Alabama Crimson Tide: Brandon Ivory

Lunchtime links

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
12:30
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The World Cup is here. Really helps the summer go by before football season starts.
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel wonders why Florida didn't just tell the truth when it came to the sudden resignation of wide receivers coach Joker Phillips.
  • Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson thinks he has options if defensive end Carl Lawson has to miss time after offseason knee surgery.
  • Alabama defensive lineman Brandon Ivory ranks No. 21 on AL.com's list of the most important figures in and around Alabama's program.
  • Former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will get to practice and scrimmage against Peyton Manning.
  • Tennessee quarterback commit Quinten Dormady is eager to join a "growing" Tennessee football program.
  • Missouri athletic director Mike Alden talks about the future of the NCAA. Here's Part 1 and Part 2 of his Q&A with The Columbia Daily Tribune.
  • New Orleans Saints' Keenan Lewis thinks LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre will be a top NFL receiver one day.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- At first, Nick Saban scoffed at the idea of his defensive line having good depth. After a lecture on the merits of perception, he said he wasn’t at all happy with the group. Alabama might appear loaded, but the veteran head coach wasn’t interested in how his defensive line appeared.

“I’m not satisfied with the way any of them are playing, if you want to know the truth about it,” he told reporters on March 31.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Ivory, Jonathan Allen
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesWith a new coach, Brandon Ivory (left), Jonathan Allen and the rest of Alabama's defensive line are focused on improving their pass-rushing abilities.
And then people actually listened.

“I’ve been getting asked that everywhere I go, like we’ve got a bad defensive line,” he said a week and a half later. “We don’t have a bad defensive line. They’re doing fine.”

So which is it? The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

“They're improving,” Saban said following Saturday’s scrimmage. “But we're still not striking up front, playing as physical, converting pass rush, getting the kind of execution that we need, doing the little things right, especially when we're doing stunts and pressures.

“So I like the way they're working and they made improvement, but I think there's certainly a lot more that we can look for.”

While Saban’s feelings toward the defensive line have wavered throughout the spring, the players themselves appear largely pleased with their progress. They have a new coach (Bo Davis), new teammates (D.J. Pettway, Jarran Reed) and a new mandate (rush the passer).

Losing former defensive line coach Chris Rumph to Texas hurt initially, said sophomore defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson. “It was a shock to hear,” he said. But then he got to experience the energy and enthusiasm Davis brings.

“He’s a pretty fired-up guy on the field,” Tomlinson said, describing Davis as being more hands on as well. “He makes us be aggressive out there.”

Veteran nose guard Brandon Ivory agreed: “Davis is pushing us to the limit. ... He brings a lot of energy. He’s always fired up, hyped. I say that’s a good thing to have.”

The hope for Davis is that a renewed sense of energy translates into production. Last season Alabama ranked a paltry 81st nationally in sacks (22) and tied for 94th in tackles for loss per game (5.3). This season Davis is asking his players to read less and react more. In other words, he wants them to play fast.

“Last year we didn’t get enough sacks across the defensive line, we didn’t feel like,” Tomlinson said. “So this year our main focus is getting to the quarterback. So we’re trying to be more aggressive off the ball and more explosive.”

Ivory isn’t the pass-rushing prototype at 300-plus pounds, but he’s seen the linemen around him change into a group that’s better equipped to chase down the quarterback.

“We’ve got guys that are pretty good at rushing the passer like D.J. Pettway, Jonathan Allen, more smaller guys and quicker who can get after the quarterback more,” Ivory explained.

Maybe more so than in years past, Alabama has the “quick-twitch” defensive linemen Saban covets. Pettway and Allen certainly fit that mold. So do Tomlinson, Dee Liner and incoming freshman Da'Shawn Hand, a five-star prospect from Virginia. Even 320-pounder A'Shawn Robinson will be an asset in the pass-rushing department. He finished first on the team in sacks (5.5) as a true freshman last season.

But don’t run down the roster with Saban. Don’t tell him what the defensive line looks like on paper.

Maybe listen to the players themselves, however.

