Alabama Crimson Tide: Chad Lindsay

Room to improve: Offensive line

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
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Editor’s note: This is Part III in a weeklong series looking at Alabama’s top five position groups with room to improve.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It wasn’t all bad. It’s sometimes important to remember that. Despite a very sour finish against Oklahoma, Alabama’s offensive line wasn’t a complete disaster. In fact, it was far from that. The Tide actually allowed six fewer sacks this past season than they did the season before when the line was hailed as the best in the country and one of the best of all-time.

But, yes, there’s room for the line to improve. The running game wasn’t as dominant as in years past, and the line is somewhat to blame for that. The pocket wasn’t as wide open as quarterback AJ McCarron would have like it, and that came from up front.

[+] EnlargeRyan Kelly
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesCenter Ryan Kelly will help anchor Alabama's offensive line in 2014.
With Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama’s franchise left tackle, and Anthony Steen, a three-year starter at left guard, off to the NFL, there’s plenty of work to do for offensive line coach Mario Cristobal. He wasn’t there to coach the 2012 offensive line, and now all that Steen and Kouandjio are gone, neither are any of its former five starters.

Battling for No. 1: The good news for Cristobal is that because of the injuries throughout last season, he already has a good idea of who his candidates are to start. Ryan Kelly should remain the starter at center, as should Arie Kouandjio at left guard. Austin Shepherd has done nothing to lost his job at right tackle. And thanks to opportunities throughout the season, we know that Leon Brown is good candidate to start in Steen’s place at guard. And Grant Hill could play either guard or tackle, if need be. Hill, the former No. 1-rated offensive guard coming out of high school, is a more natural fit inside at guard, though.

Strength in numbers: Brandon Hill might be the most intriguing returning player on the offensive line. The massive tackle/guard prospect came to campus last year hugely overweight and has since trimmed down to a more manageable 385 pounds. If he sheds a few more belt sizes, he could be push for time at either position. While you’re at it, don’t count out Alphonse Taylor, either. The rising sophomore is no slouch at 335 pounds and was listed as the backup to Steen throughout the regular season. Meanwhile, look for Chad Lindsay, who started four games, to provide quality depth behind Kelly at center.

New on the scene: The wildcard in the competition to replace Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle is Cameron Robinson. In fact, the two are very similar in that they were both the No. 1-ranked offensive tackle prospects coming out of high school, and they both had the look of an NFL All-Pro from the minute they stepped foot on campus. Robinson, the No. 3 overall prospect in the country, is a massive 6-foot-5 and 330 pounds already. Should he get a firm grasp on the playbook early on -- he’s already enrolled and will compete in the spring, which helps -- he could become a part of the equation by fall camp. Left tackle is one of the most difficult positions on the line to learn, but you’ll recall that Kouandjio played in eight games as a true freshman before suffering a season-ending injury. In addition to Robinson, Alabama will welcome in the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked centers in the country, Josh Casher and J.C. Hassenauer, as well as the No. 28-ranked offensive guard, Montel McBride.

Five things: Alabama-Auburn

November, 30, 2013
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Here are five things to watch as No. 1 Alabama takes on No. 4 Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium for one of the South's biggest rivalries: The Iron Bowl.

Big-game jitters: Alabama has been through this drill before. Big games are nothing new to the veteran Crimson Tide. AJ McCarron doesn't buy into the hype and neither does C.J. Mosley. For them, it's just another game. But for Auburn, this isn't just another game. Gus Malzahn has said all the right things, but there's no denying that this is the biggest game of his tenure as the Tigers' head coach. It's a moment for Auburn to prove it's more than lucky. It's a chance to earn a reputation as a championship contender. And frankly, Auburn's players have never had to deal with that kind of pressure. How will they respond? When Nova flies around Jordan-Hare Stadium and the buzz reaches a fever pitch, will Auburn keep its emotions in check or allow them to run wild?

McCarron for Heisman: The momentum is gaining quickly. But is it too late for McCarron to become a serious contender to win the Heisman Trophy? Given Jameis Winston's off-the-field entanglements and Johnny Manziel's three losses this season, the chips are starting to fall McCarron's way. His numbers are impressive (2,399 yards, 23 touchdowns, five interceptions), but has he had the kind of "Heisman Moment" that can catapult him to victory? You could argue his performance against Texas A&M was up to that billing, but that was so long ago and his game against LSU didn't exactly intrigue would be voters. If McCarron is going to win the Heisman, he'll have to do it on Saturday afternoon against Auburn. A big game on the biggest stage might be the final push to send him into the forefront of the Heisman race.

