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By Stan J. Griffin: October 20, 2016

With Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Sam Ponder and the rest of the ESPN College Gameday crew heading to Tuscaloosa this weekend, and the college football microscope largely centered on Saturday's juicy matchup between No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium. analysts from all over the nation are furiously dissecting what should be an intriguing chess match between tenth-year Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban and fifth-year Aggie head man Kevin Sumlin.
Other than a 59-0 blowout by the Tide over the Aggies in 2014, the recent matchups between the Southeastern Conference West Division rivals have been fairly entertaining, including last season's 41-23 victory by Alabama in College Station in which UA returned three interceptions for touchdowns to help seal that victory.
Both teams bring prolific offenses into Saturday's clash, with Alabama averaging just over 45 points per game and Sumlin's team tallying just over 40 points and a league-leading 274.3 rushing yards per contest. The Tide defense, however, is only allowing 15 points and 64 yards rushing per contest, and the Tide also continues to make things happen, scoring-wise, defensively and on special teams.
So it will be interesting to see which team is more effective in establishing its particular strengths early and often.
Alabama (7-0 overall and 4-0 in SEC play) is currently more than a two-touchdown favorite over the Aggies (6-0, 4-0 in league play) in this Top 10 matchup set for 2:30 p.m. CT (CBS), but Saban said earlier this week that he knows the visitors, who have already bested opponents such as UCLA, Auburn, Arkansas and Tennessee, will present an array of challenges for his team.

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE FOR OCTOBER 22, 2016:

UMass (1-6) at South Carolina (2-4, 1-4 SEC), Series: First Meeting, 11 a.m. CT • SEC Network,  Columbia, S.C. • Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)          

Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0 SEC) at Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC), Series: UA leads, 6-2, 2:30 p.m. CT • CBS, Last: UA, 41-23 (2015 in College Station), Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821)            

Middle Tennessee (4-2) at Missouri (2-4, 0-3 SEC), Series: MIZ leads, 1-0, 3 p.m. CT • SEC Network,  Columbia, Mo. • Faurot Field / Memorial Stadium (71,168)

Arkansas (5-2, 1-2 SEC) at Auburn (4-2, 2-1 SEC), Series: AU leads, 13-11-1, 5 p.m. CT •  Last: ARK, 54-46 OT (2015 in Fayetteville), Auburn, Ala. • Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)                      

Tennessee State (5-1) at Vanderbilt (3-4, 1-3 SEC), Series: VU leads, 1-0, 6:30 p.m. CT • ESPNU,  Nashville, Tenn. • Vanderbilt Stadium (40,350)                    

Mississippi State (2-4, 1-2 SEC) at Kentucky (3-3, 2-2 SEC)    Series: MSU leads, 22-21, 6:30 p.m. CT •  SEC Network, Last: MSU, 42-16 (2015 at Starkville), Lexington, Ky. • Commonwealth Stadium (61,000)              

Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2) at LSU (4-2, 2-1 SEC), Series: LSU leads, 59-41-4,  8 p.m. CT •  ESPN, Last: UM, 38-17 (2015 at Oxford), Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (102,321)                         

OPEN: Florida (5-1, 3-1 SEC); Georgia (4-3, 2-3 SEC), Tennessee (5-2, 2-2 SEC)

SEC FOOTBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:

OFFENSE:
Rawleigh Williams III, RB, Arkansas
Ran for 101 yards in the first half against No. 12 Ole Miss and a career-high 180 yards for the game which is the most by a Razorback in an SEC game since November of 2010.

