Alabama’s offense doesn’t pass Saban’s mid-term exam

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This spring Alabama’s offense, more specifically the quarterbacks, have been focusing on avoiding turnovers. If the spring game is to serve as a litmus test for the progress being made, Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin have some work to do if the Crimson Tide are going to be SEC and College Football Playoff contenders in 2015.

Alabama’s offense had six turnovers in the spring game Saturday in Tuscaloosa. Jake Coker, who some pumped up as Alabama’s likely starter a season ago, went just 14 for 28 with one touchdown (a long pass to ArDarius Stewart) and an interception. Redshirt freshman David Cornwell was not all tat much better, going 12 for 24 with 110 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. So it looks as though Alabama is heading into the summer with a quarterback situation to sort through. This is not totally unexpected, although it would have been nice if either Coker or Cornwell could have elevated themselves and created some separation in the spring game.

It was not all bad of course. Receivers Stewart (6 receptions, 125 yards, 1 TD) and Robert Foster (8 receptions, 118 yards, 2 TDs) had solid outings even if the quarterbacks were not particularly sharp. Alabama’s defense seemed to be in good form, and more than capable of taking advantage of an unsteady quarterback situation on the other side of the ball. Reuben Foster was playing nickel, which Saban has said he’s been doing all spring. Foster also played with some more maturity, according to Saban. Five different players in Alabama’s secondary recorded an interception.

Fortunately, the season does not start tomorrow, or next week. Saban referred to the spring game as a mid-term exam, which leaves plenty of time for the Alabama offense to bring its grade up before opening the new season of what will surely be high with expectations after a second straight season ending in a postseason loss.

Alabama saw a crowd of 65,175 fans come to Bryant-Denny Stadium. Weather may have kept some away from the game. Regardless, the Crimson Tide will likely lock in with the fourth-highest spring attendance this year. Ohio State smashed the competition with a new spring game record, Nebraska is holding firm with the second highest crowd and Penn State edged Alabama’s crowd on Saturday.

Alabama opens the 2015 season against Wisconsin in the Cowboy Classic in Arlington, Texas on September 5.

Ohio State knocks Clemson to No. 4 in latest AP Poll, SMU highest ranked Group of Five team

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Dabo Swinney remarked earlier this season that Clemson was back on the ROY (rest of you) bus… and perhaps there’s something to that for the defending champions.

Despite blowing out Louisville on Saturday, the Tigers actually dropped a spot to No. 4 in the latest AP Poll, getting pipped by new No. 3 Ohio State after the Buckeyes own blowout of a bad Northwestern team on Friday night.

That wasn’t the only notable change in the top 10 as Wisconsin predictably fell from No. 6 to No. 13 after their loss at lowly Illinois on Saturday afternoon, bumping nearly everybody else up in the pecking order and allowing Penn State to take their old spot just behind No. 5 Oklahoma.

Elsewhere in the poll, there’s a new highest ranked Group of Five team as No. 16 SMU supplants Boise State after the Broncos lost at BYU. BSU actually is behind No. 18 Cincinnati and No. 21 Appalachian State as well.

No. 23 Iowa State and No. 25 Wake Forest both returned to the top 25 this week after wins to supplant Washington and Missouri.

The full AP Poll heading into Week 9:

  1. Alabama
  2. LSU
  3. Ohio State
  4. Clemson
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Penn State
  7. Florida
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Auburn
  10. Georgia
  11. Oregon
  12. Utah
  13. Wisconsin
  14. Baylor
  15. Texas
  16. SMU
  17. Minnesota
  18. Cincinnati
  19. Michigan
  20. Iowa
  21. Appalachian State
  22. Boise State
  23. Iowa State
  24. Arizona State
  25. Wake Forest

Wisconsin, Boise State drop like a rock in latest Coaches Poll, Penn State moves into top six

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A weekend in college football that was filled with upsets of ranked teams predictably caused a bit of chaos in the latest edition of the polls on Sunday.

