With Saban laying the law down to beat reporters about disclosing what they see during practice, the amount of information out there is pretty limited. My main takeaway, again, from his press conference is that he is in a pretty good mood. He's intense as always, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he knows he has a good group this year. Certainly seems to be convinced that they can win games with at least three of the QBs. Let's get to it...
"Yesterday the players had off. Today, tomorrow and Saturday we're going to simulate a normal practice work week," Chryst said Thursday. "I liked their attention to details and told the team we want to work on two things the next three days. It's kind of getting used to a work week and also finishing up the details of their specific spots, assignments, technique, whatever that may be, and also starting introducing Alabama. That's the focus of the next couple days."
We're talking about game preparation, y'all. GAME PREPARATION. I watched Wisconsin's bowl game win over Auburn this week. Their passing game was horrific against a terrible Auburn secondary. They essentially beat Auburn by running Melvin Gordon right at them. Unless the Wisconsin Badgers have found a competent aerial attack they are going to struggle mightily to find points against Alabama, and might anyway if the Alabama secondary is as improved as I am cautiously optimistic that it will be.
After an unexpected redshirt season last year, Humphrey has progressed to the point he appears to have moved ahead of sophomore Tony Brown, senior Bradley Sylve and others in the competition to be the Tide's second cornerback.
Exhibit A on the vastly improved secondary. Marlon has immense talent, and jersey number 26 combined with his last name will surely make him a fan favorite from day one. As we saw last season, Cyrus Jones can't do it all alone. Hopefully Humphrey is ready to max out on his potential.
Still undecided on a starting quarterback for next week's season-opener against No. 20 Wisconsin, Alabama coach Nick Saban recently asked one of his offensive linemen, "Which one of the quarterbacks do you like the best?" The lineman responded, "Well, since we don't huddle, I don't even know who's in there."
Based on Saban's comments at the presser, look for two QBs to be ready for Wisconsin and a third to be ready in case of emergency. It's pretty clear that he's willing to go into the Wisconsin game with the job still up for grabs, but would prefer not to. He even slipped up once and mentioned that "two guys" are playing ahead of the rest, then caught himself and changed it to three. It doesn't take a clairvoyant to figure out that Jake Coker and Alec Morris are the top two, with Cooper Bateman likely third. The question is whether Coker or Morris is ahead of the other at this point. Coker was taking first team reps again in the media viewing period and Saban isn't talking, so we wait. Somebody named JC in Bama seems to think Saban and Kiffin may not be on the same page:
"David Cornwell has done a really, really good job," Saban said. "He struggled early on in camp and he's certainly getting better all the time and we have a lot of confidence that he'll be a good player in the future."
Saban mentioned Cornwell briefly but out of the blue. Something tells me he realized what he was stirring up by omitting David from the press conference conversation.
Which brings us to the question of the day: Just what does a modern college football champion look like, exactly? What common threads bind the teams that have won on the biggest stage to set themselves apart from everyone else? Which aspiring contenders are most likely to exhibit those traits in 2015? Least likely?
Outstanding read, as usual, from Grantland. Fortunately an established QB is not required, and elite recruiting tops the list. Of the other four, only elite defensive line talent is a sure bet for the Tide.
And without further ado, here’s a national list of playoff predictions. It bears noting that not every projection includes national finalists or a champion for that matter. At the very least, they all have a final four.
A nice summary of all the prodigious professional prognosticators' prognostications. About half of them have the Tide in the field.
Let's talk about money:
In the past two days, however, two coaches — the Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, the second-longest-tenured and highest-paid assistant in college football, and Cincinnati Coach Tommy Tuberville — have come under fire for suggesting they might fine players portions of those cost-of-attendance stipends for behavioral reasons. One problem is that doing so would almost certainly violate N.C.A.A. rules.
I'll take "ways to kill your recruiting class" for $1000, Alex. Four-stars will undoubtedly flock to programs where they believe the coaching staff might attempt to arbitrarily fine them. Brilliant guys, just brilliant.
As far as who is getting the least for their money? Tennessee took a bath over the 2012-13 school year, spending more than $1.9 million on recruiting, second only to Auburn, and pulled in the No. 36 recruiting class. The Volunteers outspent everybody the next year, shelling out nearly $2.1 and they hit in the short term with the second-ranked class. Entering the season ranked No. 25, it may be too early to say if all that money has been invested smartly.
The top spenders in the 2014 recruiting cycle? Tennessee, Auburn, and Alabama followed by Notre Dame and Arkansas. The top two spared no excess, shelling out roughly 20% more than #3 Alabama as the only two in the nation to break the $2MM mark. Trying to brainstorm whether those two teams have anything in common that might inspire them to spend like that. Anyone? In any event, somebody in Knoxville taking a bath is a positive development.
Alabama at Georgia: $684.44
Alabama at Auburn: $614.64
USC at Notre Dame: $590.81
Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville, Florida): $535.32
Ah, the downside of sustained success. When your team is as good as Alabama has been for years, the ticket prices rise to absurd levels. Nearly seven hundred bucks for an early October conference game? Just incredible.
Buckeyes talking Alabama:
"Coach Saban looks at recruiting film every day. He knows that's what keeps a program going, and he's every competitive," Northern Illinois defensive coordinator Kelvin Sigler, a former Alabama player and assistant, told NEOMG. "They want the absolute best guy at every position, the absolute best. They rank kids coming out of high school, and they are relentless in trying to get them."
Nice read that highlights the respect the coaching fraternity has for Nick Saban, particularly in the field of recruiting.
A toy Alabama football helmet, with a picture on the box of a kid wearing an Ohio State version of the same helmet, was found by a Buckeye visiting Huntsville. Of course, the helmet was on sale and they got jokes. I do savor the thought of meeting them again.
College Football Playoff Teams:
Well, no one can accuse Herbstreit of simply running along with the narrative. This final four prediction is certainly unique.
Your closing video:
Good stuff from two of the beat writers. Finally, the Saban presser:
Only a week and a day left, folks. Roll Tide.