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The Jumbo Package | 11.06.13

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Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

Kevin C. Cox


LSU receivers think there are plays to be made against the vaunted Tide secondary |

"Nobody is invincible," Landry said. "No team is invincible and no defense is invincible. They do a lot of great things well, but we do a lot of great things well, also. It comes down to individual guys making plays."

LSU-Bama lacks recent luster, but rivalry alive | Shreveport Times

"You can’t hide the fact that this rivalry is huge," LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson said Monday.

"I think Alabama fans hate us, then Auburn, then Tennessee," said LSU fullback Connor Neighbors, who grew up in Huntsville, Ala., and should know. His brother Wesley played on Alabama’s 2011 national championship team, his father Wes played at Alabama from 1983-86 and his grandfather Billy played on Bear Bryant’s first national championship team at Alabama in 1961.

"That’s how the people I know see it," Neighbors said. "The LSU game means the most to the Alabama people now."

I"m going to venture to say that young Mr. Neighbors is misinformed about the fan base at large. While the LSU game probably has meant more than the Auburn or Tennessee games in recent years, that is more due to the fact that the LSU game has been instrumental in determining who wins the West, rather than the result of general animosity. In the hatred rankings, I suspect most Bama fans would still put Tennessee and Auburn well before LSU. What do you guys think?

LSU fullback J.C. Copeland said he's 100 percent for Alabama game |

Copeland sat out last week's practices but returned to the field on Monday. His play will be crucial to the Tigers' running game against a stout Alabama defense that leads the SEC and is ranked No. 7 nationally.

"I feel good," said Copeland, a 6-feet-, 270-pound senior. "The last couple of weeks the symptoms have gotten better. I felt a little light headache and a couple things bothered me but I'm back in it.

"I had contact (in practice Monday) today. I'm very happy about that. It gave me something to do."

My dislike for this guy is well documented. I've seen him get flagged for personal fouls (or do something worthy of a penalty that didn't get flagged) and then huff around on the sideline disrespecting his coaches and teammates on more than one occasion, and to say I'm not a fan is an understatement. He wears number 44. Watch for him on Saturday, and if he gets flagged for a personal foul before halftime, remember who told you so ahead of time.


Bama O-line hitting stride at the right time | ESPN

So it's no wonder we've seen such a dramatic improvement from Alabama's offensive line over the past few weeks. The line hasn't allowed a single sack since the third quarter of the Ole Miss game on Sept. 28 -- that's a streak of 17 quarters for those keeping score at home -- and the running game is suddenly potent again. The offense has begun to click on all cylinders, jumping up to No. 35 nationally with 462.8 yards per game.

Coach Nick Saban touted their improved chemistry and trust with one another, saying how important experience has been to their development.

"They have played well," he said. "They've run blocked well these last few weeks. The last four weeks we thought played well on the offensive line. I think that's important to us, especially with AJ. If he doesn't get pressured in the pocket and we get people open, he's pretty accurate throwing the ball and makes good choices and decisions.

Inside McCarron's memorable month | ESPN

AJ McCarron quietly had the best statistical month of his career.

He completed nearly 71 percent of his passes during October and had 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in 99 attempts.

It was the fourth-highest touchdown percentage for any FBS player with at least 70 attempts and tied for McCarron’s most touchdowns in any four-game stretch during his career.

McCarron has been playing virtually mistake-free football. Since Oct. 1, he is the only FBS quarterback with at least three starts who has not been sacked, and he is one of five such quarterbacks who have no turnovers. McCarron and Middle Tennessee’s Logan Kilgore are the only players in the last three seasons to throw 75 passes in a month without being sacked or intercepted. Kilgore did it last November.

Now all of that is all well and good, until you keep reading and find the mother of all qualifiers tucked away at the bottom of the article:

To be fair, McCarron has not faced a defense ranked in the top 50 of the FBS in points per game since Week 1 against Virginia Tech. In that game, he posted a season-low 23.4 Total QBR. McCarron will get his second crack at a top 50 defense Saturday with No. 13 LSU coming to Tuscaloosa.


Take 2: Big-game AJ McCarron? | ESPN

He might not be the best quarterback in the country, even in the SEC, and he might not be the game’s most talented or entertaining quarterback.

But there’s not a better big-game quarterback in college football than McCarron, and he’s proven that time and time again.

When the Crimson Tide have needed him most, he’s almost always delivered, which is why Alabama coach Nick Saban has so much faith in McCarron.

Saban has said repeatedly that McCarron doesn’t get the credit outside the program that he deserves. Then again, McCarron will gladly take rings over credit.

Interesting debate here, and truthfully, the guy that presents the counterpoints (taking the position that AJ is not the country's best "big game quarterback") makes a number of salient points. To me, at this point, it comes down to this: is there anyone else I'd want at the helm? And that answer is an emphatic "no".

Agent says Nick Saban would only consider leaving Alabama for Texas |

The agent, Jimmy Sexton, made the comments during a 45-minute call with former Texas Regent Tom Hicks and current Regent Wallace Hall. Hicks detailed the call in a Sept. 24 email that was obtained Tuesday by the AP through an open-records request.

"Sexton confirmed that UT is the only job Nick would possibly consider leaving Alabama for, and that his success there created special pressure for him," Hicks wrote.

The pressure was not further explained in the email and Sexton declined comment Tuesday. Saban was not available after practice.

Excuse me, Associated Press? ... STAAAHHP. Okay, let's put on our big boy pants and talk frankly about this situation. First off, this isn't a new conversation. These are more details about the conversation that took place last February. Secondly, these new comments don't in any way indicate that Saban is leaving, only that Saban did at some point in the past year consider leaving. I think Saban may very well have had a real interest in the Texas position, but he had no desire to bump Mack to make that happen. When it didn't go that way, he backed off, and I really believe that the odds are against him leaving now (provided Mack doesn't get fired in the off-season...).

One final note, I find it odd that the "special pressure" comment would be used as a possible excuse to leave Alabama. No doubt, Saban has created absurd expectations, but those expectations are attached to him as a coach, not just to Alabama. If he were to go to Texas now, they would wand (and expect) two or three national championships every five years. If and when that special pressure gets to be too much, I'm afraid the only sanctuary for Saban will be found sitting on his porch by the lake, watching ducks sh*t on the lawn.

Denzel Devall (who grew up an LSU fan) on the upcoming game