We’re through one week of fall camp, including the first scrimmage, and slowly but surely the 2012 Crimson Tide is starting to come together. There’s still roughly three weeks until the season starts, so a lot can change between now and September 1. But, here are some observations and opinions through week one:
The wide receiver competition just got a little bit of elbow room. But that doesn’t mean things will cool down any time soon. In fact, it might just mean the opposite. Freshman Chris Black likely looks headed for a redshirt after his shoulder injury and fellow freshman Eddie Williams continues to work with the safeties after Travell Dixon’s sudden departure and the injury to Jarrick Williams left the secondary a little bit depleted. Williams is athletic as anybody, but his route running and crispness left a lot to be desired at receiver. There’s a lot more competition at safety, but his athletic ability probably fits him better there.
When Nick Saban mentions you by name, it’s either really good or really band. And Saban has been all over Amari Cooper this summer, heaping praise on the true freshman. Cooper’s seen a lot of time with the first-teamers and was one of the leading receivers in the first scrimmage. Alabama likes to use a rotation of five or six guys, but you can expect Cooper will be right in the thick of things, even on opening weekend.
Backup quarterback might be the most interesting position battle. Redshirt freshman Phillip Ely, true freshman Alec Morris and sophomore Blake Sims are all vying for the spot behind McCarron. Right now, Ely gets the nod simply because of experience, but Morris is much more physically gifted. The ball comes out of Morris’ hand with a lot more of a zip, and the has the size (6-3, 225) that you’d like to see out of a quarterback. Ely looks like the short-term solution should McCarron go down, but depending on how quickly Morris can grasp the offense, he’s the more long-term solution under center.
The offensive line is going to be good. Really good. Just how good the unit will be will most likely be determined by the play of sophomore Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle. Kouandjio held his own last season, but how he does over a full season is yet to be determined. He certainly has all the tools be a first-round draft pick after his junior year.
The secondary has been highlighted as an area of concern, with most drawing comparisons to 2010 unit that was similarly inexperienced. But Alabama’s secondary will be better than people think, and here’s why: The safety position is as stacked as its ever been with Robert Lester, Vinnie Sunseri, HaHa Clinton-Dix along with newcomers Landon Collins and now Eddie Williams. Lester, Sunseri and Clinton-Dix all look to have an impact, especially when the Tide goes into its nickel and dime packages. Collins is too good of a talent to keep off the field and will likely be a major player on special teams a la. Sunseri last year. At corner, Milliner is as good as they come in the SEC, and Deion Belue has shown what kind of a playmaker he is in the spring and fall.
Jalston Fowler has been getting some looks at a fullback-like position during fall camp. I say fullback-like, because Alabama hasn’t really used a true fullback on offense under Nick Saban. Fowler is certainly built for the position (6-1, 242) should UA decide to run a little bit of I-formation. His three receptions in the scrimmage and time spent working with the H-backs in practice might mean more of a Roy Upchurch-like role for him. If that’s the case, it’ll make it a lot easier to split carries among Lacy, Fowler and Yeldon with Fowler paving the way. Just don’t expect the Tide to line up in the I regularly.
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