NCAA Football

Things We've Learned About Florida Gators Through Fall Camp So Far

The Florida Gators are a week deep in fall camp and preparing hard for a 2014 season that is quickly approaching. There’s only so much that happens during a week, but the Gators have already experienced an interesting incident and have made progress on the offensive side of the ball.

The Gators have a lot of work to do if they’re truly going to be one of the most improved teams in college football this season. There’s a lot of positive news coming out of Gainesville so far.

While nothing really groundbreaking, here are the main tidbits from fall camp for Florida. 

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Big Ten Football: Power Ranking Top 15 Players Heading into 2014 Season

Fall camps are well underway across the Big Ten, and the countdown to kickoff will soon transition from weeks to days. 

In order to whet your appetite for the impending 2014 college football season, let's take a look at some of the stars—both new and returning—who will be poised to make a major impact on their teams this fall.

We've put together a list of the top 15 Big Ten football players heading into the 2014 season.

While a great player—or even a collection of great players—does not instantly make a team successful in the win column, there are guys who certainly make a coach's job easier.

We'll be keeping our eyes on these players throughout the season to see what kind of impact they'll have in the race for the Big Ten Championship Game and a College Football Playoff berth.

You should, too.

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4 Things We've Learned About Ohio State Through Fall Camp so Far

Week 1 of fall camp is officially in the books for Urban Meyer and Ohio State, and a number of big storylines have already emerged as the Buckeyes prepare for another national title run in 2014.

Two of Ohio State's most important and explosive offensive weapons are nursing injuries. The Buckeyes' rebuilding process along the offensive line is hitting a crucial point. And to Meyer's satisfaction, a host of true freshmen are already making their presence felt.

Here are four things we learned about the Buckeyes this week.

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Breaking Down Georgia's Latest Depth Chart Moves Midway Through Fall Camp

Fall camp for the Georgia Bulldogs hasn't just been about getting players ready for their season-opening bout with the Clemson Tigers.  This year—even more so than in recent history—camp has been vital in giving the Georgia coaching staff an opportunity to tweak the depth chart.

On both sides of the football, head coach Mark Richt, his coordinators and their assistants are fine-tuning the lineup.  These are the changes you need to keep an eye on.

 

Offensive Line

Heading into fall camp, Georgia's offensive line figured to be comprised of returning starters at center (David Andrews) and tackle (John Theus and Kolton Houston) and whichever Bulldogs put a stranglehold on the two guard positions.  That assumption has already proven false.

Watts Dantzler, a senior, was projected to contend for playing time at the guard position but has emerged as the starter at right tackle—at least for now.  The rise of Dantzler has pushed Kolton Houston inside to a guard spot.

Richt told Nick Suss of The Red & Black there are at least five capable linemen, but an emphasis on cross-training on the line has remained a point of emphasis.  

"You’d like for a left tackle to know what a left guard does," Richt said. "In case you have injury, you can move a guy in or move a guy out. If he knows what the guy is doing next to him, it’s just easier to do that."

Adding Dantzler to the starting lineup maximizes size and experience on the offensive line and also allows Houston, who struggled at times against the outside pass rush from his tackle spot in 2013, to move into the interior.  

Assuming Greg Pyke ultimately holds on to his spot at right guard, the Bulldogs offensive line could be one of the most impressive—at least in stature—in the country.

 

Tight End

Quayvon Hicks had something of a breakout season as a fullback in 2013.  He promptly turned around and spent spring practice cross-training as a tight end.  With Jay Rome, Georgia's lone returning tight end with game experience, continuing to battle injuries and miss reps, Hicks' efforts will prove invaluable.

"Quayvon has become a legitimate tight end,” Richt told Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s not just a fullback trying to be a tight end. To me he’s really become a tight end who can still play fullback. That’s an advantage to him.” 

Georgia's offense always relies on the tight end, and although no formal change has been made on the depth chart, it is evident that Hicks will be featured at the position.  Rome, if healthy, is still likely the starter, but Hicks is no longer an emergency option.

Of course, that rise may not be entirely unexpected.  Although he was rarely used in the passing game last season, Hicks did turn five receptions into 67 yards.  

Hicks' emergence as a viable option at tight end makes this offense better, if for no other reason than his ability to provide yet another safety valve for new starting quarterback Hutson Mason.

 

Defensive Backs

Damian Swann, a two-year starter, will start at cornerback.  That's actually news in and of itself under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.  Pruitt, who's brought open competition, wouldn't even concede that much following spring practice.  Now, according to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, Swann is winning his new coach over.

