The 2008 NFL Draft also saw the same amount of under classmen. In 2009 the total was 46. From AP-
The expected heavy influx of non-seniors applying for this year’s NFL draft did not happen despite looming labor unrest in the league.
Although a record-tying 53 players declared for early entry, that number released Tuesday by the NFL was short of most projections.
“I think that the colleges have really done a good job of telling these young men how it is to their advantage to stay in school,” said NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt, who helped build the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. “I thought there would be more and I was surprised.”
Six All-Americans did apply for the draft: defensive backs Eric Berry of Tennessee and Joe Haden of Florida; defensive end Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech; tight end Aaron Hernandez of Florida; linebacker Rolando McClain of Alabama; and wide receiver Golden Tate of Notre Dame.
Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, also declared for April’s draft, along with Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead; Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen; Southern California running back Joe McKnight; Cal running back Jahvid Best; Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap; and Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman.
Fresno State tailback Ryan Mathews, the nation’s leading rusher, applied. So did tackles Bryan Bulaga of Iowa and Anthony Davis of Rutgers, who are projected to go high in the draft.
I remember when Herschel Walker came out of school(U of Georgia) early and all the controversy it caused. A Herschel Walker today wouldn’t risk a potential big payday in the NFL either.
What I don’t get is how some experts expected the total of non-seniors to be around 100 or a 100% increase from last year. Maybe I’ll find an article that list the college players who stuck it out. A free college education should be valued. One day your sports playing days will end and what will you do for money then? Look at Bernie Kosar who left the University of Miami early for the NFL. Right now he is bankruptcy court.
The entire list of college underclassman declaring for this year’s NFL draft is below the fold.
2010 NFL Draft early entrants
Player Position College
Kevin Basped DE Nevada
Arrelious Benn WR Illinois
Eric Berry DB Tennessee
Jahvid Best RB California
Navorro Bowman LB Penn State
Sam Bradford QB Oklahoma
Dezmon Briscoe WR Kansas
Antonio Brown WR Central Michigan
Dez Bryant WR Oklahoma State
Bryan Bulaga OT Iowa
Morgan Burnett DB Georgia Tech
Bruce Campbell OT Maryland
Jimmy Clausen QB Notre Dame
Rennie Curran LB Georgia
Anthony Davis T Rutgers
Carlos Dunlap DE Florida
Jonathan Dwyer RB Georgia Tech
Dominique Franks DB Oklahoma
Clifton Geathers DE South Carolina
Thaddeus Gibson DE Ohio State
Jermaine Gresham TE Oklahoma
Everson Griffen DE Southern California
Rob Gronkowski TE Arizona
Joe Haden DB Florida
Aaron Hernandez TE Florida
Kareem Jackson DB Alabama
Chad Jones DB Louisiana State
Reshad Jones DB Georgia
Linval Joseph DT East Carolina
Darius Marshall RB Marshall
Ryan Mathews RB Fresno State
Rolando McClain LB Alabama
Gerald McCoy DT Oklahoma
Joe McKnight RB Southern California
Shawnbrey McNeal RB Southern Methodist
Carlton Mitchell WR South Florida
Joshua Moore DB Kansas State
Derrick Morgan DE Georgia Tech
Jerell Norton DB Arkansas
Jason Pierre-Paul DE South Florida
Maurkice Pouncey C Florida
Brian Price DT UCLA
Dennis Rogan DB Tennessee
Jevan Snead QB Mississippi
Amari Spievey DB Iowa
Golden Tate WR Notre Dame
Demaryius Thomas WR Georgia Tech
Earl Thomas DB Texas
Donovan Warren DB Michigan
Damian Williams WR Southern California
Mike Williams WR Syracuse
Jason Worilds DE Virginia Tech
Major Wright DB Florida
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No I’m not talking about some middle aged man propelling a ball at some objects at the end of a lane, but the games that climax every college football season. Bowl season officially starts this afternoon, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.
Note- I gave the shortened name version of all the upcoming games. Also I listed what broadcast network would be televising the game and what time they would be coming on the air. All times are Eastern Standard.
