Alabama Crimson Tide: Tyrann Mathieu

Ultimate 300: SEC's top classes 

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
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The SEC has dominated the recruiting world over the past several years. Since 2008, the SEC has had at least three schools finish in the top 10 of the ESPN recruiting class rankings each year. Last year, the conference had an impressive six schools ranked among the top 10 recruiting classes in the country. This year is much of the same, as seven SEC schools are ranked in the top 10.

Here’s a closer look at the five best recruiting SEC schools in the Ultimate ESPN 300.

DBs from SEC blanket combine

February, 22, 2013
2/22/13
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites took a look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins today in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Click here to read the entire predraft series. Today: Defensive backs and special teams.

Alabama Crimson Tide


It's hard to imagine that the Alabama secondary in 2011 yielded five NFL prospects. Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and De'Quan Menzie were all drafted a year ago. Dee Milliner and Robert Lester stuck around and won one more ring before hanging it up in 2013.

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State of the conference: SEC

August, 17, 2012
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The watch is on around the rest of the country.

When will somebody other than the SEC win a national championship?

The SEC will look to extend its streak to seven straight BCS national titles in 2012, and the two teams most likely to keep that streak alive are the usual suspects.

Alabama has won two of the last three national titles, and LSU will also start the season in the top 3 of the polls after going 13-0 last season and then losing to the Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship Game.

The SEC’s critics insist that it’s top-heavy and that it’s really a league comprised of two or three heavyweights and a lot of mediocre teams after that.

But when you look deeper, the parity speaks for itself.

Nobody has repeated as SEC champion since Tennessee in 1997 and 1998, and four different SEC teams have won national titles during the league’s current streak.

LSU received a blow last week when coach Les Miles announced that star cornerback and return specialist Tyrann Mathieu had been dismissed and wouldn’t play this season.

Mathieu was a game-changer for the Tigers, who will undoubtedly miss his playmaking skills on defense and special teams.

Alabama had to retool its defense after losing seven starters off a unit that led the country a year ago in all four major statistical categories. The Crimson Tide are also replacing their top rusher and four top receivers on offense.

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- With Nick Saban's role as college football czar seemingly expanding by the day, it was only a matter of time before the sport's off-the-field issues would find a way to his podium in Tuscaloosa, most notably Tyrann Mathieu's unceremonious exit from LSU.

While the sixth-year coach of the Crimson Tide would not comment specifically on Mathieu's situation, he did take a moment to point out the larger issue.

"This is not a football problem," Saban said. "This is a national problem."

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HOOVER, Ala. -- The 2012 SEC media days All-SEC team was announced Thursday, and LSU led the conference with the most first-team selections with seven. The media has voted for a preseason All-SEC team and predicted the order in which each team would finish since 1992.

It should be noted that the media has only picked the correct SEC champion four times since 1992. Those correct picks were Florida in 1994 and 1995, LSU in 2007 and Florida in 2008.

Here are some notes from the league on the All-SEC team:
    [+] EnlargeMarcus Lattimore
    Daniel Shirey/US PresswireSEC members are expecting big things this season for South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore.

  • The 222 voters is an all-time high for SEC media days. The previous high was 177 voters in 2010.
  • South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was the leading vote-getter this season with 201 of 222 votes. He is the fourth running back in the past six years to be the highest vote-getter (2007 – Darren McFadden, Arkansas; 2008 – Knowshon Moreno, Georgia and Percy Harvin, Florida; 2009 – Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes, Florida; 2010 – Mark Ingram, Alabama; 2011 – Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina).
  • Lattimore (2012) and Jeffery (2011) have been the leading vote-getters the last two seasons.
  • Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones is a three-time member of the SEC media days first team
  • South Carolina has had a sophomore make the media days first team for the third straight season – Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, DE (2012); Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, RB (2011); Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, DB (2010).
  • Since 2000, Arkansas’ Darren McFadden is the only unanimous selection to the SEC media days All-SEC team, collecting all 80 votes.
  • LSU had the most first-team selections this season with seven. Since 1992, the most players on a first team were nine by Alabama in 2011 and eight by Alabama (2010) and Florida (2009).
  • LSU leads with the most overall selections this season with 13. The total is the second highest ever, behind Alabama’s 16 last season. Prior to last season, Alabama (2010) and Florida (2009) had the most overall selections with 12.
  • LSU is predicted to win the SEC championship by the media for the first time since 2007. It is the second time since 1992 that LSU has been predicted to win the league title. LSU did win the SEC title in 2007 and went on to win the BCS title.

Here is what the complete first team looks like:

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It's almost time for hundreds of media folk to pile into a swanky ballroom and kick off another year of SEC media days.

The festivities begin Tuesday at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., and last until Thursday afternoon. The event serves as the unofficial kickoff to SEC football season.

So what should we be on the lookout for this year?

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The SEC's preseason All-Star teams

July, 17, 2012
7/17/12
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Some of my best childhood memories go back to the Major League All-Star Game and sitting around and watching the Midsummer Classic with family members.

That’s what we did last week at our house.

So in keeping with the All-Star theme, we’ll select a preseason SEC All-Star team with the East going up against the West.