"Damian’s very smart,” Pruitt told Weiszer. “Football comes easy to him. He’s got a very high IQ for football. He’s very instinctive. He’s got good ball skills. He’s got good initial quickness, can change direction.

And for what it's worth, Pruitt's impressing Swann as well.  "Who wouldn't want to play for Pruitt?"  Swann asked, per Weiszer.  "He's done it before."

That assurance that Pruitt has done big things before should keep Georgia fans from panicking even as the Dawgs struggle to secure starting spots.

Outside of Swann, the rest of the secondary is unknown, but a few names are starting to stand out.  

Shattle Fenteng, a JUCO transfer, looks like an early contender to start opposite of Swann, while J.J. Green, a former running back, appears to be the early leader for the star/nickel position.

At the safety spots, Quincy Mauger and Corey Moore are the most experienced Dawgs, but walk-on Aaron Davis and true freshman Dominick Sanders are coming on strong.

This may be the last position group to settle on a firm rotation, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  After all, it's also the group most in need of improvement.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Biggest Winners and Losers from College Football Offseason

You've almost made it, college football fans. Just a couple of weeks left before the 2014 season is finally here.

While it will never compare to the action and excitement of a season of Saturdays, the offseason has been far from boring and uneventful. The seven months between Florida State's thrilling last-second win over Auburn in the national championship game—officially ending the BCS era while ushering in the age of the College Football Playoff—has given us quite a bit of news to tide us over.

As is usually the case, the news wasn't always good. The offseason was as full of losers as it was winners, whether it be players, coaches, teams or collegiate governing bodies that ended up on the wrong side of a landmark legal ruling.

Here's our look at the most notable winners and losers from 2014's offseason.

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LSU Football: How Tigers Plan to Rebound at DT After Quentin Thomas Injury

BATON ROUGE, La. — There is still hope for LSU defensive tackle Quentin Thomas. 

Thomas suffered an injury last week during fall camp that will sideline him for an undisclosed amount of time. Ross Dellenger of The Advocate reported Thomas suffered torn biceps and would be out for the 2014 season. He could be, but head coach Les Miles has not ruled him out.

Nor has Thomas.

"Mentally, I do not feel like I am out for the year," Thomas said. "My confidence was high and is still high. I'm expecting to come back and put up big numbers. I want to be All-SEC, hopefully All-American." 

Thomas was projected to be a starter alongside Christian LaCouture at defensive tackle. LSU must rebound quickly as the season opener against Wisconsin is only weeks away. The Badgers are a power-running team led by Heisman hopeful running back Melvin Gordon.

Despite his injury, he feels comfortable with the talent LSU has behind them. 

"I have no doubt in my mind they come in and fill in, if not perform better than me," Thomas said.  

He might be right. 

 

Redshirt Freshmen Backups

LSU has a multitude of talent at defensive tackle that can play right away. Maquedius Bain, Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore all redshirted last season. The once-prized recruits are ready to prove their worth at the college level. 

Overall, defensive coordinator John Chavis is not worried with the unit's youth.

"We're going to be young (at defensive tackle)," Chavis said. "We are getting better every day. I can assure you, it will not be a weakness." 

Miles announced Sunday Herron will step in alongside LaCouture for the starting role. Herron emphasized that nothing is set in stone though until the season opener against Wisconsin.

"I don't know if I'm the starter," Herron said. "I know any one of these guys can help our team win."

Defensive line coach Brick Haley and Chavis said the competition is still open. 

Bain and Gilmore will remain the backup duo for now. Bain said he still does not mind coming off the bench, especially with the chemistry he and Gilmore have dating back to their time together at the Under Armour All-American Game. 

"He's like a brother to me," Bain said. 

Bain's explosiveness has been noticed by his teammates. He has the potential to be the best defensive tackle on the team. 

Bain switched his jersey number to No. 90 this offseason. The last two LSU players to wear that jersey were defensive tackles Michael Brockers and Anthony Johnson, both of whom were key pieces to the 2011 SEC Championship defense. But he said he idolizes a player on that defense who played a different position. 

"I want to be like a Tyrann Mathieu, but on the D-Line," he sai. "That guy that has a swagger about everything."

 

Incoming Freshmen

LSU's 2014 recruiting class brought in a nice group of defensive tackles. 

Travonte Valentine is the biggest defensive tackle on LSU's roster and could be a huge asset in short-yardage situations. But the 6'3'', 325-pound Valentine must first be cleared academically by the NCAA Clearinghouse in order to play. 