New Mexico- Fresno State vs. Wyoming 4:30 p.m. ESPN
St. Petersburg- Central Florida vs. Rutgers 8 p.m. ESPN
R+L Carriers New Orleans- Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee 8:30 p.m. ESPN
MAACO Las Vegas- Oregon State vs. BYU 8 p.m. ESPN
Poinsettia- Utah vs. Cal 8 p.m. ESPN
Sheraton Hawaii- Nevada vs. SMU 8 p.m. ESPN
Little Caesars- Marshall vs. Ohio 1 p.m. ESPN
Meineke- Pitt vs. North Carolina 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Emerald- Boston College vs. USC 8 p.m. ESPN
Music City- Kentucky vs. Clemson 8:30 p.m. ESPN
Independence- Texas A&M vs. Georgia 5 p.m. ESPN2
EagleBank- UCLA vs. Temple 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Champs Sports- Miami vs. Wisconsin 8 p.m. ESPN
Humanitarian- Bowling Green vs. Idaho 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Holiday- Arizona vs. Nebraska 8 p.m. ESPN
Armed Forces- Houston vs. Air Force Noon ESPN
Sun- Oklahoma vs. Stanford 2 p.m. CBS
Texas- Navy vs. Missouri 3:30 p.m. ESPN
Minnesota vs. Iowa State 6 p.m. NFL Network
Chick-fil-A- Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee 7:30 p.m. ESPN
Outback- Northwestern vs. Auburn 11 a.m. ESPN
Capital One- Penn State vs. LSU 1 p.m. ABC
Gator- West Virginia vs. Florida State 1 p.m. CBS
Rose Bowl- Ohio State vs. Oregon 4:30 p.m. ABC
Sugar- Cincinnati vs. Florida 8:30 p.m. FOX
International- South Florida vs. Northern Illinois Noon ESPN2
Papajohns.com- South Carolina vs. UConn 2 p.m. ESPN
Cotton- Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss 2 p.m. FOX
Liberty- Arkansas vs. East Carolina 5:30 p.m. ESPN
Valero Alamo- Michigan State vs. Texas Tech 9 p.m. ESPN
Fiesta- Boise State vs. TCU 8 p.m. FOX
FedEx Orange- Iowa vs. Georgia Tech 8 p.m. FOX
GMAC- Central Michigan vs. Troy 7 p.m. ESPN
BCS National Championship Game- Texas vs. Alabama Jan. 7 8 p.m.
Some random notes on the above 34 games
*- 19 of the 34 games are not scheduled till Dec. 31st or later. I guess college football fanatics are expected to flip channels very quickly on those 3 days(Dec 31-Jan 2) when 15 games are being aired.
*- What a downer must it be for Oregon State players and fans. A few weeks ago they were one win from a Rose Bowl trip. Instead they lost to Oregon and are playing in a minor bowl before Christmas.
*- The NFL network televises a college football game. I guess that’s the cable sports equivalent of the Sci-Fi channel showing wrestling….
*- The bowls are now set where now certain conference finishers are locked into the same bowl games every year. I understand why the current system is done, but I prefer the day when bowl games would have greater variance from year to year. The Peach bowl would usually invite a ACC or SEC school but they could be creative, like when they invited Army and Illinois. Wouldn’t a SEC team against BYU or Wyoming be nice for a change?
*- Bobby Bowden’s farewell game is against the same school(West Virginia) that he left before coming to Florida State. I do know FSU and WV have played at least twice previously in bowls during the Bowden-Florida State era.
The league said there was no basis for their personal foul call in a recent game. From AP-
The Southeastern Conference has suspended officials from last weekend’s Arkansas-Florida game after the crew was involved in its second controversial call of the year.Referee Marc Curles’ crew called a personal foul on Arkansas defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard in the fourth quarter as the Gators were rallying for a 23-20 victory. The league said there was no video evidence to support the call.
