody's got to win the team. You know, that has not necessarily happened yet and, you know, I'm not going to sit up here and sort of try to, you know -- I don't know the right word, but give you some statistics on who's winning the race and how the race is going and who's ahead, are they on the back stretch or in the final turn. That's something that's going to happen probably in fall camp. I hope in fall camp."
On the fact that Alabama's running game is largely unproven going into the 2016 season:
"This is the first time for many, many years that we have not had an experienced, talented running back who has proven his value. This will provide opportunity, even though (the current backs including Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris) are less experienced, for some other players who are talented players to have a chance to succeed at that position."
On whether O.J. Howard, the senior tight end from Prattville, will likely have an expanded role in the Alabama offense following his five-catch, 208-yard and two-touchdown performance against Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game:
"O.J. has been an outstanding player for us and a very unselfish guy in terms of, you know, the things he's done and how he has contributed to our team. He's contributed to our team in a fantastic way. It doesn't always get recognized because it seems like it's always recognized on how many big plays you make or how many passes you catch. So, we want to feature all of the players on our team that have a chance to be successful, and O.J. Howard should be a guy that should certainly create mismatches and do some good things stretching the field."
With another University of Alabama football season just around the corner, it is a good time to take a look at the Crimson Tide's Top Five all-time leaders in a host of categories heading into the 2016 campaign.
Of course, it is no real surprise that many of the tradition-rich program's leaders have emerged during the Nick Saban Era in Tuscaloosa.
This is not a shocker considering the Saban tenure has produced four national championships, four Southeastern Conference titles, two Heisman Trophy winners, and a host of All-Americans and National Football League draft choices among other accomplishments.
But the leader charts reflect a host of different eras of Crimson Tide football and include a host of the program's most celebrated standouts.
For more great Alabama Crimson Tide analysis and coverage, visit crimsonmag.com.
Source: 2016 University of Alabama football media guide
University of Alabama Director of Athletics Bill Battle announced today that he has completed the latest in a series of treatments for multiple myeloma, and reports that he feels great and looks forward to returning to work on a limited basis at the University very soon.
On June 27, Battle underwent a stem cell transplant under the supervision of Sagar Lonial, M.D., a world-renowned expert in the research and treatment of multiple myeloma, at The Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Center at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. He was released from the hospital on July 8 and, after almost two weeks of outpatient care, he was approved yesterday to return to his home in Tuscaloosa.
“Mr. Battle had an uneventful transplant course and is recovering well, as we expected," said Dr. Lonial. "He should be returning home to Alabama soon."
Battle underwent an autologous stem cell transplant, a transplant using his own stem cells, and was released from the hospital on Friday, July 8, upon completion of the in-patient phase of treatment. He has been recovering on an outpatient basis with his son, Mike, and his family at their home in Marietta, Ga., while awaiting his formal release from treatment at Emory.
"I have completed this latest phase of my fight against multiple myeloma, and the outcome was extremely positive," Battle said. "My wife, Mary, a licensed oncology nurse, has been an amazing force in every stage of this fight over the last two years. I was fortunate to get early detection, aggressive treatment by the best doctors, and entered this recent phase in reasonably good physical shape. All of those factors were vital to this positive outcome. However, maybe the most important factor has been the outpouring of thoughts and prayers from around the country. It has been overwhelming, and Mary and I are most appreciative.
"At this time, multiple myeloma is incurable but is very treatable. Great progress has been made over the past few years and more is expected in the future. Longer life and better quality of life is expected from those with early detection, with good fitness levels, and the autologous transplant. The transplant process pretty much wipes out the bone marrow and the immune system temporarily, but rapidly regrows. The risk for infections diminishes over time and as the patient recovers from the process."
By Stan J. Griffin: July 7, 2016
There is no doubt that most of the focus for University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban is devoted to the upcoming 2016 Crimson Tide season, which is less than two months away.
But Saban knows as well as anyone, however, that helping those in need is a life priority that is way more important than wins and losses on a football field, especially when it involves those who are struggling in his own home state.
Saban, a native of Fairmont, West Virginia, is asking that football coaches from across Alabama come together to help the football teams in the communities of that state devastated by recent flooding.
Saban, along with the Alabama High School Athletics Directors and Coaches Association, is asking high schools from across the state of Alabama to do their small part to help so many high school football programs affected by this tragedy by donating a full uniform. Many of these high schools will not be able to field football teams this fall without help.
"Football was such an important part of my childhood in West Virginia, and to see the devastation the flooding has caused, and how it has threatened so many high school football teams, we wanted to find a way to help,” Saban said. “We are asking each high school from across the state to donate a full uniform to help these schools get their kids back on the football field this season.”
Many of the West Virginia high schools affected by this flooding are in need of all types of football pads and uniforms. High schools making donations are being asked to provide one uniform, including helmet, a pair of shoulder pads, two knee pads, two thigh pads, a girdle, practice pants, practice jersey and one pair of cleats. Small and medium sizes are in the most need, but large will also be accepted.
The Alabama football program will collect all of these uniforms by July 25 so they can be transported to West Virginia. Those wishing to help can send their donations to: Mal Moore Athletic Complex, Attn: Jeff Springer, 323 Bryant Dr., Tuscaloosa, AL 35487.
Former Alabama assistant coach and the Tide’s current NFL Liaison Joe Pendry is also a West Virginia native.