Miles said they are still monitoring the situation for Valentine's eligibility. 

Davon Godchaux, like Herron, has made a move from end to tackle. Godchaux says the transition has had its rough points, but he feels he is ready if called upon. 

"Three-technique is a lot more physical. But I am bringing my athleticism from end to tackle, so I feel I can make plays," Godchaux said. 

LSU's history of redshirting talented defensive tackles is a tradition under Miles. He might want to do the same with Valentine and Godchaux, but both could hold their own in the SEC if called upon in 2014.  

 

Conclusion

LSU's starting duo of Johnson and Ego Ferguson last season played below expectations, but in their defense, both played extensive snaps. The Tigers' talented group will need to rotate more often this season. 

The Tigers must become better pass-rushers. LaCouture stressed the first goal is to slow down the run but that getting to the quarterback will be important as well. 

"We are wanting to be multidimensional," LaCouture said. "We have improved since the spring, and that is a great sign for us." 

Miles has been working sophomore defensive end Lewis Neal inside to help improve the quickness of the unit. Neal is undersized at 6'1'', 255 pounds, yet can certainly be a threat on 3rd-and-long. 

The injury to Thomas is a blow, but it's one that is not insurmountable. The Tigers have enough depth to match up with the likes of Alabama and Auburn.  

Herron says the unit feels the pressure and has a point to prove. 

"I'm looking forward to showing the world we have the best defensive front in the country. Each one of us are going to play our heart out, and we are not going to leave this field without a win," he said. 

LSU's defensive line might not be the best in the country, yet they have the potential to be. Nevertheless, one injury should not derail what should be an improved unit. 

LSU is "Defensive Line U" for a reason.  

 

Rankings and stats provided by cfbstats.comSports-Reference and 247Sports. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Miami Football: Why Clive Walford Is Crucial to 'Canes Offense in 2014

Bubba Franks. Jeremy Shockey. Kellen Winslow. Greg Olsen. The Miami Hurricanes boast a history of NFL-caliber tight ends, and Clive Walford is looking to revive the NFL pipeline.

The senior has one final year in Coral Gables to impress, and his team definitely needs another season of production similar to his previous campaign. As a junior, Walford snared 34 passes for 454 yards and two touchdowns.

In 2014, Miami's marketing slogan for the team's season is "Renewed," focusing attention on the resurgence of the program.

Well, the Hurricanes offense needs to have a renewed focus on attacking the middle of the field, and that all starts with Walford.

 

Where Has Walford Been Utilized?

To understand how crucial the tight end is for Miami to reinvent its passing game, looking through his junior year is important.

Last season, Walford snagged passes on a total of eight routes, but he was most often targeted on misdirection play-action calls, where the blockers flowed one direction while he sneaked the other way. Or he was the checkdown option who found open space in the flat.

In fact, 12 receptions followed a fake to the running back, and four more were on arrow routes to the sideline:

Overall, Walford made 31 of his 34 catches outside the hashmarks, and his three remaining grabs over the middle barely made it past the line of scrimmage. Additionally, he reeled in 24 balls within five yards of the line of scrimmage.

Yes, you read that correctly. A tight end made 8.9 percent of his total receptions between the hashes, and only 32.3 percent were farther than five yards away—that's it.

"There are so many options to go to—particularly with the weapons they have on the outside that'd you'd expect to see more opportunities in the middle of the field," Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer said. "It's surprising, to be honest, because he has the big-play potential. I'd love to see what he could do when loose in the middle of the field."

To be clear, each marking on the following chart is where Walford physically caught, dropped or was missed by a pass, not the final distance of a given reception:

Walford was merely a short-distance option for the majority of 2013, but the 'Canes finally found him vertically during the bowl game. Against Louisville, Walford ran a beautiful wheel route down the left sideline and caught the pass 23 yards away from the line of scrimmage.

OK, that was down the sideline, so did he ever run a skinny post up the seams? Only one comes to mind, and guess what? It worked—yet again opposite Louisville. Morris connected with Walford 19 yards downfield just outside the hashes en route to a 32-yard gain.

Overall, while he has been a valuable option in the short passing game, Walford offers so much more than being a checkdown receiver.

Sure, he dropped six throws last year, but the Glades Central product kept the Miami offense going; of Walford's 34 receptions, 20 resulted in first downs or touchdowns. And if the Hurricanes send him vertically in 2014, he'll move the chains even more.

 

What's Next for Him?