By Stan J. Griffin: October 18, 2016

Photo by Stan J. Griffin

Fans of both Avery Johnson's University of Alabama men's basketball team and Kristy Curry's Crimson Tide women's hoop team are urged to head to Coleman Coliseum Friday for the unofficial christening party for the upcoming 2016-17 UA roundball seasons.
The 2016 Supe Store Tide Tipoff will begin at 6 p.m. CT at the venerable arena with a 45-minute autograph session featuring both teams' players and head coaches stationed throughout the concourse.
Beginning at 7 p.m., both Crimson Tide teams will be introduced followed by the on-court activities, which will involve students and representatives from both the men's and women's teams.
The dunk contest will be held in front of celebrity judges, who will be announced prior to the competition.
Friday night's event will feature a skills competition, three-point shootout and a dunk contest prior to the entertainment of the night, giving it the feel of an NBA All-Star game.
Admission to the event is free for UA students as well as men's and women's basketball season ticketholders. UA students, admitted one per student ID, will swipe their Action Card similar to a regular men's basketball game at the west entrance of Coleman Coliseum event night beginning at 6 p.m. CT.
General admission tickets for all other fans interested in attending will be $5.

Here are some simple tips to help parents prepare their child for a positive experience in kindergarten and later life.

By Stan J. Griffin: October 17, 2016

The hype meter concerning Nick Saban's No. 1 University of Alabama football team, as generated by the local and national press corps, has been ramped up a notch following the Tide's impressive 49-10 rout of the Tennessee Volunteers Saturday in Neyland Stadium.
As if the hype and pressure for this team was not already persistent enough.
Many analysts from ESPN and other national networks are proclaiming that the Tide (7-0 overall, 4-0 in Southeastern Conference play) has distanced itself from just about other team in the nation other than maybe Ohio State and Michigan, and one local columnist even suggested Sunday that this Alabama team is beginning to perhaps distinguish itself as Saban's best team yet at the Capstone.
But with five games still to play in the regular season, such talk is surely still premature at this point, and Saban said Monday his team cannot afford to focus on self-gratification, especially with No. 6 Texas A&M coming to town this coming Saturday, sporting a perfect record itself at 6-0.
Alabama and Kevin Sumlin's Aggies (also 4-0 in league play) are set to clash Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game is set for a 2:30 p.m. CT kickoff and the pivotal league showdown will be televised by CBS.
"I think the question is, do you rest on your laurels, or do you stay hungry to try to improve, and build on the things that you did correctly, and fix the ones that you didn't?," said Saban. "So you can either build on it or rest on it."
The 10th-year Tide coach, who improved his Alabama record to 10-0 against Tennessee this past weekend, said complacency would obviously not benefit his team in any way for its upcoming game against a very talented and prolific Aggie squad.

By Stan J. Griffin: October 15, 2016

With the No. 1 Alabama and No. 9 Tennessee football teams both bringing in prolific offenses to their big Southeastern Conference showdown Saturday at Neyland Stadium, the pivotal league clash certainly had all the makings for one of those entertaining shootouts.
Unfortunately for Butch Jones' host Volunteers, the Crimson Tide defense had other ideas.
A Tennessee team that racked up nearly 700 yards in its previous game against Texas A&M was held to 163 by a smothering UA stop unit, and the Alabama offense racked up 594 total yards, including 438 on the ground, as the Crimson Tide dismantled the Volunteers 49-10 before a capacity crowd of 102,455 in Knoxville.
The Tide’s rushing yard total was the most by an Alabama team since the Tide rushed for 457 yards against Tennessee in a 56-28 win in 1986, also in Knoxville.
The Crimson Tide improved to 7-0 overall on the season, including 4-0 in SEC play, while Tennessee fell to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in league play. Alabama also won its 10th consecutive game over its longtime conference rival, all with Nick Saban as the Tide’s head coach.
"This is as proud of our team as I've been all year long in terms of playing a complete game against a very good team, especially in a tough environment,” said Saban.
Late in the third quarter, the Tide put together a 91-yard scoring march together, and ArDarius Stewart capped the eight-play drive by scoring on a 29-yard run to put Alabama up 7-0.