The same group of officials called the LSU-Georgia game earlier this month, which included a late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty the league said shouldn’t have been called.
“A series of calls that have occurred during the last several weeks have not been to the standard that we expect from our officiating crews,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Wednesday. “I believe our officiating program is the best in the country. However, there are times when these actions must be taken.”
SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said this is the first time the league has publicly suspended a football crew like this.
The SEC says the crew will be removed from its next scheduled assignment Oct. 31 and will not be assigned to officiate as a crew until Nov. 14.
Conference officials went on to say this will affect referee bowl assignments. I sincerely hope it does. This crew shouldn’t be given extra opportunities to screw up.
He played college ball at Arkansas and was a church minister. RIP.
Former Chicago Bears and Arkansas Razorbacks defensive lineman Ken Anderson has died of a heart attack at age 33.
Anderson’s pastor, Dexter Howard of Life Harvester Church in Fayetteville, confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that Anderson died Friday night. Anderson was a minister at the church and was living in the Fayetteville area.
Anderson lettered for the Razorbacks from 1994-97 and played for the Bears in 1999.
The Dallas Cowboys are on the board about an hour earlier than I would have guessed. The consensus is that they need a WR, RB, and CB on the first day.
Rashard Mendenhall, the running back out of Illinois, seems the obvious choice here. He’s a top 10 overall selection on most draft boards. I expect Jerry Jones to get cute and work the clock the whole time he’s allotted but would hope he goes that way if he can’t get a great offer.
The pick is in!
Stupidly, they went with Felix Jones of Arkansas. I don’t get it. I really don’t.
Scouts, Inc.: 32 (vice 7 for Mendenhall)
Strengths: Versatile back with world-class speed. Exceptional when he can get the ball in space. Displays rare initial burst through the line of scrimmage and around the corner as an outside runner. Is elusive in space and displays an elite second-gear to run away from most defenders. Does not have a lot of tread on his tires. An unselfish player that proved he will put the team before himself in college. Finds different ways to contribute and could be best suited for a multi-purpose role in the NFL. Displays very soft hands as a receiver out of the backfield. Will adjust to ht poorly thrown ball. Runs sharp routes and is instinctive in that regard. A homerun threat after the catch. Will get in good position and give a solid effort as a blocker. Should also provide excellent value as a return specialist in the NFL. He showcases his rare second-gear with his 82-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter of the 2007 Kentucky game. It was a classic example of one cut and gone.
Weaknesses: Has always split carries at collegiate level. Can he carry the full load in the NFL? Has the frame to get bigger but needs to prove capable of putting on weight (and keeping it on) without taking away from his exceptional burst, which is what makes him special. Lacks power as a runner. Is not big or strong enough to push the pile in short-yardage situations. Is not a sharp-cutter; more of a glider. Can get undercut rather easily at times in space. Takes too many chances bouncing runs outside because he can outrun everyone at college level but will need to be more decisive versus faster defenses in the NFL. Will get in position as a blocker but lacks sand in his saddle to hold ground versus bigger blitzing linebackers.
Overall: Prior to declaring early for the 2008 NFL draft, Jones played a versatile backup role to Darren McFadden throughout his three seasons with the Razorbacks. During that three-season span, Jones rushed for 2,956 yards and 20 scores on 386 carries, caught 39 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned four kickoffs for touchdowns. It’s hard not to wonder what type of numbers Jones would have churned out as a premier back at another school. To his credit, though; Jones never showed frustration playing in McFadden’s shadow. Instead, he has managed to build quite a resume as a versatile No. 2 back. Jones is not as big or strong as McFadden, but he does set the bar when it comes to breakaway speed — and that’s saying a lot considering McFadden’s outstanding burst. Jones can be an instant impact player if used in as multi-purpose role. He should contribute right away as a change-of-pace back that can provide some homerun hitter both as a receiver and in the return game. Only time will tell if Jones is capable of emerging as a team’s fulltime load-carrier. Until then, his versatility and big-play potential make Jones awfully intriguing for a team with the luxury of drafting a complementary back late in the first round.
