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The Jumbo Package │08.21.14

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Your daily dose of Crimson Tide related links and quotes

Kevin C. Cox

2014 SEC Preseason Football Position Rankings: Running Backs - For Whom the Cowbell Tolls

Returning Starters/Contributors: T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry Our Thoughts:

-- Just an embarrassment of riches. TJ Yeldon returns with 2,343 career rushing yards along with Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, and Jalston Fowler for short yardage situations. (A Sea of Blue)

-- It's pretty unfair that one team has TJ Yeldon and Derrick Henry on it... and yet that team continues to sign great running backs who want to play immediately. :-( (Red Cup Rebellion)

-- TJ Yeldon is the SEC's leading returning rusher. He's got a lot of miles on him (2,2343 yards to be precise), but there is a deep and talented stable behind him. Derrick Henry was in the top ten of running backs in rushing last season as well. They are loaded. (And the Valley Shook)

-- T.J. Yeldon is the best back in the SEC not named "healthy Todd Gurley." Derrick Henry's right behind him. (Dawg Sports) -- Would you believe that Heisman-contender T.J. Yeldon isn't Alabama's best back? That's what many in Tuscaloosa think, as they expect Derrick Henry will eat up a lot of Yeldon's carries. (Garnet and Black Attack)

--This isn't even fair. I'm really high on Derrick Henry. Like, if I were any higher on Derrick Henry, I'd be Derrick Henry's hairline. I mean, the man blitzkrieg'd through Oklahoma like the second coming of General George Custer. It was one of those moments when you knew you were watching somebody special. That what you were witnessing on the television in front of you was greatness. Greatness doesn't take a "wait and see" approach. You can see it in a single play, and Henry gave us more than a handful. ...AND HENRY WON'T EVEN BE GETTING THE BULK OF THE CARRIES THIS YEAR! That honor goes to junior T.J. Yeldon, who ran over, around, and through Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o in the 2012 National Championship game in one of the biggest mismatches since Bo Jackson embarrassed the Boz. For an encore, Yeldon knocked up Te'o's fake girlfriend and then took Te'o's mother Dorothy Te'o out for a nice seafood dinner and never called her again. (Rocky Top Talk)

Looks as if the rest of the SEC has gone full gump on our RB's. #Processed

2014 SEC Preseason Football Position Rankings: Secondary - For Whom the Cowbell Tolls

-- Cornerback was the team's weakness last season, and they lost their pair of starting safeties to the NFL. At most schools that's a harbinger of doom, but this is Alabama and they'll just reload and probably improve. (A Sea of Blue)

-- While uncharacteristically thin at corner, Alabama should have a fine secondary this season. Landon Collins is arguably one of the best safeties in the country, if not the best. (Red Cup Rebellion)

-- Bama is still awesome, though. Landon Collins is already a star, and he anchors a pretty tough unit that returns almost all of its talent. It's nearly impossible to throw on Bama. The loss of Clinton-Dix hurts, but there's a bunch of young studs ready to take over. (And the Valley Shook)

-- The Tide lose a ton of talent in the secondary, but they have a slew of uber-recruits ready to plug in for those players. (Garnet and Black Attack)

So which is it, SBN SEC voters? Do we return a ton of young talent or are we thin in the secondary??

One easily-forgotten aspect of Alabama's quarterback transition improves after early issues | AL.com

"Every day you're on the field with Jacob and Blake rotating, that's one more relationship you can build," Kelly said. "As a team, we've been trying to spend more time with each other to try and build that relationship we were lacking last year."

In about an hour we will finally put 2013 to pasture and move onward to the upcoming season, but the more and more we hear players talk about last year, it just seems as if they just didn't like each other...

What in the world happened to make that team so divisive? Were AJ's tattoos THAT distracting?

Chris Black provides a wide receiver's perspective on Alabama's QB competition | AL.com

"I think we've looked decent. We can always, always do better," Black said. "There's always room for improvement, but collectively, I think we looked pretty good."

But seriously, tell us more about the quarterbacks.

