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The Jumbo Package | 09.01.14

Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

Kevin C. Cox

Topics for Discussion: Questions About the SEC After the First Week - Team Speed Kills

Outside of Texas A&M, did anyone really impress you? Alabama struggled longer than it probably should have to put away West Virginia. LSU had no business winning its game against Wisconsin after falling behind 24-7. Georgia dominated Clemson, but it might have been an entirely different story if Todd Gurley weren't on the field. Auburn did beat Arkansas pretty handily -- but we're still talking about Arkansas here.

As I turned off my tv and headed to bed Saturday night, having just watched Florida State and LSU both come much closer to losses than they would've preferred, one assessment was clear in my mind: I wouldn't pick any team in the country to go undefeated at this point.

Is that a bit of an overreaction to the first weekend of live action?  Perhaps.  Obviously, everyone has three months to round into form, but outside of maybe Georgia, I didn't think anybody plainly looked like a champion-caliber team this weekend.

Four Downs: Why Alabama QB rotation wasn't plausible, RG battle, poor tackling, freshman impact |

"The disadvantage is you're playing a better team," Saban said. "If you don't play well, you might not get the outcome that you really hope for." He went on to reference Alabama's 2011 season opener against his alma mater Kent State, when AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims split time at quarterback. The 39-point favorite Crimson Tide scored touchdowns on its first two possessions and never led by fewer than 17 points after the first quarter. It was the expected result.

"We could actually use that game to play both quarterbacks so that we could see who developed and who was ready to play," Saban said Thursday.

Assessing QB Blake Sims' production on each of Alabama's 16 crucial third downs |

Efficiency on third down can play a big role in determining a winner. Alabama went 9 of 16 when facing that crossroad in Saturday's 33-23 win over West Virginia in the Georgia Dome. The Mountaineers, however, were 5 of 14 and scored just one offensive touchdown with 393 total yards.

CECIL HURT: Like Nick Saban said, fans will have to be patient with Alabama, QB |

Blake Sims had a creditable performance on Saturday, particularly for a player making the first start of his career. Yes, he missed some throws. No, he does not have a great arm on deep patterns. There are some things he brings to an offense — like escapability — and some things he doesn’t. His numbers weren’t something out of a Peyton Manning Fantasy League. Sims was 24-for-33 for 250 yards.

A year ago, AJ McCarron, on the very same field, was 10 of 23 for 110 yards against Virginia Tech. Now, McCarron had a track record to judge by, and Sims doesn’t. Virginia Tech had a better defense last year than West Virginia does this year. That’s still a glaring discrepancy.

Saban: Alabama WR DeAndrew White suffers separated shoulder -

If there's an area of the roster where Alabama can most afford to suffer an injury, it's probably their receiving corps, where the Tide are so deep even a target like preseason All-American tight end O.J. Howard can go the entire West Virginia victory without a reception. All the same, other than Amari Cooper, it was senior DeAndrew White who made the biggest receiving impression against the Mountaineers, catching 6 passes for 73 electric yards before leaving the game with a shoulder injury.

So it's maybe not irrelevant that White is set to miss some time, Nick Saban said after the game. "DeAndrew White has a little separated shoulder," Saban said, per "I don't think it's really bad. I haven't talked to the doctor yet, but [he may be out] a week or so, I don't know."

Alabama K Adam Griffith overcomes nerves, notches big performance in a familiar setting |

"I was really nervous before this game because I haven't started a game in two years," said Griffith, a third-year sophomore who originally hails from Poland but spent his high school years in Calhoun, Georgia. "Coming in to today, I was really nervous. After that first kick, everything, I was chill. Like I say, I'm confident this year and feel a lot better."

Griffith followed with a make from 41 yards at the end of the first half to reward Blake Sims and the Alabama offense for a proficient, two-minute drill possession. His two field goals were equally pivotal, as his 27-yarder in the third quarter and a 45-yarder midway through the fourth extended Alabama's lead to two possessions over West Virginia.

Nick Saban post game press conference