Alabama’s No.1 goal is improve against up-tempo offenses

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Johnny Manziel must haunt the dreams of Alabama head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

The former Heisman Trophy winner terrorized the normally stout Alabama defense the past two seasons. While Manziel’s play-making ability was off the charts, his production was also the by-product of Texas A&M’s spread offense and up-tempo attack.

When Alabama faced Auburn and Oklahoma during the last two games of the season, the defense struggled against other up-tempo offenses that operated completely different from one another.

During those three games, Alabama surrendered 128 points and 1,450 total yards.

As a result, the Crimson Tide’s No. 1 goal this off season was improving against the varied offenses they’ll face this season and be adequately prepared for each.

“It’s definitely challenging, because you don’t face that kind of offense daily,” Smart Smart told coachingsearch.com. “It’s not who we are, offensively. You spend time simulating that in different ways, whether it’s the scout team or your offense, but you can never simulate it as good as a hurry-up team that does it. As far as recruiting, we try to get the best players we can, regardless of size or type of guy. Obviously, you’re going to have to beat LSU in our league, you’re going to have to beat Auburn, you’re going to have to beat Texas A&M.

“(There are) good teams in our league, especially our side, so you’ve got to have enough players that you can play every style of football. That’s obviously what our goal is. One of the No. 1 goals of this fall camp is to improve on that. There’s a lot of ways to improve on that, whether it’s being in shape, cutting weight so you can play more snaps. You’re going to have to play more people, so you have to have more depth. There are a lot of things we can do to improve on that and try to play those style of offenses better.”

The Crimson Tide’s defense has continually been one of college football’s best under Smart’s supervision. Yet, there is an inherent flaw in the composition of their scheme. Saban and Smart prefer bigger and more physical defensive linemen, linebackers and cornerbacks to physically overwhelm offenses. In doing so, the system sacrifices athleticism and speed in certain areas. Thus, teams like Texas A&M can attack the edges of the defense and prove to be successful.

Alabama continues to recruit some of the best overall athletes in the country. Smart and Saban will need to find new and creative ways to take advantage of this type of talent so the defense won’t struggle quite as much against spread offenses that love to vary the pace.

Dismissed Rutgers FB-turned-wrestler returns to football team

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After a pit stop in another sport, Razohnn Gross‘ athletic career in Piscataway has come full circle.

Shortly before the start of the 2015 season, Rutgers announced that five football players, arrested a couple of days earlier in connection to an assault, had been dismissed from the program.  Nine months later, Gross returned to RU athletics, albeit as a wrestler.

Another nine months later?  Nj.com is reporting that Gross has rejoined the Scarlet Knights football program.  The fullback is currently taking part in spring practice with the team.

The arrests of Gross and the others early last September was the result of what had been an ongoing investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Brunswick Police Department. The investigation initially kicked off in the spring following a reported home invasion in New Brunswick. Per reports, three men wearing masks forced their way into the home and left with an undisclosed amount of cash and marijuana as five students were held at gunpoint.

That was followed by the five football players allegedly attacking a group of individuals that left one of them, a student, with a broken jaw.  That attack, reportedly (ahem) unprovoked, was directly connected to the incident mentioned above.

It was reported at the time of Gross joining the wrestling team that he was “accepted into a pretrial intervention probationary program last month” and, if he “stays out of trouble for the necessary time, his record will be cleared.” Gross has stayed out of trouble since; in fact, RU’s wrestling coach, Scott Goodale, has been effusive in his praise for how he has taken advantage of the second chance.

USF dismisses player arrested after being shot in road-rage incident

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It’s been a rough last few days, to say the least, for Hassan Childs.

Over the weekend, the South Florida defensive back was hospitalized in stable condition after being shot Saturday night.  Sunday, Childs was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of misdemeanor marijuana possession in connection to a road rage incident the night he was shot.  Childs allegedly pointed a gun at least twice at a man, Jovanni Jimenez, and his family and was ultimately shot three times by Jimenez.  Jimenez hasn’t been charged as he’s claimed self-defense.

To add insult to literal injury, the senior safety has now been dismissed from his football team by first-year Bulls head coach Charlie Strong.

“When you look at this university and how great an institution it is, and the football program, it is a privilege to represent this program,” Strong said according to the Tampa Bay Times. “And there are standards and there are values that we uphold, and our players understand it is an obligation and it is a responsibility to represent it the right way.”

Childs played in a total of 26 games during his time with the Bulls. Eight of those appearances came during the 2016 season. He was credited with 16 tackles during what turned out to be his last season with the program, setting career-highs with five tackles in games against East Carolina and Navy.

In 2013, his first year with the program, he led the team with three interceptions. Those were the only picks of his career.

Five-star LB out for rest of Ohio State’s spring after shoulder surgery

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Some negative injury news comes with a bit of a silver lining for one of the highest-rated members of Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class.

Urban Meyer confirmed Tuesday that true freshman linebacker Baron Browning will miss the remainder of spring practice because of an injury.  The early enrollee underwent surgery Tuesday morning to repair an unspecified issue in his shoulder.  The Buckeyes head coach declined to reveal the details surrounding the issue that led to the medical procedure, although one report indicated it’s a torn labrum.

The good news for OSU is that Browning should be able to return to football activities at some pint in June.  Barring a setback, he’s expected to be a full participant in summer camp at the start of August.

A five-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2017 recruiting class, Browning was rated as the No. 1 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 11 player on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only two signees in an OSU class that ranked second nationally were rated higher than Browning (.9936) — cornerback Jeffrey Okudah (.9954) and defensive end Chase Young (.9953).

Browning is expected to contribute immediately as a true freshman this season.

Kentucky transfer WR Jeff Badet moves on to Oklahoma

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Jeff Badet may have left Kentucky, but he hasn’t climbed out from underneath the Stoops coaching umbrella.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday morning, Badet revealed that he will continue his collegiate playing career at Oklahoma.  The Sooners, of course, are coached by Bob Stoops; the wide receiver’s former program, the Wildcats, are coached by Mark Stoops.

Badet chose OU over another Big 12 school, West Virginia.  The receiver had paid a visit to Morgantown late last month.

In mid-January, the Wildcats announced that Badet had decided to transfer out of the UK football program.  Badet is on schedule to graduate in May, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Sooners.

A three-star member of the Wildcats’ 2013 recruiting class, Badet was third on the team in receptions and receiving yards as a true freshman.  A leg injury in spring practice the following year — a tennis ball to the eye didn’t help either — led Badet to miss the 2014 season.  Returning in 2015, he was third in receiving (29-430); in 2016, he led the team in receiving yards (670) and yards per catch (21.6).

That latter number was tops in the SEC and sixth nationally.