Bama's Cyrus Kouandjio '50-50' on return

Anniston StarDecember 29, 2013 

NEW ORLEANS -- After Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest announced he'll be returning for his senior season on Saturday, another Crimson Tide junior is holding out.

During his interview session on Sunday, left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio said he's "50-50" and will make a decision after the Sugar Bowl.

"I'll look at my pros and my cons, write it all down and make a decision," Kouandjio said. "(I'm) like 50-50 now."

Kouandjio is a third-year junior and is considered to be a lock as a first-round pick. In his mock draft, ESPN's Todd McShay has Kouandjio going 10th overall to the Tennessee Titans.

Most draft experts have Kouandjio ranked behind Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Michigan's Taylor Lewan in his position group. Lewan and Matthews are both seniors who returned to their respective schools after receiving first-round projections before this season.

Kenyan Drake's carries

There has been a lot of talk about why sophomore running back Kenyan Drake didn't play more in the Iron Bowl. Drake carried the ball four times in the first half, but didn't touch it in the second half. Drake took a hit to the knee on one of his carries and many wondered if he was injured. He continued to play on special teams and, the following week, Drake tweeted that he wasn't hurt or injured in the game.

During his Sunday news conference, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was specifically asked about Drake, but danced around the question.

"Well, the running back rotation, obviously T.J. (Yeldon) has done an outstanding job this year and what we've done is try to get a number of other players in the game to spell him at times," Nussmeier said. "Obviously, Kenyan has played a significant role for us throughout the season. Really, really excited about the progression that Derrick Henry made."

Nussmeier went on to talk about Jalston Fowler's abilities and called Yeldon the team's feature back, but wouldn't delve more into Drake's lack of carries down the stretch. In practice, Drake is working at the third running back spot during the media's viewing period behind Yeldon and Henry.

Stoops on McCarron

As he wraps up his career at Alabama, quarterback AJ McCarron's game will be put under a microscope to see how he projects to the next level.

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops compared McCarron to Oklahoma's two Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks.

"He compares probably more to guys we've had at Oklahoma, the Jason Whites, the Sam Bradfords, the prototypical throwers, that play behind traditional sets," Stoops said. "Under center, probably 70-75 percent of the game. So it's different than what we've seen. They're a little bit like Notre Dame in some of the things they do. But he's more comparable to the guys we had at Oklahoma. I guess that's probably why we recruited him."

During a recent interview, McCarron said he was going to sign with Oklahoma on signing day because he was a fan of Sam Bradford's, but ultimately stuck with his pledge to the Tide.

Nussmeier on offensive line play

Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier finally had the opportunity to publicly assess the play of the Crimson Tide's offensive line on Sunday. Nussmeier said the team knew there would be growing pains after losing so many starters, but he pointed to tight end Michael Williams as one of the biggest losses.

Now, Nussmeier feels the current group has developed into a good offensive line.

"I feel like we've really grown," Nussmeier said. "We've tried to simplify a little bit, get back to teach basics better."

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