Playing rotation versus depth chart at wideout
Accounting for the various offensive formations, the Tide coaches list three wide receiver positions on their depth chart. The list issued by Media Relations refers to them as "WR" (wide receiver), "WR" and "H" (slot back), while the coaches use the more specific designations of "H," "X" (split end) and "Z" (flanker).
At this point the starters are Sam Collins, Triandos Luke and Dre Fulgham. Second stringers include Brandon Greer, Zach Fletcher and Joel Babb. While Lance Taylor, Thurman Ward and Brandon Brooks are our best guesses for third string.
Fans love to talk about the depth chart, obsessing over first and second string. But in fact, given the fact that on any given down Alabama's offense might sport one, two, three or even zero wide receivers, the term "starter" loses some of its importance when referring to wideouts. Coaches are far more concerned with which athletes can be counted on as part of their primary playing rotation.
For Saturday's game versus MTSU, expect that group to include Sam Collins, Triandos Luke, Dre Fulgham, Brandon Greer and Zach Fletcher.
Third string A-Back?
As most Tide fans know, the A-Back position was developed by the coaching staff as a way to utilize Bama's current depth at tailback. Since last spring Shaud Williams and Ray Hudson have worked at the position, dual- and even triple-learning the various responsibilities that A-Back entails.
But if you're searching for a name to pencil in as third string on your depth chart (as BamaMag.com was earlier this week), you'll be disappointed. Because essentially, such an animal doesn't exist.
There was a lot of talk this past summer that true freshman Kenneth Darby would start at A-Back, but he spent all of fall camp as a tailback. And the hybrid A-Back position is frankly too complicated for any athlete to learn overnight.
AC's decidedly unwelcome "hot spot"
Dennis Franchione has a strict policy regarding injuries and the media. During the season, he simply will not discuss them on the record.
For example, during Wednesday's post-practice press meeting, a reporter inquired about Antonio Carter's status for Saturday, and Franchione politely but firmly replied, "We don't talk about that now."
However, during a radio interview this week, Franchione revealed that a recent bone scan on Carter's ailing leg had shown a "hot spot" associated with the original stress fracture.
Despite modern technology, medical diagnosis remains as much art as science. So in a way the news is reassuring. Now the doctors know the reason for Carter's continuing pain, and he'll be given time to allow his leg to heal completely.
How much time?
There obviously will not be any official announcement from the Football Complex. But assuming there are no further complications, such fractures normally take from 3-5 weeks to heal.
Clark's redshirt riding on Bates' recovery?
Again, the coaches are through talking about Todd Bates and his continuing recovery from summer surgery. But at the end of fall camp Franchione said that he expected Bates to contribute this year, and the sophomore defensive end is listed second string on the coaches' depth chart issued last week.
Bates was the only member of last year's recruiting class to see action as a true freshman, and his availability would significantly strengthen the already talented defensive end position for Alabama.
At his press conference Tuesday Franchione also listed true freshmen Jeremy Clark (defensive line) and Juwan Garth (linebacker/Rover) as "possibilities" for playing time this season. It's a reasonable assumption that their status in 2002 will depend on injuries at their respective positions.
A healthy and effective Todd Bates will likely signify a redshirt for Jeremy Clark--barring injury to Bama's other top defensive ends, of course.