Happy Friday, everyone. As Alabama prepares for what could become the ultimate trap game should the team fall prey to reading its press clippings following the USC blowout, there is plenty to talk about other than whether Jalen Hurts or Blake Barnett will be the QB. We have several links for you:
We didn't see much of Alabama's dime package against Southern Cal, but Western Kentucky really likes to spread out teams. During the open viewing periods of practice, we've seen Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett at the cornerback spots. Hootie Jones comes in at safety opposite Eddie Jackson. Ronnie Harrison slides from safety to money (Alabama's sixth defensive back) with Minkah Fitzpatrick working at star (Alabama's fifth defensive back).
The game offers a good opportunity for Alabama's dime unit to get some work before facing SEC teams that run spread offense. We'll also get a look at Alabama's pass rushers in these sets. Alabama has some of the best pass rushers in the country, so it's always intriguing to see how opposing teams game plan to slow them down.
The Hilltoppers, winners of Conference USA last fall, had the No. 9 total offense a year ago. They rolled up 649 yards last Thursday in a 46-14 win over Rice. "I think our players need to understand that how you play in games like this, if things don't go well, that's basically what you get remembered by," Saban said Wednesday evening. "They'll be asking you 20 years from now 'How'd you guys lose that game?'
Western Kentucky is the perfect opponent to get some good rotational work for the younger DBs. They run a spread offense and are good enough to give the Tide a good look, but shouldn't be enough of a threat to actually win the game to keep Alabama from rotating guys like Deionte Thompson, Shyheim Carter and Jared Mayden early in the game. In reality, this is about as good a tune up for what will undoubtedly be a pass-happy Ole Miss attack as one could hope for.
Much like they did before heading to LSU in 2015, crowd noise has been pumped in through speakers at practice, but this go-round a playlist on loop of "Sweet Home Alabama." "Dixieland Delight" and "Thunderstruck" has been mixed in. Freshman offensive lineman Adam Raschilla reportedly joked that it was nowhere near the level of noise at Bryant-Denny. Senior offensive tackle Forrest Lamp joked that once the game starts you can't hear anything anyway.
Everything about this paragraph is great. Forrest Lamp sounds like the love-child of a hard core gump and Brick from Anchor Man.
— Saban joked with the first caller: The inside three offensive linemen didn't play like we coached them. We've got to get that right. — Saban: Burton Burns has done a good job so far as the special teams coordinator.
— Saban: This is going to be a big challenge for our pass defense.
— Saban: I don't think Goliath respected David. What happened? — Saban: We've got to have a pit bull mentality. That's what we're trying to develop.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Tide only surrendered two hurries and a sack, which was allowed on the opening offensive possession by freshman right tackle Jonah Williams during a USC ambush that also featured a blown blitz pickup by running back Damien Harris. Both Harris and Williams would recover and play well. Harris netted 138 rushing on nine carries while Williams was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week.
Seeing Bradley Bozeman moved to center so late in camp was something of a head-scratcher, particularly since Pierschbacher had worked there since spring and spoken openly about taking on the role. It may very well be that Bozeman was simply holding Shank's spot until he does whatever Saban has prescribed to work himself back into his starting role, and the switch was made because the center gets more help than anyone else.
Go back and watch the tape. Look at the two outside linebackers when Alabama was in its base defense against USC. One was Ryan Anderson. That was expected. The other? It wasn't Tim Williams, the star widely projected to be an early first-round pick in next year's NFL draft. It was Anfernee Jennings, a promising redshirt freshman from Dadeville who looks poised to play a significant role for the Tide defense this season. "We really feel like Anfernee can be a good player for us," Alabama coach Nick Saban said, "and that's one of the guys we want to play in there some (with) Tim and Ryan to help them out."
There was a good deal of buzz around Jennings at camp. If he is ready to spell Williams on some early downs and keep him fresher on third down, the pass rush will only be that much more devastating.
Eddie Jackson came shockingly close to never playing major college football. Heck, he almost never played high school football either.
The University of Alabama's star senior safety wasn't eligible to play his first three seasons of high school because of grade issues. While his best friends made Parade All-American lists and took part in the Under Armour All-American game, Jackson stewed in the background, under the radar to all except those in the know.
Today, he's on the precipice of becoming the first in his family to earn a college degree, he's the returning conference leader in interceptions and he's a team leader.
Demar Dorsey was No. 1 safety in nation but didn't qualify academically. His brother Eddie Jackson learned from that https://t.co/iLRaXf8dn1— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) September 9, 2016
Most of this story is behind the pay-wall, but it's a great one nonetheless. Eddie Jackson epitomizes what college football is supposed to be about. He will soon be able to provide for his family in a big way.
The headliners include offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and newly hired baseball coach Greg Goff.
Kiffin is in the final season of a three-year deal signed in 2014. He is making $714,000 this season after getting $680,000 the first two. Compensation was still coming from USC as severance following his 2013 firing as head coach.
Well, this is interesting. Surely Alabama couldn't pay Lane enough to stick around next season, right?
Here’s Louisville sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson’s stat line from his past two games, a Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M to close 2015 and a season-opening victory over Charlotte in Week 1: 345 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, 29 of 49 pass completions for 513 yards, eight passing touchdowns. He only played one half against the 49ers, too. Is that good? The Cardinals visit Syracuse in the first true test for first-year Orange Coach Dino Babers after last week’s win over FCS Colgate.
This Saturday primetime matchup will be the main draw of Week 2 not only for the on-the-field competition but for the environment it will be played in. The Volunteers and Hokies will square off in front of a sold-out crowd of an expected 150,000 people on Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. That estimate would be more than enough to make it the largest college football game in the sport’s history.
Some 150,000 Western VA and Eastern TN mountain critters packed into a NASCAR stadium to drink and holler at a football game most of them will barely be able to see from their seats? Sounds like a real hoot'nanny. The slate is a little soft this week.
USC football coach Clay Helton announced Thursday that starting center Toa Lobendahn would miss the rest of the season due to a tear in his ACL and MCL. Lobendahn suffered the injury during the Trojans' season-opening loss to No. 1 Alabama, but he played throughout that game.
It will be interesting to see if Lobendahn continues to make a go of the football thing. The poor guy's knees just won't cooperate. He definitely wins the tough man award for playing most of the game on two torn ligaments.
The biggest visitors on Alabama's campus in terms of rankings this weekend will be a basketball prospects. Troy Brown, a five-star small forward from Las Vegas, confirmed he will officially visit Alabama this weekend. He told AL.com that Alabama's "great coaching staff" stood out to him. Collin Sexton, a five-star point guard from Mableton, Ga., will also officially visit Alabama, per his brother Jordan Sexton.
Come on down, gents.
That's about it for today. Give us a score prediction for the WKU game in the comments.