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The Jumbo Package | 09.19.14

Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Sims disproved fans, 'most of our players' who doubted QB skills, Nick Saban says |

The fifth-year senior has started all three games so far and will do so again at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Florida. After a rough A-Day Game and with Florida State transfer Jacob Coker arriving in May, Saban could see how others viewed the competition.

"There was a time around here where I know none of our fans and most of our players probably didn't think Blake could be the quarterback, so he's disproved a lot of people in terms of the way he's played," Saban said.

"He's got a lot of challenges ahead of him, playing against better people, but he's certainly done everything that you could ask any player to do to represent his position and the leadership of his position as well as anybody really could."

Greg McElroy says Blake Sims is 'not the most accurate quarterback in the world' |

"I think it comes down to really Blake Sims, can he make the throws against tight coverage?" McElroy said on Finebaum's show.  "I think that (the game) shouldn't necessarily be as competitive as it will be because I think (Florida head coach) Will Muschamp is going to do a great job of putting that game in Blake Sims' hands.

McElroy, who quarterbacked Alabama to the 2009 BCS championship, later added that defenders don't know the direction Cooper is going when he sets up to make his break. "As a result, Blake Sims' accuracy has not been tested," McElroy said.

"He's been able to throw behind receivers. He's been able to be late to receivers. In a couple of different situations, it didn't work out. In other situations, it hasn't been exploited." First-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's system has been beneficial for Sims' early success, McElroy said.  "Blake Sims is not the most accurate quarterback in the world," McElroy said. "He's a tremendous athlete and he's done a great job of using his legs and he's done a nice job on third down when Lane Kiffin has given him easier progressions.

"We don't know what Blake Sims can be until he goes up against one of those great defenses. He might respond great, but frankly right now we don't know exactly what we have."


I know I'm one of the only ones in these parts that is legitimately worried about this game, but I am really looking forward to seeing how this game shakes out.  Hoping for the best.

Alabama's pass protection has been good, but big challenge awaits vs. Florida |

In two games, Florida has five sacks and 20 quarterback hurries. Preseason first-team All-SEC defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. has just one of the sacks, but he'll be the biggest nuisance Alabama's tackles and tight ends have to control. Senior linebacker Neiron Ball leads the Gators with two sacks.

At times, Fowler Jr. could be lined up across from freshman left tackle Cam Robinson, who will be playing in the first SEC game of his career. Senior tight end Brian Vogler said Florida's pass rushers are "the best group we'll see." "Us as a tight end group, we've been really focused," Vogler said.

"Honestly, I think we've gotten better as a group this week, big time, because we've been so focused on getting out hands in the right spot, getting our hat in the right spot "I think these guys are really good and we respect them a lot."

Alabama WR Amari Cooper a 'confusing' study of talent, skill - ESPN

It’s not cockiness. It’s not arrogance. It’s just who he is.

Cooper isn’t one to make bold statements.

His former high school coach in Miami, Billy Rolle, drove him to and from school. “The three years I had him,” Rolle said. “I haven’t heard 50 words out of the kid.”

Cooper lets his play do the talking. Through three games, the junior leads the nation in receptions (33) and yards after catch (245). So if he isn't going to open up, we allowed those who know him best to break down what makes him arguably the best receiver in the country.

Dissecting Vernon Hargreaves III's cover skills - ESPN

Through two games, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound phenom already leads the SEC with five passes defended. His speed, instincts, vision and natural playing ability make him a feared cover man and ball hawk. Equipped with more experience and skills, Hargreaves could be even better this season.

After two solid performances, he will get his greatest test to date on Saturday in Tuscaloosa: Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. "We knew this was coming," Hargreaves said of covering Cooper, who leads the nation with 33 receptions and is third overall with 454 yards. "He's excited. I'm excited. We both know the magnitude of the game and it's going to be a great matchup on Saturday. "Everybody knows what's coming. Obviously I'm going to be covering him. I'm excited for it."

This particular matchup is starting to have an epic feel to it.

Nick Saban talks Blake Sims, tight ends' lack of catches and more on radio show |

Saban said he can't predict matchups because Cooper moves around so much. Says it's easier to take a player out of the game when you don't move him. It wouldn't surprise Saban if Vernon Hargreaves III sticks with Cooper the whole game.

Is this a head fake, or are we going to see Amari lining up in the slot a good deal Saturday to force Hargreaves off of him?

Alabama adds water stations to Bryant-Denny Stadium in time for another hot weekend |

Fans at Saturday's game between Florida and Alabama won't have to fork over a few bucks to stay hydrated. Nine water stations throughout Bryant-Denny Stadium will be open to fans, the school announced Thursday.

Fans are permitted to bring clear, empty water bottles into the stadium to use at the stations, which will each feature 150-gallon tanks of cold, filtered water.

Public respect for football players has never been lower, Nick Saban says, after negative headlines |

"All the stuff that's going on in sports today and the way all the players are being criticized," Saban said on his Thursday night radio show. "Probably, in the 42 years I've been doing this, I don't know, players are probably at the lowest level when it comes to respect of the public based on all the things that have happened, whether it is domestic violence or whatever it is.

"It all comes down to one thing: making the right judgment in all situations.

"And sometimes we have players who come from all different cultures, man," Saban said. "They come from the cities. They grew up in tough environments or whatever, but when they come here, it's not that way anymore and they have to learn how to make good choices and decisions based on the standards that we have in the program, as a university and that everyone holds them to in terms of what they represent, which is the University of Alabama, the tradition of the university and all that."

Jimbo Fisher on Winston's actions: 'He was having fun. I do not justify it' -

“That conversation, you can't do what normal people do," Fisher said in the interview, transcribed via 247Sports. "There were other students doing it there, but you cannot. You were wrong. You're Jameis Winston. We live in a glass house. You can't do the things other people do. He was having fun. I do not justify it. You've got to make better decisions. You were wrong.”

Fisher also elaborated on some of those earlier comments about trying to educate Winston to help change his behavior and prevent a future incident, or the need for any future punishments. "Maybe this punishment will do that, Fisher said. "We'll find out and continue to grow, and hopefully no more will happen. If they do, we have to make decisions based off of those.”

"I don't justify it." - Jimbo Fisher, immediately after saying "he was just having fun", and "other people were doing it too."


Hey Coach! with Nick Saban - weekly radio show

Tight end Brian Vogler interview