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Jumbo Package: Monday, 26 September 2016

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Crimson Tide news and notes.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. There really isn't much to say about Alabama's methodical dispatching of a grossly overmatched opponent, so we may as well move on to this week's game:

Alabama opens as big betting favorite over Kentucky

Alabama opened as a 31-point favorite over Kentucky on Sunday afternoon, according to VegasInsider.com, but the Vegas Insider Consensus betting line has already moved to -32 in favor of the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

Oh.

Well, I'm sure Kentucky has some sort of game plan to make this one compelling:

Kentucky football takes a new formula to face No. 1-ranked Alabama | Lexington Herald-Leader

At least Saturday, Gran adjusted his scheme to fit his talent. Kentucky ran the football 50 times. It threw it 19. The 72/28 run/pass ratio was the highest by a Kentucky team against a FBS team since the famous Matt Roark Game, the win over Tennessee on Nov. 26, 2011. With Roark, a wide receiver, playing quarterback, Kentucky ran the ball 60 times while throwing it just four. UK won 10-7 that day, the Cats’ first over the Vols since 1984.

Yeah, running it 72% of the time is not it.  In all sincerity, the Tide can certainly use this game to try and continue to get rested and healthy for a tough three-game stretch that gets progressively more difficult each week:

Alabama Crimson Tide still king but Tennessee Volunteers are climbing - College Football Nation Blog- ESPN

2. Texas A&M: We already had the Aggies at No. 2 in our SEC power rankings before this week, but now they have a firmer grip on that spot after besting previously unbeaten Arkansas 45-24. They have an elite defense and a good running game, which is typically a good formula for success. If Trevor Knight can play like he did Saturday -- mostly mistake free, being a factor with the pass and the run -- then the Aggies might have a shot to sustain their hot start and challenge the Crimson Tide. That's a big if, though.

3. Tennessee: Total jubilation on Rocky Top after a thrilling 38-28 win over Florida. Not only did the Vols snap an 11-game losing streak to the Gators, but they went on a hellacious 38-0 run to do it, gaining 200-plus more yards than Florida in the second half. Tennessee is firmly in the SEC East driver's seat.

Arkansas is fifth behind Ole Miss. This means that by the end of October, Alabama will have played the four toughest opponents on the schedule. The good news, of course, is that November is looking much less daunting than it does in most seasons.

Moving on, there is no denying the connection between Les Miles's downfall at LSU and Nick Saban's Alabama program. To many in that fan base, Miles was always going to be compared to Saban, which is wholly unfair since literally no one has ever had this type of run in his first decade at a school, and only a couple could argue similar success over any ten-year span.

In reality, Les probably wins a couple of additional national titles at LSU if Saban never shows up in Tuscaloosa. There is a great chance that players such as Cam Robinson, Tim Williams, and Landon Collins stay home and lead their home-state Tigers rather than coming to Alabama to beat them, and without Alabama on the slate to open November every year, Miles may have avoided his seemingly annual late-season swoon.

Since LSU-Alabama has become the Game of the Year in the SEC most years, I'm interested to know how Alabama fans feel about Miles's departure. Would it have been better for Alabama if he had stayed, or will LSU experience a downturn without him? Answer the poll and tell us in the comments.

In any event, plenty has been written on the topic:

Les Miles lost his job because he refused to evolve like Nick Saban - CBSSports.com

The Sabanization of the SEC is now entirely complete.

Saban becomes the longest-tenured SEC coach with Miles' departure. Thirty-three coaches at 13 other schools have coached in the SEC since Saban arrived in 2007. Saban becomes the only SEC coach with a national title as a head coach. Back in 2008, there were five SEC coaches with a national title (Urban Meyer, Philip Fulmer, Steve Spurrier, Miles and Saban) plus another with a perfect season (Tommy Tuberville).

Rabalais: Don't blame Nick Saban, Alabama; likable Les Miles got himself fired in the end | LSU | theadvocate.com

It will be said Nick Saban, the man who constructed LSU’s greatest-ever era of football, an era that Miles kept up the notes on, got Miles fired. Five straight losses to Alabama, starting with that 21-0 BCS title game blowout, certainly were an anchor. But much more than Saban and Alabama or any other coach and program dragging him down, Miles’ worst enemy was himself.

The chronic clock-management gaffes which again conspired against LSU on Saturday night — the Tigers squandered roughly half of the 2 minutes, 56 seconds they started their final drive with not getting plays in or lining up quicker. The lack of discipline that led to so many critical penalties and mistakes.