“We’ve been having our ups and downs,” Tomlinson said, “but throughout the spring I think we’re going to come together as a defensive line and be a great defensive line all the way across the front.”
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Ed Stinson's mammoth shoulders shrink, relaxing from the form that only half an hour earlier flexed to crash and beat up on 300-pound blockers for a full 60 minutes. Alabama's senior defensive end looked tired in the eyes after his team beat rival Tennessee 45-10 on Saturday, his dark brown pupils soft and eager for rest. After three straight SEC contests and seven consecutive game weeks, he and his teammates were eager for some time off.

"I've been waiting for it," he said, flashing a slight grin. An ear-to-ear smile would have required too much energy. "I'm one of the guys [who] needs to be healed."

[+] EnlargeChristion Jones, Amari Cooper
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAfter playing for seven straight weeks, No. 1 Alabama gets the weekend off to recover and heal.
The nature of his injuries are unknown, a buildup of bumps and bruises on his 6-foot-4, 292-pound frame. Nose guard Brandon Ivory, no lightweight at more than 300 pounds, is out in what coach Nick Saban describes as a "medical issue." H-back/running back Jalston Fowler can't make contact in practice because of a concussion. Cornerback Deion Belue is dealing with a nagging toe injury and the starter opposite him, Bradley Sylve, isn't yet 100 percent either.

And that's just the injuries we know of.

The bye week comes at the perfect time for top-ranked Alabama. The scoring margin the past six weeks, 246-26, has made it look easy. But the games have demanded their own pound of flesh, the toll evidenced in every wince and limp.

"In the SEC you bang hard every week, so you need time to rest up," Belue explained to reporters on Saturday night. "Then we have LSU, and they're going to come in and bang some more."

Ah, the matter of LSU. The 13th-ranked Tigers represent the biggest challenge to Alabama's undefeated season. Les Miles' squad always gives Alabama a hard time, and the last time his team came to Tuscaloosa (2011), it won. With a much improved offense thanks to new coordinator Cam Cameron, get ready for calls of an upset. Zach Mettenberger has progressed quickly into an NFL quarterback and with two of the best receivers in the SEC -- Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. -- to throw the ball to, they''ll be licking their chops to get at Alabama's secondary, which doesn't have much quality depth.

But in Alabama's camp, that's not the focus yet. At least not externally.

"I'm not thinking about that right now," quarterback AJ McCarron said Saturday in his usual no-nonsense manner, mimicking his head coach. "We've got a 24-hour rule and then a week off so I'm not really thinking about who we got next."

Said Saban: "We've got some big challenges and some stiff competition against some teams coming up here. This bye week comes at a pretty good time for us. We have a lot of guys banged up. We could use the rest, and we can use the time to try to help some of our players improve. So that's going to be our focus this week."

Notice the utter avoidance of LSU? The game was on the lips of every fan around Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night, but it was nowhere to be found in Saban's postgame comments. When he spoke to the media again on Tuesday, he got three-quarters of the way through before LSU entered his consciousness, and even then it was to relive the 2011 game, not to focus on the game ahead of him.

"Just because we don't have a game doesn't mean you change anything about how you think and what we need to do to get better as a team," Saban said.

You're not going to catch this Alabama team looking ahead to LSU. Not even when LSU is the next team on the schedule. In their mind, this week is about recovery and a return to the basics. Saban said they'll spend an extra day on LSU preparation, but he doesn't want to throw the team off its usual schedule or burn them out too quickly, showing them the same plays and schemes too many times over the next two weeks.

Trey DePriest, Alabama's starting inside linebacker, said he didn't think they'd spend any time on LSU this week. Maybe it was a bit of gamesmanship, but he reiterated it, saying they'd go back to "camp rules." Stinson backed him up, adding that there would be "no talk at all" of LSU.

"It's a positive, and it's definitely going to help us out," said veteran defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan, opening up where his teammates hadn't. "LSU's a tough team, and that kind of gives us an advantage to study the opponents more."

Just don't expect to hear much beyond that. Mettenberger and the LSU offense haven't been brought up. Neither has LSU's defense. Right now it's a matter of staying focused on the task at hand, even if that task doesn't involve another football team.

Really, it's Saban's way. When asked how he'd celebrate his birthday this week, he responded bluntly, "Whatever Miss Terry has planned is what I'll be doing."

If he could, he'd blow out his candles in the film room watching practice tape.

