Alabama Crimson Tide: Trey DePriest
"Definitely extra sweet," he said of the 38-17 win. "I was showing everybody I picked the better team."
She would have seen Collins show out against LSU had she been there. He was one of the stars on defense for Alabama, starting at safety where he racked up four tackles, broke up a pass and recovered a key fumble in the first half that changed the momentum of the game.
Victoria Lowery, Collins' girlfriend who was widely cited as the reason for his committing to Alabama in the first place, was in Tuscaloosa to see the Tide beat up on the Tigers to remain undefeated and in the driver's seat to win the SEC. A sophomore student at UA, she loved every minute of it.
Alabama pulled away in second half, outscoring LSU 21-3 in the final 30 minutes. The defense was stifling, crushing Zach Mettenberger with four straight sacks late in the game. Alabama's offense came out on the field to knee the ball three times to get the clock to all zeroes.
"Domination," Collins said happily of the play in the second half. "We came out and stuck it to them. Somebody had to come to their breaking point and that's what we tried to do with them."
He's still learning, but Collins has emerged as a rising star on Alabama's defense.
"Landon does a tremendous job," UA linebacker Trey DePriest said. "I'm really proud of him. He struggles sometimes in practice … but on Saturdays, I don't really have too much to say because he goes out there and does his job and performs."
Whether it's an emotional game or not, expect Collins to play with a fire in his belly. He might not have the extra motivation of facing LSU against this season, but now he has something more important to prove: He belongs.
Injured safety Vinnie Sunseri isn't coming back this season, UA coach Nick Saban reiterated on Monday, so look for Collins to continue start in his stead. And with more games like he had against LSU, Collins might not give the job back.
Picturing Saban lounging on the couch with a cold drink and popcorn doesn't quite add up, though. Not with LSU on the horizon. The top-ranked Crimson Tide play host to the always dangerous purple and gold Tigers on Saturday. LSU will enter Tuscaloosa ranked 13th in the BCS, but more importantly as an underdog with a history of winning at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Their offense is potent, the talent unquestionable.
Should Alabama win, the Tide will remain favorites to win the SEC and reach the BCS National Championship Game for a third consecutive season. A loss would mean disaster, disappointment and a year's worth of questions.
The very thought kept Saban from enjoying the time off too much.
"I don't ever get too far from that computer, man," Saban told ESPN's Ivan Maisel on his podcast on Thursday. "It's just hard not to think about what's coming up and trying to prepare for it. Even though you get away, you never totally get away."
Though most of last week was spent looking at his own team, the matchup with LSU was impossible to ignore. Saban called it "the most challenging game" of the season and touted LSU's improved offense under new coordinator Cam Cameron, a coach he's familiar with dating to his days at Michigan State.
Zach Mettenberger has developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC under Cameron's tutelage. His 85.7 opponent-adjusted QBR is seventh-best in the FBS, according to ESPN Stats & Information. His 38.6-point improvement from the season before is the biggest gain of any quarterback who qualified.
With Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to throw the ball to, it's no wonder. The two starters rank in the top three of the SEC in yards receiving and have combined for 16 touchdown catches through nine games. Beckham ranks second nationally with 207.33 all-purpose yards per game.
And that's not to mention Jeremy Hill and LSU's stable of backs. Hill's 115.2 rushing yards per game is good enough for 15th nationally. Kenny Hilliard, his backup, has scored on 10.1 percent of his rushing attempts this season, trailing only Marcus Murphy and Kenyan Drake among SEC tailbacks.
"This is the most skilled group of receivers, combination of runners, combination of balance on offense, a good quarterback ... all the factors that I think are going to be the most challenging for us this season," Saban said.
There never has been a doubt about what the game means to everyone involved, Saban said, but he didn't want to "wear them out with it" last week. The Alabama-LSU rivalry speaks for itself. What's riding on this year's game is obvious.
But now that restriction is gone. It's Monday and it's time to start figuring out how to beat LSU.
Coaches and players know what to expect. Linebacker Trey DePriest called it a "physical, downhill-type team" that will line up and go right at you. Then the only thing left is "Can you stop it?" according to DePriest.
And the answer to that question means everything.
"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."
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."
Collins didn't buck. He made a name for himself on special teams and stayed quiet off the field. He knew what he was getting into when he signed with Alabama. Here in Nick Saban's backyard, blue-chip recruits are sown like ears of corn, plucked from the stalk only when the time is right.
