Happy Friday, everyone. As usual, details are rather sparse from practice as Saban controls the dissemination of information better than Pyongyang, but we will bring you the nuggets we have. First, however, we have comments from veteran SEC broadcaster Gary Danielson on the state of the conference:
"Top to bottom, the whole league is wondering 'have we may be gone down the wrong course with our program as we try to tool our programs to compete with Alabama or beat Alabama,'" Danielson told WJOX. "I think a lot of the teams in the league they need to go up tempo, more finesse, need a more scrambling running quarterback because - in reality - there has been some success against Alabama with hot mobile quarterbacks beating them.
"Top to bottom, the league's fundamentals have gotten a little weaker. I don't think they play solid football week-in and week-out."
This is a narrative that has taken hold and was buoyed by a somewhat disappointing bowl season. On Auburn, Danielson joins many in taking a “wait-and-see” approach on a Malzahn offense without an elite runner at QB.
Miller, who is competing for a starting job at outside linebacker job, had a lot of success even matched up against standout sophomore left tackle Jonah Williams.
Miller's top play from the scrimmage was a strip-sack of Jalen Hurts after beating Williams around the edge.
"I think I played well," Miller said. "I feel like if I can just keep building off of how I played, I should be pretty good."
It appears that Miller will be the starting Sam to open the season with Anfernee Jennings at Jack, and Terrell Lewis easing in as a situational rusher. Expect to see Lewis and Miller on the field together quite a bit.
What's the deal at kicker?
This one can't be asked enough since it seems to have the most mystery surrounding it. At least with quarterbacks you can get a feel for how things look in media viewing periods at practice. Very little has been said about the state of this special team -- one that's been inconsistent for years at Alabama.
There were two misses inside 40 yards in the A-Day game without much actual game experience returning. Could JK Scott handle this duty along with punting? It's possible. With a high-end opponent waiting on Week 1, small details like a field goal could make a difference, so this question is easily the most critical.
What’s your deal, Michael?
That Clemson defeated the Tide in the national title game was noteworthy and exciting, but over the full season, there was little doubt who was the nation’s dominant team. Again. They beat the year-end No. 4 team in S&P+ by 10 on the road, No. 7 by 17 on a neutral field, No. 9 by 46 on a neutral field, No. 13 by 18 at home, No. 15 by 38 on a neutral field, No. 16 by 28 at home, No. 24 by 19 at home, and No. 28 by 39 on the road. That is downright obnoxious.
And now, their freshman QB is no longer a freshman. Yikes.
tl;dr: You’ll never believe who is starting this year atop the S&P+ projections!
Can you guess?
“I think right now he’s No. 2,” Bowden said. “I didn’t think anybody could approach Coach Bryant. I still think Coach Bryant’s the best ever. Nick might be on a collision course with him.”
Bowden said his successor, Jimbo Fisher, might be on a collision course with Saban.
“Saban has been the sheriff in town for the last 10 years. Is it time for another sheriff?” Bowden said, referring to Fisher.
None of Saban’s former assistants have defeated Saban as a head coach, but Fisher arguably has the closest thing to bragging rights. He was Bowden’s offensive coordinator when FSU beat Alabama 21-14 in Jacksonville in 2007. It was Saban’s first season with the Crimson Tide.
I’m still not sold on Jimbo as a guy who can keep his team motivated. Two things Saban hasn’t done in Tuscaloosa are lose to mediocre competition and get blown out. No one has matched Alabama in recruiting over the past several seasons, but FSU and Ohio State have come the closest. There is no excuse for talent of that caliber losing to the likes of Wake Forest or Georgia Tech, and certainly not for the embarrassment in Louisville last season.
That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.