As Miami breaks in a new quarterback, it will be a run-first team driven by the playmaking ability of Duke Johnson and the blocking of his offensive line.

According to Derek Stephens of CBS Sports, Walford "struggles as a blocker and has been plagued by drops in the past, but has the talent to be an explosive weapon at the next level." 

Walford will be again tasked with sealing the edge on stretch handoffs, an area he must improve because that specific play can be so dangerous for Miami. With Johnson and Joe Yearby in the backfield, driving the linebacker outside opens the lane for a lengthy gain.

But when Miami throws the ball, offensive coordinator James Coley needs to use Walford as a vertical threat—even if that means setting the tone early before essentially becoming a decoy. 

"Establishing a tight end with deep-play potential can change an offense entirely," Kramer explained. "It can give your wideouts more safety-less throws, and yes, you can really alter the way opposing linebackers key on your backs.

"And when you look at Miami's sudden uncertainty at quarterback, Walford can aid these issues a great deal. He can improve all facets of production without really touching the ball."

The senior is listed at 6'4" and 263 pounds, so he is built to overmatch, especially smaller linebackers.

"If you match up Walford with an ACC linebacker—maybe with the exception of a few teams, starting with Florida State, you feel great about the chances of winning the one-on-one," Kramer said. "I'd like to see him start on the line and see how much they can stretch the field as the wideouts do their thing."

Kramer wants to see it happen, I want to see it and the Hurricanes absolutely must try it.

Otherwise, they are constantly relegating their tight end to a role that could be significantly more threatening with a simple fix. Don't avoid the play-action misdirection receptions; those calls certainly have value.

But Miami cannot repeat making the short route Walford's sole offensive responsibility either, because that, simply, is misusing a crucial part of its offense.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why Oregon-Oregon State Rivalry Is College Football's Most Underrated

When one thinks of intense college football rivalries, intrastate and regional feuds such as Ohio State-Michigan, Stanford-Cal and Auburn-Alabama come to mind for most fans.

While these matchups have certainly earned a place in the annals of college football, the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry, also known as the Civil War, is one that has remained under the radar for those outside of the Beaver State, but for those who know—has a storied and controversial past.

In the following slides, we’ll highlight some of the more controversial and exciting moments in the feud—both on and off the field, which truly make this rivalry one of college football’s most underrated.

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Why Oregon-Oregon State Rivalry Is College Football's Most Underrated

When one thinks of intense college football rivalries, intrastate and regional feuds such as Ohio State-Michigan, Stanford-Cal and Auburn-Alabama come to mind for most fans...

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Miami Hurricanes Incorporate Dodgeball into Football Practice

The Miami Hurricanes are apparently getting pretty creative with some of their drills during football practice.

During Sunday's practice, head coach Al Golden and his staff incorporated dodgeballs into one of their workouts. Considering some of the other, more strenuous drills football teams usually go through, I'm sure the players enjoyed doing something different.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

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Auburn QB Nick Marshall Addresses Media for 1st Time Since Citation

Auburn senior quarterback Nick Marshall hasn't made headlines for the right reasons this offseason after leading the Tigers to a 12-2 record, an SEC title and a berth in the BCS National Championship in 2013.

Marshall received a citation for marijuana possession in July and won't start Auburn's Aug. 30 season opener against Arkansas as a result. On Sunday, the quarterback spoke to the media for the first time since the incident, saying, via Charles Goldberg of AuburnTigers.com:

I made a mistake and I'm just trying to gain my trust back from the coaches. I let my family down and I'm also trying to gain their trust back and also the Auburn fans.

The incident that happened, it's just going to change me as a better man on and off the field.

Per James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser, the quarterback also said, "It's been tough because I'm not too much worried about the Heisman. I'm trying to go out there and win the trust of my teammates."

These statements were solely intended for the press, as Crepea tweeted none of Marshall's teammates or coaches were in attendance:

John Zenor of the Associated Press explained that Marshall had previously apologized to the team:

Head coach Gus Malzahn is still in Marshall's corner going forward. He said earlier this month that the dynamic signal-caller is "still our quarterback," according to Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com.

In 2013, Marshall broke out as a dual-threat quarterback, passing for 1,976 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 1,068 yards and 12 scores. This season, Marshall will be heavily leaned upon as he orchestrates Auburn's offense without the presence of speedy running back Tre Mason, whom the St. Louis Rams drafted in the third round of the most recent NFL draft.

