I’ve been excited for two weeks to put together an Alabama alumni in the NFL recap piece for you guys, and I may or may not have gotten carried away last night with 2500 words... Anyway, it will be up in an hour, and until then, you have a Jumbo Package to enjoy.
Year after year Alabama has taken on a top-ranked team (or at least a top-name team expected to be pretty good) in its season-opening game. This year seemed to be the toughest test yet, third-ranked FSU. But Ronnie Harrison’s tackle on FSU quarterback Deondre Francois ended his season and, so it seems, rendered the Seminoles impotent as tacklers.
As FSU spirals down, Bama’s strength of schedule rests on teams like Fresno State and Colorado State, and Texas A&M.
What Alabama does have – and what anyone with the credentials to be on the CFP selection committee should have the acumen to judge – is the eye test. No one looks better in dominating the opposition than the Crimson Tide.
Fortunately for the resumé, better competition is coming, beginning with 19th ranked (AP and CFP) or 20th (Coaches) LSU looms. So a 20th-ranked team and 21-point underdog isn’t Notre Dame, but it’s a start. And next will be Mississippi State (16th in the CFP) and at the end of regular season play will be Auburn (14th CFP, and touted by no less an expert than Kirk Herbstreit – really, he is an expert; he’s on ESPN – as a possibility to reach the final four teams in the playoff even with two losses).
And what do the first version of this poll mean anyway?
In the first three years of the playoff, five of the 12 teams who appeared in the first poll actually made the semifinals. Don't forget Texas A&M was No. 4 this time last year while the 2014 first draft included No. 1 Mississippi State, No. 3 Auburn and No. 4 Ole Miss.
A lot can change in a month and there are movable parts in this group.
Pretty much all the news out there right now is about the first installment of the College Football Playoff Committee rankings. I personally can’t disagree with their logic, other than Clemson, who I absolutely don’t believe should be higher than Ohio State or Oklahoma.
In any case, accidentally hurting Deodre Francios really might have retrospectively been the worst play of Ronnie Harrison’s career, especially if the Tide happens to lose one game (FLAGGED) this season.
You know what would be fun though? If they just totally did away with rankings for a season and waited until after the conference championships ended to release them. Can you imagine how much internet arguing and #madonline there would be all season? The quite mystery of it would absolutely drive fans nuts, and the amount of unofficial power ranking articles would really thrive with traffic.
Both Hand and Jacobs practiced on Monday. They’re still listed as day to day at this point, and could be game-time decisions.
“Both those guys will practice today,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday. “We’ll just have to go day to day with them to see how they progress. We feel like they responded well to treatment. They’re both cleared medically to be able to participate in practice, but it still comes down to how a player feels that he can functionally do his job. We won’t know that until we sort of progress through the week.”
If they’re ready, both of these guys could be critical players against the Cajuns. With Derrius Guice in the fold, a bigger, stronger defensive line bolstered by Hand would be a huge positive. And if Aranda sends the edge blitzes all game like he did last year, some dump off passes to Jacobs would be the perfect neutralizer to that strategy.
Along with three tackles, Fitzpatrick had a late interception that helped clinch the victory. He says he remembers it "like it was yesterday," including pregame fireworks that left the field with an eerie look.
"It was foggy or smokey out there ... couldn't even see all the way across the field," he said. "It was just the atmosphere of the game. It was crazy."
It's that atmosphere, Fitzpatrick says, that makes the LSU game his favorite of the year. "It's Alabama and LSU. It doesn't get much better than that.
"It's the type of game people remember forever, for a lifetime," he said. "You remember every play you make. You're going to tell your kids about it one day, and your grandkids about it one day."
I would never give them the satisfaction of calling LSU a rival, but I’d be hard pressed not to admit that they’ve given us some classic games over the last decade. The best part about these great games is that Bama has won nearly all of them on awesome plays. T.J. Yeldon’s screen pass. Blake Sims’ fade to DeAndrew White. Jalen Hurts’ scramble TD.
And, of course, Trent Richardson’s national championship clicher while the Tigers couldn’t even cross the goal line.
With the same number of attempts -- 81 -- Harris has gained 320 more rushing yards than his bulkier, more imposing teammate.
"We're not disappointed at all in what Bo has done to this point in the season," said head coach Nick Saban. "I think Bo is a guy that can certainly be a physical, dominant sort of player and at times this year he has been that. Because Damien Harris has played extremely well, maybe he hasn't had quite the opportunities that he had a year ago. But I'm sure that at some point in time this season, you'll see him sort of break out and show what he can do and his presence will be felt. We hope it's in each and every game from here on out that he'll make that contribution and we know we have a lot of confidence in his ability to do that."
I think that Bo (or maybe Daboll?) has been too determined to pigeon-hole himself into being a battering ram in the heart of the line of scrimmage. But during his breakout at the end of last season, he actually got most of his big plays on outside stretch runs where he had room to get that gallop up to full speed.
As much as I want to see Bo succeed, as long as Damien Harris keeps doing what he’s doing, I’m happy.
Yesterday was Nick Saban’s birthday, if you missed that. It turns out Daniel Wright can sing. If he doesn’t make it in football, then the music industry just might work out for him.