On Monday, Saban exited one door and Collins entered another. Roughly 15 minutes after Saban announced that Sunseri would miss the rest of the year, Collins walked into the media room of the Mal Moore Athletic Facility and was surrounded by reporters. "With Sunseri gone, what does it mean for the defensive backs?" he was asked.
"We have to step it up," Collins said matter-of-factly. "He was a big loss for our defense. Now and the student leadership needs to step up and the players need to step up that are taking his place."
Meaning he, a true sophomore with only two career starts under his belt, is part of leading one of the best defenses in college football. Alabama enters this week with the fewest touchdowns allowed in the country (eight) and ranks in the top 10 nationally in pass defense, rush defense, yards per game and first downs.
But Collins, who has felt the weight of national attention before as a recruit, sees Sunseri's loss as the fulfillment of an opportunity he'd been waiting for since he arrived in Tuscaloosa as a freshman.
"What it means to me is I'm excited," he said. "It's been humbling and I've been staying at it trying to work as hard as I can to get to where I am now. I'm thankful for it, I just take every advantage I can get."
That doesn't mean it will be easy. There's no replacing Sunseri's leadership and big-play ability. He was the voice of the secondary, making all the calls on the back end of the defense. When Alabama needed a play to be made, Sunseri was often the one to do it. He was a rock, an anchor to young defensive backs like Collins.
As Collins said, "We lost a leader." When Alabama takes the field Saturday against Tennessee, it will be without a player Saban called "an outstanding player and a really good person, good leader."
"We lost a very valuable player on our team," Collins said. "He was our play-caller and our playmaker, too. He made a lot of big plays for us. A standout player. We looked up to him. If we didn't know the call I could look to my left and say, 'Vinnie, what do we do?' "
Collins will have Clinton-Dix to lean on, but more of the responsibility is on his shoulders now. Teammates have raved about his abilities. Sunseri called him a "bullet" who "goes hard every single play." Clinton-Dix said in August that Collins was "at the top of the peak" and lauded his physical style. The praise has been universal. He's long looked the part of a five-star athlete.
But Collins knows he'll have to be more than be quick and strong and fast. He'll have to be a complete player -- he'll have to be like Sunseri -- if Alabama is going to reach the national championship for a third straight year.
"I'll bring the same type of passion Vinnie brought to the game," Collins said. "Vinnie played hard and gave 150 percent every game, every play, every down. I'm going to bring the same thing. Looking up to him, he played with passion and determination and a will not to give up. That's what I'm going to do for the team."
"Going through all the surgery and stuff, I've just been ready to get out there on the field," he said.
Williams, who sought counsel from family members such as his mother to keep him focused during his rehab, stayed the course. And when Smith was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence during camp, he seized the opportunity. Immediately he stepped back in at nickel, playing with a physical style.
Trey DePriest, Alabama's starting inside linebacker, said Williams plays like a fellow linebacker only a few feet further removed from the line of scrimmage. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, he has the frame to play wherever he wants.
"Jarrick is real strong, and when he plays and we go dime, he drops down into the box with C.J. [Mosley], he’s got the look of a linebacker," DePriest said. "He brings that presence."
That presence can boil over to off the field, too. Vinnie Sunseri, who directs the defense at strong safety, said, "When you get hit by him, you feel it." And that's not just during games.
"We'll be messing around off-the-field and he'll push me around and I'll say, 'You've got to calm down, man. You're too big to do that now,' " said Sunseri, no slouch at 210 pounds himself. "He can hit you, he can cover, and having him blitzing is a real threat, too."
Opposing offenses have felt Williams' pain as well. He's 10th on the team with 15 tackles. He had a highlight-reel sack against Kentucky last Saturday -- "He was either going to move or me. I moved him," Williams said -- and tipped a pass against Texas A&M that set up an interception return for a touchdown by Sunseri.
Mosley, the heart and soul of the defense at middle linebacker, said Williams has been "holding his own" since taking over at nickel back. Williams injured his eye against Texas A&M and temporarily lost sight in it, causing him to miss the following game. It proved to be a a cautionary step, but given his history, there was concern.
"He came back and hasn't missed a beat," Mosley said. "So he's helping us with our short depth at DB. He's doing a great job."
Williams, a man of few words himself, is now entrenched at nickel back. Smith has since moved to free safety, where he's rotating in with Landon Collins while Ha Ha Clinton-Dix serves a suspension.
With Arkansas next on the docket Saturday, Williams is poised to get plenty of looks in the nickel alignment, which is essentially a base formation for Alabama. The Razorbacks like to run the football, which is exactly like Williams wants to see.
"Oh yeah, a lot of contact," he said. "More tackling for me."