Who would win?

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The SEC has a nation-leading 19 players on the 2012 preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player. Alabama leads the SEC with five players on the list, while LSU is second with four.

Here are all 19 SEC players on the Nagurski Trophy list:
For the complete Nagurski Trophy watch list, go here.

The SEC also leads the country with 19 players on the 2012 preseason watch list for the Outland Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation's top interior lineman. Alabama leads the SEC with four players on the list, including reigning Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones.

Here are all 19 SEC players on the Outland Trophy watch list:
For the full Outland Trophy watch list, go here.

Q&A with LSU beat writer Helman 

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
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Each week at TideNation we will speak with a writer who covers one of Alabama's 2012 opponents. Today we spoke with David Helman, who covers all things LSU for GeauxTigerNationESPN.com.

Scarborough: What is the mood around the LSU campus in the aftermath of losing to Alabama in the national championship game? Is there a sense of revenge?
Helman: I'm not sure the word "revenge" completely encapsulates what LSU fans want out of 2012. Sure, any and every Tigers fan wants to beat the Crimson Tide on Nov. 3. But it wasn't just a big rivalry game Alabama won last January -- Nick Saban and Co. completely tainted what had been one of the most impressive single seasons in college football history. Beating Bama would be huge, but for many LSU fans, a national title might be the only way to wash Jan. 9 away.

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Tide schedule preview: LSU 

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
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Les MilesAP Photo/Tom HauckLes Miles had no answers in the title game, but the Tigers, like the Tide, are capable of a return trip.
The rundown
2011 overall record: 13-1
2011 SEC record: 8-0 (first, beat Georgia in SEC championship game)
Record all time against Alabama: 25-46-5

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The most interesting and potentially controversial part of the four-team college football playoff it appears we are about to adopt is the selection committee. Who's on it? What will be their criteria? How transparent will the process be? What, ultimately, will be their foundation for impossible distinctions?

The Pac-12 blog has gone on and on about its "just because" concerns. That's the idea that if you have an 11-1 team from the SEC it will get an automatic bump over an 11-1 team from any other conference, even if there is evidence that it shouldn't.

So let's do a "what if" that blends reality and fiction.

What if LSU, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin had all finished unbeaten in 2011. And what if Oregon kicker Alejandro Maldonado's 37-yard field goal in the waning moments against USC was good, and the Ducks then prevailed over the Trojans in overtime.

Our question: Which 11-1 team, Oregon or Alabama, gets the No. 4 spot in a four-team playoff?

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Early 2012 SEC power rankings

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
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We officially said goodbye to the 2011 season Monday night and crowned the Alabama Crimson Tide as college football's new champions. Now, it's time to shift our focus to 2012. Here's to hoping the Mayans were wrong:

1. Alabama: The defense will get hit the hardest by graduation and the NFL draft, but Alabama's offense should be better. While it's almost a forgone conclusion that junior running back Trent Richardson will declare for the NFL draft, Alabama returns a veteran offensive line, has a good set of up-and-coming receivers and has some pretty talented running backs to work with, including pounder Eddie Lacy. Oh, and that quarterback ain't too bad, either.

2. LSU: The Tigers might have come up short in the big one, but it's not like LSU is going anywhere. That defense that ranked second nationally was made up by a slew of youngsters. LSU returns double-digit starters next year, including most of its front seven. A major bright spot for this team is that former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger will now get his chance, and has skill that Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee lacked.

3. Georgia: The Bulldogs might return more starters next year than LSU. After surpassing expectations and challenging LSU for the SEC title, the Bulldogs should enter next fall as the favorites in the SEC East. Stud quarterback Aaron Murray returns and so do most of his weapons. With arguably the easiest schedule (again) in the SEC, Mark Richt will be expected to take his Dawgs back to Atlanta.

4. South Carolina: There won't be any sleeping on the Gamecocks in 2012. After getting 11 wins for only the second time in school history, South Carolina should compete for the SEC East for the third straight year. The Gamecocks return a slew of talent, especially on defense, and saw tremendous improvement in quarterback Connor Shaw. Also, running back Marcus Lattimore should be back and healthy after his devastating season-ending knee injury.

5. Arkansas: The Razorbacks will lose a lot of key players that have helped Arkansas get to where it is under Bobby Petrino. Defensively, five seniors will say goodbye, while the offense will lose three NFL wide receivers. However, that offensive line, which grew up as the season progressed, will be much better and star running back Knile Davis should be back and healthy. Quarterback Tyler Wilson is back, so there shouldn't be much dip in the passing game even with some new faces at receiver.

6. Auburn: Those youngsters on the Plains will be more mature and much improved in 2012. That has to be a scary thought for other SEC members. Auburn doesn't lose much from its 2011 team and gets a great addition to the defensive side of the ball in new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. Offensively, there are weapons everywhere, but the key will be finding the right quarterback ... again.

7. Florida: Will Muschamp's first year as the Gators' head coach didn't go as planned, but there is still a lot of talent in Gainesville, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Florida loses just one starter on defense and should have one of the fastest, most aggressive defensive units around the SEC. Getting that offense going will be key to Muschamp's second year, but with all that turnover, it should be a fresh start for this unit.

