Happy Friday everyone. Since it is the bye week, we will open with some potentially huge basketball recruiting news:
"I will base (it) off of the best fit for me to come in and get stronger, faster and develop as an all-around player and person," he told MADEHoops. "I want to be able to make mistakes without looking over my shoulder to see if I'm going to get taken out the game. I want to play my game on the court and I also would like for my family to be able to go to the games and support me."
That last line, along with the Nov. 10 decision date laid out by John Petty, a four-star guard from Alabama who many believe is leaning toward Alabama over Kentucky, has some wondering if Sexton will wind up with the Crimson Tide.
We don't want to count our chickens here, but the stars may be aligning to bring two of the nation's top guards to Tuscaloosa:
Kansas had the momentum on Collin Sexton, but I can confidently state that the momentum is gone.— Kansas Recruiting (@kansasrecruit) October 25, 2016
Petty and Sexton would fill out an already strong class, adding a point guard in Sexton and a classic shooting guard in Petty to a group that already includes a strong wing in Herb Hones and two good post players in Galin Smith and Alex Reese.
Should this happen, the 2017-2018 basketball team will be nothing short of loaded, featuring a great balance of some top-end talent and outstanding depth. In addition, Johnson would have effectively built a fence around Alabama, keeping in-state prizes Petty, Reese, and Jones at home. Hope for the best here, but the fact that Alabama is listed as a finalist alongside the likes of Kansas and Kentucky for players of this caliber is a big step in and of itself.
On to some bye week notes:
Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick continued to work with the safeties during individual drills, but he was back in his star position when Alabama worked on its nickel and dime packages. Hootie Jones stepped in at safety opposite Ronnie Harrison in nickel. Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett were on the corners. Reuben Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton manned the linebacker spots.
When Alabama moved to dime, Tony Brown came on as the money (sixth defensive back). The rest of the group remained the same. Foster was the lone inside linebacker.
Brown lined up at star (fifth defensive back) in nickel with the second-team defense.
-- Tony Brown entered with the first group dime defense as the sixth defensive back added.
-- Minkah Fitzpatrick remained as the star, or the fifth defensive back in both nickel and dime.
Needless to say, the secondary rotation is the main point of intrigue this week as the team figures out how to best replace Eddie Jackson. Right now it appears to be Hootie's time to start with Tony Brown playing the money, which makes sense against an LSU team that threatens far more with the run than the pass.
It is interesting, however, that Minkah is getting work at safety and Brown is the second-team nickel. Out of high school, many thought that Minkah might end up at free safety in college. As an elite athlete and instinctive ball hawk, he seems to have been born for the role. Moving him back there and putting the physical Brown in at star while allowing Jones and Harrison to stay in their current roles may well be the best possible combination.
Limit penalties: Even after a convincing 19-point win over a top-10 team in Texas A&M, Saban was upset. In his opening remarks Wednesday, he mentioned the eight penalties in the game. Whether it was a false start of an offside call on defense, it’s the so-called "unforced errors" that drive him mad. And he has a point. Alabama has a robust 50 penalties on the season, which is tied for the most in the SEC.
The penalties have been a concern. This is indeed the type of thing that makes Nick want to pull his hair out.
The Tide's play count average would be the lowest in the SEC if its outlier game against Arkansas was excluded. In its victory over the Razorbacks on Oct. 8, Alabama defended 84 plays, prompting cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick to say, "We gotta get off the field, man. I'm tired. We gotta get off the field.'" For the most part, the Tide has found a way to do just that. According to teamrankings.com, Alabama is second in the FBS in opponent punts per play.
Neutralizing Fournette will once again be a top priority when Alabama faces LSU. Despite dealing with the ankle injury, Fournette has rushed for 101 yards or more and 5.3 yards per carry or better in each of the four games he's played in. However, Alabama is first nationally in rush defense, is allowing a nation-low 2.18 yards per carry and — as Tide fans are well aware — held Fournette to 31 yards on 19 carries last season during a 30-16 win over Fournette and LSU.
Alabama has done an outstanding job on third down this season, ranking #11 in the country in offensive conversion at 49.1% and 15th in preventing conversion at 29.9%. This combination has allowed ample rest for a ridiculously talented but not terribly deep defensive line. LSU is obviously going to try and feature Fournette and Guice in the game plan. Third downs and avoiding turnovers on offense is key to keeping them bottled up.
Bear lost Fourcade to Ole Miss and never got past Orgeron’s father, the late Ed Sr., who told him point blank his son was going to LSU and not to bother making his way down Bayou Lafourche and Louisiana Highway 1 to Larose, where the Orgerons lived. "Here’s the deal," Orgeron, now LSU’s interim head coach, said at the New Orleans Quarterback Club on Monday. "Bear was going to come to my house, but my daddy told him not to. So no, he didn’t come. Dad said, ‘My boy’s going to LSU.’"
Orgeron went to LSU and transferred out a year later, while the Tide went on to own college football in the seventies.
The Alabama Crimson Tide will play the UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns in 2018, Cajuns athletic director Scott Farmer announced on ESPN 1420. Alabama will host UL Lafayette at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 29, 2018. The Tide will pay the Ragin’ Cajuns a $1.25 million guarantee, per the report.
For this game, perhaps Ben's tailgating piece will feature some creole cupcakes.
That's about it for today. Have a nice, relaxing weekend.