Protecting the quarterback: As Auburn defensive end Dee Ford told reporters this week, "You change the game when you get to the quarterback." Make no mistake, the Tigers defense plans on pinning back their ears and getting after McCarron on Saturday. And with Ford, Nosa Eguae and Carl Lawson at defensive end, they have the tools to do it. Alabama has faced good defensive lines this season (Virginia Tech, LSU, etc.) but none had the type of edge rushers Auburn possesses. As Ford said, "[McCarron] hasn't been hit all year, so we want to see what he can do after being hit a few times."

Who starts at center?: A sprained knee has Alabama starting center Ryan Kelly as a game-time decision, according to coach Nick Saban. He hurt the knee early this week and was limited in practice since then. Saban stopped short of saying that backup Chad Lindsay would start, but you've got to believe the staff has confidence in him after already starting three games this season. “Chad Lindsay did great when he played and we did great on the offensive line,” Saban told reporters on Wednesday. “We have every confidence in him, we view him as a starter.”

Perimeter tackling: This isn't a game where the front seven will do all the work. Alabama's secondary will have to put a hat on a hat to be successful against Auburn's vaunted running game. Nick Marshall and Tre Mason aren't the only two guys that can hurt you. As one SEC head coach told me, the trouble with defending Auburn is that there are five or six guys who can run the ball from anywhere in the formation. Defending the end-arounds, fly-sweeps and other perimeter runs will be vital for Alabama. Because of that, look for safety Landon Collins to have a big day. He's one of the best on Alabama's defense in terms of reading the play and closing speed.

Five things: Alabama-Tennessee

October, 26, 2013
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Here are five things to watch as top-ranked Alabama (7-0, 4-0) hosts upstart Tennessee (4-3, 1-2) on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa:

Start of life without Sunseri: Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama's junior starting safety, has a brace on his knee after undergoing season-ending surgery earlier in the week. Saturday might be even more difficult as he'll have to watch from afar as Landon Collins starts in his place. Collins is talented, but young. The good news is he's played well of late, filling in for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at free safety, and now he'll be back in his natural position at strong safety. Look for Jarrick Williams and Geno Smith to play there as well.

Penalty-free play: First, do yourself a favor and check out Holly Rowe's video feature on long-time Alabama referee Ed Conyers. Then take a minute to reflect on the Crimson Tide's historic performance last weekend when it failed to commit a single penalty against Arkansas. Alabama hadn't gone penalty free since Sept. 1982.

Offensive line humming: Will Ryan Kelly play or not? The sophomore hasn't started at center since injuring himself against Ole Miss, and Chad Linsday has played well in his place. Alabama coach Nick Saban said Kelly has been "full go" this week, so he's likely to see the field in some form or fashion. If he does, he'll have to help continue another impressive streak Alabama has going: The Tide hasn't surrendered a sack since the third quarter against Ole Miss on Sept. 28.

Is it now or never for Cooper?: It's tough to make that statement for a player like Amari Cooper, who has battled some nagging injuries. But sooner or later you have to wonder if he'll ever get back to the form that made him a consensus Freshman All-America a year ago. Cooper's played better of late, catching three passes in each of the last two games. He blew up against Tennessee last season with 162 yards and two touchdowns. Maybe a familiar foe will help jump start his sophomore campaign.

Cornerback carousel: First it was John Fulton. Then it was Cyrus Jones. Then it was Eddie Jackson. Then it was Bradley Sylve. And then it came back to Fulton. But his stint opposite Deion Belue at cornerback appears to be short-lived, as Saban said on his weekly radio show that Jones will likely start in place of Sylve, who is out with a high ankle sprain. Saban said Jones, who switched from receiver to defensive back this spring, is "probably played the best of all those guys right now." As far as Jackson and fellow freshman Maurice Smith, "It's still a little bit of a work in progress," Saban said.

Planning for success: Alabama

October, 24, 2013
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Ready for a good old-fashioned rivalry? We've got one when the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0) hosts the Tennessee Volunteers (4-3, 1-2) on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

Can lightning strike twice for Tennessee? Riding an upset victory over South Carolina this past weekend, the hope for Butch Jones' squad is that the answer is yes.

