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October 14, 2013
Insider Report: Former UA commitment playing well for Arkansas
Through six games, Alabama has fumbled six times, losing three. Two of those came against Kentucky last Saturday night.
Ball security has been a trademark for Alabama running backs during Saban's tenure, and UA assistant coach Burton Burns is known as one of the best running backs coaches in the country.
After reviewing the film, UA coach Nick Saban said the plays were correctable.
"Probably more than anything, technique," Saban said. "Took a handoff and put the ball in the wrong arm and then tried to change it and got hit when they were trying to change it. The other time the guy's carrying the ball a little bit low and trying to give some extra effort and just sort of lost it.
"Uncharacteristic for our backs, but it's something that we certainly need to work on."
Philon returns to the state
Darius Philon is not a stranger to the Alabama football program. The Arkansas redshirt freshman defensive lineman played at Vigor High School and was verbally committed to the Crimson Tide for more than a year before deciding to attend Arkansas after Alabama asked him to grayshirt.
His high school coach, Kerry Stevenson, is also on the UA staff as a director of player development.
Philon is making the most of his freshman season. He turned in a monster game against South Carolina with a career high three tackles for loss and added a quarterback sack, a forced fumble and four tackles. For the season he has 18 tackles, including six for loss and three sacks. He also has two quarterback hurries.
Saban said he wishes he had Darius on his team.
"We think a lot of Darius," Saban said. "He was a very, very good high school player. Had great quickness. Played in a really good program. We certainly though a lot of him and not surprised at all that he's done extremely well at Arkansas and that he's playing well for them and may have an opportunity to start this week.
"We'd love to have him in our program here. It didn't work out that way for us. As everybody that we recruit, we want to see him do well wherever they end up going.
He's certainly done a really good job there and we're really happy for him and his family."
Nothing new on Ha Ha
Saban said there is nothing new on suspended junior safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix was suspended for a violation of team rules.
"When we do get new information, we'll certainly be glad to give it to you."
Though suspended, Clinton-Dix continues to practice with the team.
"I think he's done as good a job in trying to practice and continue to improve working and practicing on scout team as anyone could," Saban said. "I'm sure it's a difficult circumstance. Nobody that is a true competitor likes not to be there for his teammates. Ha Ha has been that kind of player for us. But it's also the point that you've got to make good choices and decisions about what you do, and when you don't do the right things, there are consequences that we all have to suffer through. Hopefully this will be a great learning experience for not only Ha Ha but each and every player on our team."
Kelly returns to practice
Center Ryan Kelly practiced with the team Monday afternoon, as the sophomore continues to progress from a sprained MCL he sustained in the Sept. 28 win over Ole Miss.
Saban said Kelly could miss two or three weeks. Kelly has sat out the previous two games with backup Chad Lindsay playing against Georgia State and Kentucky.
Offensive lineman Grant Hill felt the full brunt of Saban's wrath after jumping offsides in the second quarter of Alabama's win over Kentucky. The freshman got a tongue lashing from the veteran coach.
Senior guard Anthony Steen has seen it before, though he doesn't recall if he's ever been the recipient.
"I don't know if I'm trying to block it out. I probably have I just don't remember it," Steen said. "But when I saw Coach Saban was hot (Saturday night), I kind of just walked away. I wanted to make sure Grant had all that."
Sunseri praises Williams, Collins
Vinnie Sunseri has been impressed with defensive backfield mates Jarrick Williams and Landon Collins.
Williams has made an impression at the Crimson Tide's Star position with his physical play.
"He's a big, strong, physical guy. When you get hit by him, you feel it from him," Sunseri said. "He's strong, now. We'll be messing around off-the-field and he'll push me around and I'll say, "You've got to calm down, man. You're too big to do that, now.' He can hit you, he can cover, and having him blitzing is a real threat, too."
Collins, who has filled in for Clinton-Dix, continues to improve.
"He's got really good eye control, fits the gaps when he needs to fit the gaps, has good coverage and knows exactly what he's supposed to do most of the time and having him back there with me has been really good," Sunseri said.
It's not odd for the other quarterbacks to pick starter AJ McCarron's brain. Few quarterbacks in the history of college football have achieved what McCarron has.
Walk-on freshman Luke Del Rio is learning as much as he can from McCarron.
"I like Luke a lot. I kind of mess with him," McCarron said. "He's always around me trying to learn everything. Sometimes you've got to try to hide from him, get away. He's a really smart kid, throws a really good ball, and I think he's going to be a heck of a player in the future. I really do."
Reach Aaron Suttles at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.