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Jumbo Package: Start of a Golding Era?

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UTSA Defensive Coordinator Pete Golding is reportedly joining the staff as Alabama opens bowl practice.

Happy Friday, everyone. The Tide open bowl practice today and, according to Aaron Suttles, have filled the open coaching slot vacated by Jeremy Pruitt:

As many have noticed and pointed out, Golding’s expertise comes in working with the secondary. But UA has a defensive backs coach in Derrick Ansley. So how does Golding fit into that mix? Again, the answer is nothing has been permanently decided yet. However, it’s likely that one of the scenarios involves Golding being a co-defensive coordinator along with Lupoi. Golding could handle the defensive calls while Lupoi maintains his co-defensive coordinator title, takes a larger role in the defensive planning and continues to master Saban’s defense and all the while gaining valuable experience.

If Golding does in fact end up calling the plays on the defense next season, it likely means that Saban is getting a bit tired of staff turnover. Nothing against Golding, who by all accounts is an up-and-coming defensive mind, but jumping from UTSA to Alabama is not a typical leap. His previous stops were at Delta State, Southwest Louisiana, and Southern Mississippi.

Incidentally, there is no known relation to Peter Golding, the “Eric Clapton of denim.”

On to bowl practice and the health questions that are on everyone’s minds:

Getting linebackers Mack Wilson, Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis back completely healthy should certainly help Alabama’s run defense. Along with their ability to rush the passer, Miller and Lewis are both physical against the run and do a good job of setting the edge.

Wilson should provide depth, if not start, at an inside linebacker spot. He’s a physical player who’s also a playmaker on the defensive side.

For a young guy, he’s really disciplined,” Tide safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “He’s more physical than some of the other quarterbacks we’ve played against. He’s a young guy that does his job, that’s really it.”

Alabama’s outside linebackers have mustered only one sack this season and the unit, as a whole, has not generated the pass rush required to contain such a proficient dual threat quarterback.

Getting Lewis and Miller back at their healthiest can only aid the group.

If the linebackers are full speed and the defense looks like something resembling the unit that opened the season, it should be a very happy New Year.

Postgame chatter surrounded the six carries apiece for the Tide's three top running backs. Harris, Scarbrough and Josh Jacobs had 18 total attempts which equaled quarterback Jalen Hurts' carry count.

It followed a trend from the back half of Alabama's schedule when quarterback runs became more prevalent as running-back carries dropped.

Hurts got 45.5 of the rushing attempts in the final three SEC games compared to Harris's 20.5, Scarbrough's 19.6 and Jacobs' 11.6.

Something tells me that this mix is going to shift a bit in the next game.

Harris and fourth-ranked Alabama will face No. 1 Clemson on New Year’s Day in the Allstate Sugar Bowl semifinal in New Orleans. It will be the third straight postseason the Tide and Tigers will meet in the College Football Playoff, only this time not in a national title game. Both teams split the previous two matchups, with Clemson winning, 35-31, in January.

That loss still doesn’t sit well with Alabama’s players, and they’re looking to avenge it in 18 days.

“That’s definitely the way we’re looking at it, trying to avenge our loss last year,” Harris said. “It was a tough loss, and it’s almost like they’ve become our rivals, if you will.

“But we know that they’re a tough team and they’ve played really well this year and they’ve earned that No. 1 ranking, but again, it’s about how we play, it’s about us as a team and we feel like if we do what we need to do, we’ll be capable of coming out with a win.”

Damien’s talking revenge, eh?

Hey, whatever works.

The full list of Alabama football players graduating Saturday:

-- OL Joshua Casher

-- RB Ronnie Clark

-- LB Rashaan Evans

-- WR Robert Foster

-- DL Joshua Frazier

-- OL Brandon Kennedy

-- LB Christian Miller

-- K Andy Pappanastos (Masters)

-- TE Jacob Parker

-- P JK Scott

-- WR Cam Sims

-- WR Daniel Skehan

-- LB Keith Holcombe

“Dem Bammerz can’t even reed, Pawwwwlll”

Fitzpatrick, who won the Bednarik and Thorpe awards last week, and Harrison lead a group of between 4-6 Crimson Tide juniors that could decide to leave early for the NFL given their expected elevated draft stock. Fitzpatrick is projected as a potential Top 5 pick as a versatile playmaker with the ability to play both cornerback and safety at a high level.

Junior receiver Calvin Ridley is another potential Top 10-15 pick as one of the top pass catchers in this year’s class, while both Harrison and junior defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne are also widely projected to be first-round picks, with some believing Payne could impress enough in workouts to move into the top half of the round.

Yes, we know. Enjoy them while we have them.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.