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Jumbo Package: Friday, 4 November 2016

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Crimson Tide news and notes.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. Alabama once again enters November in position to win the SEC West and go on to another berth in the College Football Playoff. Of course, there is still work to do, starting with tomorrow night's tilt against what will be an overly feisty bunch of Tigers. The narrative around that one seems to be clearly defined:

LSU's Superman, Leonard Fournette faces his kryptonite in Alabama one last time - CBSSports.com

In two games against the Crimson Tide, Fournette has run for 110 yards on 40 carries (2.8 yards per carry). He averages 6.7 yards against everyone else. Alabama has twice held Fournette to under 4 yards per carry. Nobody else has done it once in games when he carries the ball more than 15 times, as he did both times against Alabama. Incredibly, 60 percent of Fournette's carries against the Crimson Tide go for 2 yards or less. Against every other team, Fournette gets held to 2 yards or less on 32 percent of his rushes.

Alabama Crimson Tide-LSU Tigers: Game preview - Stats & Info- ESPN

Efficiency: The Tide lead the FBS in defensive efficiency. Every season Alabama has led the FBS in defensive efficiency (2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015), it has won the national championship. It has been mostly gravy for Alabama’s defense, but this season’s team has given up 32 plays of 20 or more yards (an average of four per game), which is the most by any Saban-coached Alabama team to this point in a season.

Leonard Fournette and Jamal Adams spoke and fired up LSU, says Ed Orgeron | NOLA.com

"I think if you would have heard Jamal Adams and Leonard Fournette talk to the football team today after practice, you'd be very fired up to see this team play on Saturday," Orgeron said on his weekly radio show on Wednesday evening. "As we all know, this is a very good Alabama football team. It's going to take 60 minutes to play our very best to be able to win this football game. But we're able and we are ready to play for 60 minutes or more, whatever it takes."

Why Alabama-LSU will turn into a recurring Fournette nightmare | New York Post

LSU still relies on Fournette to carry its offense. Etling is an efficient, but non-threatening thrower who won’t be able to take advantage of single-coverage in the secondary. Again, Alabama (already with the best run defense in the country, allowing nearly 21 yards less than the nation’s second-ranked run defense) will stack the box and dare the quarterback to beat them. Again, Fournette will be frustrated, like in last year’s 19-carry, 31-yard effort against the Tide.

Yep, this one is being framed as Leonard vs. Alabama, which is wholly unfair to Fournette. This is rather grainy, but someone compiled every carry against Alabama in last year's game, condensed into a two-minute video. Pay special attention to the behavior of the defensive line and particularly to C Ethan Pocic matched up on Da'Ron Payne:

Alabama's defensive line is not only stronger than LSU's offensive line, they are disciplined enough to maintain gap integrity. It really doesn't matter what type of blocking scheme you choose when the defensive linemen can simply stand up your offensive linemen and effectively close up all of the running lanes. Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson are playing on Sundays now, but Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson have been no easier to move, and other than deer antler spray in copious amounts there is no magic bullet that will suddenly make Pocic capable of handling Payne in what was the most devastating mismatch of the game for LSU.

This is the problem for LSU. Like last year, Alabama will gladly give them a one- or even two-man advantage in the box, knowing that the Alabama front can eat up six blockers with four men. Since Etling is immobile, this leaves seven elite guys to clean up in the run game and cover on the back end, against only four skill players. As usual, bet on Pruitt to play man on the outside, which will probably lead to a big play or two. Odds favor Fournette finding a crease along the way as well. Still, finding any sort of offensive efficiency is going to be nigh impossible for the Tiger offense.

In the end, I think this CBS prediction is pretty close:

Alabama at LSU game pick, prediction, odds, line: Tide too much for the Tigers? - CBSSports.com

There's no margin for error. LSU needs breaks to cover this spread and needs damn near every break to pull off the win. The Tigers may be one of the only teams in the country that can match the talent and physicality of the Tide in the trenches, but do they have the depth to withstand four quarters of that Alabama rushing attack? This will be a slow, close game that gets broken open late in a 10-14 point win for the Tide.

Other than disagreeing on the talent in the trenches, this is reasonable. Something around last year's score of 31-16 sounds about right.

That's just my opinion, of course. Vote and tell us your score in the comments.

Rewinding what Nick Saban said on his radio show | AL.com

Saban told the story of how he met his wife, Terry, at science camp in West Virginia. They then reconnected in high school and that is when they first started dating. Saban also dropped the name of the guy she dated before they began a relationship. After Saban won the title in 2009, he drove by the service station her old boyfriend runs and said that if she married him, she would have been there. She shot back, "No, if I would have married him, he'd be the coach of Alabama."

Great stuff there.

'Trust' could determine whether Alabama DB Tony Brown's role increases | AL.com

If Minkah Fitzpatrick moves to safety as he indicated he would, someone would have to replace him at the star — or slot — cornerback position in Alabama's nickel defense. Brown is a logical candidate to fill that role. Then again, he could be at the Money spot in the team's dime package. "I think Tony is definitely going to get more opportunities," Fitzpatrick said. "Probably going to try and use him at the dime spot this week. Hopefully he can do what he has to do now that there's a possibility. Usually when he comes into a game, he does it right, so hopefully he can do that this week."

This is actually a good matchup for Brown. While there have been rumblings that he has struggled with staying focused on his job at times, he has always been a willing and able tackler who will enjoy getting his licks on the LSU backs.

Two young players will replace Eddie Jackson as Alabama punt returner | AL.com

And in his other job, a few players will get a shot at returning punts. On his radio show Thursday evening, Nick Saban said sophomore Xavian Marks and true freshman Trevon Diggs are the two in competition for the job. Both got a few chances to audition for the job early in the season. "I wanted to get them other guys some experience, if it gets to this, they've done it before," Saban said. "Which they have." Calvin Ridley "could also be good at it," Saban said, "but I think we'll probably go with one those two guys."

LSU's rugby punter isn't going to allow many returns to begin with, but hopefully the Tide can avoid any major gaffes here.

Last but not least, the Tide kicked off year two of the Avery Johnson era last night:

What you need to know about Alabama's exhibition win over Faulkner | AL.com

Davis connected on 4 of 8 3-point attempts and finished with a game-high 17 points along with six rebounds and two assists while playing a team-high 27 minutes. "Ar'Mond lit it up," Key said. "He's a scorer. He's going to do that for us this season. He's a great shooter, great scorer."

Key, a four-star recruit, also had some standout moments.

The versatile 6-foot-7 freshman had 10 points, was 5 of 7 from the field and posted a team-high seven rebounds and two assists.

"He's a heck of a player," Ingram said of Key. "He can crash the boards, as ya'll can see, and he can finish around the rim, and he's going to be a major key for our team."

Alabama enjoyed a nice, comfortable win in the first exhibition game. It will be interesting to see this group progress.

That's about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.