AJ McCarron

Ex-‘Bama QB (again) named as Toledo’s starter

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An injury derailed Phillip Ely‘s first season in Toledo. Fortunately, he’s going to get another go at it.

The Rockets confirmed Monday that Ely will start the program’s opener this Thursday against Stony Brook. The move comes a handful of days after Ely was named as one of four UT captains for the 2015 season.  Ely beat out Logan Woodside, who went 8-2 as a starter for the Rockets last season.

Woodside took over as the starter because of the injury to Ely, a torn ACL sustained in the second game of the season. Ely had been named as the starter ahead of Woodside a couple of weeks prior to the start of the 2014 season.

He passed for 337 yards in his first UT start, then threw for 204 yards against Missouri the following week before to sustaining the knee injury in the third quarter.

Ely began his collegiate career at Alabama in 2011 as a three-star recruit. After redshirting as a true freshman, Ely played in six games in 2012, completing three-of-four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown in very limited duty. Ely was listed as the No. 2 QB the first three weeks of the 2012 season, but after that was listed as the co-backup to AJ McCarron along with redshirt sophomore Blake Sims.

In January of 2013 it was reported Ely was looking to transfer from the Tide. The summer of that year he transferred into the Rockets football program.  He sat out the 2013 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

Ely’s official return to the starting spot came the same day it was announced that two Rockets had been suspended for the first two games of the season, including 2014 MAC rushing leader Kareem Hunt.

AJ McCarron’s brother transfers to team on Tide’s 2015 slate

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After never being able to crack Alabama’s two-deep, Corey McCarron will now get a crack at his old team from the opposite side of the field.

As pointed out by the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal‘s Aldo Amato, McCarron (pictured, No. 47) is now a member of the Middle Tennessee State football program and has been practicing with his new teammates in summer camp. Al.com wrote that “McCarron’s departure from Alabama was never announced or addressed and he did not appear on the spring roster.”

McCarron, the younger brother of title-winning former Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (pictured, No. 10), will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 as a graduate transfer. It just so happens that McCarron’s new team will travel to Bryant-Denny Stadium Sept. 12 for a game against his old squad.

McCarron came to Alabama as a transfer from South Alabama in December of 2011 and, after sitting out the 2012 season, saw very limited action as a tight end in 2013 and 2014. His first, and only, career reception came on Senior Day in 2013 and was thrown, of course, by his brother.

‘Jacked’ Hugh Freeze to serve as Talladega pace-car driver

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Once again, the biggest track in NASCAR is embracing the state’s love of college football, although this time with an individual outside of its boundaries.

According to Patrick Magee of the Sun Herald, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze will serve as the driver of the pace car for the May 3 race at Talladega Superspeedway. To say that Freeze, who is good friends with NASCAR drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick, is excited about the opportunity to lead the 43 stock cars to the green flag at 120 mph would be an understatement.

I am so jacked about that,” Freeze said according to Magee. “You have no idea, man. I love golf, fishing and NASCAR outside of my job and my family. That’s the three things I spend time doing.”

Freeze will be somewhat returning the favor to one driver in the field as Magee writes that “Stenhouse spoke to the Ole Miss football team prior to the 31-17 victory over Mississippi State on Nov. 29 in Oxford and helped Freeze lead the team onto the field.”  The photo in the upper right of the post shows Stenhouse, left in the white jacket, running alongside Freeze in leading the Rebels out prior to the Egg Bowl.

Freeze’s appearance in a couple of months continues a Talladega tradition that’s grown over the years.

In 2014, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn served in the same capacity as his SEC West counterpart will this year.  During the 2013 May race, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron served as the pace-car driver as well.  In 2012, Alabama legend Bear Bryant rode shotgun at the spring race.

And, while I’m here and given the subject matter, I’ll remind you that you can keep abreast of all of the latest racing news at both NASCARTalk and MotorSportsTalk. One other reminder? NASCAR will return to NBC Sports with the telecast of the race at the famed Daytona International Speedway Fourth of July weekend.

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Urban Meyer miffed over practice that ‘wasn’t a pleasant one’

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While the three-way quarterback competition is the main attraction, Urban Meyer has an entire three-ring football circus to orchestrate. For at least one day, however, the performances fell woefully short of the ringmaster’s expectations.

Reigning College Football Playoff champion Ohio State returned to spring practice Tuesday from spring break, a session that also coincided with the spring’s first go-’round in pads.  Those two factors collided to create an unpleasant practice experience for the Buckeyes’ head coach, although he stopped short of pointing fingers — for now.

“Today was not a pleasant one,” Meyer said according to the Associated Press. “Not going to blame players or coaches yet. That’s coming though if we don’t get better. …

“You just got to be smart [about managing wear and tear on players], which I think we are being smart. Though sometimes when you look out at practice and see how awful it is, but it’s still the right thing to do.”

Coming off a BCS title following the 2012 season, Alabama’s third in the last four years, Nick Saban was publicly concerned about his 2013 squad getting too comfortable and complacent, going so far as acknowledging that he showed his team tape of Buster Douglas‘ monumental upset of Mike Tyson. The Tide ended up losing its last two games that season, to Auburn in the Iron Bowl and Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, giving the Nicktator his motivation for that offseason.

The Tide’s starting quarterback, AJ McCarron, alluded to complacency and a sense of entitlement when it came to that 2013 season, saying in an interview that “[t]oo much success and a lot of young guys coming in who didn’t know what it took to get back to that point to win. They thought we’d just show up and we’d win.”

In his talk with the media following the “awful” practice session, Meyer also mentioned complacency, although the coach thinks that his squad right now is 180 degrees from the dreaded c-word.

“Discomfort is good. And there’s a little discomfort right now. That was not a good day,” Meyer said. “Complacency is comfort. I equate the two. Discomfort is a learning opportunity. Our coaches know that. So there’s going to be discomfort right now. That wasn’t what we’re supposed to be.”

Tebow just another former college star slamming his former team

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It’s tough watching Florida Gators football this season. Even former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow thinks so. Tebow, a former Heisman Trophy winner at Florida and still a fan favorite among the Florida faithful, went on radio recently and suggested one of the many problems Florida is battling through right now is a lack of identity and leadership.

“I don’t think that the offense has an identity right now, and I don’t think that they know what they want their identity to be,” Tebow said while on air with 1010 XL in Jacksonville. “One of the biggest problems on the offense is leadership. You need to have something to motivate you, something to give you an edge…they’re not out of the SEC East.”

Tebow is far from the first former player to come out and hammer his former college program. Just this season former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron offered some criticism of Alabama’s performance. At USC, former Trojans running back LenDale White has not held anything back in his critiquing of the current state of the USC program. That even led to him being ejected from the Los Angeles Coliseum this past weekend.

Tebow is a bit different from the McCarron and White cases of course. Tebow is a member fo the media, paid for his opinions on college football. Specifically, Tebow is paid for his commentary on the SEC as a member of the SEC Network. How much insight Tebow actually has into the locker room in Gainesville may be fair to question as a new coaching staff is in place since his last played for the Gators, although when images like this pop up following a dismal performance at home…

… Tebow’s suggestions there is a leadership problem carry some weight. This isn’t even the first time a scene like this played out under Will Muschamp. Remember this, from after the 2013 Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville?

Does Florida have a leadership problem? Maybe. Or maybe this team just is not very good.