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Jumbo Package: Wednesday, December 23rd

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Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news, notes, and links.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Brent Musburger thinks front 7 gives Alabama edge in CFP |

"I give Alabama an edge over anybody because of their front seven," Musburger said. "I've been around them at practice in Tuscaloosa, and I think that front is the best single unit in all of college football. Now that doesn't mean that Michigan State or Clemson or Oklahoma can't matriculate it down the field with the forward pass and stun the Crimson Tide. Everybody knows you've still got to play the game. But to beat Alabama, you're going to have to deal with that front seven at some point."

The Alabama front 7 is getting more and more recognition, and is on its way to becoming one of those legendary units that people remember for many years to come. They're as stout against the run as any Nick Saban defense, and, for the first time at Alabama, they have figured out how to get to the quarterback too. If the Tide can put together a championship run, this unit's legacy will be cemented in Crimson Tide lore forever.

Alabama Crimson Tide- ESPN

Winning, in all likelihood, will require Cook’s right arm to do the heavy lifting.

He’ll have to evade a defensive line that’s had more sacks than any in college football, and he’ll have to avoid being careless against a secondary that ranks in the top 20 in interceptions. But if he can do that and move the ball downfield, he’ll give Michigan State a chance at taking down Alabama and advancing in the playoff.

Anything less than a great performance will send Sparty packing.

The media finally figured out the key to beating Alabama. The article mentions the performances of Chad Kelly, Nick Marshall, Trevor Knight, and Cardale Jones as examples, and gave us this novel concept: your quarterback must have one of the best, if not the best, games of his career. Anything short of that, and Alabama will more than likely squeeze the life out of your team, one stuffed run at a time.

Nick Saban's approach to bowl preparation has changed during career |

"I've kind of been full-circle on it," said Saban, who was 0-3 in bowl games as the coach at Michigan State in the mid-to-late 1990s. "We used to probably practice too much when I was at Michigan State, and we didn't do very well in bowl games. We tried to carry the momentum of the season to the game and practice two or three days here, take some days off, practice two or three days and just keep practicing. And by the time we got to the game, everybody was sick of practicing.

"And then we sort of took the approach that worked a lot better, that it's kind of a one-game season, and we just take off, and when we start practicing, we practice. That worked really well for us for a long time. The last two years, that hasn't worked too well.

"This year, we're sort of staying with the one-game theory but trying to get the players to be a little bit more focused and understand the purpose of why we're doing what we're doing, and that's worked out pretty well so far."

From 2009-2013, we all thought that Nick Saban was invincible in bowl games. Then Oklahoma and Ohio State happened in back to back years, leaving the Tide on a two year losing streak, and sowing seeds of doubt into the minds of even the staunchest Alabama fans. In this interview, Saban gives us a glimpse into how he actually approaches preparing for these bowl games and how he's constantly working to improve his methods.

It's cool to see that Saban is human, just like the rest of us, but even more inspiring to see him live by his "Process" philosophy, rather than just preach it to everyone else while sitting on his own laurels.  We have been very fortunate to have Nick Saban as our coach.

Nick Saban says he doesn't see himself coaching anywhere but Alabama |

"No, I really don't," Saban told Low. "I don't see it ever happening. And I know every year somebody has me going somewhere else. I think a lot of it isn't just about the coaching part. What people don't understand is they forget you're a person. They forget you have a wife and two kids and a grandbaby, and they all live in Birmingham.

"They all work here. My wife goes to Birmingham five times a week. My mom lives in Birmingham now after moving from Myrtle Beach. It's not just the job. A lot of people don't get that. My life is here."

And guess what, nation. The man is not going anywhere. Every year, some rumor starts to poke its head out of murky waters to try and connect Saban to somewhere else, and, while we typically pay them little heed, there are always those little seeds of worry in the back of our minds.

Well, judging by this interview, Nick is staying. Obviously, a person can always change their mind, but changing the minds of an entire family is a bit more difficult. Hopefully, we will have many more glorious years in the Nick Saban era of Alabama Football.