"The only thing I know about them is the teams they've played -- the bigger schools -- they've played tough: Louisville, Florida, South Carolina," he said.
And thus ended the pregame analysis from DePriest. But to be fair, it's hard for anyone to determine what type of team Kentucky is five games into the season. Mark Stoops is just beginning to make an impact on a program that's floundered for the better part of the past decade. It took until last week for the first-year head coach to settle on a quarterback.
"He's a good runner," UA coach Nick Saban said, sizing up a player his staff once recruited. "He's really continued to improve as a passer and was effective last week in that regard."
Whitlow came on late last season, starting seven games. But he's one of only a few pieces on Kentucky's offense that isn't brand new. The Wildcats' top three receivers are first-year players: Javess Blue, who leads the team with 22 receptions for 275 yards, transferred from a junior college, and Ryan Timmons and Alec Montgomery are both true freshmen. Even Kentucky's leading rusher at tailback, Jojo Kemp, was playing high school football at this time last year.
Neal Brown was hired by Stoops to lead the offense in December. He helped orchestrate Texas Tech's "Air Raid" offense from 2010-12, helping the Red Raiders to top-10 finishes in passing offense each season. The high-powered air attack has translated to Kentucky with mixed results thus far. The Cats are 14th in the SEC in scoring offense despite averaging 388.8 yards per game. UK, though, already has more plays of 60 or more yards (6) than it did all of last season (4).
But the brightest spot on offense may have come this past weekend when Kentucky scored 21 fourth-quarter points against South Carolina.
"We need to come out and build," Brown told reporters in Lexington. "We had a good fourth quarter against South Carolina and we need to build off that."
Whitlow, who accounted for all three touchdowns in the failed comeback, is maturing every day, according to Brown. But Stoops recognizes that his young quarterback will face something of a brick wall on Saturday.
"They have no weakness in their defense," Stoops said. "They don't have any weakness on their team."
Saban, though, isn't taking Whitlow or any part of Kentucky lightly.
"We didn't play very well the last time we were on the road," he said, "so we certainly need to do a lot better job against a very different kind of offense in terms of what we've had to play against in the past, because it's such a good running quarterback and a good athlete at that position. It'll be a real challenge and test for us."
Alabama has faced its share of mobile quarterbacks already this season, first against Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel in Week 2 and then against Ole Miss and Bo Wallace a few weeks ago. Landon Collins, who will likely make his second career start at free safety this week in place of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, said the defense knows the drill.
"We played against a lot of dynamic quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel," Collins said. "Just playing sound and playing our defense, as a whole, we should be OK."
Said starting cornerback Deion Belue: "Well, you know, it’s just a scheme that we have to have for them. At the same time, the dual threat, Whitlow, you have to respect him because he can throw as well. He can throw as well as the dropback passer and then the other quarterback can also run, you really have to prepare for both of them the same. You can’t group the one as just passing and the other just running. You have to prepare for them the same."
Collins, who spoke with the media a day after DePriest, said he wasn't concerned with the idea of not knowing who Kentucky will put under center. Whether it's Whitlow or Smith, he feels the defense will be just fine.
"We just have to play sound defense," Collins said. "That’s what we’ve been playing the last few weeks. Once we do that, we’re playing against ourselves, really."
There surely was another less vital player who could perform what seemed to be a menial task, right?
"No, Coach knows I don't care," is all McCarron said. "That's what he asked me to do and I'm going to do it. I'm not bigger than anybody else."
McCarron, a fifth-year senior and a Heisman Trophy contender, has been a part of special teams for years now. But he's not the only All-SEC talent playing on a unit usually reserved for rookies and lifelong backups. C.J. Mosley, Alabama's All-American linebacker, covers punts, and T.J. Yeldon, UA's leading tailback, does the same. Vinnie Sunseri and Trey DePriest, two starters on defense, made their bones on special teams.
They don't do it because they have to. They do it because there's pride involved. They do it because it's important.
"I used to look at it as one play," DePriest said. "It's one play, give it all you got for one play. You never know when you're going to be needed, and since special teams is a one play thing -- you run down there, do what you need to do and get off the field. And when the next special teams is up, you go out there and do it again."
Said Mosley: "We always treat special teams like a game-changing momentum changer."
Alabama's special teams play has been especially good this season, becoming arguably the most consistent part of the top-ranked Crimson Tide's game. Where the offense and defense have had their ups and downs, the third, lesser-known unit, has been steadily impressive, coming in eighth nationally in yards per punt (46.95) and yards per kickoff return (28.0). On kickoff coverage, Alabama is 20th nationally and second in the SEC, allowing an average of 17.73 yards per return.