His is the kind of singular focus, and that makes Alabama unique. The build up to big games is the same as smaller ones. In fact, you often see a more fired up coaching staff for cupcakes like Georgia State than for "Game of the Century" type contests with LSU. They have to light a fire under their players for some games, but that won't be the case for next Saturday's home game against LSU. The battle lines were drawn well before the start of the season.

So why emphasize the matchups and specifics of the game now? With so many players hurt, why not take the week to rest? Inside the walls of Alabama's football offices, it might be different, but outwardly players aren't anxious for what's next.

"Our bodies need time to get ready for another physical game," said veteran wideout Kevin Norwood. "That's what we're going to do."

What we learned: Week 8

October, 20, 2013
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Here's a look at three things learned in No. 1 Alabama's 52-0 win against Arkansas on Saturday night.

Kenyan Drake can fly: OK, so maybe we had an idea of Drake's speed before Saturday, but the game against Arkansas further proved his worth as the No. 2 tailback behind T.J. Yeldon. The speedy sophomore showed lightning quick moves, rushing for 104 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. No matter how you slice it, a 13.0 yards per carry average is stunning. Oh, and let's not forget that Derrick Henry, Alabama's five-star freshman, ran for his first career touchdown and broke the 100-yard rushing mark himself.

Alabama can stop the run: It was a refreshing change of pace for Alabama's defense, lining up in base formation time and time again. Finally, guys like nose guard Brandon Ivory could do what they do best: eat up tackles and stuff the run. Against Arkansas, they did just that. The Razorbacks vaunted duo of tailbacks -- Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams -- was held largely in check with 125 yards and no touchdowns on 31 carries.

Replacing Vinnie: Really, there's no replacing junior safety Vinnie Sunseri's leadership and big-play ability. He's too good and too experienced a player to just plug someone in and move right along. But Alabama will certainly try, and with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix back from suspension and Landon Collins developing at safety, the Tide is in good position to move forward. Mixing in Jarrick Williams and Geno Smith in the back end of the defense also provides options. Look for the staff to mix and match in the coming weeks as it tries to find the right packages.

Helmet Stickers: Week 8

October, 20, 2013
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- No. 1 Alabama took care of Arkansas in dominating fashion on Saturday night, throttling the Razorbacks 52-0.

During the course of the action a few players stood out as worthy of a coveted helmet sticker.

NG Brandon Ivory: Alabama's defense knew what was coming. Heck, everyone in Bryant-Denny Stadium knew what Arkansas was planning to do on offense: run, run and run some more. Up the gut. Between the tackles. It was old-fashioned football on Saturday night, and as much as Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams looked for room to run the football, there was very little space to be had thanks to the play of Alabama's defensive line, especially Ivory. The big junior -- he's well over 300 pounds -- held down the point of attack, making Arkansas fight for every inch. The Razorbacks put the ball on the ground 39 times and came away with just 4.2 yards per carry and no touchdowns.

LB C.J. Mosley: Not a full-time starter last year, Mosley would have watched most of the Arkansas game from the sideline. Nico Johnson, the heftier option at middle linebacker, would have played most downs against the Razorbacks, who stuck to two-back formations for most of the night. But Mosley, now an every-down player, played like a man on fire. He ended up once again leading the team with 10 tackles, one of which went for a loss. He also tipped a pass that led to a Ha Ha Clinton-Dix interception.

DB Landon Collins: They don't keep track of special teams tackles in a traditional stat sheet, but rest assured Collins would be the clear frontrunner in that category. The talented true sophomore has played like a man possessed on kickoff coverage this season, speeding down the field for tackle after tackle. And now that injuries and absences have forced him onto the field on defense, he's playing well there, too. He finished third on the team with five tackles on Saturday, including two pass breakups and one quarterback hurry on a third-down blitz.

Crimson Countdown: Brandon Ivory 

August, 2, 2013
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Alabama fumble recoveryAP Photo/Dave MartinBrandon Ivory (right, then wearing No. 62) will be the anchor of the Alabama defensive line in 2013.
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. 99 Brandon Ivory
Redshirt junior defensive lineman

Crimson Countdown: Dakota Ball 

July, 30, 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. 94 Dakota Ball
Redshirt freshman defensive lineman


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Question of the Week: First-year starters 

June, 24, 2013
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Editor's note: Each week the TideNation staff will address an issue surrounding the Alabama football program. Today's question: Which first-time starter will be most vital to the Tide's success in 2013?


