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Jumbo Package: Peach Bowl prep; Zeke's fake beef; the importance of bowl games

Bowl prep, fake beef between Zeke and A'Shawn, the benefits of bowl games, recruiting, and more.

God, I love this picture.
God, I love this picture.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

About Washington

Alabama to face 'Seahawk-like' secondary in Peach Bowl

“They’re very good. They’ve got length at corner, they’re very good cover guys,” Saban said Monday morning. “I think the scheme that they play -- they don’t make a lot of mistakes -- has been sort of a little bit Seattle Seahawk-like in the fact that ‘We’re gonna do what we do and we’re gonna do it really, really well.’ “They do a great job of executing with things that they play. They do a great job of breaking on the ball, reading the quarterback’s eyes and that’s why they have made a lot of plays.”

Budda Baker has made an All-American career by reading the QB: He's absolutely one of the best in the country at it. Jalen Hurts is going to have to be mindful of not staring down targets when Baker is in the vicinity.

College Football Nation Blog- ESPN

“That was one thing as a young coach that I took away: If I ever suggested a play, I made sure I had a whole sheet of paper that had all the answers on there to the questions he might ask,” Harsin said. “Don’t just be a guy that says we should do this and not have a reason.” Everyone who has coached with Petersen has gotten accustomed to that question coming out of Petersen’s mouth. And? That “and?” is where Petersen lives and thrives, in the details and nuance of it all.

This is a nice look at a very detail-oriented, contingency-minded coach. It sounds like he and Saban approach game prep much the same way.

About Alabama

Nick Saban describes the mindset his team needs for the Playoff

Asked what he’s learned most from the previous playoff trips, Saban pointed to figuring that out. “Players have to understand we have to do the best we can to win this game to create an opportunity to play another game and re-center and focus what we do,” Saban said. “What I’ve learned about this game is your mindset, is this a bowl game or a playoff game? Every player has to decide for himself, every coach has to decide for himself, because there’s a balance for everyone in the organization. It is a playoff game.”

Rewinding what Washington coach Chris Petersen said about Alabama and more |

Petersen said Alabama's offense is "similar to what we have seen in the West." -- Petersen said both Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian are "really good football coaches." -- Asked about the trick plays the Huskies have a reputation of running, Petersen said they sometimes create "momentum." "We might not do any. We might do a bunch," he added.

Prepare for a mother lode of trick plays. Petersen made his national reputation off of a wild win over Oklahoma, and I would expect nothing less in a game where Washington doesn't have quite the manpower on paper.

Nick Saban gives injury updates on two Alabama star players |

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday cornerback Marlon Humphrey and left tackle Cam Robinson are "fine" after the team arrived in Atlanta in advance of its College Football Playoff semifinal game against Washington. "They're doing well," he added. "They practiced for the most part the whole time. We're encouraged by the progress they've made."

Very good news RE: Humphrey and Robinson. Alabama needs both of those veteran performers.

Why Nick Saban views Bradley Bozeman as Alabama's unsung hero |

"He had big shoes to fill," Saban said, "and he did a fantastic job, not only in his ability to execute his position, (but) the confidence and leadership that he provided in helping other guys on the offensive line play extremely well by making the right calls and playing with confidence and focusing on what they needed to do and not worry about what they shouldn't be doing. ... I can't say enough about the good job he's done for us all year long."

Center is such a crucial job on the offense -- not just in blocking, but reading the defense and calling the line play. Still, I don't think I've seen a team's fortunes be so dependent upon one line position quite like Nick Saban's Alabama squads are upon its centers. Bozeman has been a monster this season and deserves far more credit nationally than he has received.

Personal foul, playing defense

A'Shawn was nailed 15 yards for this hit on Zeke Elliott. Heaven forbid the Shield let a budding star in a major market take a hard shot. Meanwhile, Cam Newton has to be practically flensed at midfield to draw a flag. No coincidence that he's in the Charlotte small market. Nah. Not at all.

Ezekiel Elliott used Ohio State’s 2015 Sugar Bowl win over Alabama to trash talk -

Yes, that is Elliott rubbing the win in by bringing up the time his college team beat Robinson’s college team in the College Football Playoff

Then, Zeke popped off at the mouth calling THE'Shawn a jealous hater and a dirty player, all while being a poor winner. Class act, that kid.

Anyway, it's such a premature heel turn by a guy trying to initiate fake beef. It was one hit; it was flagged; it was not particularly dirt; it is over...or it should be, at any rate.


5-star LB Dylan Moses highlights Alabama recruits at Under Armour All-America Game |

The rosters for the Under Armour Game are provided here on Here are players to watch if you're an Alabama fan. Alabama targets committing at the game are safeties DeAngelo Gibbs and Xavier McKinney.

A very good look at the Alabama commits (many are early entries,) as well as two targets that announce during the UA game.

No, there are not too many bowls

Pat Fitzgerald: If you call bowl 'meaningless,' you never played or coached

Some media and fans have compared so many bowl games to a “participation trophy,” but it’s really another opportunity to compete, including practices and strength training. It’s also a free trip for many players who may not be able to make such a trip otherwise. From a fan perspective, you get to watch more football, so what's the issue? “There is no such thing as a meaningless game. You’re only guaranteed X amount of games in college. Injury and everything are a major part of that,” Fitzgerald said. “For us to be in the postseason, to be in Yankee Stadium and play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against an outstanding opponent, this is a great opportunity for our program, and I know our guys are excited about it.”

Flipping the field: What bowl games mean to players and coaches

In 43 years of college football [Bob Davie had] never been carried off the field. Not until last weekend, when his New Mexico Lobos outlasted Texas-San Antonio to earn their first bowl victory since 2007. "I realize that where we are and what we do might not be a blip on the radar of the playoff end of the spectrum. But you look in the eyes of my seniors, who have worked so hard. You look in the eyes of New Mexico alumni who love football and have kept supporting this program through a lot of losing. You see the looks on their faces and tell me this is meaningless."

While fans may or may not be into bowls or be upset/indifferent about a particular bowl game, the postseason games (and the vacation, swag, and acknowledgement) are a reward for the players and teams. For coaches, they are developmental sessions -- an early Spring camp, if you will. Less bowls means less of all of that. And, hell, sometimes two moribund programs put on an entertaining affair -- see BC-Maryland.


A Rutgers Football history: past as prologue? - On the Banks

Frank Burns, the winningest coach in Rutgers history, was in his eighth year at the helm and never thought he’d be coaching in the game. “When I was told six years ago that we would be playing Alabama in 1980, it didn’t bother me a damn bit because I figured by that time I’d be fired.” And Bear Bryant, even while others were anticipating the “laugher”, knew his team faced a pretty good Rutgers squad. In his post-game remarks, Bryant gave this assessment: “We won the game, but Rutgers beat us.”

This is such a good story. Go read it.