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USM wrap-up: Is Tide’s defense going back to the future?

USM wrap-up: Is Tide’s defense going back to the future?

The ever-lovable Joe Kines brought to Alabama a defensive strategy based around a concept of bending, but not breaking. And depending on the Alabama fan one interviews today, that description either encourages praise, or the gritting of teeth.

Kines’ strategy played out much differently than Nick Saban’s ever has, and had a different attitude. Kines believed in pushing plays toward the sidelines and using superior speed to make the play. Offenses, Kines reasoned, would eventually make a mistake and kill their own drives so long as Alabama didn’t give up a big play along the way. He was playing the percentages.

From Polls to Playoff, Part 2: The System Breaks

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From Polls to Playoff, Part 2: The System Breaks

Beginning in 1936, the Associated Press ranked the nation’s top twenty football teams and awarded a national championship at the end of the regular season. Although bowl games (usually somewhere between five and seven) existed in these early days, the bowls were not taken into account when determining the national champion. There were several reasons the bowls were not included, including maintaining the amateur emphasis of college football, the fact the bowls were exhibitions, and the fact that most schools or conferences attempted to share the wealth by forbidding teams from attending the same bowl game in consecutive years.

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2014 Previews: Kentucky Wildcats

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2014 Previews: Kentucky Wildcats

Mark Stoops’ first year in Lexington did not go smoothly. The decision to force the Wildcats into a no-huddle offense proved to be a bad move, and the defense couldn’t dig Stoops out of his miscalculation. Fortunately, Stoops has put the Wildcats on a better track recruiting-wise, but he’s still having to populate several positions that went unattended under Joker Phillips’ regime.

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2014 Previews: Who’s up, who’s down heading into 2014

For the past 16 years, TideFans.com has broken out its crystal ball to select who we thought would be likely to win such awards as SEC Coach of the Year, or which coach would find themselves on the hotseat.

Change is needed from time to time, and this article – we’ll call it our 2014 Emerging Trends analysis – will serve to replace the venerable crystal ball, which has been dropped, cracked and cloudied too many times to be useful anymore.

Instead, each SEC team will get its time under the microscope, and we’ll attempt to offer some insight behind the numbers that will come in future articles as we head towards the start of the regular season.

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Kentucky wrap-up: Dominant Tide begins to put the pieces together

The middle of the season seems to mark a tipping point for Nick Saban-coached Alabama football teams.

If one doesn’t count the initial 2007 season, the following key games occurred at or near the midpoint of Saban’s other seasons: In 2008, Alabama’s fifth game of the year was the now-infamous “Blackout” game in Athens, Ga., where the Tide won 41-30 in a game that was made respectable only by a couple of late Georgia touchdowns well after the results had been decided. In 2009, Saban’s first championship season with the Crimson Tide, the seventh game of the year came against South Carolina in Tuscaloosa, otherwise known as the game that won Mark Ingram a Heisman Trophy.

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Mark Stoops is facing the same task that literally every Kentucky coach has faced since Paul “Bear” Bryant left for Texas A&M long ago: rebuilding.

Were it not for Bryant’s success at Kentucky, one could argue that the current UK staff is actually building, not rebuilding. Kentucky hasn’t been a legitimate threat in the SEC since that time. There were some isolated bright spots over the years – Hal Mumme’s early seasons, Jerry Claiborne’s 9-3 campaign in 1984, the fundamentally sound and overachieving teams of Rich Brooks – but for the most part, Kentucky has played the role of Washington Generals to the Harlem Globetrotters of Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.

Time will tell if Stoops is the coach to finally buck this trend. His initial season started poorly with a loss to the Sun Belt’s Western Kentucky, itself a team in transition under a new head coach. But Kentucky has been competitive in its last three games against better teams – Louisville, Florida and South Carolina. All, however, have ended in losses.

Alabama doesn’t come into this game at 100-percent strength. The Crimson Tide is without its starting center and strong safety, and other key players have been nicked up or otherwise ineffective. But Alabama would have to completely overlook this game to be in any danger.

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Projected Depth Chart for Alabama vs. Kentucky

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The depth chart is taken from individual practice and game observations, and is color-coded. Seniors are in black, juniors previously on the team are in green, junior college transfers in their junior year are in purple, junior college transfers in their sophomore year are in yellow, sophomores previously on the team are in blue, redshirt freshmen are in cyan, and true freshmen are in red.

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SEC Previews and Predictions: Week 4

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SEC Previews and Predictions: Week 4

The Predictions Dept. started to shake off the rust in Week 3, missing only the Ole Miss-Texas game. While national pundits on ESPN ponder the future of Texas head coach Mack Brown, TideFans.com turns its attention back to the SEC. This week, while Alabama gets a breather of sorts, SEC fans will largely get a breather as well, as the top games are Auburn-LSU and Tennessee-Florida, simply due to the history of the two series.

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SEC Previews and Predictions: Week 2

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SEC Previews and Predictions: Week 2

The Predictions Dept. got off to a solid, if unspectacular start to the 2013 season with an 11-2 record thanks to overconfidence in Georgia and Kentucky. This week, Alabama is idle, but there are several SEC games worth watching, including Georgia and South Carolina battling for the SEC East and Florida facing old in-state foe Miami.

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2013 Fall Previews: Kentucky Wildcats

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2013 Fall Previews: Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky is breaking in a new head coach in 2013, Mark Stoops. The high-energy Stoops has never been a head coach before, but if he gets early results on the field like he has in recruiting, he’ll endear himself to the Wildcat faithful quickly. Kentucky has almost no offensive talent at the moment, and the defense has problems the further away from the line of scrimmage one moves. This won’t be a quick turnaround in Lexington, but Stoops has to start somewhere.

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