Random thoughts and observations on a Wednesday morning:
The status of Jones' injured foot will be closely monitored in the weeks to come.
*Hearing starting center Barrett Jones (foot) talk Tuesday about his injury status had to make Crimson Tide fans feel better about his availability for the BCS Championship Game on January 7.
In knowing what was coming from the assembled crew of reporters, Jones offered up the following update: “My foot is sprained. I’ll be playing in the game. I’ll be fine. I’ll have this cast on I don’t know how much longer, but not much longer. I’ll be all right.”
No one ever doubted that Jones would give it a go against the Irish. What we won't know until the first few snaps of his matchup with Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix is how hard he will be able to go on it and for how long. If there's a benefit to the long layoff between games in Atlanta and Miami Gardens, Jones' foot having time to recover is it.
*One unintended positive to come from Jones' absence this week is the additional work his likely successor, Ryan Kelly, is getting with the first group. Kelly is more than capable from a technique standpoint and he's made strides physically during his time at the Capstone. If you're looking for a last-second Christmas gift for the redshirt freshman, I'm sure he'd appreciate 15 pounds added to his 6-foot-5 frame.
*Word of safety Jarrick Williams (knee) being cleared to return to practice was encouraging, but there are a few reasons why I don't expect to see the junior on the field against Notre Dame. First, it's difficult to imagine a guy seeing his first action of the season in a game for all the marbles. Second, and most importantly, playing Williams would result in him being a senior in 2013 instead of a redshirt junior.
*Funny how some media types attempt to spin every comment Nick Saban makes these days as evidence that Alabama's head coach is eyeing a return to the NFL.
Believe me, I get the need for speculation. Without it, I wouldn't have a job. But for those who continue to beat the Saban-to-the-NFL drum, how about providing some proper context for Saban's comments to your readership/listeners?
You know, little things like what/who prompted Saban to make certain comments and why he took the time to appear on a particular show in a particular area that will serve as host to a particular championship game on Jan. 7.
To those who provide that kind of background and continue to assert that Saban is headed back the Sunday game, more power to you. At least you're providing enough information to the reader/listener to allow them to develop an opinion of their own. Otherwise, you're failing at your job.
*After watching a few minutes of Baylor-Tennessee women's hoops last night I'm pretty sure Brittney Griner could give Alabama's men's team (and others) some solid minutes in the post.
*I keep hearing how Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert will be a tough matchup for Alabama's linebackers and defensive backs in the passing game, but what about the matchup Alabama tight end Michael Williams will present to Notre Dame's outside linebackers and safeties in the running game? Defending Eifert will be no easy task for the UA defense, but who's going to set the edge for the Irish defense?
*When looking at the UA men's basketball schedule in the preseason, no one circled tonight's game at Texas Tech as a potential defining moment for Anthony Grant's fourth Alabama team. For a club riding a three-game losing streak, though, the trip to Lubbock is far more important than Grant would have liked at such an early juncture in the season.
*As evidenced by acquisitions of Brett Favre, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow since 2008, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is a big proponent of star power at the quarterback position. That's why Greg McElroy will need to win over the Jets' fanbase the next two weeks.
With his team struggling to sell tickets, even Johnson would have a difficult time going against the green and white faithful should McElroy lead the Jets to a couple of wins. Otherwise, look for none of the three signal callers currently on the team's roster to start behind center in 2013. At this point, it's probably McElroy or bust for the trio.
*Back in 2002, Quinton Dial's hit on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray in the SEC Championship Game would have been a good bet to make SportsCenter's top 10 plays of the day. In 2012, a legitimate football play (that wasn't flagged) has some calling for the senior to be suspended for the BCS Championship Game. At this rate, I'm left to wonder what American tackle football will look like in 2022.
*I'm not sure if preferred walk-on quarterback Luke Del Rio will eventually win the starting job at Alabama but I do know toughness won't be an issue.
Working behind an overmatched offensive line as a junior at Jacksonville (Fla.) Episcopal High School in 2011, Del Rio took a pounding, leaving at least two games with concussion-like symptoms. After his father, Jack, took over as defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos in the offseason, Del Rio transferred to Valor Christian in Highlands Ranch, Colo., where he led his new team to the Class 5A state championship this season.
Despite breaking his left, non-throwing arm in the second week of the 2012 campaign, Del Rio didn't miss a start, finishing the season with 2,275 yards and 28 touchdowns, with just four interceptions.