By Stan J. Griffin: October 13, 2016

Alabama vs. Tennessee says it all.
It is one of the most fabled college football rivalries, not only in the tradition-rich Southeastern Conference, but in the nation as well.
It conjures up images and memories of tremendous battles between teams directed by legendary coaches General Robert Neyland and Paul W. "Bear" Bryant.
It is Bryant as a Crimson Tide player playing on a broken leg against the Volunteers, and Neyland himself noting, "You never know what a football player is made of until he plays Alabama."
It is "Roll Tide" and "Rocky Top" and victory cigars after the Crimson Tide gets a big win over that hated rival suited up in orange and white.
Many Crimson Tide fans, especially of the older generation, claim that the Tide/Vols clash is Alabama's main grudge match, even more so than the iconic annual Iron Bowl showdown between UA and Auburn.
Regardless of what the opinion is for Tide fans in that regard, no one can dispute that this rivalry certainly ranks high in the annals of college football lore.
It has also been a particularly streaky feud game, as the Crimson Tide won 11 straight in the series from 1971 to 1981 before Tennessee responded by winning four straight from 1982-85.
UA won eight out of nine from 1986-94, but the Vols captured seven in a row from 1995 to 2001.

Mandatory reporting of all deer and turkey harvests through Alabama’s Game Check system is now required by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR). Hunters will have 48 hours to report their harvest through the recently updated Outdoor Alabama mobile app, online at www.outdooralabama.com, or by phone at 1-800-888-7690.

Shopping with children can be a challenge at times.  Plan ahead and have some basic expectations in place so the experience is pleasant for all!

The Alabama Forestry Commission has now issues a fire alert for 46 of Alabama’s 67 counties. All outside burning is now banned in these counties. The decision comes as a drought continues in these areas, and the danger of wildfires continues.

By Stan J. Griffin: October 10, 2016

University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban still had the look and sound of a frustrated coach on Monday, even nearly two days after the 49-30 win by his No. 1 Crimson Tide team over the then-No. 16 Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville.
Although Alabama was never seriously threatened in that game, and had a sizeable advantage most of the contest, defensive lapses by the Crimson Tide probably kept the game much closer than it needed to be.
Arkansas was able to keep the ball for over 37 minutes,  score 30 points and tally 473 total yards of offense, 400 of those yards through the air against a UA secondary that struggled mightily at times.
"I think we had some lapses in the game, I think we still are searching to be able to play a complete game," said Saban. "We got ahead in the game and sort of relaxed a little bit and didn't play with the same intensity and it really affected how we played in the second half. We didn't control the ball at all in the second half, and we only had the ball for 17 plays, turned it over a couple of times, three and out, and the defense ended up playing over 50 plays in the second half. You're not really in control of the game when you do that, regardless of what the score is."
Saban said it is time for his team to learn some lessons from Saturday in terms of giving a more complete effort, and what better time to start than this week against a No. 9 Tennessee team that never seems to be out of a game, even after falling into big holes against opponents such as Florida, Georgia and this past weekend against Texas A&M.
The comeback magic for the Vols finally came to an end on Saturday as they fell in double overtime to the Aggies in College Station, but Saban said he knows Butch Jones' team is a very dangerous opponent.

By Stan J. Griffin: October 8, 2016

Although the No. 1 Alabama football team faced a loud and crazed atmosphere Saturday night at Razorback Stadium as it clashed with Bret Bielema's No. 16 Arkansas squad, it hardly seemed to faze Crimson Tide freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts and his young group of offensive playmakers.
The Alabama youth movement continued to translate into big dividends for Nick Saban's team, and an opportunistic UA defense forced a handful of Arkansas miscues as the Tide rolled to a 49-24 win over the Razorbacks in a pivotal Southeastern Conference West Division showdown.
Alabama improved to 6-0 overall on the season and 3-0 in SEC play while the host Arkansas team fell to 4-2 overall and 0-2 in league play.
The Tide won its 18th-consecutive game before a crowd of 75,459 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Hurts ran for a pair of scores while throwing for two more, and Tide sophomore cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick had three interceptions, including one returned for a TD to lead an Alabama defense that had five takeaways overall.
Hurts led a Crimson Tide offense that tallied 517 yards of offense by hitting 13 of 17 passes for 253 yards, along with two touchdowns and an interception. ArDarius Stewart was Hurts' leading target in his return from an ankle injury as he hauled in five passes for 120 yards, including a long catch of 67 yards.
Damien Harris led the Crimson Tide ground attack as he had 13 carries for 122 yards. Joshua Jacobs added three rushes for 57 yards and Bo Scarbrough had seven carries for 56 yards and a score.
Punter JK Scott had four kicks for an average of 51.5 yards and a long kick of 63 yards.
Defensively, Ryan Anderson and Shaun Dion Hamilton led Alabama with nine tackles each, with Ronnie Harrison adding eight and Rashaan Evans with seven.