Big plays have been a part of special teams, too. Sophomore linebacker Dillon Lee's blocked punt return for a touchdown against Colorado State marked the third special teams score and the fifth non-offensive touchdown of the year for Alabama, far outpacing any season in recent memory. Two interceptions have been taken to the house and return specialist Christion Jones already has a touchdown on a kickoff and a punt return.
"We practice every day, we focus on that," Sunseri said. "Coach Saban says to practice like you want to play and we hustle down field every day and want to make sure we don’t give up any plays in practice, because whatever you do in practice rolls over to the game. Doing those things right and getting full position is always huge."
There hasn't been a more overlooked part of Alabama's recent championship run than special teams. Year in and year out the play has been above average, thanks to rookies and veterans alike.
The way Alabama has recruited, hauling in top-three classes each year since 2008, there have been an abundance of four- and five-star talents ready to make a contribution right away. And rather than wait idly on the sidelines for a starting position to come open, they've turned to special teams. Derrick Henry, the No. 1 athlete in the 2013 class, is on kickoff coverage, along with four-star tailback Altee Tenpenny.
But the most impressive youngster has been Landon Collins, who came to Alabama as the No. 1 safety in the country a year ago. He has developed into a tackling machine on kickoff and punt coverage, earning praise from coaches and teammates alike.
"He was a monster," punter Cody Mandell said. "He was like a human cannonball, to be honest with you."
"You see him, he's crazy," safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said. "He's a great player, great tackler. He gets down field and makes big plays."
Collins had a chance to start alongside Clinton-Dix at strong safety this season, but ultimately lost the job to the more veteran option in Sunseri. Instead of sulking, Collins has continued to give everything he has to special teams. As starting cornerback Deion Belue put it, "The only thing you can expect from him is 110 percent."
"A killer mindset," Collins said of how he approaches special teams. "It's a dog eat dog world, I say to myself. I want to make any play possible, regardless of the fact of what I'm doing."
And that, in a nutshell, explains why Alabama is so good on a unit that's so often overlooked. All-Americans and five-star talents don't view special teams as a burden, but rather as an opportunity. When Collins shoots downfield and blows up return men like a heat-seeking missile, it draws as big a celebration as any from the sidelines.
Even a veteran quarterback like McCarron understands the importance of special teams. He doesn't have to hold Cade Foster's kicks. No one would second guess a player of his stature staying on the sidelines for extra points and field goals. But McCarron doesn't shy away from the extra work and neither do his teammates.
"He's the best there is," said UA kicker Cade Foster. "For him to be able to drive us down there and get us in position and still be able to focus on a hold blows my mind. Really thankful that he can do it because I wouldn't want anyone else."
"If I were you, I wouldn't make to much of the depth chart we released," Alabama's head coach warned during Monday's news conference. "It's a chore for me to do that, it really is. I know it's important to you so we wanted to provide you with something. But don't ask me questions cause I'm telling you now, it's for you. The depth chart isn't for our team, it's for you so you can have it, write about it and talk about it. You made me do a depth chart when I didn't want to do one. So that's how I'm going to answer you."
Kenyan Drake, the team's third-leading rusher and a top candidate to back up starting tailback T.J. Yeldon this fall, wasn't even on it. Instead, Jalston Fowler was listed as the No. 2 back with Dee Hart, Derrick Henry and Altee Tenpenny listed as co-No. 3 at the position. Why Drake was missing is anyone's guess. Saban hasn't said a word on the subject and because the depth chart was handed out after his regular Monday press conference, no one could ask.
"T.J. certainly is a guy that has played a lot and has experience," Saban said. "I think Jalston Fowler is another guy who's played a lot and had experience. He's going to play a dual role in this game. He'll play some running back, some H-back. Dee Hart is a guy that's played some who will have some situational playing opportunities in this game as well.
"I think that there's probably two of the freshmen that have sort of -- I think they're all good. Kamara had an injury, so he missed a while. He'll be back practicing today, but it's hard to get him ready to play this game right now. Tyren Jones did a good job in the last scrimmage, but really Altee and Derrick Henry have gotten the most reps and are probably the most prepared to be able to play right now."
The offensive line came in as expected with Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle, Arie Kouandjio alongside him at left guard, Ryan Kelly at center and Anthony Steen and Austin Shepherd at right guard and right tackle, respectively.
AJ McCarron was the obvious first-team quarterback and Blake Sims his assumed second in line, but it was curious that Alec Morris was not listed as the third option off the bench.
