By Brett Hudson
Four practices into preseason training camp, the Alabama Crimson Tide has been like every other collegiate football program: vulnerable to headline exposure.
Most of it had been good, with a few exceptions. Here is a review of the first few days of training camp and some analysis of the team as it stands right now.
Suspensions and other bad news
– The biggest piece of bad news at the opening of camp was the indefinite suspension on tight end Malcolm Faciane. It was later released that Faciane’s suspension was a minimum 30-day suspension: and if he did what the coaches and program required of him, he could come back after those 30 days. Faciane did just that and is now practicing with the team again.
– Also in the suspension front, head coach Nick Saban announced that linebacker Trey Depriest has been suspended and needs to meet certain requirements to return to the team, as is required with all Saban suspensions. Since Depriest’s minimum time frame is seven days, this suggests that his infraction was rather minor. Given his character that he has shown over the years, I feel confident his suspension will be shortlived.
– Finally, superstar wide receiver Amari Cooper has suffered a foot injury and is being monitored by both the training and coaching staff for his return to practice. In my opinion, it would be much better for Cooper to sit out until the Monday before the Virginia Tech game and make sure that his foot is OK than to come back a few days before and risk it. Foot injuries tend to nag more than any others: just ask Barrett Jones, who missed two weeks of preparation for last year’s BCS National Championship Game with a foot injury and still had to play through considerable pain.
– Going back to the tight end position, running back Jalston Fowler has been seeing a great number of reps with that group as an H-Back. This move is an intriguing one, as a man of Fowler’s size and athleticism seems to be built for the position. While a permanent position change is not 100 percent guaranteed, it does look like an attractive option: Fowler has clearly embraced his role at the position, and with the embarrassment of riches at running back (seven scholarship players at the position), a permanent switch could be best for Fowler’s football future.
– Replacing the starters lost from last year’s defensive line does not seem to be a problem at all. Brandon Ivory has noticeably stepped up as the leader of that group, and he has a great deal of depth behind him: Jeoffrey Pagan, Korren Kirven, Wilson Love, Darren Lake, Dalvin Tomlinson, Dee Liner, A’Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen. All of those players have been getting valuable reps in practice and it looks as if the revolving door the Crimson Tide has used at defensive line recently will continue to turn.
– Recently, the Tide has been experimenting with Chris Black in the slot during wide receiver drills. With Amari Cooper and Kenny Bell already on the outside, with Kevin Norwood practicing there as well, this move would make sense. If Black stays in the slot throughout camp and into the regular season, Alabama could load one side of the line with weapons like Cooper and Black and leave opposing defenses essentially hopeless.