Blake Would Make Saban Depth Chart

If you want to know why Nick Saban doesn't like depth charts, look no further than Blake Sims. Sims is the ultra-talented athlete who in his one-year Alabama career has played quarterback, wide receiver, and running back on the scout team; quarterback last spring; and quarterback and running back in fall camp.



As is an Alabama football tradition under Nick Saban, on Monday of the week of the season-opening game, we have the presentation of the depth chart. In a secret room in the Mal Moore Athletics Building, two keys must be turned to open the vault. The seal is broken by a specially-appointed magistrate. Outside the windows of the Naylor Stone Media Center, the Million Dollar Band plays "Pomp and Circumstance." Each sportswriter then gets a Golden Flake potato chip, a sip of Coke, and his numbered copy of The Depth Chart.

It's not quite that dramatic, of course. In fact, this year Saban made less of the event than in past years when he has said something along the lines of, "You should be happy now. We've given you a depth chart. I know you can't get along without a depth chart." And then an admonition such as, "Can you read? I know you are writers, but can you read? ‘Or' means ‘or.' If there is an ‘or' between two players' names it means they are equal."

On Monday the only problem came when it was pointed out that Blake Sims's name was not on the depth chart at running back or quarterback.

"It should have been," Saban said. "That's not my depth chart, though. That's Jeff's depth chart. I probably should have looked at it closer. Blake is playing running back. He still is playing some quarterback. And he's doing a good job. That's why I don't like depth charts. As soon as you omit some guy, you have problems. So can Blake be a write in candidate?"

Football Media Relations Director Jeff Purinton, who was taking the hit, assured the coach that Blake Sims could be added.

Meanwhile, there were no huge surprises, but also not many questions answered.

Here's a look at how the offensive depth chart looks for the Kent State game. Alabama opens the season Saturday hosting the Golden Flashes in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff is at 11:21 a.m. CDT with regional television coverage on the SEC Network.

At quarterback, co-first team players are A.J. McCarron (6-4, 205, sophomore) and Phillip Sims (6-2, 217, redshirt freshman). Phillip Ely (6-1, 187, freshman) is the third quarterback.

A question that noted one of the quarterbacks would have to start drew the response from Saban that, "One of them has to go out there first. I don't think that necessarily means that guy is the starter.

"Both guys will play in the game and we'll have a plan for both those guys to play. It's out of fairness to them that they both get an opportunity to play in this game.

"I don't think one guy has clearly separated himself from the other.

"Both guys will be given a chance to play in the game, but they'll know exactly how they'll play in the game. The consequences of their play will not be a factor as to whether they continue to play, and whatever is programmed for them to play. I don't want any player out there looking over his shoulder, like, 'If I make one bad play you're going to pull me out of the game.' That's not going to happen.

"We're going to let the guys play and they're going to play their role, and then we'll assess where we think they are."

Barrett Jones (6-5, 311, junior) is expected to start at left tackle, but listed as co-first team is true freshman Cyrus Kouandjio (6-6, 322). Tyler Love (6-6, 307, junior) is listed behind them.

Barrett Jones is also listed co-first team at left guard with Chance Warmack (6-3, 320, junior) with Alfred McCullough (6-2, 311l, senior) listed behind them.

Saban said, "We'll probably play (Jones) at both positions in the game. Right now he is playing left tackle, and Cyrus is making progress. He's also playing left tackle. Barrett's also playing left guard, could play right guard where he started for two years, and he actually has played center. He really could play anywhere on the offensive line. The only place on the line he hasn't practiced in fall camp is right tackle.

"I'm not one that likes to make multiple moves when you lose somebody, but we feel like we've got a little more depth in the offensive line. But we also feel like there are advantages and disadvantages to both when Barrett plays left tackle and when Barrett plays guard.

"We want to see how Cyrus plays in this game, we will play him some in the game. It will be programmed as to how he plays. We'll kind of make a determination from there.

"He's done well. A lot of these guys, when they come to college, they have very good physical ability. I think they haven't had to pay attention to detail when it comes to technique. It almost is a new horizon for them when, all the sudden, if they don't do it right, they're not just physically better than the other guy. So if they don't use technique, it creates an issue and a problem. And they don't even have a great capacity for learning technique, because they're really never had to do it that much. I think that's what a lot of our freshmen go through. I'm not talking specifically about Cyrus. They underestimate, a little bit, the importance of that in terms of their quality of performance as a college football player. Cyrus has made good progress in that area and will continue to do that. He's a guy we'd like to see develop through the course of the year. One of the parts of his development will be to see how he responds when he gets in a game situation and plays."

The offensive depth chart listed only two wide receiver positions. It was no surprise that Marquis Maze (5-10, 180, senior) was at one of them. He's backed by Brandon Gibson (6-2, 194, senior) and Kevin Norwood (6-2, 193, soph).

The other wide receiver spot almost certainly would have had senior Darius Hanks as the starter, but Hanks will miss the first two games in exchange for the one game he played in 2007, when he was granted a redshirt season. In his stead, redshirt freshman DeAndrew White (6-0, 181) is listed first ahead of Kenny Bell (6-1, 175, soph) and Michael Bowman (6-4, 225, soph).

There were also two tight end positions listed. At the traditional tight end spot on the line, returning starter Michael Williams (6-6, 269, junior) was ahead of Chris Underwood (6-4, 243, senior) and Brian Vogler (6-7, 252, redshirt freshman). At the H-back it was Brad Smelley (6-3, 229, senior) first and Harrison Jones (6-4, 248, redshirt freshman) second.

Most offensive positions listed three players, but some positions had only two.

Trent Richardson (5-11, 224, junior) was the number one tailback, as everyone knew he would be. He is backed by Eddie Lacy (6-0, 220, soph) and Jalston Fowler (6-1, 246, soph).

With Barrett Jones having moved to the left side of the offensive line, Anthony Steen 6-3, 303, soph) is listed as the number one man at right guard. John Michael Boswell (6-5, 300, senior) is the back-up.

Returning starter at right tackle is D.J. Fluker (6-6, 335, soph). He's backed by redshirt freshman Austin Shepherd (6-5, 321).

At center, Alabama has William Vlachos (6-1, 294, senior) back for his third year to start. Kellen Willams (6-3, 305, soph) is on second team and Chad Lindsay (6-2, 287, redshirt freshman) is third.

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