8. Missouri: This new group of Tigers enters 2012 as a factor in the SEC East. Missouri returns nearly everyone from 2011, including quarterback James Franklin and running back Henry Josey, who both put up solid numbers in 2011. The Tigers will no doubt hit some snags as they transition into their new home, but with all the talent that returns, Missouri won't be a pushover in its first year in the SEC.

9. Tennessee: Derek Dooley has the pieces in place on both sides of the ball to compete in the SEC East. That young defense won't be so young in 2012 and quarterback Tyler Bray returns with his deep-threat sidekicks at wide receiver. With a solid offensive line, the next step for Tennessee is to find a consistent running back to help take the pressure off of the passing game. There's a lot of pressure on Dooley to get things done, and he has the talent to in 2012.

10. Texas A&M: The Aggies have the pleasure of entering the SEC as a Western Division team. That's not exactly a warm welcome. It doesn't help that Texas A&M is losing a ton from its 2011 team. There could be six NFL draft picks who won't be back in College Station next season. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and top safety Trent Hunter are gone, and so is receiver Jeff Fuller. Christine Michael should do well as Cyrus Gray's replacement at running back, but the core of this team will be gone.

11. Vanderbilt: Year 1 of the James Franklin era was a success and there shouldn't be a lot of drop-off for the Commodores next season. Vandy loses top defenders Chris Marve, Tim Fugger and Casey Hayward, but a lot of veterans return on that side of the ball. Jordan Rodgers is back at quarterback, Zac Stacy returns at running back and wide receivers Chris Boyd and Jordan Matthews will be back. Running back and specialist Warren Norman should be back too and the offensive line returns four starters.

12. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs lose a lot on both sides of the ball in 2012, but should have a top cornerback combo in Johnthan Banks and Corey Broomfield. Losing Fletcher Cox up front will leave a hole on the defensive line and saying goodbye to linebacker Brandon Wilson won't be easy. Tyler Russell will probably get the first crack at quarterback for the Bulldogs, but he will be without his safety net in running back Vick Ballard. The good thing is that the receivers are back, but this team will have to grow up in a hurry.

13. Kentucky: The offensive line will have some missing pieces in 2012 and the defense loses six starters, including star linebacker Danny Trevathan. Maxwell Smith and Morgan Newton will battle at quarterback, but with how 2011 ended, Smith might have the advantage. This team struggled mightily on offense and the problem was that there wasn't a lot of improvement throughout the year. The offseason should be dedicated to find ways to get this offense moving.

14. Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze steps into a tough situation at Ole Miss. His first order of business needs to be improving the discipline on this team. It was awful in 2011, and if Ole Miss wants to improve it has to clean that up. The defense should get a boost with leader D.T. Shackelford returning from his season-ending knee injury and offensive playmakers Jeff Scott, Donte Moncrief and Nickolas Brassell are back. The offensive line loses some key components, and the quarterback situation is far from figured out.
NEW ORLEANS -- Well, it looks like Alabama studied up on how to contain Jordan Jefferson better.

LSU's quarterback has carried the ball four times for just 5 yards and has a long of 6. His best run came up the middle, and Alabama has done a great job of taking away any sort of outside running for Jefferson.

Really, Alabama has eliminated any sort of outside running for the Tigers. LSU has just 10 yards on seven carries and has yet to convert a third down. Though Jefferson has completed all four of his passes for 18 yards. Slants and screens will be Jefferson's best friend tonight.

As for Alabama, quarterback AJ McCarron has been as poised as he can be out on the field. He's avoided a few tackles and has been spot-on with his passes. He finished the quarter completing a nice 26-yard pass down the right sideline to Kevin Norwood. The pass somehow made it right over Tyrann Mathieu.

Marquis Maze looked to have injured his hamstring on a punt return, so it will be interesting to see who the Tide turns to there and how the passing game runs with him out.
Maybe too much was made about Tyrann Mathieu's hit on Dre Kirkpatrick.

At the time, it looked out of line. Dirty, even. But when asked about the play in which it looked like Mathieu clotheslined Alabama's cornerback on a punt, Kirkpatrick said he wasn't bothered by the play. Even though Kirkpatrick suffered a concussion after his head hit the ground, he said he feels no ill will toward Mathieu and doesn't consider him or his play dirty.

"That's just being a football player," Kirkpatrick said of the hit. "He was just being a football player trying to make a play."

Mathieu was flagged for his actions and later apologized to Kirkpatrick via Twitter.

Kirkpatrick said the two haven't spoken since, but people shouldn't read too much into that, either. He doesn't care to bring it up with Mathieu, and probably won't.

Because of the exposure the play has received, Kirkpatrick said it will be running through his mind during Monday's Allstate BCS National Championship Game, but he won't lash out at Mathieu. And he won't look to get any sort of revenge on LSU's cornerback if the two are once again on the field together.

With how quiet Kirkpatrick can be, Mathieu might not hear anything from him.

"If I see him, I might throw my hand up at him," he said. "I'm not a vocal guy like that. I'll see you on the field."

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