[+] EnlargeNick Saban
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesNick Saban is building respect for this week's opponent.
And, as always, Nick Saban is guarding against that possibility.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for Tennessee and the job that they've done this year," he said. "They've really played well the last two weeks. I think it's really going to be important for us to focus on the things we need to improve on.

"Certainly a big game for us."

So who are some players to watch and some stats to chew on? We've got that for you right here:

Tennessee players to watch

RB Rajion Neal: The 5-foot-11 senior has quietly been one of the best running backs in the SEC this season. He's currently tied for fourth on in the league in rushing with 693 yards and eight touchdowns.

OT Antonio Richardson: Really, it's not just Richardson. As Saban pointed out Wednesday, "They've got two really good tackles, probably both NFL type guys who will be high draft picks." If you're looking for the key to Tennessee's success this season just look up front. Richardson leads what's arguably the best offensive line in the SEC.

DL Daniel McCullers: It may not be the best defensive line in the country, but Tennessee's got some heft on that side of the ball, too. McCullers is the Vols’ version of Terrence Cody, a mammoth run stuffer at 6-foot-8 and 351 pounds. Alabama's interior offensive linemen will be tested by his size and strength Saturday.

Alabama players to watch

C Ryan Kelly: Will he play or won't he? Kelly has missed the last three games recovering from an injury, but was "full go this week," according to Saban. Odds are Chad Linsday will continue to start, but look for Kelly to work his way back into the mix.

WR Amari Cooper: After starting the season slowly, Cooper has shown signs of resurgence in recent games. With some nagging injuries behind him, he's playing faster and producing more with six receptions in his last two games. Cooper's coming-out party last season was against Tennessee. Maybe familiarity will be the jump-start he needs.

RB Derrick Henry: He flew down the sideline like a blur. Henry, Alabama's larger than life tailback, sprinted past Arkansas' defense for an 80-yard touchdown run last Saturday, the first score of his career. Saban said Wednesday that there's no question he has the ability. How he picks up the little things like blocking -- things he wasn't asked to do in high school -- will determine how much he contributes down the stretch as a freshman.

Key stats

15: Alabama's pass protection has been stout of late, failing to give up a sack since the third quarter against Ole Miss. The Tide ranks 15th nationally and third in the SEC with 1.00 sacks allowed per game.

16: Alabama's defense is on a historic run of late, surrendering just 16 points in its last five games.

17: Just how explosive is Alabama sophomore running back Kenyan Drake? He and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota are the only two players in the country with 17 rushes of 10-plus yards in fewer than 70 carries.

SEC lunchtime links

October, 8, 2013
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Check out some of today's headlines from around the SEC.

" Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin committed an 'inadvertent secondary NCAA infraction' for tweeting at a recruit.

" South Carolina's Steve Spurrier said he's unsure whether the Gamecocks can fix their fourth-quarter defensive woes.

" Tyler Murphy aims to join a group of Florida quarterbacks who have found success against LSU.

" Coming off a big win at Vanderbilt, Missouri has a chance to shake up the SEC East race.

" A strong second half against Mississippi State helped LSU's shaky defense gain confidence.

" Chad Lindsay has made a smooth transition at center for Alabama.

" Georgia has been exceptional in its ability to overcome adversity.

" Auburn is closing in on bowl eligibility, but the Tigers want more.

" Alabama game closes out Kentucky's string of four consecutive top-20 opponents.

" Arkansas tries to keep spirits high after losses.

" Fourth-quarter troubles dog Mississippi State.

" Ole Miss leads the nation in fourth-down attempts, thanks to Hugh Freeze's aggressive nature.

Planning for success: Alabama

October, 3, 2013
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Crimson Tide get right back at it against an eager Georgia State team at home on Saturday:

The Crimson Tide will win if ...

The first-string should be out of the game sometime in the first half and the second- and third-string should have little trouble dispensing of Georgia State the rest of the game. For Alabama, Saturday isn't about simply winning. That should come with ease. Instead, facing GSU is about working out the kinks and discovering what young players are ready to step up for the stretch run.

[+] EnlargeC.J. Mosley
John David Mercer/USA TODAY SportsThe Alabama defense will likely have a chance to rotate in younger players against Georgia State.
The Panthers will win if ...

Let's face it, Georgia State isn't leaving Bryant-Denny Stadium with anything other than the big check it was paid to play in Saturday's game. GSU, young though the program may be, is arguably the least competitive in all of the FBS. Trent Miles is still a long way off from building his team into a contender.