"Coker definitely has a great arm," Black said. "Definitely, when he throws it, you've got to watch it into your eyes because it's humming, it's coming. But he's a great dude." And Sims? "He's definitely improved a lot," Black said, adding that Sims has improved as a passer, too. "He's more focused, being way more vocal, really stepping up as a leader, kind of trying to take control of the offense."

Another day, another 50 articles on the QB race that really give us no more information than the previous 150 articles written since Aug 1st. At least this one is coming from a current player who's actually been on the field with the two (and now three) guys.

14 for '14: The Race for the West - Team Speed Kills

As for Bama, it's feeling a little bit like 2009. Just like 2008, the 2013 season ended with a disappointing loss followed by a largely lifeless bowl flop. If you think Saban hasn't been milking that for all its worth in motivation, well, you must have come here by accident. A fully focused Saban team is a terror to behold, and we'll probably have one this year.

This does feel more like 2009 than the QB race of 2011. The defense is looking for redemption, the offensive line returns three starters, and we have silly depth at RB. The biggest differences would be we are absolutely loaded at WR and we still don't have a QB.

Scrimmage film 'hard to watch,' Alabama o-lineman says after Nick Saban questions toughness | AL.com

As an offensive line, we pride ourselves on moving the line of scrimmage back," Kelly said. "That's something we got away from. It's kind of hard to watch that kind of stuff on film. But that's something that drives us this week. We have to get better and get back to what we've been doing."

Brown is settling back in to the rotation at right guard after missing more than a week with an offseason foot injury. He was back to full speed late last week but didn't scrimmage. "He kind of had that unfortunate injury," Kelly said. "He was always competing and he still is right now. It's good to have another guy out there who's got some experience and who's an older guy. Obviously he hasn't been in the system that long, but he's a big part of what we do as an offense and I think he can really help us."

With Brown and Jackson back in the rotation, my gut tells me this OL has the potential to be really good. Maybe not 2012 good but we have size, experience, and much better depth than 2013.

2014 MSU Football Opponent Preview: Alabama - For Whom the Cowbell Tolls

Yeah, Alabama is good. Yeah, MSU hasn't beaten them in six years. But State's offense and defense are both going to be better than they were last season and given a little bit of offense, MSU could have beaten Alabama in 2013. I'm in no way telling you to bet your mortgage on MSU but it could be a trap game for the Gumps since its the week after they play LSU. All I'm saying is that I won't be surprised at all if the game is close at end. Do with that what you will.

The trap game is a legitimate point, and MSU always seems to give us fits. I think this game will be closer than most people think but Bama still wins by 10-14 points.

Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium to boast better wireless coverage, more tech upgrades in 2014 | AL.com

Simply sprucing up the concession areas is running the Crimson Tide Foundation $2.5 million, as the Board of Trustees passed a June resolution to add 54 55-inch televisions, 92 42-inch televisions, a point of sale system and more to a structure that will host seven football games in 2014. Outside of the stadium, Alabama fans will have a handful of new pre-game entertainment options. The Mercedes-Benz Fan Fest and Coca Cola Kickoff party areas have both moved to new locations, as the Fan Fest will now set up at the corner of University Blvd. and Wallace Wade Drive while the Kickoff party will be located at the Walk of Champions.

Universities will have to do something to keep these 100k+ stadiums full because the in-home experience is just too appealing and convenient. Baylor added a way for people to watch replays on their phones and now Bama has added 2.5 million dollars worth of TV's (which you're at the game but whatevs) and 300+ point of sales to hopefully cut down on the time spent in concession lines.

I'm not really worried about Bama struggling to sell out games but attendance is a major issues around the country.

Alabama practice report: Suspended linebacker returns along with two injured linemen | AL.com

- O.J. Howard's blocking skills were evident when he beat starter Denzel Devall in the drill simulating and edge blitz.

-- Tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith also held his own against Xzavier Dickson.

Two takeaways from yesterday's practice.

1. OJ Howard has put on weight and him adding blocking to his repertoire means he's a three down TE, not just a threat in the passing game. That's good news, sports fans.

2. This team is healthy. Yeah, there are a few banged up players here and there, but we have made it through camp healthy which really is the main goal. (outside of figuring out who the dang QB will be)