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Jumbo Package: Tide seeks improvement over bye week, and making the case to #KeepButchJones

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Tide’s focus is not on LSU during the off-week.

Tennessee v Alabama
Butch seen here after his bribe money didn’t work. Seriously, that was the shittiest officiated game I’ve seen in a long time. SEC: It just means more.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Apologies in advance, folks. Over the bye week, there’s just not much news. So, the ‘Package today will both short and skimpy :(

As the bye week kicks off, Saban is in Birmingham making media appearances, including for his Nick’s Kids charities. But, even as he praised the hot start for his young team, he emphasized that improvement was necessary for every unit as the Tide faces LSU in an SEC-West elimination game. The focus for his team is improvement over the bye, not the looming showdown in what has become, arguably, the SEC’s most important rivalry.

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After a spate of freakish, serious injuries to begin the season, the Tide is now mostly healthy. Da’Shawn Hand is healing up nicely. It’s unknown whether he will play against the Tigers, but he will resume practicing. Josh Jacobs was nicked up against the Vols, but he is fine and can practice/play as well.

The coaches named their seven Third Saturday Players of the Week. It was a rough go for the offensive line, who plainly looked gassed after an 8th game straight game. Still, Ross Pierschbacher did have a nice outing. There were some unexpected names as well, including Deionte “Grievous Bodily Harm” Thompson and Hootie Jones. Full list here.

Elsewhere, Shea Patterson suffered what has become the Ole Miss Quarterbacking Special: Season-ending non-contact injury.

Here’s a nice piece on the Nebraska offense that UCF’s Scott Frost has taken, and amalgamated with Oregon’s spread. The Huskers devoutly want momma’s call to work when the new AD forces Mike Riley into retirement.

We kind of figured this was the case: Butch Jones wasn’t fired prior to the Alabama trip because administrators didn’t want an interim guy thrown to the wolves in Tuscaloosa. The Vols are a 5-point underdog to Kentucky this week, and Butch has a mandate: Win or you’re gone.

Here’s the thing though: They’re 3-4 with Kentucky, Vandy, Southern Miss and Missouri on the schedule. Tennessee can win all four of those games. This was always going to be rebuilding season. So far, the Volunteers have not lost to anyone they shouldn’t have, and have arguably beaten a team they shouldn’t. The Florida loss hurt, to be sure. But, the potential is still very much alive for a 6-7 win season. With this team, that’s an admirable job.

#KeepButchJones and not just because he chokes at times, but because I don’t think anyone else the Vols could hired would have done much better with this young roster -- every single position group on offense and defense is breaking in new critical starters, including a freshman quarterback. There’s also the little matter that the defense lost its best players at every single level. The Vols aren’t Alabama or USC — they have a difficult job recruiting, and must take time to develop new rosters, not simply reload.

Want to fire him? The time was the end of a disappointing 2016, not the 8th game of 2017, where he’s not underperformed relative to the roster and schedule.

#Content update: With this being the bye, we’ve got some interesting stuff for you over the latter part of the week:

  • OWB’s doing an advanced stat breakdown of the Tide’s relative performance.
  • A few basketball pieces; the season starts in TWO WEEKS.
  • A playoff roundtable.
  • Ben is going to write something of snark, pith, and perhaps a recipe thrown in.
  • A recruiting update and, much, much more. Okay, maybe not “much, much” more, but more.
  • And, Sunday, I will be hosting a livestream AMA on Facebook video. Tune in for my lovely face and nominally confused accent, and we’ll go from there. I’m just letting you now in advance that it’s okay to be confused by my brutal, rugged beauty. It’s 2017.

That’s it for now. Go forth to evil.