The biggest shuffling was left to the victim of the biggest upset of the still young 2019 season as Wisconsin fell like a rock seven spots to No. 13 in the latest Coaches Poll after the Badgers inexplicable loss to Illinois. Their vacation from the top 10 allowed pretty much everybody in front of them to move up a spot in the order, with Penn State the new No. 6 team in the country after beating new No. 20 Michigan.

Though UW tanked in the poll, they weren’t the biggest free fallers as that was reserved for Boise State, which fell eight spots to No. 21 after losing on the road to unranked BYU. The Broncos did start their backup QB in the game but voters likely only paid attention to the final score, which allowed new No. 17 SMU to become the highest ranked Group of Five team.

Washington and Temple both dropped out of the top 25 following losses, replaced by No. 23 Wake Forest and No. 25 Memphis.

The full Coaches Poll heading into Week 9:

  1. Alabama (44 first-place votes)
  2. Clemson (10)
  3. LSU (3)
  4. Ohio State (8)
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Penn State
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. Auburn
  11. Oregon
  12. Utah
  13. Wisconsin
  14. Baylor
  15. Texas
  16. Minnesota
  17. SMU
  18. Cincinnati
  19. Iowa
  20. Michigan
  21. Boise State
  22. Appalachian State
  23. Wake Forest
  24. Arizona State
  25. Memphis

Tennessee QB Brian Maurer suffers concussion against Alabama, his second in two games

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Jarrett Guarantano might be Tennessee’s quarterback a little longer than fans would like following the team’s loss at Alabama on Saturday.

According to head coach Jeremy Pruitt in his postgame press conference, Vols starting quarterback Brian Maurer was confirmed to have suffered a concussion against the Crimson Tide and that he is being placed under the standard evaluation protocol.

Complicating matters for UT and their freshman signal-caller is that this is not just a one-off injury but his second concussion in as many games. He was taken out of the first half in the team’s win against Mississippi State and then missed the final three quarters against Alabama after taking a hard hit that wasn’t flagged, much to the chagrin of the coaching staff.

Maurer was 5-of-7 passing for 62 yards (one interception) prior to exiting with the injury.

The Vols host South Carolina next weekend and then have UAB come to Neyland Stadium the week after, both contests that seem unlikely to feature Maurer as he recovers from such a concerning trend the past two games.

Tua Tagovailoa tells Alabama teammates ‘I’ll be back for LSU’

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It’s not exactly great injury news but, in the grand scheme of things, it could’ve been a lot worse.

Late in the first half of Alabama’s win over rival Tennessee, starting quarterback and Heisman front-runner Tua Tagovailoa went down with an apparent ankle injury. After spending time in the sideline medical tent, Tagovailoa went into the locker room for further observation.

Not long after that, Tagovailoa was seen exiting the stadium and getting into the back of an ambulance; he would ultimately return to the sidelines but not the game as Mac Jones finished out the win.

Immediately following the game, Nick Saban stated that Tagovailoa suffered a high-ankle sprain, a similar injury he worked through a season ago, and will “probably be out a week or two.” In the postgame press conference, the head coach all but ruled the junior out for next weekend’s home game against Arkansas.

Following next Saturday’s game, top-ranked Alabama will be on a bye in Week 10 before its huge showdown with No. 2 LSU in Tuscaloosa Nov. 9.  According to the current timeline provided by Saban, Tagovailoa should be healthy and available for the Tigers.

Additional testing, including an MRI, will be performed Sunday morning, so the timeline for a return is certainly fluid and will be the main topic of watercooler conversation in the coming days.  At the moment, though, the player and his teammates are optimistic for a return sooner rather than later.

“He said, ‘I’ll be back for LSU,’” linebacker Terrell Lewis said in the postgame aftermath. “I know how Tua is. It’s something he’s been through before, so I don’t doubt the fact that he’s a competitor. He’s going to get right back, and he’ll be fine.”

In Saturday night’s game, and prior to the injury, Tagovailoa failed to throw a touchdown pass for the only time as the Crimson Tide’s starter and for the first time overall since Oct. 14 of 2017.  He also threw his second interception on the season.

In replacing Tagovailoa, the redshirt sophomore Jones completed six of his 11 passes for 72 yards and had neither a touchdown nor an interception.