"Where are we going into this game as opposed to Oregon? I think we know a little bit more about ourselves," Jones said at his Monday press conference in Knoxville. "I think our players understand it's a great challenge but it's also a great opportunity. Now, there's evidence. Before it was blind evidence, it was belief. Now our players believe. They can see the results."
When are teams going to learn to stop saying that they "believe"? I know they're not hash-tagging or anything, but it's just so trite to talk about how things are going to be different because you believe in yourself.
Cory Miller, Tennessee Lineman
"It's just one of those teams you don't like," he said. "You never liked. You never have any love for them, so when they come on the schedule, you know what time it is."
On Monday, Saban exited one door and Collins entered another. Roughly 15 minutes after Saban announced that Sunseri would miss the rest of the year, Collins walked into the media room of the Mal Moore Athletic Facility and was surrounded by reporters. "With Sunseri gone, what does it mean for the defensive backs?" he was asked.
"We have to step it up," Collins said matter-of-factly. "He was a big loss for our defense. Now and the student leadership needs to step up and the players need to step up that are taking his place."
Meaning he, a true sophomore with only two career starts under his belt, is part of leading one of the best defenses in college football. Alabama enters this week with the fewest touchdowns allowed in the country (eight) and ranks in the top 10 nationally in pass defense, rush defense, yards per game and first downs.
I realize that the offenses Bama has faced are awful outside of A&M, but seriously, how in the world is this team at the top of the country after getting carpet bombed in College Station? It shouldn't be possible.
The "why" of Drake's early season absence has gone by the wayside. All that seems to matter now is that he's back and Alabama is better off for it. The offense that has been known for showcasing two premier tailbacks at a time -- Eddie Lacy and Yeldon last year, Lacy and Trent Richardson the year before that, Richardson and Mark Ingram the year before that -- suddenly has the one-two punch it has been missing. Since Drake returned after Week 1, Alabama has ranked 19th in the country in rushing yards per game (231.0) and second in yards per rush (6.63).
"They complement each other and both guys have a little different running style," Saban said. "I think it's a real change of pace that they both present to the defensive players. Both guys have been productive for us and both guys have done a good job."
Picking out "since week 1" for the yards per rush is a bit silly, since it excludes the best defense the team has faced. Moreover, it's unnecessary since the yards per carry number for the entire season (6.0) is already an impressive number. At this point, it's only good for eighth in the country, but if Bama can maintain that average, it will almost certainly be good enough to be ranked number one or two at the end of the year, if the past six years are any indication.
After a wild, topsy-turvy weekend that left the SEC bloodied and bruised with four major upsets, only two teams -- No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) and No. 5 Missouri (7-0, 3-0 SEC) -- remain undefeated and with a real chance at playing in Pasadena on the final night.
After all these years, the conference is finally eating itself alive, and only two remain with the right resume for a trip to Cali.
With all due respect to Mizzou, no way does that team control its own destiny at this point. If Oregon and Florida State remain unbeaten, it doesn't matter a lick what Mizz does, I think they'd be on the outside looking in.
Surgery went awesome and I thank God for all the support! Can't wait to start working! Gonna be back stronger than before! #4monthcountdown— Vinnie Sunseri (@vsunseri3) October 22, 2013
After scoring his first touchdown of his Alabama career, freshman running back Derrick Henry wore the No. 20 scout team jersey belonging to Tennessee starter Rajion Neal.
Center Chad Lindsay was taking reps with the first team again. He's started the last three games since Ryan Kelly went down with a knee injury against Ole Miss, but coach Nick Saban said he'd be working back to full strength this week.
LaMichael Fanning was the player not with the defensive linemen, in case you were wondering. After not playing Saturday against Arkansas, you have to figure he is in the dog house. Since it feels like he's been in the doghouse as much as any player on the team, I'm not so sure that it wouldn't be unreasonable to begin to wonder if Fanning will be one of the eleven guys that we will probably see move on after this upcoming signing class (assuming we sign a full class of 25, which we will).
The wording of the Chad Lindsay blurb had me worried that Lindsay had suffered some previously unreported injury, but best I can tell, that's simply a case of pronoun confusion, and the quiet debate about whether a guy can lose his job "due to injury" will simmer in the fanbase.
Tennessee Hate of the Day
I hate Tennessee for making Bammer hate Tennessee so much that he asked me to come up with a Tennessee Hate of the Day. I ain't much for extra work, you guys.
Running Backs/Defensive Line
AJ McCarron on the Tennessee rivalry