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Jumbo Package: Is Alabama seeing a kinder, gentler Saban on the eve of Third Saturday?

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Sometimes, you gotta hit ‘em with the love-bomb.

Colorado State v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Let’s start with some playoff miscellany.

First, after a Friday the 13th Massacre, Team Chaos has swept the nation. Only a small handful of teams truly control their destiny. And, as a result, a lot more chaos could hit the playoffs (like Notre Dame having a path; a possibility I’ve ignored and will ignore until such time as A) the Irish beat USC and Stanford and, 2) Georgia loses.) While we tend to traffic in reasoned guesswork for the playoffs, Spencer takes a look at nightmares that the committee could be facing on Halloween.

Some, such as CBS, think the PAC 12’s playoff spot is in doubt. I’d agree -- if your hopes were pinned on Stanford. But, a one-loss Wazzu or Washington or USC will have a ton of ranked wins that few teams, including Alabama, would be able to match on the resume. I’d be much more concerned if I were the ACC. Again, those reasons are set forth here.

538, meanwhile, still sees a path to the playoffs for both Washington and Clemson. I’m not sure who they’re going to leave out, but there you are.

Sporting News is all-in on the action. But, rather than chaos, they propose a few playoff combinations “we’d all like to see.” Any playoff that doesn’t have Alabama is crap, IYAM. But, clickety-click, y’all.

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ESPN asks, “has Coach O begun his turnaround.” Our opinion? No. The Tigers’ problem is along the lines, and you can’t coach lack of talent. Saved you a click. Or not.

Apropos of nothing, but the laziest Alabama signee in recent memory is thriving in the CFL. Behold, Duron Carter lives...and is playing Iron Man football in America’s Hat!

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Why do Top 10 teams lose? Lack of positivity. With this young team, and after two months of glowing press, Saban is turning into a happy-go-lucky guru to keep his team on-task for Tennessee. He can say that, but anyone who’s driven by campus this week has heard the obnoxious tones of rocky top blaring 24/7. This team will be ready, and I don’t think it’s just because Saban didn’t kick their teeth in this week.

It’s hard to say that Calvin Ridley is overlooked, but, he truly is. And, it’s not just for leading the team in receptions. He is the glue that makes this offense cohere. And the numbers prove it.

BOL does a midseason statistical breakdown of the Tide for 2017...the results don’t lie: This is a good team with good players #HotTaeks2017

Later today, we’ll have our own SEC Basketball Media Days piece up. Parker has come out of hibernation now that he has heard sneakers squeak on the parquet. Here is Avery Johnson’s video from SECMD17.

The kick in the teeth is that Alabama is slated to only finish 4th in the SEC. Okay, you give Kentucky the benefit of the doubt. But does Texas A&M earn that? What about a rebuilding Florida team? You can say that those two teams have a lottery pick on the roster, and they do. But so does Alabama and so will Missouri...so does Georgia possibly. A plague on all their houses.

Saban updates Rashaan Evans, who’s still not 100%, but is blowing up more each week. And, Ronnie Harrison, who’s “problems” appear to be consistency. Saban obviously sees everything in practice, and inconsistency may have been a knock on his game last season or the year before. But, he really does look a lot more solid on a down-to-down basis in 2017. Again, we’re not there, so we have to take the coaches’ word for it.

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Interesting stuff here from Butch Jones on Alabama’s tendency to square-peg the round hole last season:

On the difference between Alabama offense this year and last year: This Alabama offense "plays to the skillsets of their players." Having a good offensive line starts it. Depth at RB and Jalen Hurts continues to evolve at QB.

Damn you, Steve Sarkisian.

In AL’s final practice report, they dropped this depth chart tidbit re: the second team secondary.

Freshman Daniel Wright was the Money with the second-team defense when the group went into its dime package. Trevon Diggs and Jared were the two cornerbacks. Shyheim Carter was at Star. Deionte Thompson and Xavier McKinney were the safeties. Nigel Knott shadowed Mayden.

When we did our Signing Day prospectuses and Meet the New Guys pieces in February, we raved about both Daniel Wright and Xavier McKinney -- both, we thought, had the potential to get to the second team as the season went by. McKinney is the more polished prospect to be sure, and the more physical of the two. But, Daniel Wright is an excellent returner and has a lot of power in the deep center for his small frame. The Redshirt is off McKinney, is Wright losing his this week (assuming a blowout?) Wright in particular has zoomed up the chart. From Sep. 20th, he has gone from shadowing the second team to practicing with the second team.

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Poor Jonathan Allen. He suffered a serious mid-ligament sprain in his left foot. He was expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Now, owing to the lingering nature of the injury, he’s decided to get a screw insert to stabilize the ligament and not have it persist for years. Allen will miss the rest of the 2017 season.

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We’ll have more later. For now, go forth to appalling commentary.