Bleacher Report's Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer broke down Marshall's upside and outlook for the 2014 season:

Unfortunately, we'll have to wait to see the quarterback in action due to the team-imposed suspension that will force him to sit on the bench for an undisclosed amount of time against Arkansas.

Until Marshall returns, we can expect to see sophomore Jeremy Johnson take the reins. Last season, Johnson looked sharp in limited snaps, completing 70.7 percent of his passes for 422 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.

While Johnson looked fine in that small sample size, Auburn will need Marshall back in the fold to remain competitive in a very difficult SEC. A threatening presence on the football field, Marshall's playmaking ability with his arm and legs will continue to cause nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators.

With a full year of experience under his belt, Marshall should be expected to take some significant steps forward this season. If that's the case, we will certainly be hearing his name mentioned in Heisman Trophy conversations on a regular basis.

Auburn is currently ranked No. 5 in the Amway Coaches Poll and has substantial aspirations for the season ahead.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4 Things We've Learned About Texas A&M Through Fall Camp so Far

The Texas A&M football team has completed its second week of fall camp, and some themes have started to emerge. The Aggies will be improved on defense, but how much they are improved remains to be seen. 

The central theme that most prognosticators have been hitting on during the offseason has been that the Aggies will take a step back on the field because their offense will drop off without quarterback Johnny Manziel at the helm. They also expect the defense will still struggle to be effective. 

Most pundits are ignoring the fact that the Aggies played a lot of freshmen on defense in 2013, and they will improve simply through maturing. There will not be as many busts because those sophomores will have a better understanding of the defense, and they will be more physically prepared to face off against SEC offenses. 

The defense—particularly the front four—should be improved in 2014. This is a look at that defensive improvement and a few other things that have become apparent during the second week of fall camp.

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Florida State Holds Jameis Winston Q&A on Twitter, Crab Leg Questions Pour in

The Florida State Seminoles football program thought it would be a good idea to hold a Twitter Q&A with starting quarterback Jameis Winston.

Unfortunately for the team, people seemed more concerned about his incident involving crab legs than they were about the coming football season.

There were plenty of funny responses, but here are a few of the best using #AskJameis:

[Twitter]

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SEC Football: Ranking Fastest Players Heading into 2014 Season

"SEC speed" is a much-talked-about topic in every pocket of the country, and even though it's superiority is probably blown out of proportion, it is not altogether wrong to call the conference the fastest in America from top to bottom.

Unfortunately, the argument over which players best contribute to that speed is always an infuriating one to have.

How do we measure who is fastest? With quantifiable scores such as the 40-yard dash and track times or with what we see on game tape? And if it's the former, what times can and can't we trust? How do we know which hand-timed 40 is legit and which one isn't?

This list attempted to use a combination of those factors. We found all the official 40 times and track results we could, and we did our research to consider the unofficial scores as well. Then we watched some tape and saw which players looked the fastest on the field.

Alas, this list is still sure to end in disagreement, which is fine. It is not intended as a definitive ranking of the fastest players in the league, because putting together one of those would literally be impossible. Short of getting all these players together in a controlled environment on multiple occasions to take multiple samples running some sort of ringer of sprints, there is no way to know for sure who is fastest.

All we can realistically do is process the available data and make our most educated guess. That is what this list represents.

Sound off below to let me know why I'm an idiot!

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Max Wittek Rumors: Latest News, Buzz and More Surrounding QB's Transfer

USC quarterback Max Wittek is reportedly close making his long-awaited move away from the vaunted Southern California football program.

According to CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler, Wittek is expected to join the University of Hawaii program later this month:

He is looking to transfer away from USC in the wake of young signal-caller Cody Kessler's rise to the starting role. Kessler came into his own in 2013, tossing 20 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.

Wittek would have to sit out the next season at Hawaii due to the NCAA's transfer rules, unless some sort of unforeseen exception is granted. This would leave the incoming junior with just one year of eligibility.

The 6'4" pocket passer appeared in just five games for the Trojans last season, completing 14 of 26 passes for 212 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

This isn't the first report of a move away from Southern California for Wittek. He appeared to be set to move to the University of Texas, but Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman reported in May that Texas backed away from offering Wittek a scholarship for undisclosed reasons. It appears that indeed nothing ever materialized.

If Wittek does join Hawaii, he will have the opportunity to learn from vaunted quarterback guru Norm Chow, who is the head coach of the Rainbow Warriors. Chow also has connections to the USC program, having served as the offensive coordinator there from 2001-04.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Football: Takeaways and Complete Stats from Tide's 1st Fall Scrimmage

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was a rain-soaked day on Saturday for the Alabama football team in its first of two fall-camp scrimmages.