Georgia State players to watch

WR Albert Wilson: The senior wideout and return specialist has four of the longest plays from the line of scrimmage in Georgia State history, his latest coming on a 75-yard touchdown reception against Jacksonville State two weeks ago.

WR Danny Williams: He and Wilson have formed a formidable duo at wideout this season. Williams, a senior, already has 111 receptions, 1,426 yards and nine touchdowns in his career.

LB Tarris Batiste: The 6-foot-1, 210-pound sophomore leads the team tackles (24) and tackles for loss (4.5).

Alabama players to watch

C Chad Lindsay: He filled in well for starting center Ryan Kelly last week. Now Lindsay must take over leading the offensive line for the next few weeks.

CB Eddie Jackson: The freshman was called the missing piece of the puzzle after last weekend's game against Ole Miss when he helped shut down the Rebels' previously potent passing attack, hauling in a key interception in the first half. He's young, so pay close attention to his growth over the coming weeks.

Backup QBs: We've only seen Blake Sims come on late in relief so far, but it stands to reason that we'll see a third quarterback come off the bench Saturday. The likely candidate is redshirt freshman Alec Morris, who has a strong arm but is still in need of some polishing. How we performs in relief could springboard him into the quarterback competition next year when AJ McCarron is gone.

Key stats

48: Alabama is 48-0 since 2008 when it wins the turnover battle.

43: Since Nick Saban took over the Alabama program, the Tide has given up 10 points or fewer 43 times.

106: Cade Foster has scored in a school-record 106 consecutive games.

SEC lunchtime links

October, 2, 2013
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It's Wednesday which means the SEC coaches and players have turned their attention to Saturday's opponent. See what's being said, who's going to play or not play and how teams are preparing in a sampling of news across the league.
  • Alabama center Ryan Kelly is expected to a miss a couple of weeks with a “stretched” MCL. That means more playing time for Chad Lindsay, who is making the most of his opportunity.
  • Coming off a huge win over LSU, Georgia is still on high alert as it heads to Knoxville this weekend for a matchup with SEC East foe Tennessee.
  • Since Lane Kiffin was fired, there have been rumors linking Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin with the open USC position. He says the rumors are just part of the job as the Aggies head into an open week.
  • LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. muffed a punt against Georgia on Saturday that led to a touchdown. It’s not the first miscue for the dynamic return specialist, but he knows how to respond from a mistake like that.
  • Connor Shaw was expected to miss at least a couple of weeks with a shoulder sprain, but the South Carolina quarterback could play against Kentucky on Saturday.
  • Florida boasts one of the top defenses in college football, so the Gators’ offense has resorted to an old-school approach -- a simple, keep-away philosophy.
  • Ole Miss was shutout last Saturday at Alabama. Head coach Hugh Freeze says it starts with the offensive line, and they will need to play better this weekend against Auburn.
  • Missouri has yet to start SEC play, but through four games, the Tigers’ offense has passed the test under new coordinator Josh Henson.
  • Auburn cornerback Chris Davis has missed the last two games due to injury, but the Tigers are eager to get their “extra spark” back on defense this week against No. 24 Ole Miss.
  • The trash talk has already started between Arkansas and Florida this week. Florida defensive lineman Damien Jacobs called out the Razorbacks’ offensive line, saying they play a little dirty. He singled out Hogs’ center Travis Swanson.

What we learned: Week 5

September, 29, 2013
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- No. 1 Alabama remained undefeated by shutting out No. 21 Ole Miss at home on Saturday, 25-0, but what did we really learn about the Crimson Tide in the contest?

The defense is capable: The secondary is still thin. Beyond Deion Belue, there's not much experience at cornerback. John Fulton certainly isn't the answer, hence true freshman Eddie Jackson getting the start there ahead of him. But in spite of throwing a rookie to the flames, Alabama's secondary showed the ability to play well against Ole Miss thanks to Belue's emergence as an on-ball defender and a deep group of safeties that includes Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Vinnie Sunseri and Landon Collins. Ole Miss had the players at receiver and tight end to make Alabama's secondary look bad. But instead, the back end of Alabama's defense shined against the Rebels.

Hope of a running game: Alabama's running game is still somewhat inconsistent, and the loss of center Ryan Kelly for the next few weeks certainly won't help in that respect. But against Ole Miss, the Tide running game finally got going. The offensive line, with Chad Lindsay in at center, was able to push the line of scrimmage and help open holes for T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, both of whom rushed for 100-plus yards and a touchdown each. The ability to run the football opened up the passing game in turn, allowing AJ McCarron to work effectively off of play action.