Special thanks: Alabama Athletics Communications
By Stan J. Griffin: July 5, 2016
Author's Note: This is the first installment of a multi-part series, detailing the position groups for the 2016 Alabama football team. The first part will discuss the still-ongoing Crimson Tide quarterback battle.
As has been the case entering the last two years, Nick Saban's University of Alabama team will enter the 2016 season with a largely unproven individual behind center at the always-critical quarterback position.
And while that has caused sheer pandemonium and myriad conniption fits with Alabama fans in the past, I really am not sensing much of that with the Crimson Tide Nation as we inch closer to SEC Media Days and the start of fall practice.
Part of that is due to the wizardry of Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and the amazing work he did with first-year starters Blake Sims and Jake Coker the last two seasons. The success of those two signal callers is a big reason why Alabama won 26 games the last two years, including back-to back SEC titles, made two trips to the College Football Playoffs and captured its 16th national championship last season.
Another reason for the absence of teeth gnashing is the fact that the 2016 Alabama team will most likely have another very strong defense, as well as a solid ground game at the very least, once again, meaning that whoever earns the starting quarterback position will not have to be especially prolific in terms of his stats. As Saban has stated numerous time over the past three seasons in regards to his starter, that individual simply needs to "win the team," be an efficient game manager and he needs to avoid making the pivotal mistakes.
With that being said, here is a look at the challengers who will likely emerge as the main candidates for the 2016 Tide quarterback job.
COOPER BATEMAN, 6-foot-3, 224 lbs, junior: Will enter fall practice as the early favorite to land the starting nod by virtue of his being the only quarterback on the Alabama roster with any significant game experience. Of course he started the Tide's game against Ole Miss last season, completing 11 of 14 passes for 87 yards and an interception before being pulled in favor of Coker in the Tide's only loss of the 2015 season. Overall in his seven appearances last season he completed 37 of 52 aerial attempts for 291 yards with two picks and a touchdown.
BLAKE BARNETT, 6-foot-5, 200 lbs, freshman: Much like sophomore tailback Bo Scarbrough, Barnett has already captured the imagination of many Tide fans, and has been the subject of much hype even though he has yet to make any significant contribution to the fortunes of Saban's team. Unlike Scarbrough, however, Barnett has yet to contribute at all in an official game as he was redshirted last season and had mixed results during this spring's A Day Game. No one has ever questioned his arm, and he was a consensus five-star prep prospect, but he may still need to get a bit bigger and he has also been turnover-prone on occasion.
DAVID CORNWELL, 6-foot-5, 234 lbs, sophomore: Was redshirted during his freshman year and did not see any action last year although he appeared to be a prominent candidate for last year's starting role during a strong spring. Was one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in the country as a prep standout in Norman, Oklahoma, and had a fairly impressive A Day game performance this spring.
OUR VIEW: Saban has traditionally given the nod to the quarterback with the most experience, much like he did with Sims in 2014 and with Coker last season, although even he may still be second-guessing his decision to start Bateman against the Rebels in 2015. Freshman Jalen Hurts is a wild card who has already contributed to the Crimson Tide by helping Alabama prepare for Clemson in January's national championship game, and he showed a good arm and nifty legs in the spring game. My guess, however, is that he will be redshirted this season. So the feeling here for myself and most of the other media types is that Bateman begins the season in the starting role, but if it is indicative early that he cannot get the job done and move the offense consistently, I doubt Saban will hesitate to give a shot to Cornwell or possibly even Barnett considering his array of talents and the potential he brings.
By Stan J. Griffin: July 1, 2016
Photo by Stan J. Griffin
New University of Alabama baseball coach Greg Goff is quite busy these days, as he seeks to put together his first Crimson Tide coaching staff, recruit new players, solidify and study the UA roster and put his own unique stamp on the tradition-rich Alabama program.
But on Friday, the 31st Crimson Tide baseball coach was honored for the good work that he did at his last coaching stop, prior to arriving in Tuscaloosa.
Goff was selected as the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Diamond 2016 South Central Region Coach of the Year, the organization announced on Friday morning.
Prior to being named head coach at Alabama on June 17, Goff built Louisiana Tech from a team that won 15 games before to his arrival in 2015, into a 42-20 team a season ago. The Bulldogs received an at-large berth in the 2016 NCAA Starkville Regional, the program’s first NCAA Regional appearance since 1987.
The 2016 Bulldogs reached the 40-win plateau for just the sixth time in program history and the first time since 1988. Goff’s squad set program records with seven series wins and 19 victories in Conference USA, the fifth-best league based on RPI.
Individually, Goff coached two All-Conference USA selections in Casey Sutton (first team) and Jonathan Washam (second team). Sutton finished 6-1 with all six victories coming during conference play, while leading all C-USA pitchers with a lowly 1.43 ERA. Washam batted .318 across 47 games (34 starts) and finished with 42 hits, including nine doubles, a triple and two home runs. He drove in 25 RBI and posted a .368 on-base percentage during his all-conference season.
Goff also tutored three pitchers who were selected during the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft, marking just the eighth time in program history that Louisiana Tech had at least three players taken in the draft. Adam Akins, a senior closer, was taken in the 18th round by the New York Mets, while juniors Braden Bristo (23rd) and Philip Diehl (27th) were each taken by the New York Yankees.
The Regional and National Coaches of the Year will be honored at the ABCA/Diamond Hall of Fame/Coach of the Year Banquet on Jan. 6, 2017, in Anaheim, Calif., as part of the 73rd annual convention.
Special thanks: Alabama Athletics Communications