Position outlooks: offense
The Alabama Crimson Tide is now well into fall practice, and while the depth chart has yet to be released, many of the positions are beginning to take shape.
The quarterback position doesn’t warrant much dispute. Junior quarterback A.J. McCarron performed phenomenally in the Tide’s first scrimmage of the spring, and appears to be carrying over the confidence and leadership he developed during the tail end of the 2011 season and the spring into 2012.
Behind McCarron, redshirt freshman Phillip Ely is the most likely candidate to be McCarron’s backup. He has displayed a bit more consistency when given an opportunity.
Freshman quarterback Alec Morris struggled a bit during the Tide’s first scrimmage, which caused head coach Nick Saban to say that ‘the freshman played like a freshman.’ Blake Sims has continued to work with the quarterbacks throughout the spring after receiving time at running back last season.
Junior running back Eddie Lacy has fully recovered from a turf toe injury that plagued him throughout the spring. He continues to be the expected first-string running back and has been performing drills in practice as the first running back.
Junior Jalston Fowler has caused a bit of confusion over the first few weeks of fall camp. He spent a small amount of time working by himself, an indication that he may be used as a fullback at some point in 2012. Likewise, Fowler has also seen time with the tight ends during drills. The primary reason for this is likely to be centered around getting better as a blocker, rather than as a full-time opportunity.
Redshirt freshman Dee Hart is the running back that has been receiving the most reps behind Fowler. Hart is more of a shifty, east-to-west back that has a chance to be featured in a number of unique situations in 2012.
True freshman T.J. Yeldon is the running back working behind Hart during drills, but this does not necessarily mean that Yeldon is completely buried on the depth chart. Yeldon appears to be the type of athlete that will be able to utilize the skills and knowledge he gained during the spring to find a way to see the field when the 2012 season rolls around.
The wide receiving corps has remained fairly constant over the first few weeks of training camp. Freshman wide receiver Chris Black injured his shoulder and will be out three to four months after undergoing surgery.
Aside from Black, the unit looks similar to what was displayed during the spring. Veteran receivers Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, DeAndrew White and freshman Amari Cooper continue to be the top four receivers. Norwood and Cooper led all receivers during Saturday’s scrimmage. Norwood caught two passes for 61 yards. Cooper caught three passes for 52 yards and one touchdown.
Some of the Tide’s younger receivers, such as sophomore Christion Jones and freshman Cyrus Jones, could also work their way into contributing in 2012. The loss of Black provides an opportunity for other receivers to step into his spot and compete for position on the two-deep as the season draws nearer.
Senior Michael Williams has the first-string position under wraps, but the H-back position is far from settled. Sophomore Brian Vogler continues to receive a considerable amount of time at the front of the pack during media observation periods, but Harrison Jones is another viable option to compete for the H-back spot. Depending on the extent of Jalston Fowler’s role with the tight ends, it is possible that Fowler could become an option as an H-back if given the chance. His experience coming out of the backfield combined with his unique combination of size and power would be a different look for the Tide at the position.
Senior Barrett Jones continues to work as the team’s first-string center, and from all accounts he is player quite well. The rest of the line remains the same as it was during the spring with sophomore Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle, Anthony Steen, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack rounding out the rest of the line.
The second string has seen some changes throughout fall practice, but the primary players seeing time with the second unit are Austin Shepherd, Ryan Kelley, Isaac Luatua, Alphonse Taylor and Kellen Williams. Sophomore Arie Kouandjio is recovering from a knee injury and has been working with the third unit, but he seems to be gaining some ground and has a chance to make the two-deep.
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