Former starter Xzavier Dickson will share his starting duties with true sophomore Denzel Devall at Jack linebacker, but that move was expected with Dickson spending some time at defensive end this fall.
The rest of the starting linebackers remained the same with C.J. Mosley at Will, Trey DePriest at Mike and Adrian Hubbard at Sam.
Vinnie Sunseri ultimately won the starting job at strong safety opposite Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on paper, but the move was mostly superficial as both Landon Collins and Jarrick Williams will spend time there as well. Nick Perry, one of two seniors in the secondary, is slated to back up Clinton-Dix at free safety.
All told, 11 true freshmen made the two-deep, though none are projected to start: nose guard A'Shawn Robinson, defensive end Jonathan Allen, linebacker Reuben Foster, cornerback Maurice Smith, offensive tackle Grant Hill, tight end O.J. Howard, receivers Raheem Falkins and Robert Foster, long snapper Cole Mazza and tailbacks Henry and Tenpenny.
Preparation for Virginia Tech didn't begin until Thursday afternoon, when the second half of the brief media viewing portion of practice came with the condition that cameras not film the proceedings. For the first time, there was something coaches weren't willing to show the outside world.
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Well, technically speaking. Nick Saban isn't ready to stop teaching.
"Now, even though the players are moving out of the dorm, camp doesn’t really end, to me, until camp ends," the Tide's demanding head coach told reporters on Thursday. "And camp really doesn’t end to me until school starts. And school doesn’t really start to where they’ve got school stuff until next week. So we’ll continue with our meetings and all the things that we do and kind of go from there."
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DePriest, a junior with NFL potential at 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds, missed Tuesday's practice in Tuscaloosa. He's part of a linebacking corps that returns all four of its starters from a season ago, including All-American inside linebacker C.J. Mosley and top pass-rusher Adrian Hubbard on the outside.
Saban also announced that star wide receiver Amari Cooper would miss the next few practices with a strained foot. The Pre-Season All-SEC selection led the team with 59 catches, 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, setting nearly every Alabama rookie receiving record in the process.
Cooper wore a black no-contact jersey during practice on Tuesday.
"He’s going to be out for a few days," Saban explained, "and then he will be day-to-day. I don’t think he’s going to be hurt for a long time."
Luckily for Saban, Alabama is loaded at wide receiver. Kevin Norwood, Christion Jones, DeAndrew White and Kenny Bell all have starting experience and freshmen such as Chris Black, Robert Foster and Raheem Falkins are pushing for playing time as well.
"The receiver group has progressed very, very well from where we were at this point last year," offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said at UA's media day on August 4. "We have a couple of new players, a lot of returning guys, a lot of guys who've played a lot of games. Obviously we had some injury issues last year that helped us develop some younger players."
Alabama was able to welcome back tight end Malcolm Faciane on Tuesday after he finished a 30-day suspension for violation of team rules. The 6-foot-5, 267-pound redshirt sophomore was in line for more reps this season after the departure of Michael Williams, but will have an uphill battle now that backups such as Harrison Jones and O.J. Howard have begun making their case for playing time.
"I don’t like suspending players," Saban said. "If we’re going to punish any players or suspend any players, it’s going to be in their best interest to change their behavior so they have a better opportunity to be successful. If it’s not going to do that, I don’t see any reason to do it.
"It’s almost like raising your kids. If you’re going to spank them and it doesn’t change their behavior, why spank them? If you take their computer or their cell phone away from them and it changes their behavior, I’d say that’s the thing to do. We would only do it in the best interest of the player."
No. 33 Trey DePriest
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No. 25 Dillon Lee
Expectations for 2013: Lee got off to such a hot start as a rookie in 2012, snatching an interception against Michigan during the season-opening game in Arlington, Texas. But somewhere along the way, the wheels fell off and the former four-star prospect from Buford High in Georgia was relegated to special teams work.
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Fast-forward to the final week of camp and the unit has changed dramatically: C.J. Mosley is stuck in a black no-contact jersey, Trey DePriest is out with a fractured foot and Xzavier Dickson is a question mark after missing Saturday's scrimmage with an injury resembling a bruised knee, according to Bama coach Nick Saban.
None of the injuries threaten to linger on into the fall, supposedly, but it does dramatically change what fans will see come A-Day on Saturday afternoon. Instead of seeing the usual inside linebackers, the annual scrimmage in Bryant-Denny Stadium will spotlight some names people haven't become accustomed to hearing, names such as Tana Patrick, Reggie Ragland, Ryan Anderson and Dillion Lee. The four combined for 25 tackles and zero starts last season.