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Jumbo Package: Tide’s versatility at LB will be on display in 2017

Not just single-position players, the LB corps are athletes to a man.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports


The scariest stat for every Way-Too-Early Top 25 team

Alabama's defense lived in opponents' backfields last season, disrupting quarterbacks while finishing second nationally in stops at or behind the line of scrimmage. The problem? The team's top four leaders in sacks and top five leaders in QB hurries are all gone from last season.

If there’s anything I’m not worried about, it’s the ability of a repurposed front seven to make negative plays and disrupt the quarterback. Alabama’s front platoons so heavily that the core of the defensive line are practically veterans by this point. The linebackers, meanwhile, return three two-year contributors in Holcombe, Evans and Dion-Hamilton, not to mention Mack Wilson, who saw snaps as a true freshman. If ESPN were going to highlight any weakness, I would say that this unit will probably not be as good in coverage simply because of their inexperience. But getting stops? Rushing the passer? Nah, even if sack numbers are down. Because, as we’ll see below, sacks may be really beside the point anyway in the modern game.

Alabama was number one in overall attendance last season, outpacing Michigan by over 100,000, with 1,365,657 people seeing the Crimson Tide. The Top 10 list is here.

Sacks are overrated anyway

Luke Fickell: Sacks might be the most overrated stat in football

“Third down is a different animal. The game’s changed, too. Nowadays, if you’re going to be blitzing all the time, these guys are side-adjusting and hot reads, RPOs, it can put you in tough situations. That’s a balance to what we have to do, as well as figuring out what we do well.”

“Affect the passer.” I wonder where we’ve heard that before?

But, it’s not just affecting the quarterback, which former Ohio State DC Luke Fickell references, but balancing the contain of a QB. His summation in this age of offensive football is that often is just as important to contain the quarterback and make him throw as it is to affect the dropbacks. Good stuff here.

Huge week for football’s future

The NCAA Division I Council begins meeting today in Indianapolis, with a number of potentially sweeping changes for college football being put up for a vote.

Any legislation enacted by the Division I Council today faces final approval from the NCAA Board of Directors, but this could be a watershed week for college football recruiting and coaching.

That’s an understatement. Up for discussion is an exemption to the 25-man cap, ending satellite camps, the early signing period, coaches at camps, hiring persons associated with recruits, the 10th field coach, and a lot more.

We’ll keep you updated. The above will take you to a complete list and discussion of the rules up for voting.

While there are shenanigans to be had, surely, the overriding concern behind limiting non-field jobs for HS coaches appears to be the have-nots are upset with the large support staffs at the elite programs — including (and some would say, especially) Alabama.

American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) director Todd Berry’s sidebar really tells you where he thinks the problem lies, and it is a shot straight across the bow of the Alabamas of the CFB world:

It’s really all these different support positions. Analysts, directors of all these different things we have directors of nowadays. Sometimes there’s even these curious titles that you wonder why in the world would you even need something like that. I think that’s where the concern is.

It remains a terrible proposal for reasons beyond having paupers dictate who may and may not be hired; it cuts off the advancement potential for hotshot high school coaches, ones who are apt to have talent a school may already be evaluating, but are poised for promotion to the collegiate level.

Malzahn and Chad Morris have spoken out against it. Nick Saban is furious over what it'll do to camps. But CoachingSearch also spoke with several coaches who are for it, most at the Group of 5 level or lower Power 5, without large support staffs.

“I think it’s a good idea,” new Western Kentucky head coach Mike Sanford told CoachingSearch. “That’s gotten out of control, it really has. If you really want to hire that coach and the value of getting the coach on the staff, then chose the coach over the recruit. If you do truly just want to get a recruit, then abide by that rule."

Many high school coaches are not happy about it, because it limits their opportunities to move up to college — opportunities that didn’t really exist a decade ago. Berry knows it’s hard for the high school coaches, but also pointed to the ones who made the move up.

Practice notes

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts settles in despite the noise

During the first practice of the spring, Hurts said graduate assistant Alex Mortenson approached him and said, "The game looks slower to you now." It was true. Hurts said he was making checks and doing things they hadn't covered yet.

"It's just instinctive stuff I did," Hurts said, "and he noticed that. He said, 'It slowed down,' and I was like, 'I guess it did.'"

Nice story on Hurts’ adjustment to being the unquestioned starter, what he’s done to improve, how he’s improved, and how he handles the limelight.

Alabama JUCO defensive lineman looks set to make immediate impact |

Buggs is again impressing with his hands as well as with quickness, athleticism and consistent impact plays.

The four-star Louisiana native has been a standout this spring for Alabama, quickly establishing himself as one of the Crimson Tide's top defensive lineman.

Buggs looks ready to become the latest junior college defensive lineman to make an early and sizable impact at Alabama, following in the footsteps of players such as Jarran Reed and Terrence Cody.

Earlier last week we told you to keep an eye on Isaiah Buggs. So far, the JUCO transfer is impressing coaching staffs and players. He looks to be the instant contributor we all thought he might be. Feature article follows.

Speaking of turning heads, updates its tally daily of the players impressing the most this Spring, including the aforementioned Jalen Hurts.

The Alabama players generating the most buzz this spring |

The Alabama players generating the most buzz this spring All that’s left for Alabama this spring are three practices, a scrimmage on Friday and A-Day next Saturday.

Here’s a look at some players doing well and generating internal buzz through the first three weeks of spring practice:

Travis Reier’s BOL practice report is here, stressing the versatility of the OL and linebacking corps

For, yesterday its main takeaway from media viewing portion of practice was the swapping of the LB corps (including Ben Davis moving to the inside) and this little bit of prep work:

-- Both Rashaan Evans and Dylan Moses, two inside linebackers, were working with the outside linebackers in individual drills. Evans would later move back to his usual position when the back seven of the defense went through the motions in the nickel package. It should be noted that both Evans and Moses have the capability to play inside and outside. It's also conceivable Alabama is preparing Evans and Moses for the "nickel rabbits" package that the Tide used with great efficacy against Tennessee last season. In that set, former inside linebacker Reuben Foster was positioned as an edge rusher.

That’s all for now. Go forth to bad internet opinions!