By Stan J. Griffin: October 6, 2016

As the No. 1 Alabama football team has rolled to a 5-0 record thus far in the 2016 season, Nick Saban's team would probably still merit an incomplete grade at this point.
Although there have been some definite positives, such as finding a talented young leader at quarterback, continuing to develop along areas such as the offensive line and perfecting the art of the non-offensive touchdown, items such as turnovers, a general lack of fundamental execution at times and inconsistency and nagging injuries have perhaps prevented this team from being all it could be.
If there one certainty about this Crimson Tide team, however, it is that Alabama's true identity should be revealed during the course of the next four games, a stretch of grueling Southeastern Conference games that will no doubt be the defining one of the 2016 season.
It includes road games against No. 9 Tennessee and LSU and a home tilt against No. 8 Texas A&M.
And it begins Saturday with a trip to Fayetteville to battle Bret Bielema's No. 16 Arkansas Razorbacks.

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY, OCT. 8, 2016:   

Auburn (3-2, 1-1 SEC) at Mississippi State (2-2, 1-1 SEC), Series: AU leads, 61-26-2, 11 a.m. CT • SEC Network, Starkville, Miss. • Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (61,337)                   

LSU (3-2, 2-1 SEC) at Florida (4-1, 2-1 SEC),  Series: UF leads, 31-28-3, 11 a.m. CT,  ESPN,   Gainesville, Fla. • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field (88,548)            

Tennessee (5-0, 2-0 SEC) at Texas A&M (5-0, 3-0 SEC), Series: UT leads, 2-0,  2:30 p.m. CT • CBS, College Station, Texas • Kyle Field (102,512)                        

Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-2 SEC) at Kentucky (2-3, 1-2 SEC), Series: Tied, 42-42-4, 3 p.m. CT • SEC Network, Lexington, Ky. • Commonwealth Stadium (61,000)                                       

Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) at Arkansas (4-1, 0-1 SEC), Series: UA leads, 18-8, 6 p.m. CT • ESPN, Fayetteville, Ark. • Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)

Georgia (3-2, 1-2 SEC) at South Carolina (2-3, 1-3 SEC), Series: UGA leads, 48-18-2, 6:30 p.m. CT •  SEC Network,  Columbia, S.C. • Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)                                         .

OPEN: Ole Miss (3-2, 1-1 SEC); Missouri (2-3, 0-2 SEC).

As a parent, you want to ensure the best for your children.  You take them to the most trusted doctors and pediatricians, you send them to reputable schools, and you protect their physical well-being.  However, many parents are not aware of one of the most common difficulties facing children and adolescents; Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD).

Can you feel it? That slight dip in temperatures and the deepening of the blue skies that signals the official arrival of fall in Alabama? It’s a feeling that’s indescribable, and positively exhilarating. And it moves many of us to fling open our doors, lace up some hiking boots and set off into the great outdoors, in search of adventure (or just beautiful scenery).

Southeastern Outings, a non-profit organization which sponsors outdoor outings, has a lot lined up this month. All of these activities are open to the public. The events include easy day hikes, bicycle rides, and more – exploring some of the most scenic spots in Alabama.

Here is this month’s Southeastern Outings Calendar of Events. For more information, visit seoutings.org. Have fun!

