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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Recruiting, NFL, and an instructional video from Nick Saban to occupy an hour of productivity in your work day.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban: “Backpedaling is the most overrated thing about playing in the secondary”

“Look guys, backpedaling is the most overrated thing about playing in the secondary in my opinion.”

Keep in mind, this is well before the spread and Air Raid has taken over college football.

Saban went on to share how he used to teach the backpedal until he had a special player that just couldn’t do it. So he started to teach the half-turn technique.

You’ve likely seen this one before, and you’ve definitely heard some of the concepts mentioned around here at RBR, such as pattern-matching and bump-n-bail coverage techniques.

If not, you get an hour of Nick Saban talking about in-depth football schemes, techniques, and coverages in this video. Skip to the 17-minute mark if you want to hear the above mentioned quote about backpedaling being overrated (I have to agree. Speaking from experience, it’s just as easy to explode into attacking a curl route from running with the receiver as it is to change directions from a backpedal).

I asked a bunch of coaches about how they’re going to handle the new early signing period. They all have the same overall strategy

If a player has been offered and has verbally committed to the university, that team expects him to sign. Coaches have put in months, if not years, of work toward their current verbal commitments. They do not want to spend another second ensuring those players sign. In fact, that has long been one of their biggest annoyances with the recruiting process.

To put it another way, a lot of schools think upward of 80 percent of their recruiting classes will sign in December, with only a few players waiting until February.

The December early signing period is now the big trip to the grocery store, while February’s traditional National Signing Day is going to become the quick stop for a gallon of milk.

And you can bet the focus on the players who did not sign early will be extremely intense in the six weeks between the early signing period and the February National Signing Day.

Here’s a fun piece from Bud Elliot on the mothership’s recruiting page. He got some quotes from a bunch of unnamed coaches about the new Early Signing period and how it is changing their recruiting strategy. For the most part, the coaches aren’t totally sure how it’s all going to go long term, but you can bet they all have opinions and conjectures.

The biggest situation I see it affecting coaches is if they are hoping for a 5-star recruit that plans to sign in February, but can take the commitment of a lower-ranked player in the same position in December. The coaching staffs will have to make some tough decisions and gambles there. I’d LOVE to be in the coaches’ meeting rooms for some of those conversations.

PFF grades for Alabama's offense, defense for regular season

Players are awarded grades between 0 to 100. A grade of 85 or higher is an NFL-caliber rating, while below average grades range from 50-60, per Pro Football Focus. Below are the top-10 Crimson Tide players on offense and defense from the regular season.


1. C Bradley Bozeman -- 713 snaps -- 86.5 (5th nationally)

2. OT Jonah Williams -- 723 snaps -- 85.4 (28th)

3. QB Jalen Hurts -- 646 snaps -- 85.0 (24th)

4. WR Calvin Ridley -- 604 snaps -- 83.1 (41st)

5. RB Damien Harris -- 283 snaps -- 82.8 (23rd)

6. OG Ross Pierschbacher -- 62- snaps -- 82.1 (46th)

7. OT Matt Womack -- 704 -- 81.0 (82nd)

8. OG Lester Cotton -- 711 snaps -- 80.6 (76th)

9. RB Josh Jacobs -- 131 snaps -- 77.8

10. TE Hale Hentges -- 373 snaps -- 77.7


1. DL Da'Ron Payne -- 584 snaps -- 85.3 (18th)

2. S Ronnie Harrison -- 705 snaps -- 84.1 (28th)

3. DB Minkah Fitzpatrick -- 587 snaps -- 83.4 (62)

4. LB Rashaan Evans -- 501 snaps -- 83.0 (75th)

5. CB Levi Wallace -- 652 snaps -- 82.9 (69th)

6. DL Raekwon Davis -- 419 snaps -- 82.7 (38th)

7. LB Shaun Dion Hamilton -- 334 snaps -- 82.6 (81st)

8. LB Anfernee Jennings -- 418 snaps -- 82.6 (35th)

9. DL Isaiah Buggs -- 436 snaps -- 82.0 (47th)

10. DL Johnny Dwight -- 53 snaps -- 81.8

For the record, I’ve always been of the opinion that PFF’s “grades” are a load of hogwash. While they do some awesome work over there in terms of play charting, their nebulous grading system is totally hidden and often doesn’t align with what we see in our own team’s players.

For instance, Minkah Fitzpatrick is the 62nd ranked safety.



But, in any case, it’s interesting to see that these are the grades that they came up with, and generally the numbers for offensive linemen seem to align with how I feel about them, so there’s something to be said for that.

Early Betting on College Football Playoffs Favor Alabama Over Clemson

According to several Las Vegas sports books are reporting money being bet on Alabama over Clemson. Westgate Superbook assistant manager Ed Salmons told the site professional bettors are placing significant amounts of cash on the Crimson Tide.

