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Five players who need a strong A-Day showing

Five players who need a strong A-Day showing

With Alabama’s second scrimmage in the books, positions that are up for grabs this spring are slowly coming into focus.

Five players in particular need to post a solid A-Day performance Saturday in order to mark themselves as the starter heading into fall camp. As QB David Cornwell showed last spring, leading (or even being in the mix) at the end of spring isn’t a guarantee of holding onto a job throughout fall camp, but it certainly makes it tougher for other competitors to get a foothold.

Tennessee preview: Vols could be a tougher foe than Bama expects

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Tennessee preview: Vols could be a tougher foe than Bama expects

Every season, one or two teams seem to rise above their typical watermarks and give Alabama a tougher game than it would otherwise appear on paper.

Alabama is hoping Ole Miss filled the role in Week 3, but in 2009, that team was Tennessee, then led by a young head coach named Lane Kiffin. It took two blocked field goals by DT Terrence Cody, the second coming as time ran out, for Alabama to hold onto the win and eventually play for a national championship.

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Texas A&M preview: Improving defense, explosive offense gives Aggies a chance

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Texas A&M preview: Improving defense, explosive offense gives Aggies a chance

Over its first few seasons after joining the SEC, Texas A&M felt like a jigsaw puzzle missing a couple of pieces.

The Aggies found those missing pieces after they hired John Chavis, the former Tennessee and LSU defensive coordinator, to coach them at the same position. Chavis immediately brought a toughness to the job that the Aggies had been lacking. Although Texas A&M is far from a defensive powerhouse in 2015, the improvement is noticeable, and more is expected in the future.

Alabama enters this game coming off its second physical test in a row. Alabama has beaten Georgia and Arkansas in successive weeks, and now must face the high-powered spread attack brought by Texas A&M. With rival Tennessee coming to Tuscaloosa the week after this game, many Alabama fans are worried that this contest has all the makings of a textbook trap game and upset.

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Arkansas preview: Razorbacks may not have the horses to win this one

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Arkansas preview: Razorbacks may not have the horses to win this one

It is easy to dismiss Arkansas as “Georgia Lite” given the Razorbacks’ offensive tendencies, but Arkansas has frequently been a tough out for Alabama. So much so, in fact, that Alabama needs to avoid falling into the trap posed by this direct-from-central-casting “trap game.”

In 2014, Arkansas took Alabama to the wire before the Crimson Tide eventually won, 14-13. It was the game that the Alabama coaches used to eventually define the 2014 squad, and it also marked the last game QB Blake Sims really struggled to get through. In 2015, Alabama gets the Hogs a week after rolling around like a bunch of hogs in the Georgia mud. Fortunately for Alabama, the fourth quarter of its win over Georgia was little more than a mutual slap-fest, as prescribed by the stunningly poor weather conditions.

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Texas A&M preview: Vegas may have this one wrong

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Texas A&M preview: Vegas may have this one wrong

TideFans.com doesn’t often make reference to betting lines, as that’s not our thing. But when Alabama opened up as roughly a two-touchdown favorite over Texas A&M, it got everyone’s attention in the sports media world.

Alabama, a team that had just scraped to a 14-13 victory over Arkansas, the SEC West’s presumptive worst team, was being made a two-touchdown favorite over a team that beat Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2012, carried the Crimson Tide to the wire in College Station in 2013, and has many of the same pieces returning from those teams in 2014. On the face, it doesn’t make sense.

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Florida preview: Struggles with Kentucky belie Gators’ true talents

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Florida preview: Struggles with Kentucky belie Gators’ true talents

As the final few plays in Florida’s overtime win over Kentucky went by the boards, there were two schools of thought concerning the Gators. The first was that Will Muschamp needed to visit the nearest Laser Copy and start getting resumes ready; the second was that this Gators team, despite its struggles against Kentucky, still has enough talent to win any game on its schedule.

And, now that Florida refused to fold against Kentucky, you can add the adjective “resilient” to the mix.

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USM preview: Woeful Golden Eagles can’t recapture past magic

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USM preview: Woeful Golden Eagles can’t recapture past magic

There was a time when Southern Miss was a better yearly opponent for Alabama than some SEC teams.

A couple of Alabama-Southern Miss games are noteworthy, for all the wrong reasons. There was the Reggie Collier-led upset of one of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s last Alabama teams. And then there was the 21-0 loss to USM in 2000 that should have been the impetus for firing Mike DuBose.

This Southern Miss team, though, is nothing like those teams.

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WVU preview: Mountaineer team was in a valley in 2013

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WVU preview: Mountaineer team was in a valley in 2013

Just about the time West Virginia head coach Dana Holgersen was being anointed as the next big thing in college coaches, the 2013 season happened.
West Virginia went 4-8 in 2013, and the problems were evident right off the bat, as West Virginia struggled to beat William & Mary in the opener, 24-17, then had losses to Oklahoma and Maryland by a combined score of 53-7, sandwiching a win over FBS pretender Georgia State. The offense than Holgorsen took such great pride in having developed suddenly didn’t work.

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WVU preview: Mountaineer team was in a valley in 2013

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WVU preview: Mountaineer team was in a valley in 2013

Just about the time West Virginia head coach Dana Holgersen was being anointed as the next big thing in college coaches, the 2013 season happened.

West Virginia went 4-8 in 2013, and the problems were evident right off the bat, as West Virginia struggled to beat William & Mary in the opener, 24-17, then had losses to Oklahoma and Maryland by a combined score of 53-7, sandwiching a win over FBS pretender Georgia State. The offense than Holgorsen took such great pride in having developed suddenly didn’t work.

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Spring analysis: Seven big questions facing the 2014 team

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Spring analysis: Seven big questions facing the 2014 team

Typically, questions surrounding a Nick Saban-coached program in the spring have to do simply with new starters at positions vacated by seniors who have graduated or underclassmen headed to the NFL Draft.

But the 2014 Alabama team will have a more complex set of questions facing it than simply the shuffling of the depth chart. While position changes are a concern, some questions go much deeper than that.

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