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Jumbo Package: Friday, 20 November 2015

Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

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Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, folks. Obviously not much to discuss about Alabama's upcoming game other than the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the future with some of the youngsters in action, most notably Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough, but we have a few interesting links for you:

Injury/Practice Updates:

Nick Saban updates Kenyan Drake recovery timetable from broken arm |

"In two weeks, Kenyan will probably be cleared to play," Saban said. "Whether he'll be functional enough to play will be another story because he's got to catch the ball. He's got to carry the ball and that's going to be the issue for a running back. But at least in a couple of weeks we'll be able to get him back."

Alabama practice report: Defensive starter missing, NFL scouts watch closely |

Minkah Fitzpatrick missed his second day of practice Wednesday after suffering a knee injury against Mississippi State last Saturday. The true freshman starter is listed as day-to-day but is unlikely to play this Saturday against Charleston Southern, according to Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Fitzpatrick has played a huge role on this year's defense and has scored on both an interception return and blocked punt return.

Saban is at least allowing for the possibility that Kenyan Drake could play in the SEC Championship Game. Tough to believe. All indications are that Minkah should be fine going forward, but I would prefer that he sit out the Iron Bowl as well if the knee isn't 100%. Depth in the receiving corps isn't Auburn's strength this season.

Alabama football: Saban sees improvement from offensive line - The Anniston Star: Sports

"Early on we struggled with consistency, but the last two or three weeks, I think the group has done a really nice job," Saban said. "Ryan Kelly does a really good job and has done a really good job all year. Cam (Robinson) was a little banged up early on and he’s played well the last couple of weeks. (Ross) Pierschbacher keeps getting better and better. Dominick’s (Jackson) gotten better as the year’s gone on. You know that group has improved, and I think that’s really important — Shank (Alphonse Taylor) has gotten better."

Some would probably quibble with this assessment considering the lack of sustained drives against Mississippi State, but that truly was more a product of their defensive strategy, which ultimately led to their demise via the big play. The continued progression of this unit will be a huge determining factor in how the Tide finishes this season.

Other Football Stuff:

Alabama has third D-lineman emerging as top 2016 NFL draft prospect |

CBS Sports ranks Allen as the 29th-best overall prospect and the fourth-best defensive end prospect among players eligible for next year's NFL draft. "I really like Jonathan Allen," former Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns executive Phil Savage, who is the executive director of the Senior Bowl and a color analyst on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, said recently of Allen. "He's got the proportioned body. He is physical enough to play against the run, yet athletic enough to give you a pass rush from outside and inside. And to me, that versatility, that ability to play really along the entire line of scrimmage just sort of sets him apart in my mind."

That guys like Da'Shawn Hand and Jonathan Allen can manage to go overlooked by the media due to the crazy talent around them underscores the job Saban done in both recruiting and player development. Still, why would a top recruit come to Alabama when he could be the unquestioned BMOC elsewhere?

An inside look at how college football programs treat NFL scouts

For NFL scouts, there is no better campus to visit than Alabama. Tape is available starting at 8 a.m. every day. Practices are open from fall camp through the regular season. The entry on the NFL’s secure website says it all: "No restrictions." "We feed them lunch and everything," Alabama coach Nick Saban told USA TODAY Sports recently. "We treat ‘em good." It’s an extension of what Saban sells in recruiting: This is a place you can not only get an education and win championships, but get help extending your career individually, too.

Ah, that's why. Says here that Saban makes the Alabama program the most accessible to NFL scouts. Talented players with NFL dreams can come to Alabama and know that they will be seen in practice competing against other elite players.

Bret Bielema wants an SEC-Big Ten Challenge in college football -

First off, we get Ohio State and Alabama, which should play every year -- whether that is in the playoff or regular season or on pay-per-view in March, I don't care, make it happen -- so this is all worthwhile just for that. Iowa vs. Florida in the No. 2 slot is surprising, a bit funny, but also pretty intriguing. Michigan State vs. LSU in the Les Miles Bowl and Wisconsin vs. Arkansas in the Bret Bielema Bowl would both be really fun as well. I'm all in on the top of the Big Ten-SEC Challenge here.