Will Nick Saban offer Les Miles a job at Alabama, just for kicks? | AL.com

The Coach Rehab Process is working great, so far. Just ask Lane Kiffin. As Alabama's offensive guru, Kiffin's career has been resurrected, his street cred blown up. His name is most likely on LSU's short list to replace Miles. Waiting in line behind Kiffin is another former USC rehab project, "offensive analyst" Steve Sarkisian.

Where would Les Miles fit on the star-studded, heavily populated Alabama coaching staff? Grass taster? Based on his recent body of work, Miles knows a lot about what happens on fourth down. Could he be a punting coach?

Just a guess, but especially considering last December's health scare, I'm thinking Les takes the rest of the year off.

Five-star DT Wilson reacts to Miles firing

"For now until (LSU) gets their coaching situation sorted out," Wilson said. Wilson said he's still considering Florida State, Ohio State, Texas, Texas A&M, USC and Alabama. The Crystal Ball reads 54-percent for Texas, 21-percent for LSU, eight-percent for Florida State, eight-percent for Alabama and four-percent for Texas A&M.

Come on, Marvin. Look at Alabama's depth chart and all of the true freshmen who are getting on the field. You'd have a chance to be a contributor right away.

Oh, before we move on to some Alabama stuff, can we take a moment to laugh at Auburn?

LSU firing Les Miles feels like six kicks in the gut | AL.com

What does it say about the state of the Auburn football program that losing to Gus Malzahn by one tick of the clock emptied the last grain of sand from the hourglass for Les Miles? Think about it. LSU fired Miles the day after he lost a one-score game to an Auburn team that didn't score a touchdown, the day after his team scored the winning touchdown in Jordan-Hare Stadium on a final snap that didn't count.

That's right, folks. Losing a close game in Jordan-Hare has become a fireable offense. Roll Tide.

OK, enough about Les:

How Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick played a week after nasty knee-to-helmet hit | AL.com

"You know, you get what you sign up for," Alabama linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said in August. "You know when you play football, everything has side effects. When people play basketball, they know their knees are going to be messed up later on. Football is a contact sport."

That was especially true for Fitzpatrick last Saturday in Oxford. He practiced all week, spotted in a crimson full-contact jersey during the two media-viewing periods on Tuesday and Wednesday. "They tested me during the game. They tested me after the game. The next morning they woke me up early and tested me again and then they kept me out of some practice. I was telling them how I was feeling and then they tested me some more."

It was good to see Minkah back in action. As Hamilton says, the key difference nowadays is that players are being educated on the concussion issue. This allows them to make informed choices on whether to play, which has led to some well-publicized retirements that no one should take issue with, and should also impact the way they play the game.

Of course, the key injury that has Alabama fans most concerned is Damien Harris. Saban said that he has an ankle sprain and is day-to-day, but I'll be surprised if he pushes it against Kentucky. Love Damien's attitude:

Just another example of the way the players on this team seem to support one another. The team dynamic of this group, considering the bevy of blue-chips who aren't seeing the field nearly as much as they would elsewhere, is amazing.

Alabama's 166-pound punt returner makes moves, Nick Saban wants more | AL.com

"Well we've been wanting to give him an opportunity to get back there but he let two balls hit the ground that gave them a lot of field position," Saban said. "So probably about 50 yards' worth. I know he had a punt return for a touchdown. I know he's a very explosive guy. He's got to make good choices and decisions because possession of the ball is the most important thing."

The two punts he let go were downed at the Alabama 2- and 1-yard lines, respectively. Neither cost the Tide anything in this game, but Saban places high value on that decision-making process of fielding punts or letting them bounce. The touchdown, though, was nifty.

I have been a fan of Marks in that role because he was physically tailor-made for it, but letting the ball hit the turf is a cardinal sin.

Alabama football: Influence from Tomlinson’s mother lives on

Melinda died in 2011 from heart disease and kidney failure, but her hard-working spirit lives on through her sons. Dalvin, now a redshirt senior defensive end for Alabama, will suit up for the Crimson Tide today like he does every other week — with his mother on his mind. She won’t be among the other mothers and fathers who will flock to Bryant-Denny Stadium for Parents Weekend this week. Although, for Dalvin, her presence will be felt with every move.

One look at Dalvin and it’s obvious he is his mother’s boy — they share the same eyes and the same caring nature. At 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, Dalvin is no longer the little boy Melinda used to help with homework around the dinner table, but he’s grown up to be every bit the man she always wanted him to be.

This is a great read, but be forewarned: you might need to have some tissues handy.

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

Roll Tide.