Rick Gosselin: 21 (vs 10 for Mendenhall)
Mel Kiper: 18 (vs 10 for Mendenhall)
The only thing I can figure is that the Cowboys were drafting Jones as a complementary back to Barber and all the reports about his lack of ego was the seller. But the price is the same whether you’re getting a guy with backup mentality or starter mentality. I’d rather risk having the 1st round pick being too good to keep in a complementary role and losing Barber down the line. Competition is good.
A decent pick for their position but certainly not the best running back on the board. Again, this pick may turn out quite well — but it’s not the smart pick.
UPDATE: DMN’s Albert Breer agrees.
Let me be clear here — This is a big, big, big, BIG mistake. Rashard Mendenhall is twice the back that Felix Jones is. And if my feelings weren’t clear enough today, take it here. I believe Mendenhall is better than both Arkansas backs.
I don’t agree with this move. What. So. Ever. Check back with me when Mendenhall is rushing for 1,600 yards. And when Ray Rice is a better pro than Felix Jones.
Tim McMahon reports that the Cowboys wanted a good fit with the two-back system.
Jerry acknowledged that Mendenhall has the potential to be a 20-plus-carry back. The Cowboys do not see Felix (no relation to Jerry despite Arkansas ties) as that kind of player.
So why take Felix? They wanted a change-of-pace back in the first round because they believe Marion “The Barbarian” Barber will be the lead horse for the foreseeable future. Wade Phillips raved about Felix’s big-play ability and versatility. “Barber allowed us to have the luxury of being able to have a back come in and be able to do some of the things that Wade just described,” Jerry said. “He flourishes in a two-back system. He really is comfortable there.”
If that’s what you want, find someone in the 4th round, a la Barber two years ago. You don’t spend a 1st rounder on a permanent backup.
Rick Herrin issues a reminder that makes you sick to the stomach:
Jerry is obviously hoping he made the right pick. He didn’t last time when he traded out of the first round and could have drafted Rams running back Steven Jackson. Instead they went with Julius Jones in the second round.
Let’s hope this one turns out better. Julius wasn’t a total bust — Dallas fans are too hard on him in that regard — but he’s no Steven Jackson. I’m afraid we’ll be making unfavorable comparisons between Jones and Mendenhall for a while.
Houston Nutt has been hired by the University of Mississippi, literally hours after quitting at Arkansas.
Houston Nutt wasn’t out of a job for long: He was hired as Southeastern Conference rival Mississippi’s football coach just hours after resigning at Arkansas.
Nutt agreed to a contract late Monday night, and replaces Ed Orgeron, who was fired Saturday after the Rebels lost to rival Mississippi State to finish 3-9 and winless in the SEC.
The school announced the hiring through a three-paragraph e-mail Tuesday sent out by Athletic Director Pete Boone. The school said a news conference will be held at 1 p.m. ET on campus Wednesday in Oxford. No contract details were made available.
Ole Miss was searching for a proven winner after years of mediocrity. Nutt neatly fits the description.
He is 111-70 in 15 years as a head coach at Arkansas, Boise State and Murray State. And he’s been a winner in the SEC. The Little Rock, Ark., native rebuilt the Arkansas program, going 75-48 since his hiring in 1997 to replace Danny Ford. He was 42-38 in conference with one of his biggest wins coming last week when the Razorbacks beat then-No. 1 LSU 50-48 triple-overtime win.
While Arkansas is likely headed to the Cotton Bowl, Nutt will be going to the homes of recruits attempting to hold together the promising class Orgeron was assembling.
Nutt, 50, said Monday he left Arkansas to help mend a split among fans after off-the-field problems were compounded by a difficult season. The Razorbacks started the year ranked and were expected to contend for the SEC West title against the Tigers.
A source told ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel that Nutt turned down a two-year extension from Arkansas worth $2.4 million annually after the Razorbacks upset No. 1 ranked LSU last week.
