How good has the Alabama defense been of late?
Maybe even historically good.
It didn’t seem like this was going to be the case way back on Sept. 14. That’s when Johnny Manziel shredded the Tide for 562 yards of total offense while laying 42 points on the scoreboard in ‘Bama’s 49-42 win in College Station.
But since then, Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has his talented troops playing at a very high level.
Since giving up those 42 points against the Aggies, Alabama has allowed just 26 points over the past six games, with shutouts of Mississippi and Arkansas to its credit. The Tide hasn’t allowed a single point in the first half during that stretch, which means a good chunk of the points are coming late in the game, with reserves on the field.
Alabama is allowing just 9.8 points per contest, which leads the nation. Take away that blip against A&M and the Tide is allowing 5.1 points per game and six total touchdowns on the season.
Could this be the best Alabama defense of the Nick Saban era? The 2011 unit allowed just 8.2 yards per contest, but SEC offenses were considerably less potent a couple years ago. Only two SEC teams that year averaged over 35 points per game and one of them — LSU — scored nine points against the Tide in two head-to-head meetings. But six teams are doing so in 2013 and that makes what Alabama is doing even more impressive.
There’s no secret to why this is happening. The Tide have been recruiting elite defensive talent at an alarming rate. And Saban and Smart are two of the best defensive coaches in the game. This is certainly one of the more impressive defensive runs of the modern era, as the Tide has allowed 14 points or less for six-straight seasons.
Indeed, if Johnny Football had never graced the SEC with his presence, we’d probably be talking about this Alabama defense as a historic unit.
Instead, it will just have to be content with being the best in the country in 2013.
Unfortunately for Kentucky’s passing game, the speculation has come to fruition.
Over the weekend, Dorian Baker sustained an injury to his left leg during a scrimmage. The initial talk had it as a rather significant injury; Monday, the Wildcats confirmed that the senior wide receiver suffered a fracture-dislocation in his left ankle.
As a result, Baker will, at bare minimum, miss what the school described as “significant time” to, potentially, the entire 2017 season.
“We’re very disappointed for Dorian, as he had a good offseason and was helping lead our receivers during preseason camp,” head coach Mark Stoops said in a statement. “However, we are hopeful for a full recovery and look forward to his eventual return to the field.”
If there’s a silver lining amidst the injury clouds it’s that Baker has a redshirt at his disposal, which would allow him to return for the 2018 season should the injury sideline him for all of this year.
In three seasons with the Wildcats, Baker has totaled 88 receptions for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns. In 2015, Baker’s 55 catches and three receiving touchdowns led the team. Last season, after overcoming an early-season hamstring issue, he caught 14 passes for 208 yards a pair of touchdowns.
The man charged with the unenviable task of trying to replace one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in college football history has officially been identified.
Upon the completion of spring practice earlier this year, Dabo Swinney stated that, if Clemson “played a game today, Kelly (Bryant) would be the” starting quarterback. Fast-forward a little over four months, and Bryant is indeed the guy who will replace Deshaun Watson under center for the reigning national champions.
The announcement from the Tigers is the culmination of what had been a three-way fight for the job, but the head coach also seemingly left the door slightly ajar for the competition to, at least, bleed into the early part of the 2017 season.
“He has earned it and I am proud of him. It has been a great competition, but this part is over,” Swinney said in quotes distributed by the team. “[Redshirt freshman] Zerrick Cooper is the number-two quarterback, but [freshman] Hunter Johnson is right there. We hope to get all three quarterbacks experience in the first part of the season.”
A junior, Bryant has played in 12 games and exactly 100 snaps. In that time, he has completed 13-of-18 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. He’s added 35 carries for 178 yards and another three scores.
Redshirt sophomore Tucker Israel, who wasn’t even a part of the unofficial competition, is the only other quarterback on the roster who has thrown a pass at the collegiate level (four attempts last season).
Essentially a three-year starter, Watson was responsible for 8,702 of the 9,382 yards and 76 of the 80 touchdown passes for the Tigers the past two season.
Clemson will kick off defense of its national championship Sept. 2 at home against Kent State. They’ll begin ACC play two weeks later on the road against Louisville.
Four months ago today, Kyle Bolin wasn’t even a member of the Rutgers football program. With the start of a new season less than two weeks away, Bolin is officially the triggerman at the most important position in the sport.
Monday, the Scarlet Knights announced Monday that Bolin has been named as the team’s starting quarterback. Bolin had been involved in what was ostensibly a three-way competition with Giovanni Rescigno, the starter to close out the 2016 season and presumptive front-runner to maintain the job exiting spring, as well as touted 2017 signee Johnathan Lewis.
“Really happy with the leadership that Kyle has brought to our football team,” head coach Chris Ash said. “He’s a really mature individual. Well-trained, well-coached in his past and just has got a wealth of experience and we’re really excited about what he’s going to bring to our offense.”
Despite his short time with the program, the move is not exactly a surprise as, one, Bolin has already been named a team captain and, two, he’s been taking more and more snaps with the first-team offense over the last couple of weeks.
Bolin started five games in 2015 as he and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson shared quarterbacking duties that season. Jackson replaced Bolin after a pair of picks in the regular-season finale against rival Kentucky that year and, coming off his four-touchdown performance in the Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M, the former was firmly entrenched as the starter heading into the spring of 2016.
In early April of this year, Bolin opted to leave the Cardinals as a graduate transfer. Less than a month later, he landed with the Scarlet Knights.
Turns out they breed dudes in sports other than football.
Boston College head coach Steve Addazio revealed Monday that Max Schulze-Geisthovel (not pictured) will handle kickoff duties for the Eagles this fall. Schulze-Geisthovel is no ordinary new addition; he is a German native that currently plays for BC’s men’s soccer team.
“Guy is going to really help us on kickoffs,” said Addazio. “He’s got a strong, live leg. He’s working on his field goals. But I know right now he’s going to help us on kickoff. He puts it high and deep and pretty consistently. He’s as strong a leg as I’ve seen here. So that’s a good thing. We’ll see how he does on the field goal part. Every once in a while, you get a little something. We don’t have a huge walk-on population, nature of the place. A lot of state schools have things like that pop up a little easier. But this is great. Nice little gift there.”
A 6-foot-2, 190-pound midfielder from Drensteinfurt, Germany, Schulze-Geisthovel appeared in 19 games as a senior last fall and led the club with seven goals.
Mike Kroll handled kickoffs and place-kicking duties for the Eagles last fall, averaging 61 yards on 55 kickoffs while hitting 12-of-14 field goals. As a team, Boston College ranked 69th nationally in kickoff average.