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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Playoffs, bad predictions, and the beginning of basketball season

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

How Alabama plans to address punt return issues in bye week

Henry Ruggs III and Trevon Diggs combined for three muffs and one fumble against Arkansas two weeks ago, while Xavian Marks muffed one punt and fumbled the ball last week against Tennessee. So, how exactly will those issues be addressed this week?

Nick Saban answered that question Tuesday in his lone press conference of the open week.

“I think what we’ll do at that position is evaluate this week,” Saban said. “Look, all three guys are very capable. Trevon Diggs did a good job of doing for a long time. Ruggs is very explosive. But the thing about it is is when guys sort of don’t have success, what is their confidence level? How comfortable are they? Judgment is really important and ball security is important.

“Xavian is very explosive, made a great return in the game on Saturday, but ball security is also very important. So, we’re going to evaluate that through the course of the week and sort of try to figure out who we feel can do the best job there and certainly put that person in there to do it when we come to the next game.”

I know, I know, it’s Gump Day and I’m linking to something addressing what might be the biggest weakness on the team. But if you think about it, that statement is pretty on par with the day in it’s own right.

The biggest area for concern for this team is that the punt returners aren’t consistently fielding the ball. That’s it. Not that the defense is struggling or the passing game is failing or the offensive line is getting people killed in the backfield. It’s the punt returners that only come on the field a few times each game.

What a glorious age we live in, folks.

Anyway, Saban goes on to mention that Minkah Fitzpatrick is 4th in line to return the punts. From his comments though, my money is on Xavian Marks being the guy to open against LSU.

Strategic reason Alabama took redshirt off LB in 8th game

Well, another redshirt came off in the eighth game of 2017. Linebacker VanDarius Cowan saw his first action of the season in the 45-7 win over Tennessee.

The Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., product didn't play because of an injury elsewhere. Nick Saban explained the thinking Wednesday evening.

"Because we're going to play against some teams that will be in regular formations and we'll have to play some regular people, we thought that we would need him," Saban said, "especially in this next game coming up against LSU."

I normally pride myself with keeping up with all the personnel changes and usages, formations, and schemes of the Tide team, particularly when it relates to freshmen, but I actually missed that Cowan was put into the game until CB mentioned it to me.

He’s definitely an aggressive, hard-hitting guy with some old-school mentality to him, though that carried over into his after-play and off-field personality in high school, getting him in some character troubles. If Saban is willing to burn his redshirt to get him ready for the annual slugfest against LSU, then I would surmise that Cowan has done everything asked of him by the coaches since enrolling this summer.

In any case, another linebacker would be welcome, as our depth is still feeling the loss of Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis, though everyone has stepped up admirably in their absence.

Should College Season Be Longer For Another Bye Week?

“I think it’s going down that road,” said Alabama Coach Nick Saban of lengthening the season. “It seems everybody wants that 14-week season where you have two bye weeks.

“I personally (and then there was a long pause) think making the season longer is not in the best interest of the players. We have played 15 games two years in a row, and that’s a lot of football for a college guy to play.

“As Miss Terry tells me all the time, these guys have to go to school, they have a family, they probably have a girlfriend, they have other responsibilities and things that they need to do and things that have a priority.

“And we keep making the season longer, we want to add more playoff games, we want to extend the playoff games longrer. So the season is really long. When you play 15 games in a college season, you’re basically playing the same as 17 or 18, games because of the number of times you have to practice.

“If you have bye weeks, you’re still going to have to practice. I don’t think college players could take a whole week off and it not have a significant impact on how they perform.”

As a fan, I’d love another bye week. Its an extra week of football, and one where I can watch games without worrying about Alabama at all.

But I have to agree with Nick here in that it probably isn’t in the best interest for the players. That’s just an extra week during the fall where they won’t have much of a life outside of football and class.

Colin Cowherd: Ohio State ‘going to house’ Alabama in College Football Playoff title game

“I picked Ohio State to win the national championship. I think they’re going to beat Penn State by 7-10 points and I think they’re going to end up in the championship game,” Cowherd said on The Herd on Tuesday. “I think they’re probably going to end up against Alabama, and I think they’re going to house them. I really do. I don’t think Alabama’s going to move the ball on Ohio State.”



On to some bouncy hoops

Here’s a couple of embedded videos from from last night’s Tip-Off contest. The first is just some clips from the “scrimmage” of Petty and Sexton and crew just showing off. The second is some clips from the dunk contest. Collin Sexton jumps over a 6’5” Dazon Ingram. Clears him. Ridiculous.

I’m so excited about our men’s team this year I can hardly contain myself. Donta Hall, Braxton Key, Dazon Ingram, and Avery Johnson Jr all return, plus the influx of new talent in Daniel Giddens, John Petty, Herb Jones, Alex Reese, and, of course, Colin Sexton. We opened as a ranked team despite many seasons of mediocrity in a row for a reason. Might I dare say it almost feels like the start of the 2008 season for the football team?