Arkansas lost its first three SEC games and dropped out of the poll in September, fueling fan discontent over last year’s transfer of quarterback Mitch Mustain and the loss of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who left for Tulsa.
A call to Nutt’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, was not immediately returned.
Nutt takes over a program that has foundered since a 10-win season in 2003 under David Cutcliffe. The Rebels won a share of the SEC West that season with Eli Manning at quarterback.
Since then Ole Miss has had four or fewer wins in four seasons. Boone fired Cutcliffe in 2004 for a lack of effort in recruiting. He had hoped Orgeron, who helped build two national title teams at USC as Pete Carroll’s recruiting coordinator, would bring the kind of energy needed to compete in the nation’s best football conference.
Orgeron finished 10-25 and was routinely the target of fan discontent.
Boone and Chancellor Robert Khayat endorsed Orgeron midway through the season, but decided to go in a new direction after the Rebels lost five of six to end the year.
The Rebels have been looking for a coach who can produce championships since Johnny Vaught retired in 1970. Vaught won three national titles and six SEC championships between 1947-63.
Nutt’s a solid coach and proven recruiter. The SEC is a mighty tough conference to run through, though, for an aspiring champion.
About a year ago, I explained why Monday Night Football on ESPN Sucks. After watching the network’s college football coverage the last two weeks, though, I think we can strike the “Monday Night” from that: They suck all the time now.
The last two Saturday nights, the Alabama Crimson Tide has been on ESPN. Since I don’t live in Alabama any more, that used to be a good thing, since it meant I got to see the games. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true anymore, since ESPN is apparently now run by the people who bring us the Olympics and decided long ago that people aren’t actually interested in the sporting events being covered but, rather, other stuff.
Last week, Alabama played Arkansas in a roller coaster game. Alabama went up by three touchdowns, let Arkansas back into the game, went up by three touchdowns again, and then collapsed to give Arkansas a big lead. Alabama fought back, though, to a thrilling victory with just 8 seconds left on the clock.
A pretty exciting game, right?
Apparently, though, ESPN didn’t think people tuned in late on a Saturday night to watch a college football game would find that stimulating enough. So, they brought in some gal from the women’s soccer team, which were in the middle of a big tournament overseas. And they yapped with her, via telephone no less, for several minutes right during the most critical part of the first half game action. No play-by-play of the game. Often, no cameras on the game, either, since fans would obviously rather see close-ups of the idiot game announcers and a picture of the head of the woman’s soccer player who wasn’t even in the damn booth.
And it got better.
We got to hear about Todd Blackledge’s adventures eating barbecue in Tuscaloosa. With actual footage of him looking at the menu and ordering food. While the game was on!!!
And, to top it off, they brought the annoying woman soccer player back in the second half to interrupt yet more game action.
Last night, Alabama and Georgia played in another close, exciting game that went into overtime.
Again, however, the cameras were on the announcers almost as much as on the game action. Again, we got treated to watching Blackledge eating grilled meat, this time at the pre-game tailgating parties. And some old announcer guy who’s so frail he can’t actually travel one state over to watch a football game was on the telephone for like half an hour yapping about his career while we were missing live football action.
The producers are also too inept to manage game breaks and commercials. Several times, we missed kickoffs, major plays, and other game action because they switched over to show ads or update us on other games and didn’t get back in time. And, each time, they pretended that it hadn’t happened, blithely carrying on as if we hadn’t missed anything.
I’ve been watching football on television for more than thirty years now. I’ve watched local games sponsored by local insurance companies that were better. I’ve literally never seen coverage as bad as what ESPN has put on the last two weeks. It’s absolutely frustrating.
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Nick Saban got his first significant win as coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. It didn’t come easy though. He watched his team march to a quick 21-0 lead and then force a turnover. Just as it looked like the Tide was going to go up by four touchdowns, they coughed the ball up and gave up an easy 7. They followed this up with another interception another easy score.
After seeming to get their act together and going up 31-10, they gave up four unanswered touchdowns.