NFL scout raves over Alabama QB Jake Coker

An anonymous NFL scout told this week that Coker has tremendous upside thanks to his size and overall strength from the pocket. Coker is one of six Alabama players slated to play in the Senior Bowl, an ideal opportunity for borderline potential draft picks to leave a lasting impression on scouts.

"(Senior Bowl Executive Director) Phil Savage is going to take a lot of heat for choosing Coker as a homer pick for a Senior Bowl spot at quarterback, but he’s going to get drafted," the scout said. "He has size and a pro arm. I think he can be a better pro than college quarterback."

It is that time of year where the "anonymous scouts" start to emerge and permeate the media. Any time a scout emerges to talk about a specific player to the media, it is never without some agenda. You never really know how truthful a scout is being, but there's still likely some truth at the foundation of his words.

Coker plays like a cross between Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Fitzpatrick, but without anywhere near the accuracy or decision making ability. Personally, there is no way I would draft Coker for my NFL team, but GMs are prone to getting enamored with the perfect size and big arm, and thinking they can change the player into something better.

Not all NFL teams think like me, but the way I see it: fixer-uppers don't work in relationships, and they are just as rare in pro football.

2016 U.S. Army All-American Bowl Roster - Scout

The 2016 U.S. Army All-American Bowl will take place on Saturday, January 9 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Kickoff is at 12 p.m. CST and the game will be televised on NBC. Practices will begin in San Antonio on Monday, January 4.

As usual, the Army game only features a couple of players of interest to Alabama. The only Tide commit is the towering defensive tackle, Raekwon Davis. Wide receiver Demetris Robertson and tight end Isaac Nuata are a couple of high profile players that still have Alabama on their short list, and are top priority targets.

After that, 5-star athlete Mecole Hardman, Jr. is a long shot, but the Tide seems to be making a late push at him, especially with the addition of Jeremy Pruitt as defensive coordinator. The same could be said of linebacker Derrick Brown.

All in all, I usually end up missing this game. Typically, not many players affiliated with Alabama play in it, and the UnderArmour game gets all of the attention.

2016 UnderArmour All-America Game Roster - Scout

The 2016 Under Armour All-America Game will take place on Saturday, January 2 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Kickoff is at 12 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on ESPN. Practices will begin in Orlando on Tuesday, December 29.

This one, on the other hand, is just brimming with players to watch. The Alabama commits are led by the 360-pound defensive tackle, Kendell Jones. The offensive line is bolstered by two Tide guards, Chris Owens and Deonte Brown, and running back B.J. Emmons represents the Tide's lone skill position player.

Hopefully, Alabama will snag the commitment of one of the two elite cornerbacks, Nigel Knott and Shyheim Carter. Carter was once committed to Alabama, but later backed out. Both guys have the Tide on their short list.

Two five star defensive tackles, (including the number one player in the nation) Rashaan Gary and Rashard Lawrence are both considering Alabama. Gary is a bit of a long shot, but Lawrence is down to just Bama and LSU. This recruiting class is already strong in the trenches, and securing the pledge of one of these guys would just be a luxury.

Linebackers Ben Davis and Lyndell Wilson will also both be playing in this game. These two have generated a lot of interest with Alabama fans over the last few months, as they are arguably the top two players in the state, and neither have said very much regarding their intentions. Alabama sorely needs the commitment of at least one of these two to round out the recruiting class.

Lastly, and keeping with my trend of mentioning players in pairs, receivers Cavin Ridley (not to be confused with his older brother, Calvin) and A.J. Brown are both high priority targets for Alabama. Brown is a physical specimen that many have compared to the great Julio Jones in his play style, while Cavin is more of a straight line, deep threat type of player.

Neither the UnderArmour or Army games have released the schedule for players announcing their commitments nor have they divided the rosters into separate teams and given the players numbers yet. When it gets closer to game time, I will have an article up for you guys breaking down that information.