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The Jumbo Package | 10.21.14

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Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

Kevin C. Cox

Why the SEC Brand Matters - Team Speed Kills

It's all been largely theoretical, of course, as the teams near the top lately have all been traditional powers: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, etc. The promise was there though. Keep pumping the party line, ye have-nots, and the SEC's benefit of the doubt—which helped Florida pass Michigan in 2006, which helped a little with LSU jumping from No. 7 to No. 2 in 2007, which insulated Florida from USC and Texas in 2008, which gave us an Alabama-LSU rematch in 2011, which helped prevent any discussion about Alabama and Oregon in 2012—would work in your favor too.

Now we know that promise is true. If Mississippi State—a program that had never topped the polls before this year, has one conference championship to its name, and has had two consensus All-Americans ever—can easily hold off No. 2 Florida State after it just beat No. 5 Notre Dame without even playing, then the mission is accomplished. The SEC's reputation is the most powerful thing in the game now. I can't think of any clearer proof than this.

Alabama practice report: Updating a few injuries, scout team as Tide moves on to Tennessee | AL.com

As Nick Saban said earlier, starting center Ryan Kelly was back with the first team after missing the past two weeks with a knee injury. His replacement, Bradley Bozeman was his backup Monday.

Starting right tackle Austin Shepherd was dressed in white (full contact) but was watching the drills in the media viewing period. He had a heavier brace on the left knee he sprained in the Texas A&M win. Grant Hill, who entered in his place Saturday, was with the first group.

Other players who were dinged up Saturday ― DE Jonathan Allen and LB Reuben Foster ― were practicing.

Also, running back Altee Tenpenny was back with the scout team this week.

A few 'bad' Alabama practices briefly concerned Jalston Folwer entering Texas A&M blowout | AL.com

The fifth-year senior fullback said practices Monday-Wednesday leading up to the 59-0 pounding of the No. 21 Aggies were "bad." "Just communication, the finer things," Fowler said Monday. "Just practicing slow, just normal week practice."

This was a big week for Alabama coming off the one-point win at Arkansas. "Nah, at first I was concerned," Fowler said. "But what I seen what I seen Thursday, we were focused and we were ready to play."

Alabama Crimson Tide's youth a reason for inconsistency - ESPN

According to Phil Steele’s annual Combined Experience Chart, the Crimson Tide entered the season in the bottom half of the SEC and 107th nationally in a formula that breaks down the returning experience of every two-deep depth chart in college football. With AJ McCarron, C.J. Mosley and others graduated or off to the NFL, it made sense. But pundits looked at the run of top-ranked recruiting classes and a coaching staff led by Nick Saban, and trusted it would all work out.

In a way, it has. Sort of.

Alabama is worthy of its current top-five ranking in the polls, but its journey to this point has been a rocky one. Looking at its season has required taking the long view on things, and that has been difficult to do considering all the ups and downs we have witnessed. One week you are looking at a flawed team, the next you are looking at a dominant one. Then it's simple: rinse and repeat.

It all goes back to youth. If you look at Alabama through the lens of a young team finding itself, then it all starts to make sense: the highs and lows, the mistakes, the struggles on the road. This isn’t the dominant, veteran Alabama team of years past, this is one dealing with growing pains and struggling to forge an identity.

At first glance: SEC Week 9 - SEC Blog - ESPN

Coach under the microscope: Lane Kiffin, Alabama The Tide's offensive coordinator might not have circled the third Saturday in October on his calendar, but you can bet 100,000 ticket-holding Volunteers fans sure did. In 2009 Kiffin coached his one and only season at Tennessee. He was full of promises, bravado and hot air. Other than some solid recruiting, the highlights of his 7-6 season were wins over Georgia and South Carolina and a near-miss at Alabama. Who can forget Bama's Terrance "Mount" Cody swatting away two Tennessee field goals in a 12-10 victory? Well, other than Kiffin? Now that he's back in the SEC, patrolling the Alabama sideline and steering its inconsistent offense, the vitriol is sure to reach a fever pitch on Saturday. Hundreds of students rioted when news broke of Kiffin's sudden departure in 2009. How are they going to treat his return?

Tennessee QB Justin Worley, injured O-linemen expected to play vs. Alabama, Butch Jones says | AL.com

Worley exited Saturday's game against Ole Miss late in the fourth quarter after he was knocked down hard on his shoulder by Marquis Haynes. It's the second time in Tennessee's last three SEC games in which Worley has been forced out with an injury.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones told reporters Worley had "been through a lot" but would practice Monday and be ready for Saturday's primetime game at Neyland Stadium. "Justin has been through a lot and I think it is a cumulative effect, not just the sacks but the hits that he has been through," Jones said. "He has been gritty, he has been showing great perseverance. I think it is a cumulative effect."

Tennessee's offensive line has surrendered 30 sacks this year, the majority of which have been taken by Worley. The next worst allowed by an SEC team is 16.

Oh, good Lord.  I can hear the sacks already.  Let the big dogs eat.

Videos

Nick Saban Monday press conference

Monday practice footage (linebackers, offensive line)

Blake Sims (quarterback) interview

Jalston Fowler (fullback) interview

Reggie Ragland (linebacker) interview

Nick Perry (safety) interview