The final outcome was still in doubt until, with 8 seconds left on the clock, quarterback John Parker Wilson found receiver Matt Caddell in the endzone to regain the lead.
Wilson hits Caddell in final seconds to keep Saban’s Tide unbeaten, Ian R. Rapoport, Birmingham News
University of Alabama coach Nick Saban is already beginning to wipe clean the memories of the previous four years. Former coach Mike Shula went 49 games without a fourth-quarter comeback. In Saban’s short tenure, that devastating statistic is gone after three games.
With 8 seconds left Saturday night, quarterback John Parker Wilson found senior Matt Caddell in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard score to cap a 73-yard drive and give Alabama a 41-38 win over No. 16 Arkansas.
“Exciting, huh?” Saban said.
Even after allowing the Razorbacks 28 unanswered points, and even after taking the ball with 73 yards to go and 2 minutes 13 seconds left, Alabama was still able to march down for a win.
Four years without a fourth-quarter comeback? Old news.
“Been a loooong time,” said Wilson, who finished 24-of-45 passing for 327 yards with four touchdowns. “It’s good to fight like that. To be up, to be down, to come back and win, it says a lot about our football team. We spent all spring, all summer, all fall talking about the fourth quarter, and we pulled it out.”
On that final drive, Wilson was 7-of-10 for 73 yards, and he was helped by two Razorback pass-interference penalties. It ended with Caddell leaping over Arkansas defender Jamar Love in the end zone, sending the Alabama players toward that end of the field to create a dog-pile around Caddell and sending the 92,318 fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium into delirium.
As for Saban, he calmly held up one finger, signaling an extra point. Leigh Tiffin – last year’s goat for his three missed field goals and a missed extra point – knocked it through. Tiffin also made a 42-yard field goal with 4:20 left to keep his team alive.
Heisman Trophy hopeful and Arkansas running back Darren McFadden gained 195 yards on 33 carries with two touchdowns, while sidekick Felix Jones had 106 rushing yards. The duo left the defense ragged, but happy. “I feel pretty good,” safety Rashad Johnson said. “We came out with a win.”
The Tide controlled the game from the outset, scoring first and building a quick 21-0 lead. In the process, receiver DJ Hall became the program’s all-time leading receiver by breaking a record of 2,070 yards held by Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome. Hall had 172 yards on six catches with two touchdowns for the game.
Alabama made one final stop before halftime, leaving the Razorbacks to settle for a field goal. The half ended 21-10 Alabama.
Coming out of the locker room, Alabama caught a break when Arkansas receiver London Crawford fumbled after a 22-yard reception. Ezekial Knight recovered it and that turned into a Tiffin field goal to make it 24-10. No game has been complete without a big play from the punt-return game and Javier Arenas. This time, Arenas fielded a 34-yard punt on his own 40, stepped out of a tackle, then raced to his right down the sideline. The result was a 58-yard return to the 2. Wilson rolled left and found tight end Nick Walker for a 2-yard touchdown to make it 31-10.
Then it came crashing down.
The Hogs marched it right down the field in five plays, as Jones and McFadden combined for 59 yards, and quarterback Casey Dick found Andrew Davie for a 2-yard score.
That made it 31-17 late in third, then a fumbled quarterback-center exchange and an interception by Wilson were costly. Suddenly, with 12:05 remaining, the game was tied at 31. When Dick found Peyton Hills on a 7-yard touchdown, Arkansas led 38-31.
“The fumbled snap, that’s a basic fundamental,” Saban said. “The interception was not a good throw. Those are the kinds of things we need to learn from and grow from and eliminate.”
No matter. On its first try to tie the game, Alabama found itself with fourth-and-6 from the 25. Saban opted for a field goal. “It was the right thing to do,” he said. “I asked the defense, `Can you stop them?’ They said they could.”
All the defense had to do was stop Arkansas – without McFadden, who had a slight concussion – one more time to give the offense the ball back. “We do that in practice,” Johnson said. “It’s called, `Get the ball back.’”
The result was the game-winning drive.
