Ed. Note: Sorry for the JP delay today. Having had a total of four hours of sleep in the past four days, I was finding it impossible to keep my head up to give you the #hot #takes you deserve. Consider my penance served.
Let's clear the air: Alabama will win rather handily on Saturday.
When the Tide meets the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, after 60 minutes, the latter will emerge as something you could drink out of a straw rather than as a football team.
That said, there is an elephant in the room we have to address; namely the fact that ordinarily-unflappable Alabama has been pressing lately: Coaching changes; position changes; personnel changes; scheme changes; an overhaul in recruitment philosophy; and, a grudging acceptance of the tempo era that has required Saban and Co. to evolve or die, in a metaphorical sense.
I, like many, will be waiting and watching to see how the rebuilt secondary and reinvigorated pass rush do against a team that is fast, plays fast, is well-coached, and has some of the best skills players in C-USA squad.
Alabama will win this game handily; but the passing defense will be tested along the way. We as fans may trust, but we need also verification that the issues of the past 2-3 seasons are being remedied. A solid outing, and some forced turnovers, against a talented Blue Raiders team will go a long way to
There is always a long pause before the cold leap into a dark river, or even off the diving board, but we'll know Saturday whether to come on in because the water is fine.
If you think MTSU are Sisters of the Poor, you are the only one
Saban, during his Wednesday evening press conference, voiced his respect for Alabama’s next opponent and noted that Saturday’s game in Bryant-Denny will be anything but a pushover. "I think conceptually, they’re one of the most difficult offenses that we play to defend," Saban said. "They’re very, very well-coached. They do a really, really good job of using personnel. They use not just four wide outs but they use three wide outs and a tight end, they use two backs and three wide outs, they use regular.
This is, as Saban later notes, a real challenge for the defense. The Blue Raiders offense will look to personnel-match versus Alabama's defense -- a concept very familiar to Alabama fans as multiple personnel packages are integral to Alabama's defensive scheme, as well as Lane Kiffin's eclectic offensive formations.
For those without access to the video, AL.com has you covered with the synopsis below.
No new injuries to report. --MTSU does a good job of using personnel, Saban says. Change up formations with receivers and do a nice job in passing game.
Saban says pace of play is an issue. --Alabama could do a better job of pass protection. Saban says any time you get sacked, you didn't pass protect very well. He thinks QBs could have done a better job of getting the ball out when facing pressure.
Saban says MTSU offense reminds him of Ole Miss and Auburn. Says they are very effective offensively.
Well, I'm not sure I would call Ole Miss' offense "effective" without an interior running game, but the point remains - MTSU will play fast, and like Ole Miss, will put the ball in the air 45-50 times a game
That Coker came back to win the first start this season is a tribute to him. He still has to prove he can make plays at winning time against a defense like Ole Miss. He still has to show he can walk into a truly hostile environment in the state of Texas in College Station and stand up to that crowd and a defense directed by John Chavis.
Coker still has miles to go to live up to the unfair hype Jimbo Fisher placed on him when he transferred from Florida State to Alabama, but he's off to a good start. Good for him, and if he continues to grow into the job, even better for Alabama.
Jacob Coker's performance was a feel-good story last weekend to be sure. But, I'm not buying that Coker's lead over Bateman or Morris is so substantial that it has closed the QB competition just yet, or that Coker is in a honeymoon period with coaches or fans. But, yes, for one weekend, Coker is the toast of a still-unsettled quarterbacking corps.
"He brings a youth and a vitality," she said. "Nick always tries to have a staff that has balance of maturity, some of the older coaches who have a lot of experience. Then he balances that with a younger staff that has a lot of energy that can stay late and can kind of think like the way the younger players think. "Nick still can't email and he can't text so he needs that younger energy around him to kind of balance the rest of the staff."
When Ms. Terry cites how valuable Cochran is, perhaps we should listen. He makes close to half a million a year, and is still grossly underpaid. No one produces nastier, more physical players built for sixty minutes -- including the guys on Sunday.
Henry crashed the Heisman conversation in Week 1, gutting Wisconsin to the tune of 147 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries. The junior, who finished 2014 with 990 yards and 13 TDs, will turn his attention to Middle Tennessee this week.
I'm not sure that a running back can win the Heisman in 2015, but Derrick looked every bit the dominant force that most projected when he signed out of Yulee, Florida back in 2013. With Nick Chubb and Zeke Elliot, 2016 could be the year of the running back.
Gameday notes, both near and far
Please be advised that with an estimated completion date of December 2015, the Alberta City Bridge will be out for the 2015 season. If you normally enter/exit campus via Cottondale, your route will be affected. The University of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Transportation have arranged a detour that will quickly and efficiently get you around all construction and help you reach your final destination. The detour route is a four lane road in each direction. The Tuscaloosa Police Department will be manning all intersections and signage will be in place to direct you through the detour. See below for a description of the route around the construction.
There have been a number of routing and parking changes. Make sure you review UA's Gameday link above and get smart before you get stuck in traffic and construction.
Speaking of, there are still a limited amount of tickets to the MTSU game. They are $55, which includes a $10 concession and merchandise voucher. Parties over 15 can get them even cheaper, at just $45 per pop.
This is a great service for those staying in Atlanta who want to go booze it up safely for the Dawgs and Tide. Better yet, proceeds go to medical bills for those with Lyme Disease. See, people with GoFundMe? This is how you do it: We'll pay your bills, but at least provide us a service in return.
Middle Tennessee at Alabama -35 Alabama (52.7-16.7) 36.0 98.1% Alabama
The only team favored more heavily by the F/+ numbers this week? Ohio State hosting Hawaii. Football Study Hall, along John Saxon's work here at RBR, is a nice way to quantify your degenerate gambling picks.
- Yes, there will be an open thread tonight and tomorrow.
- Tomorrow, we will wrap up our coverage of MTSU, and even have a Q&A with an MTSU blogger (they exist!)
- Later this weekend, we will update you on the Roll 'Bama Roll Tailgate on the Quad, including dates and the like.
- This Sunday is the last day to enter and win the Lane Kiffin Haiku Contest.