All aboard the hype train!
Allen does it all. He's not your prototypical 250-pound sack artist who rushes with his speed and is a liability against the run. Rather, he can play all three downs, has the size to play inside and out, and still has six sacks this season. If you include last year, he's fourth in the FBS with 18 sacks -- ahead of Garrett and Tennessee’s Derek Barnett. Look, the Heisman wasn't meant to go to quarterbacks every year. That's boring. Rather, it's supposed to go to the most deserving player, regardless of position. And in Allen, I think I've found someone who fits that mold. He's the best player on the best team in America.
That's not a bad argument, and it's backed up by numbers too. Suh got a lot of traction for being a disruptive pass-rushing force in 2009, but he had several bad games and disappeared for stretches at a time. Allen has no such issue: He's now recorded a sack in every game this season, is the unquestioned leader of the defense, and is absolute hell on running backs too.
PFF also rates Jonathan Allen the No. 1 defensive lineman in the nation, and he is now firmly vying for the No. 1 overall pick ahead of Myles Garrett.
Jon Solomon agrees with the Allen for Heisman campaign (and takes a dump on the Jabril Peppers hype train):
Allen, Alabama's ridiculous 291-pound defensive lineman, has been one of the most dominant defensive players for two seasons. It's fair to say he's the best player on the best team in the country. PFF rates Allen as the No. 1 interior defensive lineman by a healthy margin. Yet it took Allen making two amazing plays in a nationally-televised game -- a ridiculous flying sack of Texas A&M's Trevor Knight and a fumble return for a touchdown -- for some media members to finally suggest him for the Heisman. The reality is that, without radically rethinking the value of defensive players, Heisman talk for Allen will be fleeting.
Fleeting though it be, it's good to see more people recognize what we've known for the past three seasons: Allen is an unstoppable force.
Speaking of accolades:
The South Eastern Conference recognized Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen as the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Crimson Tide's 33-14 victory over Texas A&M. Allen had a number of highlights on Saturday including one sack that seemed to involve Allen flying into the quarterback while stretched out almost parallel to the ground.
Allen had 6 QB pressures, four tackles for loss, was in on 2 sacks, and had a scoop-and-score, his second touchdown of the season. Unreal game for the big man, who's at the helm of arguably Alabama's best defense in the modern spread age.
"When they say they've gotten lighter and leaner, there's definitely a level of quickness," Savage said. And a level of confidence. "Whenever teams make plays against us, it's us not doing what we're supposed to do," Fitzpatrick said in a rare moment of candor. "There's nobody better than us."
Go read that: tons of quotes and interviews with Alabama defensive players. This is a focused, mean bunch. You'll Gump superhard.
Alabama's defense has +21 EPA per game (expected points added), meaning the defense is adding about 21 points to the final score margin. That is the highest defensive EPA for any team this far into the season in the past decade.
That is an unreal defensive impact. Hell, you can trace at least 7 of those PPG to just the defense scoring outright.
Alabama has added another non-conference game to its 2018 schedule. The Crimson Tide will host the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 29, 2018. * * * Alabama’s other non-conference games in 2018 include home games against Arkansas State (Sept. 8) and The Citadel (Nov. 17).
That's one helluva poopy home slate in 2018 for Alabama. Worse, it's the even year schedule, meaning A&M and Auburn are the only real conference games of note (Alabama's divisional rotation is Mizzou. Blech.) Looks like Alabama will vie for the SEC and Sun Belt titles in 2018.
Speaking of schedules
I keep track of how conferences favor certain teams and certainly how they tend to screw emergent teams in favor of the conference big guns (the SEC is unique in sticking it to its standard bearer.) But, man, PAC 12, did you have to be so blatant about preserving the status quo on this one and sticking it to a team that's just now trying to emerge as a conference contender?
"We have a game in six days, which is crazy. Absolutely nuts that we have to go to USC in six days and play a team that's had 13 days off to prepare for us," Dykes said after the game. "It absolutely makes no sense. Utah had an extra day to prepare for us. Arizona State had an extra day to prepare for us. Oregon had an open date before the game like we did, and now USC has an extra week. I don’t think there’s a lot of equity in scheduling. I didn’t make the schedule. I’m not happy about it."
Utah, Arizona State, USC, Oregon. Yup, protect the #brand.
Looking to LSU
Saban also updated a couple of other injuries to a pair of offensive players. Sophomore running back Damien Harris appeared limited at Tuesday’s practice, and Saban confirmed that Wednesday. "He’s one of the guys I referred to that probably needs to heal up a little bit," Saban said of Harris. "Last two games he probably hasn’t had the same juice that he had before. Hopefully we’re going to get him back to 100 percent."
Taylor still hasn't been cleared to take part in contact drills. "These are things you kind of got to go through day-by-day, and we just have to see how he progresses," Saban said. "We're not really making any predictions. But I can tell you we won't put him on the field until the medical staff feels he is totally OK to be out there."
TL; DR version: Harris is predictably banged up after 8 games. I would expect to see him back after a little rest and healing. Shank is a different story. Going on the third week with a concussion indicates that the injury was considerably worse than a bump and seeing stars. He's not been medically cleared, and Saban does not sound very optimistic that it will be soon either, since Taylor is still contact-free. I don't think he'll start another game for Alabama, at this point. Cotton has played very well in Shank's absence.
Early signing period downsides
The unintended consequences that concern Sankey include less ability to scrutinize recruits' academics, a precipitous drop in the amount of contact before recruits sign and a potential empowerment of third parties because there's less contact. All those would lead to ill-informed decisions and subsequent transfers. Coaches predict the June signing day will bring uninformed decisions, diminished relationships with recruits and little regard for academics. There's little proof how the NCAA will achieve its objectives of "an improved recruiting environment" and "greater transparency in the recruiting environment."
Having seen so many guys jump ship at the last second, we naturally cheered news that an early signing period was all-but a done deal. However, the SEC (which has more than its share of academic casualties) wants to take a step back and examine that impact, as well as the influence of bagmen...I'm sorry, third parties. There's a lot to think about here, and it's worth your read.
Finally, hubris, thy name is LSU
Monday, it was Fournette. Yesterday, it was a backup talking all kinds of nonsense.Yes, because motivating Alabama is exactly what LSU needed.
"I just feel like this is the year," Thomas said before Wednesday's practice. "We've been letting them off the hook for the last couple of years. This is my senior year. We're going out with a bang and it's time for us to bring that win back. And we're going to be at home. I feel like we have the edge to take it to them, and we're going to take it to them and I feel like we're just going to dominate this game."