Tide blows big lead, but thrives, survives with late TD drive, Paul Gattis, Huntsville Times
“I’m proud of the way our players competed in the game,” Saban said. “We always talk about playing 60 minutes and to score with 8 seconds left, it’s an easy way to reinforce a point.”
It was Alabama’s first last-minute touchdown for a win since the 1996 win over Auburn.
Tide comes back to upset Arkansas 41-38, Christopher Walsh, Tuscaloosa News
It went from thereâ€™s no way the University of Alabama football team was going to lose, to there was no way it was going to win, to how on earth did the Crimson Tide pull that off?
Although Coach Nick Saban didnâ€™t want Saturday night to be about absolution or an attempt to get even for last yearâ€™s double-overtime loss to Arkansas, thatâ€™s exactly what happened despite his best efforts.
After blowing a 21-point lead, when the offense self-destructed and the defense apparently could no longer slow down the Razorbacksâ€™ running game, the Tide had one final chance with 2 minutes, 13 seconds remaining and 73 yards to go. Amazingly, it came through, with senior wide receiver Matt Caddell making three of his nine receptions to help set up his clutch 4-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone for an unbelievable 41-38 victory.
â€œExciting night, huh?â€ Saban said after his first SEC home game at the Capstone. â€œIâ€™m certainly proud of the way our players played. You always talk about playing 60 minutes.â€
In many ways, it was a typical Alabama-Arkansas game, hard-hitting with injuries and helmets flying off peopleâ€™s heads, not to mention last-minute dramatics. Only this time the Razorbacks felt the heartache, while the Tide improved to 3-0 overall, 2-0 in the SEC to likely secure at least an inside track to a Jan. 1 bowl game.
â€œI knew if I could get up there â€¦ â€ Caddell said of his leaping catch that sent both the Bryant-Denny Stadium faithful and the Alabama sideline into pandemonium.
â€œAmazing,â€ said sophomore Javier Arenas, who had a 58-yard punt return, after the locker room. â€œI canâ€™t describe it.â€
Caddell TD caps wild finish as Bama upsets Arkansas , AP/ESPN
Welcome to the Nick Saban era, Bama fans.
After twice blowing 21-point leads, Alabama marched down the field from its own 27 over the final 2:13, mostly on the Wilson-to-Caddell connection. Wilson hit Caddell across the middle for a 19-yard completion and two 9-yarders to move the ball across midfield. Kevin Woods and Matterral Richardson were both whistled for pass interference, Richardson on a third-and-9 play, to set Alabama up with a first down at the 13. After Wilson hit Keith Brown for a 9-yarder, he found a leaping Caddell in the left side of the end zone two plays later, sending the crowd into a frenzy and prompting a celebratory pileup on the receiver.
“I knew if I got it up there and gave him a chance, he’d make a play,” said Wilson, who was 7-for-8 for 56 yards on the final drive. “I got the ball outside and gave Matt a chance to make the play, and he did.”
Alabama didn’t manage a come-from-behind win in the fourth quarter during Mike Shula’s four-year tenure.
The Tide’s decision to settle for Leigh Tiffin’s 42-yard field goal to make it 38-34 paid off when Arkansas was stopped on its next possession. McFadden sat out the series with a a slight concussion, coach Houston Nutt said.
“I did have confidence that we could stop them,” Saban said. “I asked the players on the sidelines, ‘Can we stop them?’ They said they could, so I believed them. And they did. “It was the right thing to do.”
“I felt like our team did not play in the second half like we needed to play,” Saban said. “We melted down a little bit, which to me is you drop your guard psychologically.”
The Atlanta Falcons have taken the best defensive lineman still on the board: Arkansas DE Jamaal Anderson.
Rick Gosselin’s Final Ranking: 11th overall
Mel Kiper Final Ranking: 13th overall
Scout.com Player Evaluation: Possessing size, growth potential and a lot of natural skill, Anderson is a terrific prospect with a large amount of upside. Can be used as a pass-rushing right end, but also has the abilities to grow into a two-gap lineman. Must physically mature and improve his playing strength, yet will quickly make an impact at the next level if he focuses on the task at hand.