“Alabama got some money from a group who moves numbers,” he said. “The public likes Clemson.”

CG Technology vice president of risk Jason Simbal also told ESPN that Alabama was seeing a lot of action at his facilities.

“The most action, by far, on any bowl game is on Alabama-Clemson,” he said. “That could end up being the most-bet game of the year. It might end being more heavily bet than the championship game.”

Vegas likes Bama. That’s always a better endorsement than any talking head saying we’ll win. Even more interesting is that public betting is favoring Clemson, but the professionals are going with Bama.

It bodes well, and I like it.

Alabama Football: Defensive End recruiting a plus for the Tide

Strong group of defensive ends helps the shortage of defensive tackles

The current defensive commits are a strength of the 2018 recruiting class. A trio of 4-Stars, Stephon Wynn, Jordan Davis and Cameron Latu appear to be solid commits. Wynn and Davis will sign early and enroll in January. Latu will not sign early and will enroll next summer.

Wynn and Davis are Top 100 players and rated as the No. 3 SDE (Wynn) and the No. 5 WDE (Davis.) Latu is the No. 7 rated WDE nationally. At 285 pounds, Wynn will be able to play on the interior of the Tide defensive line as well as DE.

Added to the 2018 defensive end class will be 2017 recruit, Jarez Parks. Parks was a 4-Star, Top 100 player in the last cycle who accepted a Tide grayshirt. He will sign and enroll this month.

With Parks, Latu, and Davis, Alabama has three solid edge rushers with different skill-sets coming in this class. Latu and Davis will both almost for sure stay at linebacker, but Parks might possible bulk up to a true defensive lineman. It’s hard to tell as he’s been so off the radar while taking his grayshirt semester.

Wynn, on the other hand, is a big defensive end in the mold of D’Shawn Hand and is versatile enough to play 5-technique, 3-technique, or can even rush from the nose in passing downs.

Tide in the NFL: Tracking Alabama players in Week 14 action

Kenyan Drake continues to thrive as the Miami Dolphins’ lead tailback, and against the New England Patriots on Monday night, he became the first Dolphin to have 100-plus rushing and 75-plus receiving yards in a single game since Ronnie Brown (Sept. 23, 2007). Drake rushed for 114 yards on 25 carries and caught 5 passes for 79 yards in Miami’s 27-20 win.

The only thing Drake didn’t do was score a touchdown, which two former Alabama players did. Former roommates Derrick Henry and O.J. Howard crossed the goal line for the Titans and Buccaneers, respectively, despite both of their clubs losing on Sunday.

Defensively, three former Crimson Tide defensive backs intercepted passes Sunday in Eddie Jackson, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Kareem Jackson. Jackson also forced and recovered a fumble on his birthday. Linebacker C.J. Mosley registered a weekend-high 14 tackles.

Four Alabama players were inactive in Colts center Ryan Kelly, Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, Seahawks tailback Eddie Lacy and Broncos offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio.

Erik had it in yesterday’s JP, but Kenyan Drake went OFF on prime time television against the Patriots on Monday night. An interesting little tidbit: in 2013, the Alabama depth chart at running back was T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake, Derrick Henry, and Alvin Kamara. Drake, Henry, and Kamara are all some of the most exciting young running backs in the league right now, and Yeldon is a solid back-up and 3rd down back, though he got leapfrogged for playing time by Leonard Fournette.

Meanwhile, Mark Ingram continues to have an All-Pro season and is one of the top running backs in the NFL, despite sharing a backfield with Kamara.

But all Alabama running backs are busts in the NFL.

Related, Jalston Fowler was recently cut from the Titans despite being their starter for the last few years. Almost immediately, the Seattle Seahawks picked him up for their practice squad. Seattle offense has been forced to turn into an air raid due to atrocious run-blocking all season long, which has Pete Carroll in the midst of a personal identity crisis as a self-professed lover of the I-formation and a fullback-led running game. Nudie may get his second chance sooner rather than later.

It Appears People In Alabama Are Voting For Nick Saban in U.S. Senate Special Election

"I'm a life-long Republican, and this is the first time in my entire life that I haven’t voted for the Republican candidate," Alabama voter Greg Dobbins said. "I have wrote in Nick Saban instead."

After the chaotic wasteland that was yesterday’s Jumbo Package comments after #politics, I hesitate to put this one in. But, hey, why not? If you guys start arguing again, it only gives us more page clicks anyway.

I don’t know the numbers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Saban actually came in 3rd in the state. If he ever actually decided to run for politics, I would not be surprised at all if he actually won. The man is as close to a human deity as you’ll find, especially in this state.

Roll Tide!