Tide Freshmen Appear Impressive

No good deed goes unpunished, I thought. A few weeks ago one of my writers needed a Nick Saban quote on a couple of true freshmen, but the writer wasn't going to be at the post-practice press briefing with Coach Saban that day. I said I would ask the question for him.

Bad decision.

The way this works is we let the moderator know that we want to ask a question and get on the queue for the microphone. One reporter in front of me asked about a true freshman, and the icy response from Alabama Coach Nick Saban should have warned me off.

But a deal is a deal. I had told the writer I would ask about the progress of tight end O.J. Howard and defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson.

Saban was obviously not happy with the question.

"Why don't you ask me about C.J. Mosley?" he charged. "He's doing a great job."

I finally got about a half useable sentence on Howard. And moments later Saban was giving it to a very senior columnist who had asked about A.J. McCarron, so it wasn't just me.

I still want to know how A'Shawn Robinson is doing, or at least how Saban thinks he is doing. That's because he looks like he is going to be an exceptional defensive lineman, Marcell Dareus good, and in the not too distant future. Robinson had three tackles as a back-up defensive lineman in the 25-0 shutout of Ole Miss Saturday. For the year he has nine tackles and two sacks.

And he looks like a man. Or as Tide offensive guard Anthony Steen's father reportedly said, the the 6-4, 320-pound Robinson looks like a 40-year-old man.

I'm also interested in what Saban thinks about cornerback Eddie Jackson, who has started the last two games in the secondary. Against Mississippi, the 6-0, 175-pound Jackson was in on four tackles (three primary) with one tackle for loss, broke up two passes, and intercepted a pass.

To be sure, I don't think either is as good as Mosley, who is one of the finest linebackers I have ever watched play. When you've been watching Alabama linebackers for about half a century, that's saying something. Mosley is not only a great player, he is unquestionably the leader of the Alabama defense.

Saturday night he added seven tackles to his total of 35 for the year. He also tackled Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace for a safety. Moreover, Mosley was calling the defensive signals for the front seven, and Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze said after the game, "They did a good job of switching things up on us. They had the right call every single time when it seemed like we had an answer.

"They beat us on some one-on-ones up front, on runs that we thought should hve been good. When you're not running the ball effectively against great teams, it makes for a long night. It makes it very difficult. They did a really nice job of mixing things up, keeping us off balance, and disguising thing.

"It seemed like every time we thought we had a bead on them, we missed something we thought should have been good and they played it perfectly."

So I guess my question for Coach Saban should be, "What kind of progress are A'Shawn Robinson, Eddie Jackson, and C.J. Mosley making?"

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