By Stan J. Griffin: October 3, 2016

After evaluating the film of Saturday's 34-6 homecoming win by the No. 1 Alabama football team over Kentucky, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday that he saw his team execute much better in the second half after a somewhat sloppy first half where it stopped itself on numerous occasions with items such as dropped balls, missed assignments and general gaffes in terms of execution.
Saban said the overall good news for his 5-0 team, however, is that he is continuing to see steady improvement from it.
"We need to play better over and over and over again, especially when you play better teams," he said. "I think we had some outstanding performances in (Saturday's) game and I think our team is making progress, but I think we need to continue to do that, continue to work as every week in the SEC, you've got a real challenge and a real test."
Continuing to polish its overall game, while also continuing to trim its number of mistakes, will no doubt be crucial as Alabama enters into what will likely be a defining stretch of league games that includes showdowns with No. 9 Tennessee, No. 8 Texas A&M and LSU.
That grueling road begins this week with a road game against the No. 16/18 Arkansas Razorbacks (6 p.m., ESPN), and Saban said he feels Bret Bielema's squad is a "really, really good team."
The Razorbacks are 4-1 overall and 0-1 in Southeastern Conference play, with their only loss to No. 8 Texas A&M.

By Stan J. Griffin: October 1, 2016

After a week of having to cope with a great deal of outside noise, the No. 1 Alabama football team was no doubt hoping the magic and charm of Homecoming would be just the elixir it would need to get back on positive footing as it faced off against Mark Stoops' Kentucky Wildcats Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
And thanks to the offensive trio of Jalen Hurts, Calvin Ridley and Joshua Jacobs, all freshmen and sophomores by the way, and another smothering effort by the UA defense, Alabama shook off a slow and sloppy start to roll 34-6 in front of a capacity crowd 101,821.
Alabama improved to 5-0 overall on the season, as well as 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play, while the visiting Wildcats fell to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in league play.
Hurts led the Tide offense by completing 20 of 33 passes for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also carrying the ball nine times for 25 yards. Ridley, his main weapon on the evening, hauled in a career-best 11 throws for 174 yards and a pair of scoring receptions.
Jacobs, meanwhile, gained his first 100-yard game on the collegiate ranks as he carried the ball 16 times for 100 yards and a TD. He also caught three passes for 44 yards, including a long reception of 23 yards.
“I thought we executed a little better in the second half, I thought we were a little sloppy in the first half,” said Tide coach Nick Saban after the game. “I thought the defense played well and I thought it was a pretty good win for us. I thought we left some points out there by not finishing some drives. There are certainly a lot of lessons to be learned from this game. We have to be more consistent in the passing game. Things like that we just have to continue to work on.”

By Stan J. Griffin: September 29, 2016

For schools such as the University of Alabama, Homecoming week means many things, including bonfires, pep rallies and the crowning of a new Homecoming Queen.
It is a beloved and festive time for students, fans and alumni, but it can also translate into myriad distractions for a football team such as Nick Saban's No. 1 Crimson Tide squad.
And with Alabama already dealing with off-the-field happenings such as the apparent departure of redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Barnett and the arrest of senior linebacker Tim Williams, you can bet that Saban and his staff will be working overtime to make sure that the top-ranked Crimson Tide is focused on gaining a big Homecoming win on Saturday as well as improving to 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play.
Alabama (4-0, 1-0 in SEC play) will square off against Mark Stoops' Kentucky Wildcats (2-2, 1-1) at Bryant Denny Stadium in a 6 p.m. CT clash.
The contest will be televised by ESPN, and the Crimson Tide is currently a 35-point favorite over the Wildcats. 
Saban said earlier this week that he knows that Homecoming week is much anticipated at UA, but noted that his team needs to be focused on executing well against a Wildcat team that has shown improvement since struggling out of the gate with an 0-2 start.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) announces that youth and adult trapping workshops will open for registration on October 3, 2016. The workshops are being offered as a cooperative project between ADCNR, the Alabama Trappers and Predator Control Association, USDA Wildlife Services and Safari Club International. 

Lake Tuscaloosa Living (LTL) is the premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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