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Jumbo Package: Matt Womack Wants a Starting Job

Are you going to be the guy to tell him he can’t have it?

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

Happy Friday, everyone. The baseball team travels to Oxford to take on Ole Miss this weekend while the softball team hosts #7 LSU in a massive series that will be a good litmus test for the #12 Tide, who have struggled of late. There are plenty of football notes today, starting with the latest promo video:

It’s only a minute long, but there are a couple of encouraging moments with the QBs in particular. Jalen is shown standing tall in the pocket on one play and throws a perfect ten-yard out on another. Later, Tua drops a perfect fade over the shoulder of Jerry Jeudy with Levi Wallace in great position. If this team can find a way to be above average in the downfield passing game, go ahead and engrave the trophy for the next couple of seasons.

“We have a little bit more time, so we’ve been spreading practices out,” Saban said. “I think it’s helped the teaching because so far we’ve always had an off day in between every practice, which has probably been good for the learning curve, especially for the young players.”

Even some of the veterans have seen just how much the extra days between practices has helped the Tide’s 16 early enrollees.

Offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher said Wednesday the days off allow players more time for film review, which helps them learn from practice to practice.

It never ceases to amaze how Saban constantly finds ways to get better. This year he has extended spring practice, probably because of the ridiculous number of early enrollees, to give players more time to digest what they have learned. If he’s mastered anything, it’s giving hell to reporters:

"What is 12 personnel?" Saban asked a reporter during a news conference earlier this week.

The answer presented to Alabama's head coach Tuesday described an offensive personnel grouping with one running back and two tight ends. The Crimson Tide lined up in that package on 30 percent of its offensive snaps last season, and the journalist Saban tested wanted to know if it would be featured more prominently in 2017.

"Maybe," Saban said coolly. "You know, I think that's a situational thing. Look, we made a lot more plays around here when we spread people out."

Hard to believe that a man who built his career on stopping passing offenses wouldn’t know basic personnel groupings, isn’t it?


It could very well be that Alabama lines up in a bunch of two-TE sets this season, but good luck getting any indication from Saban.

Womack has put on 10 pounds from last season, helping him fill out his towering frame. The added weight has certainly helped his case as he fights for one of the two open slots on Alabama’s starting offensive line. However, what has really set Womack apart has been a growth in experience.

“I think he's really matured,” Alabama offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher said. “I think he kind of knows that this is his time to step up, and really prove to the coaches that he's the guy. I think he's really taken that to heart. You can see him — he's in here getting treatment and getting extra film work which is nice to see. He's really taken it to heart and knows that this is his time to step up. It's been nice to see out of him.”

The competition certainly isn’t over, but so far Womack seems to be impressing the coaches. He has prototypical size for a road grading NFL right tackle. If he and 309-lb. Lester Cotton hang on to the jobs on the right side of the line then RTDB will certainly be in order, especially if more TEs are on the field. If nothing else, it would be tough to find a more intimidating presence than Big Matt.

“Werner had a reputation in Oxford as being a strong evaluator of quarterbacks, something that will likely serve him and Alabama well,” Ole Miss beat writer for Neal McCready said. “His presence was one of the key factors in Ole Miss’ landing of both Kelly and Shea Patterson.”

Kelly threw for 4,042 yards and 31 touchdowns in the 2015 season, one that found Ole Miss in its first Sugar Bowl since 1970. Kelly was off to another great season in 2016 before a knee injury derailed his year.

Jalen Hurts dual-threat abilities seem particularly suited for Werner’s offensive mind of run-pass option plays. Werner can’t work with Hurts, but his ideas will help the offensive coaching staff in that regard.

Werner may not be able to coach the QBs directly, but he can watch film and consult with Daboll. He is going to be a huge asset.

Alabama is favored in 12 games, in spite of the 10.9 win projection. The discrepancy is in the odds of the victories, with Auburn and Florida State nearing “toss up” status based on the game projections.

The Crimson Tide has a better than 90 percent chance of beating half of the opponents on the schedule, including three conference opponents.

ESPN thinks Auburn is as likely to beat Alabama as is Florida State. There is not a more perpetually overrated bunch outside of South Bend.

From that point forward, he led Alabama to the precipice of a national championship, becoming the SEC Offensive Player of the Year along the way. Hurts did so while enduring plenty of turmoil. In less than seven months, Hurts has seen Barnett, Bateman and Cornwell leave the program. He has also watched as Alabama cycled through three offensive coordinators -- switching from Lane Kiffin to Steve Sarkisian and now Brian Daboll in rapid fashion.

"It's been an adventure I guess," Hurts said. "It's a lot. But I think that a lot of things can be thrown at you and you have to be able to respond to certain situations."

“He has been with the program since kindergarten,” said Patricia Thomas, the program director. “He was a part of our first class that graduated. We are an after-school program, but as the class grew up, (we learned) that many of these kids suddenly had no place to go, even though they still needed a place. So we began our LIFEE (Learning Is Fundamental to Education and Employment) program to assist them as adults.”

Mixon, after finishing the program in 2007, was able to attend the University of Alabama and received a music degree – and decided to give back.

“When he graduated from college in 2011, he came back to teach music to other kids and to serve as a role model and an example in our LIFEE program,” Thomas said.

People have certainly questioned his passing, but there is no questioning Jalen’s character or poise. The kid is special.

Anderson didn't hesitate when asked what he'll buy first after he's drafted: A house for his mom.

"She's meant everything to me," he said. "She did everything she had to do to get me to this point. She sacrificed a lot."

In less than three weeks, all the sacrifices will have been worth it. Ryan Anderson will be an NFL player.

Nothing like a young man who appreciates those who have supported him.

"That was in jest," he said. "Of course, when I was at Auburn, we had a little success over Alabama. That's a great game. If you are an Alabama coach, you rejoice over winning the Iron Bowl. If you are an Auburn coach, you rejoice over winning that game.

"There were a lot of consequences in the 10 years I was at Auburn in terms of the Alabama program. It wasn't, obviously, like it is now. Of course, because of me being there and, fortunately, having things going pretty good, Nick Saban ended up there. He's done a great job. He's a very good friend."

You want to be governor, you’d better be on Saban’s good side, son.

Take Memphis, which lost its best player, Dedric Lawson, as well as his brother K.J. in an unexpected departure on Wednesday. That’s a double-edged sword for Alabama, which has a nonconference game set against Memphis in November. The Crimson Tide wants to win, but it doesn’t want Tubby Smith’s team to implode and have a dismal RPI.

Back to Alabama. The Crimson Tide still has a good returning nucleus — Ingram, Johnson, Braxton Key, Donta Hall, Riley Norris and walk-on Lawson Schaffer — and six newcomers. That leaves two scholarships open. Finding the right grad transfer might be difficult — even a good player might look at that roster and wonder where his minutes are coming from. Perhaps a traditional transfer would work, sitting out a year. There’s a chance that Alabama might hold a scholarship to use in 2018. All those options are on the table.

I don’t know what is going on with Tubby Smith and Memphis, but they are experiencing a mass exodus of the best players on the team. Dedric Lawson and his brother K.J. are looking for a home but would have to sit a year. Don’t know how credible this is, but:

Assuming Sexton is a one-and-done, the Tide could certainly accommodate a couple of seasoned players for the 2018-19 season. The 6’9” Dedric averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds plus 2 blocks this season, while K.J. went for 12 and 8. It will certainly be something to keep an eye on.

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

Roll Tide.