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Jumbo Package: Wednesday, October 19th

Alabama is good. That is all.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Tennessee John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

How Alabama's 'nickel rabbits' packages shows off defense's greatest assets

Allen did most of his damage inside because Alabama featured a special package.

"It was our plan to play what we call nickel rabbits, which means [outside linebackers] Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson play defensive end," head coach Nick Saban said.

The strategy worked to perfection, as the Tide swarmed Dobbs at the outset of the game. In the first quarter, Tennessee ran 19 plays. Seven resulted in negative yardage, as Dobbs was sacked three times by Williams, Allen and inside linebacker Reuben Foster.

During the play when Foster dropped Dobbs for a 10-yard loss, Williams and Anderson were lined up on opposite ends while Allen rushed from an interior position.

The threat posed by so much talent on the field at the same time illustrated just how potent Alabama's pass rush is. On Saturday, the Tide blitzed on 14 of 30 dropbacks, invading Dobbs' pocket repeatedly. It did so primarily out of a nickel alignment, which was used on 75 percent of Alabama's defensive snaps.

We’ve talked about it ad naseam here at Roll Bama Roll, but I always like to take a little time each day to truly stop and think about how amazing this pass rush is. This nickel package, moving the two defensive ends, Dalvin Tomlinson and Jonathan Allen, to the inside while moving up linebackers Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson to be edge rushers allows the Tide to focus it’s best pass rushing talent (though nose tackle Da’Ron Payne keeps getting better and better) directly on the opposing QB.

Alabama 'backer assesses team chemistry, young OLBs

“I feel like everybody’s real close on this team, man,” Anderson said. “That’s how it’s been the last few years. As a guy that’s been around on some teams that weren’t like that, I wasn’t gonna leave here and let that go. I wanted to set a good example for all these younger guys, even if it’s just the younger guys at my position group. Just get them and spend time with them.

“You’ve got a lot of guys that’s young, redshirting, on scout team, and they’re probably feeling just like I was feeling. You’re really not part of the team, you know what I mean? I just try to make sure everybody gets those guys, put your arm around them and just let them know to keep working and that we all love them and appreciate what they’re doing.”

These are some great quotes from Anderson. He also mentions how well Christian Miller and Anfernee Jennings are playing, and that Terrell Hall is an exceptionally quick learner with a lot of talent to boot. He closes with mentioning that he loves this team so much that he starts to miss his teammates after only a couple of days away from practice.

This is a special team, a special defense, and a special linebacking corps. Enjoy this season, folks.

How Alabama's evolving running game is more potent after Derrick Henry went pro

Something strange happened on Alabama's second snap of the second half Saturday at Tennessee.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts took the shotgun snap and handed it off to Damien Harris. That's it. Just an old-fashioned pistol, off-tackle run. Three yards.

It was the second and final traditional handoff Alabama used in its historic running output in the 49-10 whipping of Tennessee. Every other running play in the 438-yard running performance was rooted in the read option, jet sweep -- occasionally both.

The motioning receivers and Hurts' ability to handoff or take off has created a misdirecting, modern version of a triple option.

This was the most striking departure from the seemingly old-guard ground attack that powered Derrick Henry's Heisman Trophy season a year ago. It's also helped make this Alabama running game even more effective two months after lacking backfield experience was the chief concern for the Tide offense.

This is not your grandmother’s running game. Many of us (me included) thought that the lack of running back experience, a new offensive line, and a plethora of receivers would finally turn Alabama into a pass-first offense. Instead, the Tide is now averaging almost 70 rushing yards per game more than they did during Derrick Henry’s Heisman season.

And it’s done very differently than we are all used to. I’ve been as quick as any to point out my displeasure at the overabundance of jet sweeps at the beginning of a game, but this hybrid-option offense involving the receivers seems to be a bit of a cross between the Georgia Tech flexbone triple option and the early form of the spread we saw at Florida around 2008 with Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, and Brandon James.

The critical part of all of it is that the QB, like Tebow then or Justin Thomas at Tech, is more than just a threat to run the ball— he is almost another running back. Jalen Hurts has done that and more.

John Petty officially down to 2 with decision coming soon

Originally aiming for a decision in December, Petty told Boyette he will now decide in November and likely sign during the early period.

As a junior last season, Petty averaged 19.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists while leading J.O. Johnson to its second straight 5A state championship in the program's final year en route to being named Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year. He enrolled at the newly established Mae Jemison High School over the summer.

Petty (6-5, 180), who is ranked 31st overall in the 2017 class by the 247Sports Composite, took an official visit to Alabama Aug. 25. He will take an official visit to Kentucky Oct. 28.

I know we talked about him earlier this week, but securing the commitment of John Petty by beating out Kentucky would be huge. The Tide was in conversation with Kansas, UConn, and FSU too before Petty eliminated those teams. He would be the fourth commitment in this class, and is probably Avery Johnson’s top target outside of 5-star Collin Sexton.

5 former Alabama players rated as best at their positions in Week 6 of NFL season

New York Jets left guard James Carpenter, New York Giants safety Landon Collins, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper, New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower and Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly led the Week 6 ratings at their positions.

Carpenter was lauded for giving up only a "single QB pressure" in the Jets' 28-3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.

Collins had 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack in the Giants' 27-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Cooper caught 10 passes for 129 yards in the Raiders' 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Hightower had 13 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a safety in the Patriots' 35-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Kelly played in his sixth NFL game on Sunday night. PFF judged it to be his best performance in the pros, saying Kelly allowed "no QB pressure on 44 pass-blocking snaps."


Obviously, always take PFF’s extremely subjective and mysterious grades with a grain of salt. But where there’s smoke, there’s usually at least something burning. If they are under the impression that a player was the “best at his position,” then he at least had an impressive performance.

And Cooper was the best receiver this week, even though Julio Jones had over 130 yards against the best secondary in the NFL. Roll Tide.