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Jumbo Package: Hoops, Defensive Line, and Insulting Auburn

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Hump Day!!!

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chasing Alabama: Auburn Tigers - SEC Blog- ESPN

There’s a reason this Auburn team went 6-6 last season. The offense was inconsistent. The defense struggled for most of the year. And as we head into 2016, there’s no proof that it will get better. The staff might have more options at quarterback, but nobody has proven they can handle the job. They might have signed a stellar wide receiver class, but the position will still be full of youth and inexperience in the fall.

And though the defense will benefit from the return of Carl Lawson, the unit will be led by its third defensive coordinator in as many years. In fact, three of the four coaches on defense had to be replaced this offseason. Auburn’s best seasons typically come when nobody is expecting much from the Tigers, but there are plenty of questions that need answers before this team is ready to make a run.

I'm going to start your morning off the right way. There are few things in this life better than a professional sports writer saying that Auburn is just plain bad. Despite the fact that the Tigers have been able to recruit receivers and defensive lineman at an infuriatingly successful level, they've effectively managed to turn each one into a shell of what there were supposed to be coming out of high school.

Alabama basketball under Avery Johnson is ahead of schedule

We're going to get a little technical here, but bear with us, because the key motive of Bama's offense is to get its point guard space to operate and its wing shooters clean looks. Johnson uses a lot of screening action in the middle of the floor, especially in the high-post area but also including an occasional cross screen in the post. The high post screening primarily features a screen off the ball (back or flare screen) into ball-screen action for the point guard.

The wings primarily space out to appropriate slots and spot up for a kick out.

Alabama's team doesn't have a collectively strong shooting percentage from downtown (33.3 percent) but only 26 teams have a higher ratio of three-point shots to field goal attempts and the Tide ranks No. 60 (of 337 teams) in terms of the percentage of their points that come from three-point shots, according to data from KenPom.com.

This is a pretty good and informative article from 247. It has sections to read about Avery Johnson's offensive scheme, the Alabama personnel, and a synopsis of the recruiting situation. There is no doubt that this team has overachieved this season with respect to the talent on hand, but with more accurate 3-point shooting, this team could be downright deadly.

Tuesday Morning Thoughts

With Retin Obasohan turning in a first-team All-SEC performance and coach Avery Johnson getting every drop of ability out of Obasohan's teammates, the Crimson Tide has managed to navigate shortcomings that Ingram's presence would have helped cover for otherwise.

Those areas include but are not limited to:

Rebounding -- This is an area where the 6-foot-5 Ingram is considered to be elite among those who play his position. Through seven games, the freshman was averaging 5.9 boards per game. Alabama's leading rebounder is Jimmie Taylor, who averages 5.2 boards per game. As a team, UA currently ranks 13th in the SEC in rebounding.

Defense -- Ingram was considered to be Alabama's second-best perimeter defender, with Obasohan ranking first. That's what we saw, at least, in wins over Wichita State and Notre Dame back in November, when Ingram was largely responsible for keeping WSU's Ron Baker (4 for 12 from the field) and Notre Dame's Demetrius Jackson (4 for 13 from the field) in check.

Depth -- With Ingram out, UA basically has one substitute for three spots. Of those four, only two -- Obasohan and Justin Coleman -- are legitimate ballhandlers. Obviously, less than ideal.

As unexpectedly good as Alabama has been this season, one can't help but imagine how much of a difference Dazon Ingram could have made. Early in the season, Ingram looked like the best player on the court for Alabama, even as a true freshman. Though Retin Obasohan has been phenomenal this season, the rest of the team has been inconsistent at best. With Ingram's talent, versatility, and length at the point and shooting guard spots, it's not hard to imagine that the Tide could have won 3 more games this year and be a mid-seed for the NCAA tournament.

Five UA stars are top-50 prospects ahead of Combine

Defensive tackles Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson followed behind Ragland at Nos. 14 and 15, respectively. The former NFL scout provided some high praise for Reed's ability to defend the run from multiple positions.

"Reed was a two-year starter for the Crimson Tide," Jeremiah wrote. "He lines up at both defensive end and nose tackle in the 'Bama 3-4 defense. This is a dominant run defender. He easily locks out blockers over his nose and he can also hold his ground vs. the double team. He is always on his feet and he will also flash the quickness to penetrate and play on the other side of the line of scrimmage. He has tremendous range because of his quickness and effort.

"As a pass rusher, he can push the pocket with his power and he flashes a quick arm-over as well. Overall, Reed is impossible to move in the run game and I believe he has upside as an interior pass rusher."

While A'Shawn has gotten most of the hype and praise over the past couple of seasons, Jarran Reed has steadily put together an equally, if not more, impressive college career. Were I the GM of an NFL team in the market for a defensive end (particularly in a 3-4 scheme), I would take Reed over Robinson.

Daniel Jeremiah has Reggie Ragland ranked higher than the two defensive linemen, and Ryan Kelly and Derrick Henry round out the group of Alabama players in his top-50.

Jonathan Allen returns for Alabama, but there are losses at defensive end - Alabama - Scout

Allen is assuredly going to be one of the top two ends when Alabama begins spring practice on March 11 (tentative), and most expect competitive battles for the other end spot and for the back-up roles that are so important on the defensive front.

Dalvin Tomlinson (6-3, 294, senior) has played in every Alabama game over the past two years as a back-up on the defensive line. He played in the first game of his freshman season in 2013, but suffered a season-ending knee injury. Tomlinson has shown very good pass-rushing skills and last year had six passes broken up, the most of any defensive lineman. He also had four quarterback pressures and was in on 33 tackles, one for loss.

Da’Shawn Hand (6-4, 273, junior) is an outstanding talent coming from the outside. He played a significant role down the stretch in the 2015 season, seeing action in every game. He was in on 12 tackles, five of them for lost yardage including three sacks, and also had two quarterback pressures.

Playing rotation is complicated on Alabama’s defensive line as Tide will have a new nose tackle - Alabama - Scout

Determining who is a tackle and who is an end on the Alabama defensive line can be complicated. In the Crimson Tide scheme, there are a number of big, athletic men who play on the defensive front, sometimes in a three-man look, sometimes four. And until they are lined up, it’s not easy to differentiate between ends and tackles.

For instance, last season’s starting defensive line ordinarily was A’Shawn Robinson, Jarron Reed, and Jonathan Allen, and Robinson was usually in the middle. Robinson and Reed have now departed for what should be nice careers in the National Football League. Allen (6-3, 283) returns for his senior season, and is expected to be the starter at end.

With Reed and Robinson, along with key back-up D.J. Pettway, moving on, there will be some interesting shuffling along the line. Last year, Darren Lake was technically listed as the original starter at nose tackle, with Reed and Robinson as the ends. Obviously, Robinson typically played the nose while Allen actually was the starter at defensive end.

This year, I would expect Daron Payne to hold the role as the token starting nose tackle, with Allen at one defensive end and D'Shawn Hand and Dalvin Tomlinson battling for the other. However, Tomlinson will probably end up playing inside as a pass rushing defensive tackle more often than not, leaving Hand and Allen as the outside ends.

True freshman Kendell Jones will be in the mix for the nose tackle spot, while Raekwon Davis, Quinnen Williams, and JUCO transfer Jamar King will all look to use their unique styles to carve a specific niche along the line and garner meaningful playing time.