O-Line depth chart
Barring injury, the starting lineup for Alabama's offensive line is set. Wesley Britt (quick tackle), Justin Smiley (quick guard), Alonzo Ephraim (center), Marico Portis (strong guard) and Evan Mathis (strong tackle) are all solidly entrenched No. 1s.
The second group, including two seniors, two juniors and a redshirt freshman should be able to provide backup minutes. Lannis Baxley and Atlas Herrion (tackles), Matt Lomax and Dennis Alexander (guards) and J.B. Closner (center) comprise the unit.
Though unproven, the third-team athletes have time to get better. At tackle, Von Ewing and Boone Stutz will benefit from time in the weight room. At guard, Mark Sanders and Danny Martz are big bodies. And walk-on center Montre Walker has ability.
True freshmen Grant Dickey and Cody Grammer are almost certain to redshirt.
Two wide receivers stepping up
The lingering soreness in Antonio Carter's leg makes it imperative that other players step up. Senior Sam Collins is a proven commodity, but behind him and AC the athletes are talented but untested. However, if practice reps are any indication, Dre Fulgham and Zach Fletcher could fit the bill.
Beginning his third year at Alabama, Fulgham is hardly a new face. But until now his contributions have been small. However, the Montevallo native has really showed out the last couple of days, turning in several acrobatic catches that left sideline observers amazed. After yesterday's practice, position coach Kenith Pope was still talking about one particularly impressive reception.
Junior college transfer Zach Fletcher continues to climb the depth chart. By now it's a no-brainer that he'll be a part of the playing rotation. The only question is whether or not he'll start. Tall with very good hands, Fletcher has shown more speed than expected.
Big Ahmad Childress continues to work his way into playing shape, but there is no doubt he has the ability. Along with Kenny King, Jarret Johnson and Anthony Bryant, Childress will give the Tide four big (and talented) bodies to man the inside. And position coach Stan Eggen remains hopeful that Derek Sanders and Bart Raulston can provide a few snaps a game.
At end, Leslie Williams turned in a surprisingly good performance at Wednesday's scrimmage. He's incredibly undersized for the position, but Williams is also an excellent athlete. Even if he only contributes on passing downs, he can help.
In the "probably too good to be true" category, Todd Bates has played well the last two days. And Thursday following Wednesday's scrimmage was as good as he's felt in some time. A redshirt season for Bates to fully heal is still more probable than not, but there's significantly more hope today than a week ago.
A leader at PK?
Coach Franchione chooses to remain mum on the athlete's identity, but he admitted Thursday that a leader had emerged in the battle for placekicker. He's keeping the name to himself for now so as not to affect the ongoing competition. But to practice observers there is no doubt that walk-on sophomore Michael Ziifle has kicked very well the past few days.
However, the competition is far from over, and Franchione said they were watching to see if the current pecking order would endure for the next two weeks.
Interestingly, junior college walk-on Kyle Robinson, who was left off the 105 roster despite working out in Tuscaloosa all summer, is still in town. In fact, between practice sessions he can be found on the Drew-Thomas Fields kicking on his own. Robinson will join the squad next Tuesday when classes begin, and his presence and potential are undoubtedly two of the reasons Franchione is waiting to name his starter.