Author: CW Sports Staff

Alabama faces Vanderbilt for first time since 2011

By outreach@cw.ua.edu (Matthew Speakman) Alabama faces a long-time SEC foe Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville. The Crimson Tide first met on Oct. 10, 1903, which ended in a 30-0 Commodores victory. Times have certainly changed since then, with Alabama at the forefront of the college football world, while Vanderbilt is now on the rise. The Commodores are off to a hot start, winning their first three games, including a 14-7 win over Kansas State. Many college football pundits felt that the Commodores deserved to be in the top 25. Nick Saban is among them. “They do a great job of executing on both sides of the ball,” Saban said. “I think the results that they’ve gotten so far this season certainly bear that out.” Vanderbilt is a different team than what the Crimson Tide last saw. Head coach Derek Mason has improved the Commodores record every season, and even has signature wins over Georgia and Tennessee. With the No. 1 team in the country coming to town this weekend, Mason is ready to show Alabama how much his team has improved. “We’re playing the No. 1 team in the country,” Mason said. “Alabama gets everybody’s best every week, and hopefully our’s is good enough to put on a show.” With Vanderbilt off to a hot start, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding Mason’s program. He says his players are...

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Bo Scarbrough embraces expanded role in passing game

By outreach@cw.ua.edu (Matthew Speakman) Whenever Bo Scarbrough ran out to catch a pass, Cam Sims was watching. If Scarbrough succeeded, great, but if he failed, he would always hear Sims say one thing. “That ain’t the Under Armour Bo,” Sims would say. “…The Under Armour Bo would’ve caught that.” Sims is recalling a play from when Scarbrough was in high school, playing in the Under Armour All-American Game. Sims and Scarbrough were on the same team. Scarbrough ran his route—a crossing pattern across the middle of the field—and made an impressive catch with his fingertips 32 yards downfield. Scarbrough never backs down from Sims’ ridicule, however. He would respond calmly, “If I lose a little weight, then I can catch it.” Scarbrough has since lived up to his constant promises to Sims. He’s slimmed down this season from 240 pounds to 225 pounds. Like he said, it’s helped him in the passing game. This season, Scarbrough already has six catches. He had only four all of last year. He said he feels more comfortable at his new weight. “My body feels more clean,” Scarbrough said. “It feels more stable so I can move the way I want to move and I’m able to do some of the things I couldn’t do.” His weight loss has helped him acclimate to Brian Daboll’s new offense. Back in August, offensive coordinator Daboll...

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Behind enemy lines: Vanderbilt Hustler’s Cutler Klein talks Alabama game

By outreach@cw.ua.edu (Matthew Speakman) Alabama will open up its SEC schedule with a road trip to face Vanderbilt, who knocked off No. 18 Kansas State last week at home. The Crimson Tide has not traveled to Nashville to take on the Commodores since 2007 – Nick Saban’s first year as head coach. The Crimson Tide won that game, 24-10, but both programs have come a long way since then. To get more insight on the Commodores, I talked to Cutler Klein, the sports editor of Vanderbilt’s student newspaper, Vanderbilt Hustler. Here’s what he had to say: Q: Vanderbilt’s defense has been lights out [Top 10 in total defense in the country] this season. How much of a different challenge does Alabama present for the Commodores’ defense? A: Alabama’s offense will be the best Vanderbilt has seen so far, no question about it. However, it won’t be a new style that Vanderbilt hasn’t seen. Last week, Vanderbilt was able to effectively force Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz to beat them through the air instead of on the ground. The result was a season-low in passing yards and two picks for Ertz. Jalen Hurts is on a new level from Ertz, but if Vanderbilt can force Hurts to beat them through the air, they may be able to slow them down just enough. It will be the biggest task this defense...

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Players to watch: Alabama vs. Vanderbilt

By outreach@cw.ua.edu (James Ogletree) Alabama WR Calvin Ridley Vanderbilt’s defense allows just 4.3 points per game on average, the fewest out of the 130 teams in the FBS. Much of that success can be attributed to the Commodores’ pass defense, which also ranks No. 1 in the FBS. For Alabama’s offense to continue to run smoothly in its SEC opener, the Crimson Tide may need some big plays out of its star receiver. Ridley has 15 catches for 219 receiving yards this season; the rest of the team’s wide receivers total 11 catches for 182 yards, and none have more than four catches. It’s clear Ridley is the glue that keeps this passing game together. S Ronnie Harrison Having played in 31 of Alabama’s last 33 games, Harrison is one of the team’s most dependable and experienced defenders. The junior has accumulated a highlight reel of big hits during his three years at Alabama, and currently leads the team in solo tackles (10) and total tackles (18). He also has a sack and two tackles for loss. He doesn’t just excel near the line of scrimmage though, as he finished second on the team in pass breakups last year with seven. Bleacher Report NFL draft writer Matt Miller ranked Harrison the third-best safety prospect in the country, behind only Florida State’s Derwin James and Harrison’s teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick. LB...

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Alabama defense ready to make strides against Vanderbilt

By outreach@cw.ua.edu (Joe Klingbeil) The Alabama defense was not very pleased with the outcome of last Saturday’s game against Colorado State. Yes, the Crimson Tide beat the Rams soundly 41-23 inside Bryant Denny Stadium, but 23 points was 23 points too many and 391 yards of offense was far too much for the Rams, according to the Alabama defense. But as the Crimson Tide prepares for Saturday’s much anticipated matchup against Vanderbilt, one thing is for certain: the Alabama defense will bring a new sense of urgency and energy into Vanderbilt Stadium. “We practiced really well yesterday,” safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “We all got the gist of what happened Saturday. I don’t think words are really going to do anything right now, but actions are going to do a whole more.” The Alabama defense was expected to have a “Come-to-Jesus” players-only meeting this week to discuss Saturday’s effort, and rehash the defense’s mindset as the Crimson Tide embarks into SEC play. Fitzpatrick said on Tuesday that the meeting has yet to take place, but it does not mean the players have not taken the necessary steps to prevent a similar performance. “I tried to fly around and make all the calls and stuff like that,” said Fitzpatrick. “Shaun Dion [Hamilton] was doing the same thing, just leading by example, and pretty much everybody followed and did what they are...

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