TJ Yeldon

Nick Saban still isn’t sure how much RB T.J. Yeldon will play

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A sprained ankle isn’t going to keep Alabama Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon from playing in the biggest game of the year against the No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs. But the injury may limit Yeldon’s participation in the contest.

The Crimson Tide’s starting tailback originally injured his ankle during last week’s overtime contest against the LSU Tigers. Yeldon was limited but did practice throughout the week.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said Friday that he thought Yeldon would play in the game. The coach took it a step further Saturday morning and basically stated Yeldon will play, albeit in a limited role.

Alabama’s coaching staff will clearly gauge Yeldon’s progress throughout the game. If he isn’t nearly as effective as he’s been most of the season then Alabama has the luxury of handing the ball to Derrick Henry. But it will be important for the Crimson Tide to establish its running game against a talented and aggressive Mississippi State defensive front.

The Crimson Tide’s leading rusher being on the field can only help Alabama establish itself on the ground and give it the best shot of dethroning Mississippi State as the nation’s top team.

Texas A&M unable to stop Alabama as Crimson Tide leads 45-0 at halftime

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Cameron Robinson, Arie Kouandjio, Bradley Bozeman, Leon Brown and Austin Shepherd were the stars of No. 7 Alabama’s first-half pummeling of the No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies.

Who are these five men? They’re Alabama’s starting offensive line.

The Crimson Tide lead 45-0 after two quarters of play behind the strength of its running game.  Alabama’s offensive line absolutely dominated up front. The skill positions benefited with 226 rushing yards.

Last year Alabama ran for 234 yards the entire game. Texas A&M, meanwhile, has zero rushing yards after the first half and 51 total yards of offense.

It didn’t matter who was running the ball for Alabama.

Junior T.J. Yeldon ran over, through, around and by multiple Aggies nearly every time he touched the ball. The star running back accumulated 113 yards rushing on only 13 carries. Backup running back Derrick Henry averaged one less yard per carry and chewed up 58 yards with only eight carries.

Quarterback Blake Sims even got in on the act. The senior-signal-caller ripped Texas A&M’s defense with a beautiful 43-yard scamper. Sims broke multiple ankles during the long touchdown run (see: below).

Alabama didn’t take its foot off the gas after scoring 31 points due to the running game. The impressive ground attack simply opened up the passing game for the Crimson Tide. Sims found junior wide receiver Amari Cooper open for a 24-yard touchdown with 4:10 remaining in the first half.

The Crimson Tide decided to make a statement during the first half and they did so. All they have to do during the second half is continue to run the football and attempt to stay healthy.

Texas A&M, on the other hand, will attempt to salvage some of their pride. Kevin Sumlin‘s squad was embarrassed by the Crimson Tide during the first half. It’s now up to Texas A&M to pick itself up, play respectable football and improve in the areas it was dominated earlier in the contest.

Five-star Alabama athlete Bo Scarbrough will start career at tailback

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In recruiting, the ‘athlete’ tag is given to a player for one of two reasons: He either has the athletic potential to excel at any number of positions, or he doesn’t really seem to have a true position and evaluators call him an athlete because they don’t know where he’ll end up.

Less than a week after signing his letter of intent with Alabama, five-star athlete Bo Scarbrough already has his position. He’s going to be a tailback in the Crimson Tide offense, according to head coach Nick Saban. But make no mistake, he won’t just be a grind-it-out type of back.

“We think Bo is a multi-talented guy but we look at him as a running back first,” Saban told Al.com. “He has really a diverse skill level for a big guy, he’s a physical guy. He has really good running ability but he also has great receiving skills. He’s actually played as much wide receiver as he has running back.”

However, Saban wants to avoid the temptation to play him at any other spot.

“As a running back, we can use him in those kind of roles and if he can learn and be ready to help us, I think that because of the kind of player he is, maybe he will be able to contribute in other ways as a player besides running back,” Saban said. “That’s how we would use him as a running back, not playing him at another position.”

If there’s any drawback to this move, it’s that Alabama’s backfield is ridiculously crowded with depth. Not only is TJ Yeldon back for at least one more season, there’s also the quickly-developing Derrick Henry, plus Kenyan Drake, Jalston Fowler, Altee Tenpenny, Dee Hart and Tyren Jones.

But at 6-foot-2, 234 pounds, Scarbrough — ranked the 16th-best player in the country by Rivals.com — has the potential to be scary good. His size-speed combination is rare. Here’s a look at his highlight reel. It won’t be the last highlight you’ll see from him.

Photo: Rivals.com.

Alabama responds to reports of potential memorabilia violations

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A disassociated booster is allegedly selling Alabama memorabilia with signatures of players from the 2013 team including AJ McCarron and TJ Yeldon, which could be classified as an NCAA violation. The sale of the memorabilia may also be a violation of the terms outlined in a disassociation letter, although at this point in time there is no concrete evidence to support that. Regardless, Alabama is aware of the situation and issued a response Thursday night to address it.

“We are aware of the story produced today,” Alabama athletics director Bill Battle said. “As part of our ongoing compliance efforts, our compliance department looks into everything that warrants concern. That effort is diligent and all-encompassing, and requires constant communication and education regarding all potential issues.

As Outkick the Coverage reports T-Town Gallery is owned by Tom Albetar, who was previously disassociated from Alabama’s athletic program after questionable merchandise was put on sale at a previous store and location. According to the report game-worn jerseys and signatures were among the many items available for sale with current or recent Alabama football players. The sale of this merchandise would be a direct violation of one of the requests issued to Albetar when he was informed of Alabama’s decision to end the relationship.

As AL.com notes, Albetar was specifically asked not to obtain any items of memorabilia from student-athletes and autographs from student-athletes while they are in the store. And there is your gray area.

For the NCAA to slam Alabama with any possible sanctions, they will need to gather concrete evidence proving current Alabama players signed items in exchange for money. If the Johnny Manziel episode from last summer is any indication, that can be difficult to prove.

Oklahoma stunning Alabama at half in Sugar Bowl, 31-17

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Oklahoma certainly does not look like a double-digit underdog in the Sugar Bowl. The Sooners have more than held their own against Alabama in New Orleans tonight and reach the midway point leading the Crimson Tide, 31-17. You read that score correctly. Oklahoma is leading Alabama, a 15-point favorite, by 14 at the half. Considering Alabama has allowed 31 points in a game just five times since 2008, that is rather significant.

Alabama did open up the scoring early in the first quarter with a four-play drive covering 75 yards and ending with a TJ Yeldon touchdown run just under two minutes in to the game, but Oklahoma closed the half with a 24-10 run.

Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight threw three touchdowns in the first half to lead the Sooner charge. The first was to Lacoltan Bester for a 45-yard score to tie the game. Just minutes later the Tide re-gained the lead with a field goal, but Knight struck again with another touchdown pass inside the 10-yard line, this time to Jalen Saunders. Knight and Saunders hooked up again on a deep ball down the right sideline to give Oklahoma their first lead of the game, late in the half. The play was set up by a red zone turnover by Alabama, a Yeldon fumble as Alabama was knocking on the door step for another score.

A late interception tossed by AJ McCarron gave the Sooners time for one more score, and they acted quickly on it. Sterling Shepard took a misdirection wrap around down the right side of the field for a 13-yard touchdown run on the very next play.

Still plenty of football to be played of course, and if any team can manage to make some adjustments, you would think it will be Alabama, but now all of a sudden the tables have been turned. A game that was supposed to be one that saw Oklahoma struggle to keep up now sees Alabama looking to find a way to slow down the Sooners.