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The Jumbo Package | 09.03.14

Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

"Mr. Jackson, the hype train is now departing..."
"Mr. Jackson, the hype train is now departing..."
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

Alabama holds off rising Oregon in latest Associated Press top 25 poll |

In the eyes of some who vote in the Associated Press Top 25, Alabama kept it a little too close Saturday against West Virginia.

The 33-23 victory over the Mountaineers, though, was enough to keep the Crimson Tide at No. 2 in the latest edition of the media-voted poll.

In this new playoff era, there is no better place to be than the 2-4 range.  You get the necessary respect to ensure you won't be excluded from the big dance with slightly less attention/expectations than what is placed on the number one team.  Roll dang sweet spot.

Obligatory QB talk:

Overreactions: While Big Ten's not done yet, Big 12's for real -

Overreaction (Level 1) -- Blake Sims, Bama's best QB option: Alabama didn't take risks in the opener because Nick Saban knew West Virginia was capable. The game was tight throughout and a two-quarterback system didn't make sense. Blake Sims, a fifth-year senior, was the safer bet over Jacob Coker. But Saban has committed to playing both quarterbacks against Florida Atlantic.

Expect a similar plan to Alabama's 2011 opener against Kent State, when AJ McCarron started and Phillip Sims came off the bench to throw 14 passes. Alabama rarely counts on transfers -- it's not part of The Process -- so Saban must wait until Coker takes ownership of the job. And if Sims keeps fending him off, that's not so bad, either. Sims can play. Despite missing a few easy throws against West Virginia, he wasn't sacked and avoided turnovers (his one interception wasn't an atrocious throw; WVU corner Daryl Worley made a great play).

SEC Quarterback tracker: Week 2 - ESPN


Starter: Blake Sims

Backup: Jake Coker

How Sims performed: Nick Saban couldn’t have asked for more from Sims, who stayed out of trouble and got the ball to his playmakers in space. Completing 72.7 percent of his passes was better than anyone expected, but he did turn the ball over once on an interception and missed a handful of open receivers. He’ll need to work on that and getting the ball downfield more effectively, but for a first start he played quite well.

What it means: If it wasn’t before, it’s now Sims’ job to lose. Though he might not be an electric passer that strikes fear into a defense, he does bring some nice tools to the table, especially his escapability. But until we see Coker actually attempt a pass, nothing is settled. We’ll get that chance on Saturday when Alabama hosts Florida Atlantic in Tuscaloosa. If Sims continues to play well, he shouldn’t be in trouble. If he struggles some and Coker looks solid, we could be in for a race. – Alex Scarborough

Sims’ hold on position: 6.5

Interesting to see two completely different takes on the quarterback situation.  So which is is?  "Not so fast" or "this thing is done"?

Does anyone think we are at the point now where Coker simply outperforming Sims would not be enough to overtake him?  That is, does Sims have to screw up to not be the starting quarterback, or are both guys effectively starting from scratch and whoever plays better wins out?

Forget Kiffin and QBs, Tide D needs work - SEC Blog - ESPN

"I think we have a lot to improve on defensively, all the way around," he said. "So I'm not disappointed. It is what it is. This is where we are. This is the starting point."

If Alabama hopes to contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff, it better hope so. Because while West Virginia is certainly talented offensively, there are a handful of teams on the schedule that could give the defense even more trouble. Auburn, Ole Miss and Texas A&M all have explosive offenses that like to push the pace. Even Mississippi State, with the improvements its made at receiver and running back, can move the ball in a hurry.

There’s plenty of time to improve, though. Florida Atlantic, which lost 55-7 to Nebraska on Saturday, is up next, and its starting quarterback might not even be available to play. After that it’s Southern Miss, which has won one game since 2011. Neither opponent figures to challenge the defense.

Taking advantage of those tune-ups will be crucial.

This defense will be absolutely filthy by the end of the year.  The only concern is making it there unscathed.

Alabama practice report: Tide makes a change with first-team cornerbacks Tuesday |

-- Nick Saban said Eddie Jackson was cleared and pushing for practice time and he got it Tuesday. He worked with the first team at cornerback during the walk-through portion of the team drills. He worked opposite of Cyrus Jones. Jackson had been working back into shape after injuring his knee in the spring.

-- Bradley Sylve, the starter in Saturday's game with West Virginia, was in with the second team on the same side as Jones. On the other side was freshman Tony Brown. Sylve covered WVU receiver Kevin White who had a game-high 11 catches for 143 yards.

Welp.  It looks like the Bradley Sylve era could well be over.  Best of luck to him as he continues to try to improve from the second string position, and even more luck to Eddie Jackson, who will arguably have as much expectation placed on him as anyone on the team.

Alabama CB Cyrus Jones playing with confidence 1 year after position switch |

Jones didn't come up with the idea, but he was more than willing to listen to Nick Saban when the Alabama coach approached him about making a move to cornerback for his sophomore season. While Alabama was loaded at wide receiver for the foreseeable future, it was relatively thin at cornerback, a spot where it'd lost a player one year early to the first round of the 2012 and 2013 NFL Drafts.

"He told me if it was something I wanted to do...," Jones said, trailing off a bit in his first interview since signing with Alabama in 2012. "I said, 'if you think I can help the team, I'll be fine with it.'"

Yet another reason to pull for Jones.  Always good to see a guy making moves to help the team.

Florida Atlantic QB Jaquez Johnson says he'll be ready to play at Alabama following injury |

Jaquez Johnson, Florida Atlantic's star quarterback who suffered an injured left (non-throwing) shoulder in Saturday's 55-7 loss at Nebraska, plans on playing in Saturday's 11 a.m. game at No. 2 Alabama.

"I'm alright," Johnson told on Tuesday. "I could play right now if I had to."

Aw, don't do it, man.  I don't want to see anybody getting hurt Saturday.


Ryan Kelly interview

Cyrus Jones interview

Tuesday practice footage (running backs, offensive line, quarterbacks)

Wide Receiver blocking drill