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Jumbo Package: Tide’s M*A*S*H unit continues on defense

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This is why elite depth matters, folks.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

For the third consecutive year, the Alabama offensive line has been nominated for the monstrous Joe Moore Award, the only trophy given to a particular unit. Alabama won the award in 2015, its inaugural season, and was a finalist again last year.

“The Joe Moore Award Mid-Season Honor Roll includes units that display a high level of toughness, effort, teamwork, consistency, technique, and “finishing”.

The Tide’s work to-date has been impressive:

The front five have provided protection for a balanced attack that ranks atop the SEC in both scoring offense and total offense. The unit has excelled specifically in the run game, as the Tide ranks atop the league in rushing offense, averaging 301.7 yards per game on the ground. The Alabama line has also dominated the line of scrimmage, helping UA rank among the top-25 nationally in time of possession (32:46).

Welp, looks like Kevin Sumlin was right to fear Minkah Fitzpatrick. Despite trying to scheme away from him, No. 29 had a fantastic game.

He accounted for five tackles, two tackles for loss (-3 yards), forced one fumble and an interception.

His interception thwarted an Aggies' drive at the one-yard line and helped the Tide maintain a two touchdown advantage early in the fourth quarter.

Fitzpatrick also added a pass breakup and help hold the Aggies to 143 yards below their season average.

Minkah Magic was recognized by the SEC, as Fitzpatrick was named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the week.

The coaching staff recognized six players as its players of the week. The names won’t come as a surprise to you. The offensive line which was unsteady most of the night, and the skills guys who dropped five passes and committed the Tide’s first turnover in 36 quarters, were notably not included. It’s good to see Jennings in this group. The pass rush ratchets up to another level when he is in the game. I was surprised not to see Isaiah Buggs named though. The JUCO transfer had an outstanding game in relief of Da’Shawn Hand. You can tell he is more comfortable as a weakside rusher than a strong-side space eater. Anyway, the six are:

Damien Harris on offense, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Anfernee Jennings and Da’Ron Payne on defense, and Andy Pappanastos, Daniel Wright and Fitzpatrick, once again, on special teams.

Midseason Award Time: Bradley Bozeman and Minkah make ESPN’s All-America list. Like Ryan Anderson, poor Da’Ron Payne is going to dominate for years and never get the recognition he deserves. There’s not a better nose in the game.

Florida, what the hell is this?

How incompetent are SEC refs? They screwed Missouri’s comeback big against Kentucky by not three or four seconds...but sixteen. The Tigers lost a quarter of a minute because....reasons? The SEC admitted the error, and I’m sure that will console Barry Odom when he’s in the unemployment line.

Speaking of midseason, here are 10 interesting stats through the first six games, including Alabama’s perfect (9-for-9) conversion rate on 4th down.

Why did Saban pull the redshirt off LaBryan Ray? The short answer is necessity. The longer answer is one that we were excited about on NSD: His versatility to play either OLB or get in a stance on the defensive line.

Injuries to three top outside linebackers in the opener brought a positional move for Ray. He practiced with the outside linebackers for two weeks when Anfernee Jennings was out, but didn't see game action.

The knee injury for defensive end Da'Shawn Hand in the Ole Miss game changed the roadmap again. The trickle down required more healthy bodies at that position with Isaiah Buggs getting more time with the first team.

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Jags coach Doug Marrone raves about Cam Robinson. When questioned about LF7, he had this to say:

"I think, when people talk to me about Leonard, I think about Cam Robinson, too. I look at them as the same, but you can't really see the production from the offensive lineman that you can, obviously, when Leonard's out there."

"He's the other guy that's getting lost in this whole thing -- the job that Cam Robinson's doing," Marrone said. "And I'm not going to try and take away from the other four (linemen), because they're doing a nice job, but here you are talking about two rookies coming in here. Yes, we know the schools they've been to, we know the conference, all that stuff. But still, in this league, it's difficult.

Injuries and headspace report: Tony Brown is day-to-day; Trevon Diggs is “going to try to practice” this week; Calvin Ridley practiced, but was limited; Da’Shawn Hand is still gimpy and in a black jersey. Honestly, I’d be stunned if he suits up before the LSU game. Finally, Robert Foster is frustrated by his woeful performance in Aggieland. Saban hopes he responds positively. (He best shake it off, move on, and make plays. Otherwise, Jerry Jeudy will be WR2 by season’s end.)

I touched on this in last week’s Blogpoll, but, like the Big 12 contenders, Alabama is going to have to make hay with a few elite wins rather than its staple of seven-eight Top 25 wins. The SEC sucks out loud this year, as we kind of guessed it might. To that, add an FSU team that has started with a brutal four-game stretch and has now lost three of those. I would not be surprised to see that team pack it in, to be honest. If the ‘Noles rebound for eight or nine wins, it would be the best coaching job of Jimbo’s career. (And, let’s be honest, probably the first good coaching job of Jimbo’s career.)

U Dub fans are pissed at ESPN, and given the imperious attitudes of Mark Jones, Kirk Herbstreit and Rod Gilmore, they probably should be. A concerted media pile-on against a team that just wants to play some afternoon games is unconscionable. Once again, ESPN decides to make it about the personalities and not the sport.

Urinating Tree, one of the most informative and darkly funny Tubecasters out there, summarized the WWL’s woes in a nutshell last May (A few naughty words in here. Not any worse than our comment section and certainly not as many):

Cosign on every word of that. Now apply it to the CFB product. Does anyone give one rosy red fart that Gameday’s unfunny producer has a pointspread pick now? And that’s just one of the most egregious recent errors and a handy example. BTW: If you’re a fan of mocking sports ineptitude or just like the NFL or hockey generally, that channel is one excellent binge-watch. Naughty language though. So get your headphones.

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That’s all for now. Row Tahd