So Alabama stays #2 in the nation, and all of the top five teams remain unchanged in this week's CFP rankings. Despite a little clamoring for Alabama to possibly jump Clemson for the number 1 spot, I don't see how anyone but the Tigers can be the top right now. It's almost the end of the season, and Clemson still hasn't Clemsoned, but how much longer can they hold out without Clemsoning? If Clemson Clemsons, then Bama will probably take the #1 spot, assuming they take care business over the next three weeks.
Ohio State and Iowa are ranked #3 and #5 respectively, but will inevitably have to play each other barring a collapse in the last two weeks. Only one will escape. Notre Dame, like Bama, sits comfortably at #4 with a loss, and stand a good chance to making it into the playoffs.
Oklahoma has surged to #7 in the rankings, only one spot behind the undefeated Oklahoma State. The two will play before the season ends, and I would bet the winner of that game makes it into the playoffs.
Wisconsin, sitting at 8-2, is ranked #25, which makes the Crimson Tide's strength of schedule look just that much better.
I'm sure most everyone will be tired of hearing about the rankings by the time this gets published, so I will move on to talking about Alabama players.
Fitzpatrick is still considered day-to-day and may not suit up this weekend against Charleston Southern, so Brown could see more of the field Saturday. But Saban made it clear that Brown will battle the elder Maurice Smith for the starting spot if Fitzpatrick can’t go.
"He and Maurice Smith have kind of gone back and forth as to who the next guy is that plays," Saban said. "Mo got in the game, we have a lot of confidence in him, but Tony had a better week in practice and they were in empty a lot. He did a good job in the game. He got his hands on a couple of balls, could have had an interception. He did a good job.
"We’ll end up (not playing) nickel all the time in this game because of the formations and so forth that they do, but we’ll see how he and Mo compete this week and decide which one will play in the game."
It's great to finally see Tony Brown working his way back into playing time. Brown was a 5-star recruit that left high school with the second highest SPARQ score (behind only Derrick Henry) to commit to Alabama since SPARQ started becoming a thing around 2011. The 200-pound corner can run a sub 4.4 forty yard dash, and has the skills to boot. He got significant playing time in his first game of his career last year, but was pushed down the depth chart due to inexperience and repeated injuries to his shoulder. Seeing Brown paired up with Humphrey and Fitzpatrick at the three corner spots in the future is a tantalizing thought. That is ridiculous amounts of talent and athleticism at one position.
Saban said Williams had to prove he was reliable off the field before he can make a contribution on the field.
"I think that he's always had good pass rush ability," Saban said. "It's always been a question of dependability in terms of is he going to do the right things on and off the field so that you could know that he's going to be responsible enough to make the kind of choices and decisions that you need him to make so that he can play winning football on the field.
"Tim's worked very hard, made a lot of sacrifices to try to get where he is right now, and we certainly appreciate it. A lot of people in our organization have tried to help and he's been very, very productive.
"It has nothing to do with ability. He's not pass rushing any better than what he did before, he's just more dependable doing his job. We've been able count on him to do this point. I'd say that's the biggest difference."
Speaking of players starting to break into playing time, I'm more excited about Tim Williams getting to play than almost anyone else on the team. I've been wanting him to play since he was a freshman, and he's suddenly become the Tide's second leading sack artist. Williams has bulked up to 255 pounds since arriving his freshman year.
I remember the Texas A&M blowout game in 2014 when Williams and Rashaan Evans got to play on each end of the line in mop up duty, and I was blown away by just how fast they were coming around the offensive tackles. After Denzell Devall and Ryan Anderson graduate, seeing those two paired on the edge again will be a spectacle to behold.
"Both guys are going to have to play a role, there’s no question about that," Saban said. "They’re young guys, so are they going to step up to the challenge and compete and show the maturity you need to get ready to play a game and play it well and do it on a consistent basis? That’s the challenge for all the young guys. We've had a couple do a great job of that. Minkah (Fitzpatrick) has done a great job of that. Calvin Ridley has done a good job of that.
Derrick Henry really needs some relief. While the man might well not be human, I worry about his health, especially in closing out the season. With Drake gone, that responsibility falls onto the shoulders of the duo of freshmen, Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris. Harris has gotten a few mop-up carries over the course of the year, and has randomly appeared in blocking or motioning roles a couple of times in a two-back offense in real game time. He is a shiftier back with a low center of gravity that reminded many of the former Mark Ingram. So far, Harris has not shown a whole lot even in mop up duty this season, but he is undeniably talented.
Scarbrough, on the other hand, is as big as Henry, but built in the opposite direction. While Henry's shoulders are much broader than his hips, Scarbrough carries his muscle in his lower body. He played all over the field in high school, and was actually a very accomplished slot receiver too. However, he messed up his knee back in the spring and has just now started to get a few carries in mop up duty over last few weeks, so it's hard to know what to expect out of the big guy.
Rated as the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the East, Diggs selected the Crimson Tide over Maryland, LSU and others. A Terrapin legacy (Stefon Diggs), Diggs is expected to take all of his official visits going forward, including a trip to LSU tentatively set for next weekend.
Diggs named Alabama as an early leader for his verbal commitment, citing the facilities and tradition among other things. "Everything about them is catching my eye. It's the facilities, coaches, players, the people at the school," he said in April. "I feel like it's a great place to be."
Diggs' commitment is not really news, as it happened over a week ago, but I would be remiss if I didn't get to force my opinions on you about it. While there wasn't much fanfare over his pledge, but at this point, I think he may be the most important commitment to this class.
Alabama's depth chart is already thin at receiver, and thats assuming Robert Foster does manage to come back from his shattered collarbone next year. So far, three star T.J. Simmons was the only wide receiver commitment in this class after only two were signed last year (and one will likely leave for the NFL early).
The 6'2" Diggs is a huge addition to this class. Not only is he a playmaker with the ball in his hands (and excels at returning kicks/punts, like his older brother, Stefon), but he is also an outstanding route runner out of the slot. In fact, his ability to get in and out of breaks is what his high school coach said is his best attribute. Diggs is also a natural at catching contested balls and going up and over defenders to come down with a catch.