The team worked in Bryant-Denny Stadium in front of only close friends and family in an otherwise closed scrimmage. The Crimson Tide had to take a 40-minute break for lightning and storms, before finishing it out in a torrential downpour.

A drenched Nick Saban took the podium to answer a few questions and released partial stats from the scrimmage, which included some situational work.

Here are some takeaways, followed by the complete statistics.

 

All quiet on the quarterback front

As expected, Saban did not release quarterback stats or say much at all in the way of the battle under center. He noted that it would be unfair to judge the quarterbacks considering it poured rain for much of the afternoon.

“I think it would be unfair to either player to really evaluate any kind of passing statistics based on today,” Saban said.

“First of all, you almost have to include the drops, because there were a few drops because of the conditions. I just don’t think it would be fair based on those conditions, to try to make some kind of statistical assessment. That’s not the most important thing to us. I think we have a lot of things that we did very well out there today.”

Saban is right to make that judgement, considering the circumstances. Even if he released stats with that disclaimer, they would only serve to add more fuel to the quarterback-battle fire that Saban is trying to keep under control.

The only other comment he offered up praised and criticized both equally for the same thing:

"I think they both did a lot of good things. I think they both have some things that they wish they had back. And I think they both probably made some choices and decisions that we can improve on. But I also think that both guys showed that they're capable of doing what we need to do with them on offense so that we can be effective with the other players that we have.

We're not pleased or satisfied completely with where they are, but we're not disappointed in the progress that we're making at that position. It was a tough day to operate out there. After the first, I think, series that each team had, we're 40 minutes in the locker room, and then we go out there, and it's raining the whole time. But I thought both guys handled that well too."

The team will scrimmage again next Saturday, but don’t expect any kind of statistics then either, even if it is sunshine and 75 degrees with a cool breeze.

 

Injury update and a couple of new, but minor ones

The good news is that Alabama escaped relatively injury-free, except for one. The bad news is that it’s a potential starter who will now miss valuable learning time.

JUCO offensive lineman Dominick Jackson sustained a sprained ankle “that might keep him out for a couple of weeks,” according to Saban. 

Jackson was expected to come in and compete at right guard, really Alabama’s only question mark right now on the offensive line. The No. 2 JUCO prospect in the 2014 class was getting his feet wet and appeared poised to have a shot at the starting right guard spot.

This injury puts him behind the eight ball now.

Leon Brown, another candidate at right guard, is currently nursing a foot injury. So the pressure is squarely on Alphonse Taylor, a redshirt sophomore who’s been running with the ones at right guard so far in fall camp.

Otherwise, Alabama came out healthy outside of a few nicks and bruises.

Cornerback Eddie Jackson, who is recovering faster than expected from a major knee surgery, did not participate.

“He probably could have scrimmaged today, but that was our choice not to do that,” Saban said. “He's been doing a good job in practice. I don't think that's a position that you can play if you're not 100 percent. And he's certainly making great progress. Can do everything in practice, but I don't think he's ready to go out there and scrimmage football yet.”

 

Defense catching up

With several injuries on defense, Saban said the unit is taking its lumps.

“Defensively, we have a long way to go,” he said. “I think we missed a lot of tackles. We had a lot of young players that are getting a lot of opportunities because of the players that we have out. We have a lot of defensive players that are out, that if you added them up in the two-deep, that’s quite a few guys.”

While it may be detrimental in the short term, young players are getting more opportunities to contribute and learn from their mistakes. That could pay dividends down the road and helps to build depth early on.

“The good part about that is some of the freshmen players that may be able to help us are getting lots of turns, lots of reps," he said. "It goes with the territory that they make a few more mistakes. But that’s the best learning opportunities that they have. When they make a mistake, they sort of get an opportunity to learn more, grow more and maybe improve as a player more quickly.”

 

Complete stats

The following stats were provided by a UA spokesman after the scrimmage. They include 11-on-11 work, situational drills, red-zone, goal-line and two-minute drills. Again, no quarterback stats were released.

