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College football is back. Like Herm Edwards back. Like Chip Kelly back. And while this first week’s slate of games is short, just four tantalizing morsels of collegiate gridiron goodness, it still marks the beginning of all that is good in the world. People like to call it “Week Zero” and say it doesn’t really count, but it does, especially to the eight teams kicking off. Just ask newly minted Rice head coach Mike Bloomgren.
Here’s everything you need to know heading into the first weekend of college football.
Duquesne at UMass – If you like offense, then this is the game for you. The Duquesne Dukes, coached by Jerry Schmitt, boast a balanced offense despite breaking in a relatively new quarterback. Like most coaches, Schmitt is being coy about naming a starter but has narrowed it down to junior Brett Brumbaugh and redshirt junior FAU transfer Daniel Parr. Running back A.J. Hines will take some of the pressure off the new QB — Hines topped 1,000 yards last season and had 10 touchdowns despite playing in just nine games. Unfortunately for the Minutemen, UMass doesn’t have a particularly strong run defense — it allowed 197.9 yards per game last season. The secondary will carry the defense, but the offense will carry the team. It is led by underrated QB Andrew Ford, who has more than 5,500 passing yards and 48 touchdowns in the last two season. But the Dukes have experience on the road and a solid offense that will test UMass’ defense up front.
Prairie View A&M at Rice – This game has “feel-good” written all over it for the Rice Owls. The program has been shrouded in optimism this offseason with the hire of former Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren. But the reality of a rebuild is that it takes time. But if anyone knows how to utilize wide receiver Aaron Cephus and his monster yardage, it’s Bloomgren. Prairie View A&M will test Rice’s offense with a defense that boasts both size and speed and gained depth this offseason thanks to the transfer well, expertly utilized by new head coach Eric Dooley. Offensively, the Panthers lost their leading rusher and top three receivers, meaning new gamers will need to emerge. Prairie View may have the juice, coming off three straight wins to end last season, but Rice is just more physical and athletic. Look for the Owls to dominate despite the inevitable growing pains.
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The college football world typically has a good understanding of Heisman Trophy contenders. Sometimes, though, an unexpected candidate emerges.
Last season, Arizona’s Khalil Tate, Central Florida’s McKenzie Milton and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor were among the breakout sensations. When the season began, nobody expected them to contend for the award.
Nevertheless, a couple of quarterbacks and running backs will always stand out. Where might they come from in 2018?
While we’d love to suggest a defensive player could surprise and shoot up Heisman lists, that’s not likely. In the last three top-10s of Heisman voting, 27 of the 30 players have been either a quarterback or running back.
The explosion of spread offenses has transformed college football in recent years. Not surprisingly, the majority of offensive attacks that figure to be the best in 2018 center their tactics around the revolutionary schematics.
Each spread team has its own unique wrinkles, although some offenses have more of a traditional, pro-style system at their foundation, with spread concepts sprinkled in.
Here is a look at the 10 best offenses that figure to light up plenty of scoreboards this coming season.
10. Washington Huskies
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Nick Saban offered up an unintentionally hilarious quote his team’s unfortunate injury issues.
Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide lost another player to injury. The Bama coach announced on Saturday that linebacker Chris Allen is out for the season. Allen was expected to be a top backup. The Tide also lost linebacker Terrell Lewis over the summer to a torn ACL. On top of that, right tackle Matt Womack is likely to miss 4-6 weeks with a foot injury.
Though everyone expects Alabama to still be No. 1 despite the injuries, Saban says the injuries add up and it’s not so easy to replace players. Only he said it in a funny and colorful way.
“You all just think that every time something happens, we just s— another player…” Saban said.
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The Alabama football program under Nick Saban has a seemingly unstoppable flow of NFL-caliber players coming through on a yearly basis. Yet injuries take their toll on the Crimson Tide, just like any other program.
On Saturday, Saban announced that yet another top-tier player, linebacker Chris Allen, was going to miss the season.
Then when asked about the mounting injuries, per Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News, he retorted with a colorful, legendary quote we’ll censor a bit for you: “You all think that every time something happens, we just s— another player…”
It might seem like that’s the case. After all, no matter how many injuries hit the Crimson Tide, it’s hard to remember a time in recent history that this program wasn’t vying for a championship before sending multiple players to the NFL, where they were first-round picks.
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Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts and Alabama's receivers warm up in Bryant-Denny Stadium before the Aug. 18, 2018 scrimmage.
With college football kicking off in two weeks, the Crimson Tide will look to defend their national title as they open against Louisville. Considered to be the favorite to win it all again this year, it almost seems to have a different feel this time around. Jalen Hurts, who has led the team to back to back national title appearances, is in a position battle to remain the starting quarterback. On the other side of the ball, the Tide must replace their entire secondary and a large portion of their defense. Nick Saban looks to find himself in uncharted territory, the first coach to win seven national championships. With all of the chatter growing from the media and inside the locker room, this may be one of Nick Saban’s biggest challenges yet.
Jalen Hurts has been a playmaker who rarely turns the ball over and puts his team in a position to win. However, when the College Football Playoffs roll around, he seems to disappear, and the offense begins to struggle. At halftime in the National Championship, Alabama decided to go with the true freshman Tua Tagavoila to boost their offensive game and he led them to a victory in overtime. With the emotions running high after his amazing comeback, fans have become split as they choose sides on who they want to be the starter for this upcoming season. As the media has portrayed it, Tua has taken over the starting job and Jalen is slowly becoming an afterthought. Hurts also spoke to the media stating that nobody, players or coaches, came up to him and asked him how he has felt about the situation. It seems as if he is growing unhappy in Tuscaloosa. The spotlight will be bright and following the two quarterbacks all season. It will be up to Saban to control what his team hears from the media and not fall for “the rat poison.”
