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Jumbo Package: Healing Up Edition

The longer the bye week continues, the more we hear about how exhausted the Tide are.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

5-star OL Greg Little, nation's No. 2 prospect, reportedly pushes back decision date |

Greg Little, the nation's top offensive tackle and No. 2 overall prospect, will not commit on his Nov. 4 birthday, according to Bleacher Report. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Little, from Allen, Texas, will commit on Nov. 13, pushing the date back so he can make an official visit to Alabama. Little was going to visit this weekend, but Alabama is off. He told Bleacher Report that he wanted to visit for a game, and he'll see Alabama host undefeated LSU on Nov. 7.

This is one we need folks, and one Cristobal has been working hard on for the past year. If you're going to the game, do your best to make it one helluva good time for honored guests.

Alabama practice report: Reuben Foster misses practice |

Safety Ronnie Harrison (sprained ankle) and right tackle Dominick Jackson (high ankle sprain) both missed practice. Harrison is in a walking boot, but coach Nick Saban said Tuesday that the freshman safety should be fine by the end of the week. Jackson's injury is more of a concern. Saban said he isn't sure whether Jackson will be available for next week's game vs. LSU. Brandon Greene was the first-team right tackle Wednesday with Jackson not practicing.

No real injury news of note from yesterday's practice. However, it seems like Saban is a little less optimistic about Jackson's return in time for LSU. Greene is the more athletic of the two players, but you can't replace experience in a high stakes game.

The SEC West is the best Power 5 division, but the SEC East might be the worst -

But the SEC West is incredible! Yes, that's still true. But the SEC East is drastically pulling down the rest of the conference. In fact, according to Bill Connelly's S&P+ ratings, the SEC East is the worst power five division, and it's closer in strength to the AAC West than it is to even the Big Ten East.

I think this reflects more that the AAC West is a bit better than usual and the SEC East is a bit down even by their mediocre standards. It doesn't change the fact that the East has hemorrhaged quality coaches the past few seasons and we are absolutely seeing the fruits of that rancid harvest. Honestly, who in that division would you take to win one big game? Is it already McElwain at this point? I think so.

First-and-10: Tell me again how playoff selection process works better than BCS

Georgia coach Mark Richt was asked Tuesday about his name popping up on candidates for the Miami job. And unlike the last time the job came open in 2010 and the former Miami QB shot down any notion of returning to his alma mater, this response had an eerie sense of, well, wanting. “I don’t think much of it really,” Richt said. “I love my alma mater, the U. No doubt about it, but there’s been nobody calling or writing or texting or anything like that. So I’m sure they’ll find a great coach.”

Midseason coaching speculations are the worst. But, yes, Richt does sound a little wistful, doesn't he? Georgia has always been part of the SEC's middle class, and the crowd in Athens hasn't fully appreciated what he's done to try and raise the Dawgs from its yearning bourgeoisie status. Is Richt exasperated enough to leave? I'd think not, but the lure of restoring one's alma mater has always been a powerful driving force.

Saban: What Tide needs is rest, recovery |

“I think it’s important for our players, the No. 1 thing is to get rest, recover,” Saban said. “Not only from practice but also lifestyle-wise as students and doing the things they need to do to get caught up academically. I think we need to take a couple days to focus on what we need to do to improve. I don’t think you play any better in a game for thinking about it longer or practicing longer.”

After two weeks of saying that the Tide didn't need a break, all we've heard since is how tired this team is and was. With Alabama's Fall Break commencing, this is also a great time for the players to remember that, at the end of the day, they're just college kids too.

Nick Saban cites mental errors for offensive struggles |

“Most of it is lack of execution and inconsistency,” UA head coach Nick Saban said. “So we need to do a better job of that. Some of it’s fundamentals. If you don’t take the right footwork, you don’t get your second foot in the ground, you’re not in the right position to block a guy, all those thing enhance your chances of it not working out well.”

The article goes on to note the myriad of negative plays that the offense have yielded, primarily because of poor offensive line play, either in execution or penalties. For instance, against the Aggies, the Tide offense allowed 18 negative plays.

Alabama’s bye week to-do list ahead of LSU clash | USA TODAY Sports

Alabama has punted 42 times, second most in the SEC, and that’s directly related to the Tide’s 33.6 percent conversion rate on third down, which ranks 12thin the SEC. The team has also been inconsistent on third down, converting just 25 percent of such plays against Texas A&M but 41.6 percent of the time against Tennessee.

Dovetailing into the above article is USAT's "to do list" piece on the Tide noting Alabama's pitiful 3rd down conversions. I don't think we've seen a third down offense this bad since the days of hulaSAY and aderRAY. Either Alabama has whiffed on offensive line evaluation or there has been a less-than-stellar job coaching them up to the standard we've come to expect.

Plenty of opportunities available for Alabama baseball newcomers |

We really tried to get our fundamentals in and that was the first thing we wanted to get done, but also I would like to see guys start to separate themselves a little bit,” head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “This is a year that because there are so many new guys, I think some young players have a chance to win jobs.

I'll go ahead and call this what it is: The Mitch Gaspard farewell tour. He was instrumental in pushing for the New Joe and he'll get a season to play it out at home. But, after six seasons, where Alabama has only finished above .500 once in the SEC, it's not realistic to expect him to be around for an 8th year. Some may see this valedictory season as Bill Battle's loyalty, a la Anthony Grant, but I think it's more institutional inertia at this point than anything.

Tide Tipoff gives basketball fans a season preview - The Crimson White

...The game featured lots of play geared towards the fans, including multiple three pointers and dunks. Senior Arthur Edwards, a transfer from New Mexico, got the crowd off of their feet with a driving, one-handed dunk near the end of the scrimmage.

The Tipoff event was, by all measure, a success with students. Lines were out the door, there was a lot of fan interaction, and Tuscaloosa's Deontay Wilder even helped judged the slam dunk competition -- that's how to build a little momentum for a 'Bama hoops program that was on life support in May.

Les Miles won't downplay Alabama-LSU, says it's hard to deny it's a big game |

Saban downplayed the game on Monday saying Alabama-LSU has become a "little bit of a rivalry" and that he hadn't watched any LSU tape yet. Miles is keeping his players on their normal routine, but won't try to convince his team that Alabama isn't a big deal. "It's hard for us to deny this is not going to be a pretty big game," Miles said. "I think our guys will enjoy playing in big games. Great venue at Bryant-Denny. I think our guys enjoy playing in meaningful games and this certainly is one."

At some point, the coachspeak is tedious, Coach Saban. It's alright to hedge a little beyond "it's a little bit of a rivalry."   While LSU has traditionally been one of Alabama's three major rivals, the stakes became infinitely higher and the enmity was certainly ramped up when you took the position at the Capstone. Les Miles is right, this IS a big game and special play and players define those wins and losses.