Happy Friday, everyone, on the eve of the season opener. We have plenty of discussion around the Advocare Classic for you this morning, but first:
"I think we’ve learned around here wins are pretty hard to come by," Jones said. "Never apologize for a win. And I’m proud of our players because they found a way to win a football game. Do we have to get a lot better? Absolutely, we have to get a lot better. It starts with me. It starts with our coaches. It starts with our players. It starts with everyone in our organization. But we found a way to win a football game. "With everything and anything that could go wrong, we found a way to win, and to me, that’s critical. If you look at the mark of good football teams, they find ways to win football games when they don’t play their best."
In solidarity, I'm not going to apologize for this. Pardon me for a moment....
If you didn't catch it in Butch's comments, Tennessee found a way to win a football game. At home. Against a team that was FCS two years ago.
If you recall, RBR had you covered last month with the big breaking news that something like this was possible. We should give credit where credit is due: Josh Dobbs showed all kinds of heart - all kinds - in executing that overtime goal-line fumble to perfection, rolling the football into the end zone and right through the wickets of the Appalachian State defender so that Jalen Hurd could recover it in the pile.
I hope that every one of the ink-stained wretches, who hyped a team that is both poorly coached and short on talent at several key positions, are proud of themselves. Alabama fans should be thankful for the buffoonery that is at the helm of the Tide's two chief rivals.
Helfand: USC has spent an unusual amount of time this preseason running the first-team offense against the first-team defense. Usually, that's not too common after training camp, but USC knows Alabama is going to be overwhelmingly talented, so USC wants to simulate that as much as possible. Other than that, it's the same old same old. USC should have a pretty strong offense. Its line should be among the best in the nation (though losing its most experienced member, left tackle Chad Wheeler, who'll be limited with a foot injury, hurts).
Max Browne has learned all about patience during his three-year wait to play for Southern California. The quarterback hopes he isn't about to suddenly learn the dangers of getting what you wish for, too. Browne finally makes his first start for the No. 20 Trojans on Saturday night in truly inhospitable circumstances. USC is taking on top-ranked Alabama and its imposing defense at the Dallas Cowboys' enormous stadium, which is likely to be filled with Crimson Tide fans making life miserable for Browne and his offensive line.
All of the beat writers are picking Alabama, but about that offensive line: check out this video of last season's home game against Washington, before they started losing players to injury. This is largely the same group we will see tomorrow, save for Chad Wheeler who is apparently on the shelf:
The video is supposed to focus on the behemoth RT, Zach Banner, but you get a nice view of the entire line. Starting with Banner, he does very well as expected in the run game when he is able to get his hands on the defender, particularly at the second level where he has well over 100 pounds on the guys he is blocking. However, he is also very stiff in pass protection, which is unsurprising for a 6'9", 360 pound tackle. The speed rush gave him fits in this game, but he wasn't alone. There were several jail-breaks that had Cody Kessler under significant duress. The more I look at this group, the more it looks like a mismatch rather than the strength vs. strength matchup of which is has been billed.
There are two big questions, however. One is on offense where Chuma Edoga will start at left tackle for the injured Chad Wheeler (plantar fasciitis). That means new quarterback Max Browne's blind side will be handled by a less-experienced player going up against a formidable pass rush. Secondly, there's still a bit of a "show me" factor with coach Clay Helton, who is 0-2 since having his interim tag removed last season. All Helton is doing is going up against one of college football's all-time great coaches. Those are some big obstacles for USC to overcome if it wants to prove it's finally "back."
Best part of the above link is this hunk of red meat to feed your inner gump:
Alabama enters this season with 17 5-stars. Or, as many as the bottom 107 FBS teams combined.— Zach Barnett (@zach_barnett) August 29, 2016
Nice. Very nice.
During an interview before January’s national title game, Kiffin was asked about his former assistant, Clay Helton, and he just couldn’t help himself. "This morning my son Knox says, ‘Hey Daddy, we’re going to be in Dallas and we’re going to whip USC next year,’’’ he said. "I didn’t think about it, but now that I think about it, I can’t help Clay.’’ Funny, but nobody had asked about the USC game. Kiffin just rolled the subplot out there, wound it up, and giggled as it started ticking. People who know Kiffin know there are all sorts of emotions involving USC that are hidden beneath that boyish exterior — anger, remorse, revenge — all ready to spill out Saturday on the sidelines of the season opener at AT&T Stadium.
Some folks seemed to think that Kiffin's Revenge wasn't going to be a factor.
It's going to be a factor.
It was around a 50-yard race between Robert Foster and Tony Brown, two of the fastest players on the team and probably two of the faster players in the country. Foster won. It showed something already well-known inside the Alabama building: Robert Foster is a special kind of fast.
Foster was supposed to be The Next Great Alabama WR well before Calvin Ridley showed up. Hopefully he can avoid the injury bug this year and realize his first-round potential. All of the tools are there.
"I don't think anybody has eliminated themselves," Saban said. "And I have not said there would be anybody that wouldn't play in this game. I did say who was going to start was between two guys." Saban said he was surprised none of the reporters in the news conference picked up on the difference between who would start and who was still competing. Jalen Hurts is the other healthy quarterback who made a solid case as a true freshman. When asked if he'd ever used three quarterbacks in a game, Saban said he had not. "We have a plan for what we're going to do," Saban said. "I would love to share it with you, but I'm not going to."
Saban is playing coy with the QBs. It will be very interesting to see what happens tomorrow.
After a day of drinking, smoking marijuana and consuming Xanax pills — given by Masina — the woman claims she was "out of it" as Masina and Hill engaged in sexual intercourse and filmed the woman without her knowledge, according to the report. The search warrant said Masina, 19, Snapchatted pictures and clips to the woman's ex-boyfriend, a football player at the University of Arizona. The second incident, which allegedly occurred July 26 in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, also started with alcohol and drug use, according to the report. The woman said she passed out and awoke to Masina performing anal sex with her before she was also forced her to engage in oral sex.
This story is alarming to say the least. Kudos to USC for immediately suspending him, though his alleged accomplice is still active. If the story is accurate, Masina will be headed to prison.
Sure, every 7-1 SEC record hasn't meant the same thing. In 2012, 2014 and 2015, it was good enough for a trip to the SEC Championship Game. In 2011 and 2013, it wasn't. Every 11-1 overall record hasn't put the Tide in position to get to the BCS Championship Game or College Football Playoff. It did in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. It didn't in 2013. Those five regular-season losses in five years have come to four different SEC West programs: one each to LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn, and two to Ole Miss. No team outside the division has beaten Alabama before the postseason since the dawn of 2011.
"I guess there was a time when I said, ‘O.K. if you win a national championship in college, because I was a pro coach for however many years I was, it’s time to go win the Super Bowl. That would make my career complete," Saban told Emily Kaplan of TheMMQB.com. "But when I did that, I found out that I missed some of these things about college that were really important to me. So you learn about yourself. I just decided when I came back here, I wasn’t going to think about that any more. . . . I used to think at the end of the day, being a head coach in the NFL was the No. 1 thing. But when I got to that, it was like, ‘Well maybe you already had the No. 1 thing for you and what you like.'"
Let's hope not. I'd like a few more years of top recruiting and 90%+ winning percentages.
That's about it for today. Enjoy your big college football weekend.