Every year the Crimson Tide seems to unload another haul of defensive talent to the NFL and this past year was no different; at least on the surface. This year, the team must find an entirely new secondary as all of their starters have departed for the NFL and a few back ups have graduated. Like always, they are filled with talent, but this time, the actual game experience is very slim. Saban likes to run an NFL-style defense. With a young secondary, it will be interesting to see how long it will take for them to adapt or if the plays will be simplified. To make things even more intriguing, Tosh Lupoi, their new defensive coordinator, will be holding his first coordinator job. Although he has been an assistant for Saban for quite some time, the pressure to oversee the entire defensive unit for Saban is some big shoes to fill in.
As Nick Saban continues to grow older, he also continues to run college football like no other. His teams seem to get more and more talented and they typically sit in a class of their own. He continues to churn out successful coordinators who become head coaches, and he continues to show them who taught them the ropes as none of them have yet to defeat him. This season will be his first attempt to break Bear Bryant’s record of national championships won as he aims for title number seven. He believes he can coach for many years to come, but as we all know, time waits for no one. People in Tuscaloosa have worshiped Bear Bryant’s name as a God for decades, if Nick Saban can find a way to get his seventh title, they will have two Gods. With all of the challenges that Nick Saban has faced, this one may serve to be his biggest yet; but as we all know, Saban is as strong as his defenses.Original link
The Alabama Crimson Tide has had a long history of successful Major League baseball players, with 70 former Tiders making the “show”. Currently there are six on big league rosters as well as 16 in the minor leagues and two playing Independent ball. Here is a capsule of how the Major Leaguers are performing this year through August 14th.MLB Players:
RHP Tommy Hunter, 32 years old, played at Bama in 2006-07. Was a supplemental first round pick of the Texas Rangers as a draft eligible sophomore. One of five players on the 2006 team to make the Majors. Hunter began his career as a starter and had a couple of really good years before moving to the bullpen after a trade to the Baltimore Orioles in 2011. Since then he has played for the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, the Orioles again, the Tampa Rays, and now the Philadelphia Phillies. Hunter signed a two year $19 million dollar deal to join the Phillies. After starting the season on the disabled list, Hunter has appeared in 47 games, pitching 44 innings, allowing 49 hits, nine walks, 36 strikeouts with a 3-1 record, two saves, a WHIP of 1.32 and an ERA of 3.89. The Phillies are fighting the Atlanta Braves for the NL East crown. Hunter recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of his original call up to the big leagues (August 3rd).
RHP David Robertson, 33 years old, played at Bama in 2005 and 2006. Robertson was a 17th round pick by the NY Yankees as a draft eligible sophomore. Also one of the five players on the 2006 team to make the major leagues. Robertson celebrated his 10 year big league anniversary in June of this year. After spending several years as Mariano Rivera’s set up man, Robertson took over as closer for the Yankees after Rivera’s retirement in 2014. In 2015 the Tuscaloosa native signed a four year, $48 million dollar free agent contract with the Chicago White Sox. The Yankees traded to get D Rob back in the middle of the 2017 season, and he remains an important part of their loaded bullpen. In 2018 Robertson has appeared in 52 games with a 7-3 record, two saves, 53 innings pitched, 35 hits allows, 17 walks, 66 strikeouts, a 0.98 WHIP and a 3.23 ERA.
LHP Wade LeBlanc, 34 years old, played at Bama 2004-2005-2006. A second round draft pick by the San Diego Padres after his junior season. Still holds Bama record for career strikeouts with 334. LeBlanc had a 24-10 career record at Alabama with a 2.95 ERA. Wade has had a career as a vagabond, playing in 17 different cities and two countries since being drafted. LeBlanc was first called up in 2008 and has spent time with San Diego, Miami, Houston, LA Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates, NY Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh again, Yankees again, and now the Mariners again. In the midst of all that moving was a year in Japan, and several trips to various minor league cities. This season LeBlanc started as bullpen insurance for Seattle, but after an injury to a starter, was moved into the rotation. LeBlanc has blossomed and carries a 7-2 record with a 3.80 ERA in 19 games started. The soft tossing lefty (tops out at 86mph) has thrown 118 innings, allowing 110 hits with 25 walks, 94 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.14. The Louisiana native was rewarded with the first long term contract of his career after his fast start, meaning next spring he doesn't have to worry about where he will be.
Catcher Alex Avila, 31 years old, played at Bama from 2006-2008 before being drafted in the fifth round by the Detroit Tigers. Avila was the fourth of the five players to reach the big leagues from the 2006 team. Matt Downs, who retired three years ago, was the fifth MLB player from that great team. Avila made his big league debut in 2009 with Detroit, and has since played for the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, the Tigers again, and now the Arizona Diamondbacks. Avila signed a two year, $5.5 million dollar deal with AZ in the off season. Avila has suffered many injuries over his career, the most serious being multiple concussions. Changing to a hockey like mask and changing his positioning behind the plate has helped curtail that problem. The Pembrooke Pines, Florida native has struggled with the bat since his breakout 2011 season when he won the Silver Slugger Award after hitting .295 with 19 home runs and 82 RBI’s, and being the American League starter in the All Star Game. This year in a back up role, Avila is hitting .171 with five home runs, 15 RBI, five doubles, with 28 walks and 69 strikeouts in 146 at bats. After coming off a stint on the DL, Avila has hit .286 over his last 10 games.
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Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Grey Papke | Last updated 8/17/18
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Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is raising expectations ahead of his team’s season-opening tilt against Alabama.