 

Rushing:

Kenyan Drake: 6 carries, 88 yards, 1 touchdown

T.J. Yeldon: 4 carries, 35 yards

Tyren Jones: 13 carries, 30 yards, 1 touchdown

Derrick Henry: 6 carries, 23 yards, 1 touchdown

 

Receiving:

Kenyan Drake: 4 receptions, 65 yards

Robert Foster: 2 receptions, 57 yards

Amari Cooper: 4 catches, 56 yards, 1 touchdown

Christion Jones: 2 catches, 45 yards, 1 touchdown

ArDarius Stewart: 3 catches, 33 yards

 

Defense:

Jonathan Allen: 5 tackles, 2 sacks

Dillon Lee: 4 tackles

Da’Shawn Hand: 4 tackles, 1 sack

Reuben Foster: 3 tackles, 1 sack

Reggie Ragland: 3 tackles

 

Special teams:

Adam Griffith: 4-of-5 on field goals

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from cfbstats.com. All recruiting information comes from 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Ohio State Football Players Use Memory Foam Mattresses to Nap in Locker Room

The Ohio State Buckeyes football team had two practices on Saturday, so the players made sure to get some rest after the morning practice in preparation for the next one.

After being given memory foam air mattresses, the Buckeyes players set them up in the locker room to get in some solid nap time.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

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32-Year-Old Active Navy SEAL Tom Hruby Trying to Make Northwestern Football Team

Tom Hruby is 32 years old, but that's not stopping him from trying to make the Northwestern football team. Along with a wife and three kids, he also happens to be an active Navy SEAL.

Last summer, Hruby was accepted to Northwestern at 31 years old after taking the SAT. He became a SEAL back in 2006, serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Hruby spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times about his time as a SEAL and about taking on the challenge of possibly making the Wildcats football team:

One day you’re blowing things up, the next day I’m fast-roping out of a helicopter, the next day I’m parachuting at 20,000 feet. It’s inherently dangerous. When you start, you’re like, ‘God, I could die any minute. Any one of these things today can kill me if I don’t do it right.’

I don’t feel like where I’m at today is some outstanding or amazing thing. It’s just more of a challenging route . . . the way I kind of think about finding and accepting and trying to take on these challenges that most people would probably say are impossible, one, or very unlikely or just plain dumb.

The 32-year-old will be trying to make the team as a defensive end while living in the dorms, visiting his family on the weekends and still working as a SEAL instructor.

[YouTube h/t For The Win]

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Michigan Football: What 4-Star RB Mike Weber's Commitment Means to Wolverines

Picture a pair of tree trunks attached to a steel core: That’s Mike Weber, who adds respectable speed and incredible strength to Michigan’s 2015 class.

The Detroit Cass Tech 4-star running back pledged to Wolverines coach Brady Hoke this past week, giving Michigan yet another high-mileage option for next fall and beyond. His commitment is important—that much is clear.

But how important?

It’s not like the Wolverines were dangerously short on help—they’ll have junior versions of De’Veon Smith and Derrick Green in 2015, not to mention Ty Isaac, who just transferred from USC, a school that courted Weber with a relentless hand.

However, the Technician isn’t just a running back; he symbolizes that Hoke’s influence remains heavy in the Great Lakes State.

 

Quick Hits

Rankings, per 247Sports: No. 115 overall, No. 14 RB, No. 2 overall in state.

Note: For local reaction to Weber’s commitment, be sure to listen to the latest episode of Sports in the Mitten, hosted by yours truly. Detroit Radio 1’s Lauren Beasley, who has close ties to the Cass Tech senior, spoke highly of Weber’s work ethic. And although he didn’t choose Michigan State, Weber most certainly caught the attention of Spartan Mag’s Paul Konyndyk.

Maize ‘n Brew put together a nice scouting report on Weber. The guys at the Wolverines blog practice a bit of cautious optimism, but they like what they see.

 

Ring in Weber

Weber is the type of guy that Hoke wants and needs. Success in the Big Ten comes on the ground, and Michigan’s ghastly attempts haven’t yielded a 1,000-yard rusher since 2011 (Fitzgerald Toussaint).

This season should spark the necessary change, and Weber will be a part of that. He may not be the type to lead the league in rushing and flood the record books, but he’s capable of giving his team at least 25 solid carries each game.

Again, he’s a workhorse back—a player who reminds me a bit of former Spartans star Javon Ringer (5'9", 202 lbs at MSU), whose philosophy of “see hole, hit hole, run through” worked wonders for a developing, back-to-the-basics approach in East Lansing.

Now, don’t get upset about the Michigan State comparison. It fits. Ringer carried the ball nearly 400 times as a senior, tearing away chunks of yards from the field each Saturday—and he did well against Michigan too. I’m imagining a similar performance from Weber but maybe scaled down since he’ll be sharing the workload with Smith, Green and Isaac.

