I know what you want to talk about; everyone knows what you want to talk about: Minkah Fitzpatrick declares that he is 100% ready to play, despite Saban’s cautious remarks on Monday:
“I’m good,” said Fitzpatrick of his health in the Naylor Stone Media Suite. “I’m going to go out there and practice. Coach said I’m day to day, but I’m 100 percent right now.”
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Fitzpatrick appeared to be a full participant at Monday’s practice in shells, but the finalist for the Jim Thorpe, Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik Awards admitted the day off on Senior Day was a beneficial one for his body for the remainder of the Tide’s season.
“It’s definitely good for the rest of my body, for sure,” Fitzpatrick said. “This whole season has been a bruiser. So, just getting that break for the rest of my body definitely helped.”
Pro Football Focus graded all the five-stars who have played this year. Alabama has two overall performers in the top five, including No. 2 Najee Harris.
NBA commentator, and former NBA point guard, Jay Williams lauded Collin Sexton, saying he’s the most impressive freshman in the country. We’re not going to argue here, JWill. Mizzou fans are gonna’ be mad as hell when they find out Michael Porter Jr. has not in fact been deemed the reincarnation of Lebron James after two games.
A truer statement has never been written: Either way, the Big 10 will sow chaos in the playoffs. Do you let an undefeated Wisconsin team with 2-3 quality wins (the best being over two teams with three losses) in the playoffs? Why should a two-loss Ohio State earn its way in? It won’t have the resume of even other two-loss league champs like Washington State, USC or Auburn? Or a one-loss runner-up like TCU or Notre Dame. I think the Big 10 is being seriously overvalued this year, though there are some quality clubs. But, in terms of avanced stats, only one jumps out at you: Ohio State, they of a 40-point loss to Iowa and a curb-stomping at home at the hands of Oklahoma. Yuck.
What does the Iron Bowl mean to Jalen Hurts? Like some of us, he thinks it’s just another great conference game, and like all conference rivalries, it is to be won. (I secretly suspect that, as a lifelong A&M fan, he considers LSU his primary in-conference rival.) Anyway, I like the clinical approach here. One of the benefits of having a team full of out-of-staters is that while there is emotion to be sure, these players are not told that this game is one of the be-all end-alls their entire lives. The lifetime of emotion that comes from having to interact with these cretins simply isn’t there. And that’s a good thing at the end of the day if you’re looking for passionate play without overly-emotional mistakes.
"I’m not from Alabama, so I can’t give you any emotional relations to this game. It’s just a game we need to go out there and win. It’s a big game for the state of Alabama. We’ll do our best to represent the University of Alabama the best way we can.”
It’s easier to approach the game that clinically when you have a coach that helps you see each snap as a process to improve rather than simply game-planning drives. Daboll has helped Jalen immensely.
Naughty, naughty. Two years ago Ole Miss CB, Deontay Anderson, was a blue-chip DB looking to make his commitment. Obviously, he was concerned about the NCAA situation in Oxford. Turns out, he was point-blank lied to by Hugh Freeze and even OM AD Ross Bjork. He played his freshman year, but after hearing the allegations and Ole Miss’ response, Anderson was sufficiently angered to the point of refusing to play this year, taking a voluntary redshirt. Now, he’s threatening to sue Ole Miss for misrepresentation and fraud, and demanding to be released immediately and without transfer penalty to any school he chooses. This could mark an exodus what talent the Rebels have on-hand, particularly if the NCAA permits players
The bigger jobs, we talk about -- Arkansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss, A&M, UCLA, Florida, etc. But, keep an eye on this: Joey Jones, the only coach in South Alabama program history, stepped down yesterday after a really ragged season that saw the Jaguars take several steps backwards. This would be a good landing spot for a hot assistant, preferably one with local roots that can recruit. So, naturally, I’m worried about the poaching of Coach Pruitt. Someone will come for him at some point. I’d not be surprised to see the Jags make a play here. Here’s a complete list of the vacant, and soon-to-be vacated jobs.
Once again, J.K. Scott was named a Ray Guy finalist. Tuscaloosa may burn to the ground if he’s jobbed again by another Utah punter who gets to kick a full mile above sea level (please note, there is no such punter this year, but there is a Texas and Georgia finalist —- and Mr. Guy is from Swainsboro, GA.)
For the first time in six years, Alabama basketball was ranked in the AP Top 25. Tonight, the Tide face UT-Arlington, and Coach Johnson has no intention of taking his eyes off the goal of improvement. And, the team still needs some work, especially at the stripe and turnovers with secondary ball handlers.
One thing the Tide didn’t have going for them, was cohesion. You could tell that in August -- the players had not gelled. Now, the “two separate teams” have coalesced and are playing more as a single group. That’s not just Avery Johnson’s leadership, undoubtedly much has to do with a game-changing point guard who can be that leader as well as older players buying-in.
And, with Thanksgiving’s arrival, so too comes the first of the season tourneys. Several SEC teams will be in action this week, if MAC championships aren’t your thing.
Bryant-Denny Stadium was ranked the third-best gameday experience, obviously topping the hellhole to which Alabama must travel this week. Number one, was of course, LSU. They have to be good at something other than baseball and losing in-state blue chip commits, right?
Despite the solid play Sexton has put forth in the early season, it was fellow 5-star guard John Petty that was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Week. His unconscious shooting on Friday night, dropping 30 points on 10-made three-pointers to earn a a school record, probably had something to do with that.
Petty wasn’t the only one to earn honors: J.C. Hassenauer, standing-in for the injured Ross Pierschbacher, was named the SEC’s Offensive Lineman of the Week. That’s a nice little treat for his senior day performance.
And, Alabama may need Hass to step up again this week. While Fitzpatrick was participating in drills yesterday, some others did not, including Ross and a few edge rushers that Alabama had hoped to have back for this game.
-- Edge rushers Terrell Lewis (elbow) and Christian Miller (biceps) were not spotted. Nick Saban said earlier in the day they are in the "functional" rehabilitation phase and haven't been medically cleared. Inside linebacker Mack Wilson (foot) also wasn't spotted.
And, make no mistake, the Auburn offense will be a test for a thin front-seven. The Tigers have a stout line in terms of imposing their will, a Gus Malzahn tradition. It is in pass protection where the TIgers have been spottier.
Here’s the complete run-down of the Crimson Tide walking wounded.
The coaches, meanwhile, named their players of the week, with some names you didn’t really expect (Deionte Thompson, Cam Sims) and one you absolutely did (Dylan Moses, Hass.) It was a great game all-around for a lot of borderline starters.
Speaking of Bryant-Denny, and Sweet Home, Mark Ingram penned an absolutely beautiful tribute on what it meant to play at Alabama, be part of the Alabama family, and — especially-- what it meant to bring home the storied program’s first Heisman trophy. Absolutely read this. Players’ Tribune is some of the best feature writing going.
We’ll take you out with some Ingram highlights.
...and his Heisman speech.
Gump day came early, y’all!