- Pass Rushing Skills
- Techniques and Moves
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
- Disengaging Skills
Biography: Became a full-time starter last season and earned All-Conference honors after numbers of 65/19.5/13.5. Started five games as a sophomore and posted 47/10.5/4.
Pos: Athletic defensive end with tremendous upside. Keeps his pads low to the ground playing with terrific leverage and is rarely off his feet. Plays with terrific balance and body control, and easily beats immobile blockers. Fast off the edge, immediately alters his angle of attack or quickly redirects to the action. Shows skills in pursuit and solid playing speed. Attacks opponents with his hands working to get off blocks and displays an array of moves to protect himself. Quickly gets off the snap with a nice first step and makes a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Neg: Lacks overall playing strength and is slow shedding blocks once engaged at the point.
The Miami Dolphins are on the board.
Chances are Anderson wasn’t the Falcons’ first choice, as they need to get a safety that can make an impact this year. They were also reportedly hoping to get one of the top two offensive tackles if they didn’t take a safety. But with Landry, Thomas and Brown off the board, Atlanta did well to get decent value and fill their need at defensive end here. Anderson certainly needs to get more consistent and he doesn’t have elite athletic ability.
However, he is a relentless pass rusher who has good closing speed and can deliver the big hits when he gets to the quarterback, which should soften the blow of losing Patrick Kerney. Atlanta’s run defense should benefit from getting Anderson. Anderson has the size to hold his ground against the run and the upper body strength to shed blocks quickly once he learns how to use his hands a little better.
Mitch Mustain, last year’s freshman sensation quarterback, has been granted his release from the Arkansas Razorbacks after some strange twists and turns.
Mustain has received permission to transfer, coach Houston Nutt said Tuesday. The announcement came a year to the day after Mustain made public his final decision to sign with the Razorbacks.
Nutt said Tuesday that Mustain had asked for and been granted his release. Nutt appeared to be holding out hope that the freshman would decide to stay at Arkansas. “I don’t know for sure where we are right now,” Nutt told reporters at a news conference in Fayetteville. “Naturally, I don’t want him to go. I want him to stay here.” But Nutt acknowledged he doesn’t remember many instances of players changing their minds after being released.
Gus Malzahn, who coached Mustain at Springdale High School in Arkansas, was the Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator this season. But Malzahn left Arkansas this week to become assistant head coach and co-offensive coordinator at Tulsa.
Mustain went 8-0 as a starter in 2006, helping Arkansas to a 10-4 season and a No. 15 national ranking. But Mustain was benched in a November win over South Carolina, and he hardly played again until splitting time with starter Casey Dick in Arkansas’ Capital One Bowl loss to Wisconsin.
Mustain was the Parade magazine prep player of the year in 2005. He said in August of that year he would attend Arkansas, but he opened his recruitment again after his high school season ended. On Jan. 16, 2006, Mustain told a newspaper he would play for the Razorbacks.
A recent book about Springdale’s 2005 season shed more light on Mustain’s recruitment. According to the book, while he was considering which school to go to, Mustain questioned the sophistication of Arkansas’ offense. He also made an off-the-cuff comment after Nutt took credit for a play call following an Arkansas win. The quarterback said Arkansas “would have a better chance of getting me” if Nutt were fired.
Arkansas hired Malzahn after the 2005 season, and Mustain eventually signed with the Razorbacks. Williams and Cleveland also signed after they appeared headed elsewhere.
All three played as freshmen, but Arkansas relied on its running game — tailback Darren McFadden was the Heisman Trophy runner-up. The spread, no-huddle offense Malzahn used at Springdale was never a factor.
The Razorbacks won 10 straight games at one point — but the warm feelings from that stretch have been overshadowed lately. Arkansas lost three straight to end the season, and as the Razorbacks prepared for their bowl, Nutt was still being asked about the controversy surrounding his team.
Quite bizarre, frankly.