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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama must have felt like a home away from home for defensive tackle Charles Mosley (Brighton, Tenn./Brighton) this week as the big man spent four days on the Crimson Tide’s campus.

“It was a good trip,” he said. “I always have a good time when I go to Alabama. I just got to talk to all the coaches down there, meet a couple new people, some recruits.

“I just like when I talk to Coach [Nick] Saban, I get the feeling that I know they’ll take care of me if I go there. I have some friends down there -- Blake Sims, Brandon Hill, and Brandon Ivory. I just know that if I go there, that I like it there.”


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Editor's note: TideNation will use this week to look at the four major positions on the football field and how their outlook has changed after spring practice. Today we examine the front seven:


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Editor's note: From now until the start of spring camp on March 16, TideNation will count down the 12 most intriguing players to watch on the Alabama football roster. Today we look at nose guard Darren Lake.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- "Raw" might be the best word to describe University of Alabama nose guard Darren Lake. The rising sophomore is an unrefined talent, brimming with potential yet lacking the nuances of the game.

The York, Ala., native was forced into action as a true freshman because of a lack of depth at the position. It was just he, Brandon Ivory and Jesse Williams involved in a rotation packed with pounds but short on experience. UA coach Nick Saban said he thought about redshirting Lake to give him an extra year of development but instead played him in eight games when tallied three tackles last season, one resulting in negative yardage.

There were times where Lake looked like a clone of former Alabama All-SEC nose guard Josh Chapman, gathering up blockers with each hand. There were other times where he was pushed around by defenders for no reason other than being out of position. Auburn's Reese Dismukes, a seasoned center who gave 22 pounds away to Lake, punished the rookie at times in the Iron Bowl.

(Read full post)

The Uncommitteds: Eddie Vanderdoes 

February, 4, 2013
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Editor's note: From now until signing day, TideNation will examine the remaining uncommitted prospects still considering the University of Alabama. Today, we look at ESPN 150 defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- If Alabama is going to claim the title of the No. 1 class in the country, a lot of things are going to have to fall into place, maybe none more so than Eddie Vanderdoes. Should the five-star defensive tackle from Northern California opt to sign with the Crimson Tide on signing day, it might be enough to unseat the leader in the clubhouse, Florida.


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Editor's note: The season is over and the Alabama Crimson Tide are national champions yet again. But what happens next? TideNation examines the most pressing storylines of the offseason as the Tide gear up for another title defense.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Spring practice is roughly two months away. The start of another Alabama title defense is right around the corner.

Nine early enrollees are already on campus. The offseason conditioning program is in full swing. Rest assured Scott Cochran, the Crimson Tide's raucous strength and conditioning coach, has put the 2012-13 championship to bed. Inside the football offices, the page has been turned. The time for competition is now.

With that in mind, let's break down the four most intriguing position battles set to unfold over the coming months.


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Editor's note: The season is over and the Alabama Crimson Tide are national champions yet again. But what happens next? TideNation examines the most pressing storylines of the offseason as the Tide gear up for another title defense.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The heart of the defensive line is gone. So is its vocal leader. Its best backup is leaving, too. Three of the top four defensive linemen played their final game with the Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday night in South Florida.

This week marked the beginning of a new era on the defensive front at Alabama. Nose guard Jesse Williams and defensive ends Damion Square and Quinton Dial are all awaiting their heirs. The unit that garners little of the credit yet bears the brunt of the responsibility on defense is getting a makeover.

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Forecasting the Tide: Nose guard 

December, 20, 2012
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Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday between now and national signing day, TideNation will review each position and look at who figures to start, who could rise up the depth chart and who might be on the way. Today we’ll look at the nose guards.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The position is a thankless one, all responsibility and little payoff. Nose guards are asked to take a beating and let others make the plays at the University of Alabama. In coach Nick Saban's 3-4 system, the men in the middle of the defensive line don't show up in the stat book but they are arguably the key to the defense. Take away the building block and the structure crumbles.

Alabama fans have seen the position's importance the past few years, starting with the mammoth Terrence Cody who ate space like none other, followed by Josh Chapman and then Jesse Williams. All three have had minor spins on how they play nose guard. Williams tried to add a pass-rush flavor to the recipe and found some success.

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