Top-ranked Tide rolls in first ‘real’ test

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UPDATED 12:14 a.m.: Consider this first test aced.

Coming off a strong first half, No. 1 Alabama closed nearly as strong in dropping Mississippi State from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 38-7 win.

Thanks to Florida’s loss to Georgia, the Tide will likely, once again, be a unanimous No. 1 when the Associated Press and coaches’ polls are released Sunday afternoon.

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One of the few negatives a nitpicker could find when it comes to the 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide is its strength of schedule, or lack thereof.  The combined record of the Tide’s last six opponents?  23-25.

Even a 27-point season-opening win over then-No. 5 Michigan came with an asterisk, although that’s slowly fading as the Wolverines have gone on to win five of their next six.

Still, many were looking at Saturday’s game with No. 13 and undefeated Mississippi State as UA’s first real test of the 2012 season.  If that’s indeed the case, and through 30 minutes, it’s A’s across the board.

Through two quarters of play, the Tide has dominated every phase of the game, leading the Bulldogs 24-0 at the half.

Offensively, the Tide totaled 236 yards, including an un-Alabama-like 177 yards passing off the right arm of Heisman contender AJ McCarron.  On the defensive side of the ball, where the Tide leads the country in nearly every major statistical category, they were their usual dominant self, limiting MSU to 105 yards of total offense, just 2.1 yards per carry and four first downs.

Even on special teams, the Tide is holding a significant edge.  Their lone kick return of the game went for 41 yards, giving the Tide prime field position on the opening kickoff that was cashed in on with a T.J. Yeldon touchdown run.  Additionally, punter Cody Mendell‘s gross average was the same as his net on three kicks at 52.7, pinning the Bulldogs at the 21-yard line or deeper each time.

Add it all up, and the methodical machine that is Alabama football continues to roll on.

Miami wideout Ahmmon Richards sits out Hurricanes’ scrimmage with pulled hamstring

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The focus in Miami’s preseason camp has been on the budding battle to be the starting quarterback but Mark Richt might have bigger concerns after an injury to another star offensive player.

The Hurricanes head coach confirmed to reporters on Saturday that receiver Ahmmon Richards missed the practice after he pulled his hamstring earlier in the week. Safe to say that’s not the kind of injury you want a burner like that to suffer right before the season starts.

The Palm Beach Post reports that senior Braxton Berrios stepped up in Richards’ absence during the scrimmage with six catches for 107 yards but things figure to be a little different against real opposing defenses this fall if his running mate can’t go full blast down the field like he potentially could.

Richards averaged 19 yards a catch last season and racked up nearly 1,000 yards through the air as a true freshman. He was expected to play a pivotal role in an offense that is breaking in a new signal-caller but, given the tricky nature of hamstring pulls and wide receivers, it could be a few weeks into the year before he trots out onto the field for the ‘Canes.

FAU-bound John Franklin III says he wasn’t having fun at Auburn

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John Franklin III has had a ton written about him for a player going on his fourth program in five years but here’s a little more.

The quarterback-turned-wide receiver recently gave an interview to Matthew DeFranks of the Florida Sun Sentinel on his decision to transfer to Florida Atlantic for his senior season and seemed to lob a subtle shot at his former coaching staff at Auburn while doing so.

The not “having too much fun” line will probably draw most of the attention but don’t discount the issue Franklin has with playing every snap. While he arrived on the Plains as a signal-caller, he gave way to Sean White as the starter last year and was moved all over the field in a variety of packages. This spring he changed positions to wide receiver full time as a result but decided to transfer before catching passes for the Tigers.

The former ‘Last Chance U’ star will now head to Boca to play for former coach Clint Trickett with the Owls. It’s not super clear what exact role he will have in the offense but hopefully for Franklin he can have a little more “fun” this season along the way.

Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough misses practice for second time

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A running back is on the loose in Tuscaloosa and no, that’s not as good as it sounds for the Crimson Tide.

Beat reporter Alex Byington noted on Saturday that star tailback Bo Scarbrough was noticeably absent from Alabama’s practice on Saturday when it came time for media viewing periods, the second straight time that he’s been out of sight on the field.

The Tuscaloosa News followed up on the matter and reports that Scarbrough’s attendance (or lack thereof) was “nothing serious” and Nick Saban confirmed as much later in the afternoon by saying the running back was sick with an illness that kept him out.

Sophomore Josh Jacobs also missed the viewing period on Saturday.

Scarbrough has had a light work load the past several months as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered in the national championship game. The presumed starter is still expected to be good to go for the season opener against Florida State but the absences at practice will at least make things interesting in the next two weeks at a crowded position on the depth chart.

Four-star DT Tyler Shelvin will redshirt at LSU after NCAA partially denies eligibility

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The state of Louisiana’s top recruit will not be playing for the state’s top football team this fall.

Four-star defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin will enroll at LSU next week, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate, but will not be eligible to play in 2017 following a ruling from the NCAA on his status. The news is a big blow not only to Shelvin, but to the Tigers who are thin on the interior defensive line and were hoping to rotate in the 380-pounder this year.

Shelvin’s high school coach told the paper that the NCAA “partially denied” the defender’s eligibility, forcing him to redshirt in his first year on campus. He reportedly took several classes over the summer in order to meet requirements but apparently fell short of hitting the association’s standard to be cleared.

The loss of Shelvin’s services is a tough one after he turned into one of the center pieces of head coach Ed Orgeron’s top 10 recruiting class from February. The Tigers have had a history of talented defensive tackles running into eligibility issues in the past but the rather thin depth chart in the middle of the defensive line made bringing in Shelvin a priority.

That is not to be the case however, as LSU will move forward sans the big defender just two weeks out from the start of the season.