However, he could end up as the go-to back as a junior and senior. That would be ideal, obviously, as experienced backs typically provide a little comfort for coaches, teammates and fans. Having a proven commodity certainly trumps waiting for underclassmen to shine.

Can you say "program back"? I mean, let's not jinx the guy, but Weber is hardly a throw-in player. He's been one of Hoke's highest priorities for more than a year. 

 

Punch the Clock

Back in June, at the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp in Detroit, Weber discussed his desire to compete for a starting position. He told me that he wasn’t afraid to go up against established players—his goal is to play and to play as soon as possible.

Sure, they all say that. But while standing face-to-face with what basically equates to an Abrams tank, I couldn’t help but feel that he was almost predicting, rather than wishing.

For that reason, I can’t see him not being on the field as a freshman. Star power? Probably not right then. But promises of things to come? Yeah, that’s a safe bet. He’s the right back for the “new” system being implemented by Doug Nussmeier.

Weber spoke highly of the new offensive coordinator, saying that he was looking forward to creating a strong bond with the former Alabama OC who’s working to awaken Michigan’s one-time feared running game.

Mixing Weber into a steady three-back rotation should be quite easy for Nussmeier, who orchestrated a Tide offense that squeezed out 205 yards per game. That was only good for No. 25 overall, but compare that to what Team 134 did—just 125.7 per outing—and there is reason to be optimistic about what Weber can do in the future and what Nussmeier will get started this fall.

The bottom line is this: Some guys are good fits. Some are great.

And some are meant to be. Weber, Michigan and Nussmeier are an ideal match. 

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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Clemson Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

Clemson began its fall camp this week, and there were many new developments with the football team. Some key freshmen have started to stand out, and other players have surprised the coaches as well.

 

Wide Open at Running Back

While it’s expected that D.J. Howard is the slight favorite at running back, because of his experience, this position is still wide open.

OrangeAndWhite.com revealed Dabo Swinney’s thoughts on the position earlier this week.

(Zac) Brooks has had a good camp, (Wayne) Gallman has shown improvement and D.J. Howard has been the leader of the group. And it is amazing to have a player as talented as C.J. Davidson who basically walked in off the streets two years ago. Kurt Fleming is a different type of runner who will have a role for us.

The starter for the Georgia game is still a mystery at this point, as all the backs have provided a solid competition.

 

Ammon Lakip’s Leg Strength

Replacing a kicker as efficient as Chandler Catanzaro doesn’t figure to be an easy task, but Lakip appears ready for the challenge.

As Roy Philpott of CUTigers.com notes, his kick earlier in the week could have been made from 65 yards out.

 

Work Hard, Play Hard

The biggest highlight of my week didn’t happen on the football field. One of the things trending around the Twitter world this week was Cole Stoudt’s mannequin prank, in which he was able to scare a few Tiger fans.

SportsCenter tweeted out the video for many to see this week.

 

Jordan Leggett is Developing as More Than a Receiver

Leggett realizes that he has to be a better blocker to see significant snaps this season. Per Brandon Rink of OrangeAndWhite.com, the coaches have a message for the tight end: “They said if I wanted to get on the field and be a more complete player and play 50 snaps a game – I had to be a route runner (and) a blocker," said Leggett.

With the recent injury to Stanton Seckinger, Leggett will have an opportunity to really show off in camp. Sam Cooper is the best blocking tight end on the team and will get significant playing time because of what he provides in the running game, but Leggett could be one of Stoudt’s main targets.

 

Carlos Being Carlos

Carlos Watkins missed a lot of time last season after being involved in a car accident, which ultimately led to a redshirt. Swinney has confidence that Watkins could be a difference-maker on this brutal defensive line, per ClemsonTigers.com.

“Carlos is back to being Carlos. He had a great camp last year and started against Georgia in the opener. He looks great. He is going to benefit by redshirting last season,” Swinney said.

He isn’t a guy who is going to play a huge role but can certainly provide even more depth on an already talented defensive front.

 

Progression of Freshmen

This freshman class has many Clemson fans excited, and rightfully so. Deshaun Watson, the headliner of the signing class, has not disappointed so far. Swinney said last week that Watson “is just a special young talent that just gets better every single day.”

A few other freshmen who have stood out this week are Adam Choice, Artavis Scott, Trevion Thompson and Mackensie Alexander, among others.

 

Looking Ahead

The first week of practice will conclude Saturday with a scrimmage, then its off to another week of getting prepared for the season. As the intensity of these practices rises, so should the pressure for guys to step up and win these position battles.

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