Finally, a complete game: OK, maybe it was just one complete half when you look at the struggle to put the ball in the end zone the first two quarters, but still, Alabama finally showed how good it can be at all three phases of the game simultaneously against Ole Miss. The offense moved the ball well, the defense was dominant and special teams was above average with Cade Foster kicking three field goals and Ole Miss never getting anything going in the return game. It was a game all coaches on Alabama's sidelines could be pleased with. And more than anything, head coach Nick Saban could look at his team's effort and be proud. "Our players did a really, really good job of being relentless out there with their effort, their toughness, the way they competed," Saban said, finally not having to throw in the caveat of some missing element in some phase of the game.

Crimson Countdown: Chad Lindsay 

July, 19, 2013
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During the summer, TideNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Alabama roster -- excluding the Tide's 2013 recruiting class -- in our Crimson Countdown series. Starting with No. 1 Dee Hart, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Brandon Ivory.

No. 78 Chad Lindsay
Redshirt junior offensive lineman

An analysis of three key plays in Alabama's 49-0 win over Western Carolina on Saturday at home -- and what those plays mean moving forward for the Crimson Tide:


Hitting the ground running



Dave Martin/Associated Press

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Texas A&M has always lived in the state of Texas when it comes to recruiting. Every year, the majority of the Aggies’ class comes from the Lone Star State, and with the wealth of talent in their own backyard, why look anywhere else?

[+] EnlargeDamion Square
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireDamion Square was committed to Texas A&M in the 2008 recruiting class before switching to Alabama.
With Texas A&M and the other Big 12 powers who reside in Texas, it’s hard for any outside school to come in and steal a recruit away, but if one school could do it, it would be the University of Alabama. However, even the Crimson Tide have to had to pick and choose their battles.

Since Nick Saban took over at Alabama in 2007, he has only signed seven players from the state of Texas. The most notable recruiting battle with the Aggies came while Saban was putting together his first full recruiting class in 2008.

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Recruiting Battles: Alabama vs. LSU 

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
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The stage was set. It was the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game. With his whole family behind him, ESPN 150 safety Landon Collins prepared to make his college decision in front of the entire country, on national television.

“I’m going to go with ‘Roll Tide Roll,’ ” Collins said as he put on the Crimson Tide gloves to signify where he was going to school.

The decision came as a surprise to most people, including his own mother, because Collins is a native of Louisiana. He opted to take the road less traveled and attend the school two states over rather than the one in his own backyard.

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Second look: Bama 40, FAU 7 

September, 23, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After 24 hours of digestion, analysis of No. 1 Alabama's 40-7 win over Florida Atlantic:

On offense ...
Doug Nussmeier absolutely gouged the FAU defense with crossing routes. The UA receivers showed their speed and ability to get yards after the catch on Saturday.

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Alabama's depth chart revealed

August, 28, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The picture of the Crimson Tide, circa 2012, is coming into full view. On Tuesday afternoon, Alabama released its depth chart.

There were a couple surprises on the list, including Jalston Fowler and T.J. Yeldon sharing duties as the No. 2 tailback and Ed Stinson winning the second defensive end spot. True freshmen Denzel Devall and Geno Smith also won coveted backup roles at Jack and cornerback, respectively.

Quarterback
AJ McCarron, Jr.
Phillip Ely, RS Fr.

Running back
Eddie Lacy, Jr.
Jalston Folwer, Jr. -- OR -- T.J. Yeldon Fr.
Dee Hart, RS Fr.

Tight end/H
Michael Williams, RS Sr.
Brian Vogler, Soph.

(Read full post)

Practice report: Aug. 22 

August, 22, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Thomas-Drew Practice Fields got a little more crowded on Wednesday afternoon as the Crimson Tide welcomed a number of walk-ons to the field for the first time this summer.

It is the first week of school at the University of Alabama and the first opportunity for coach Nick Saban and staff to expand the roster.

Here are some notes and observations from the media viewing period of practice:

  • Amari Cooper spent a second straight day in a black no-contact jersey on the training bike. The standout true freshman wore a protective boot on his left foot.
  • Wide reciever Kenny Bell continues to work with the third group during drills. The junior has been dealing with some minor "nagging" injuries, according to Saban. He wore a sleeve on his right knee. Fellow wideout DeAndrew White wore a sleeve on his left knee but did not appear to be slowed.

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