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.

Appalachian State cracks AP Top 25 for first time in FBS history

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The Appalachian State Mountaineers have accomplished a new milestone in their brief history in the FBS. the former FCS juggernauts made their debut in the AP top 25 today, checking in at No. 25 in the latest poll. Now, how far can they climb?

They will have quite a way to go to reach the top of the polls the way they were accustomed to doing in the FCS. Alabama once again dominates the top spot in the latest AP poll by claiming all 61 first-place votes available. The Crimson Tide are followed by Clemson, Notre Dame, LSU, Michigan, Texas, Georgia and Oklahoma. All of those teams moved up one spot in the poll this week. At No. 9, Florida moved into the top 10 and passed No. 10 UCF in the process. The Knights remained in the same spot as a week ago, however they did come in one spot ahead of No. 11 Ohio State, who tumbled nine spots. Ohio State stayed one spot ahead of UCF in the coaches poll.

No. 14 Washington State is now the highest-ranked team from the Pac-12 in the AP poll after moving up 11 spots this week. They are just ahead of rival Washington (No. 15) and No. 19 Oregon fell seven spots after their loss to the Cougars.

No. 22 NC State also took a fall in the AP poll by dropping six spots after losing to Clemson.

Here is this week’s full AP Top 25:

  1. Alabama (61)
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. LSU
  5. Michigan
  6. Texas
  7. Georgia
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Florida
  10. UCF
  11. Ohio State
  12. Kentucky
  13. West Virginia
  14. Washington State
  15. Washington
  16. Texas A&M
  17. Penn State
  18. Iowa
  19. Oregon
  20. Wisconsin
  21. South Florida
  22. NC State
  23. Utah
  24. Stanford
  25. Appalachian State

Larry Scott said the Pac-12 didn’t have instant replay manual, but it does

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You would think the commissioner of the Pac-12 would know there is a printed copy of the conference’s instant replay procedure after being asked about it two weeks ago. It turns out, Larry Scott may have had no idea such a document existed.

On Saturday, Scott said he looked into the status of an official instant replay manual, only to say there was none in existence.

“I had a chance to look into it … there’s an NCAA rule in writing, but there is no manual,” Scott said. “I’m not aware of any manual that exists in our conference or nationally.”

Unfortunately for him, The Oregonian has obtained a copy of the document titled “The Pac-12 Conference Instant Replay Manual” and shared it for all the world to see.

Oops.

As the Pac-12 continues to battle an image problem regarding the integrity of its officiating and replay system, Scott has tried to calm the nerves around the conference and suggest there is no issue with the integrity of how it manages football games form an officiating standpoint. However, a review of the conference’s unearthed instant replay manual may suggest otherwise.

Per The Oregonian;

A close examination of the 11-page publication could help explain why the conference finds itself embroiled in this instant-replay public-relations nightmare in the first place. The conference replay manual doesn’t include vital components of the instant-replay procedure, is ambiguous and leaves a wide berth for interpretation and instruction that comes from the Pac-12’s centralized command center.

This all comes after Scott and the Pac-12 attempted to explain why a targeting call in a USC-Washington State game was overturned, in which a replay official allegedly claimed to be overruled by a third party. An unwillingness for how the official ruling was made by members of the media has done nothing to suggest the Pac-12’s replay system or officiating is credible.

Now that we know there is an instant replay manual even if the commissioner didn’t, and how lacking the manual is in its details, it may be time for the Pac-12 to take a good hard look in the mirror and start clarifying some details a bit more moving forward.

Clemson moves back to No. 2 in coaches poll as Buckeyes tumble

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The Clemson Tigers are back to where they started the season in the Amway Coaches Poll. The defending ACC champions moved back into the second spot in the poll behind No. 1 Alabama this week following a big win and a big loss suffered by previous No. 2 Ohio State. Notre Dame, LSU and Michigan all moved up at the expense of the Buckeyes as well.

Alabama remains in firm control of the first-place votes, receiving 60 of a possible 62 votes from the coaches poll. Clemson is the only other team to receive first-place votes, picking up the remaining two. No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 LSU each moved up one spot this week, with the Tigers being the highest-ranked one-loss team according to the voters in the coaches poll. No. 5 Michigan continues to climb the rankings after a second-straight win against a ranked opponent. The Wolverines are also the last team in the Big Ten without a loss in conference play as they ride a seven-game winning streak into their bye week.

No. 6 Georgia stayed where they were this week, but No. 7 Texas and No. 8 Oklahoma each came in front of Ohio State, who fell seven spots to No. 9 this week after their blowout loss at Purdue. Ohio State actually caused No. 10 UCF to be bumped down a spot this week despite the Knights remaining undefeated.

Big movers up in the poll this week included No. 15 Washington State. The Cougars moved up eight spots in the coaches poll this week after a big win over No. 21 Oregon (the Ducks fell 10 spots). No. 18 Iowa also moved up four spots and Utah entered the poll this week at No. 24, moving up nine spots in the total voting from last week. At No. 25, the Miami Hurricanes were welcomed back to the coaches top 25 after previously falling out and having a bye week this weekend.

Here is this week’s full coaches poll, with first-place votes noted accordingly:

  1. Alabama (60)
  2. Clemson (2)
  3. Notre Dame
  4. LSU
  5. Michigan
  6. Georgia
  7. Texas
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Ohio State
  10. UCF
  11. Florida
  12. West Virginia
  13. Washington
  14. Kentucky
  15. Washington State
  16. Penn State
  17. Texas A&M
  18. Iowa
  19. Wisconsin
  20. South Florida
  21. Oregon
  22. NC State
  23. Stanford
  24. Utah
  25. Miami

Alabama OL Hunter Brannon arrested, charged with DUI

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Alabama redshirt freshman offensive lineman Hunter Brannon finds himself in some legal trouble this Sunday. After Alabama’s blowout win at Tennessee on Saturday, Brannon was arrested and charged with misdemeanor DUI early Sunday morning, according to police records obtained by Alabama beat reporter Alex Byington, via Twitter.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban has already issued a statement in response to the news.

“We are very disappointed any time a player makes a choice that leads to this kind of behavior,” Saban said in his statement. “We are still in the process of gathering all of the details on the situation, and we will evaluate what we need to do in terms of appropriate discipline as we move forward.”

Brannon did not travel with Alabama to their road game at Tennessee, according to Tuscaloosa News. According to their report, Brannon was booked at 5:32 a.m. at the Tuscaloosa County Jail.

Brannon has not played for the Crimson Tide this season.