OSU-Alabama would certainly be a fun kickoff game, but some variety would be preferable to making it an annual event. Bowl season already presents a virtual Big Ten - SEC and ACC-SEC challenge. Perhaps pairing the SEC with the Pac 12 or Big 12 would make more sense, or a rotation of sorts. In any case, it is a solid idea.

College football's 10 most fascinating coaching rivalries - Yahoo Sports

Saban vs. Gus Malzahn of Auburn The current scorecard: Saban 1, Malzahn 1. Next meeting: Nov. 28, in Auburn. Malzahn inflicted the most painful loss ever on Saban and Alabama, two years ago in the unforgettable Kick Six game. Next week, they return to the scene. Even last year, when the Tide had a manifestly superior team, it had to endure a wild, 55-44 shootout at home to keep its playoff chances alive. Auburn has been a huge disappointment this season, sliding to 5-5 overall and 2-5 in the SEC, but Alabama clearly will expect to get the best performance of the year from its bitter rival. An upset would make Auburn's season and revive Malzahn's approval rating, which has slid as he has lost 10 of his past 18 games. All-Access: What does the future hold for Alabama and Auburn? |

Currently, Alabama's 2016 recruiting class is ranked No. 6 in the nation with 18 players committed and several of the nation's most highly-touted names showing heavy interest in the Tide. Alabama's streak of consecutive No. 1 recruiting classes remains well within reach for the Tide. Auburn has substantially more work to do at this point. The Tigers are currently ranked at No. 18 in the nation, according to the 247Composite rankings. More importantly: the Tigers' 2016 class, which currently features 14 commitments, is ranked 9th in the SEC, one spot behind Kentucky.

Here's hoping the gulf between the two continues to widen. The lug nuts are a little loose on the Gus Bus right now.

Dabo Swinney on the idea of leaving Clemson for Alabama: 'You don't ever say never' -

You don't ever say never. You don't ever know what the circumstances would be at any given time. First of all, Alabama may never, ever call me and I would never have a problem with that. They've got to do what they've got to do. My deal is to be great where I'm at. I had opportunities to leave Alabama. I had opportunities to leave Clemson. But I've just never been that guy about the next job. I'm about the job I've got.

Refreshing honesty from Dabo here, though you have to wonder how Clemson feels about it. I'm sure they'd much rather hear, "Look, Alabama is a great program but I'm happy here and plan on retiring as a Tiger."

Questions raised by the third College Football Playoff ranking

It's this idea of a "complete team" which has riled many in the Big 12 who think the phrasing is code for "the Big 12 plays flag football and that doesn't include defense." And it led to this interesting statistic, helpfully emailed Tuesday night by Oklahoma's media relations staff: Oklahoma leads the nation in combined FBS ranks in scoring offense (No. 3) and scoring defense (No. 25) and ranks third in combined FBS ranks in total offense (No. 6) and total defense (No. 21).

The best defense in the conference ranks outside the top 20. 'Nuff said.

Tonight's Hoops:

Alabama Men's Basketball Returns Home to Face Louisiana on Friday - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletic Site

Friday's game will air online on SEC Network+ on the WatchESPN app as Roger Hoover (play-by-play) and Rick Moody (analyst) will be on the call. The contest will also be available via the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink calling all the action. Fans will be able to follow along on gametracker (accessed through, and game updates will be available on Twitter via @AlabamaMBB.

The last game against Dayton provided some harsh reality as to the current state of the team. This team plays hard and fast, but there just isn't a whole lot in terms of talent. Fortunately Coach Avery has already made some headway on the recruiting trail. In any case, the Tide will look to bounce back in a winnable game against the Ragin' Cajuns.

Enjoy your stress-free fall weekend, everyone. Roll Tide.