Happy Monday, everyone. As the nation focuses on the devastating situation in Houston, one story offers a little levity along with further proof that football is real important to Americans, y’all:
Great stuff. If any of you are in the area and somehow able to read this, please be safe. You are in our thoughts.
Moving on to Alabama football:
Congratulations! You made it. Game week is finally here, and the women’s soccer team kicked it off in fine fashion:
The Alabama women's soccer team earned its first win over a Top-10 ranked opponent in program history with a 1-0 shutout victory over No. 6/4 Florida State on Sunday afternoon at the Alabama Soccer Complex. Taylor Morgan scored her second career goal in the 55th minute of the match to propel the Crimson Tide (3-1) to the crucial win over the Seminoles (3-1,) and senior goalkeeper Kat Stratton made four saves to earn her first shutout of the season.
(♩ ♪ ♫ ♩ ♪ ♫) Hey, ‘Noles! (♩ ♪ ♫ ♩ ♪ ♫) Hey, ‘Noles....
The only problem with the start of game prep is the total lack of information given to reporters. Here’s what they saw:
For the second straight day, sophomore Trevon Diggs appeared to be splitting reps with senior Levi Wallace at left cornerback, this time in the dime package. Senior Anthony Averett was at right corner, with senior Hootie Jones and junior Ronnie Harrison at the safety spots, junior Minkah Fitzpatrick at money and senior Tony Brown at star.
The starting offensive line remains the same as it has been since the beginning of the preseason. Matt Womack was at right tackle, Lester Cotton at right guard, Bradley Bozeman at center, Ross Pierschbacher at left guard and Jonah Williams at left tackle.
Josh Jacobs is still very limited and presumed to be a scratch for the opener at this point. While there is plenty of depth at the position, you hate it for the young man. There has been no further update on Raekwon Davis, though the initial reports seemed to indicate that his injury is very minor.
Let’s hope that Wallace splitting reps with Diggs is either a contingency plan or a positive move by Wallace, and not an indication that Diggs isn’t cutting the mustard.
Clayton remembers the competitive fire.
It burned often during LSU’s practices that season. The chess match between Fisher and the defensive-minded Saban produced the necessary friction that delivered the Tigers’ first national title since 1958.
“We always went by a script, and it kind of fired Jimbo up a little bit when things got off script,” Clayton said. “Just going back at the guys, drawing up some plays in the dirt and saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to try this. We’re going to do this, and surprise them and give it back to them.’ That happened quite often, just being spontaneous out there on the field. And that competitive nature came out quite often in practice between those guys.”
Saban has dominated his former assistants, but Jimbo is easily the most decorated among them.
Taking snaps on the offensive line on Thursday from left to right were; Derrick Kelly, Landon Dickerson, Alec Eberle, Brock Ruble and Rick Leonard
So, Florida State has a lot of talent on the roster, but if you are looking for some advantages:
- Their best linebacker, Matthew Thomas, has missed the bulk of fall camp with some sort of illness. Fisher seems to expect to have him back soon, but that can’t be good. They are also likely to be without Dontavious Jackson, a key rotational LB for them. Look for the Tide to get their LB corps moving laterally in effort to wear down a thin unit.
- The offensive line group listed above consists of four former three-stars, based on the 247 composite, and one four-star. Leonard is a converted defensive end. The lone four-star is Dickerson. He will be playing his first game since ACL surgery last fall, and will be lined up next to a guy in Eberle who is coming off of hip labrum surgery after playing injured last season. To be frank, in terms of raw talent this offensive line doesn’t seem much different from the units the Tide face in, say, Starkville or Knoxville. A reminder of what the interior guys will be tasked with blocking:
This is the matchup that Florida State fans are most concerned about, and with good reason. Last year’s bloodbath in the opener vs. USC, who coincidentally also had guys coming off of offseason surgery, was mostly attributable to their offensive line getting trashed to the point that there was no offense to be had. We will keep an eye on it.
More and more pundits are suggesting that this game will mean very little in terms of playoff possibilities:
Just for grins, let’s say Florida State wins (yes, Bama fans, we know, but play along with the hypothetical and see; you’ll be OK). No one should be surprised 13 weeks later to see the Crimson Tide included in the four-team field for the College Football Playoff.
At, say, 11-2.
That’s right, with two losses.
“They’d get strong consideration,” says Mike Tranghese — and as a former member of the Playoff’s selection committee, the former Big East commissioner’s opinion carries some weight.
What if the pregame suspicion that these are two of the best teams in college football is confirmed over the course of 60 minutes? What if the loser then goes on to drop one white-knuckler in its league but still manages to reach and win its conference championship game?
An 11-2 SEC champion with close losses to Florida State and, say, Auburn could have an excellent case to be a playoff team. Ditto for an 11-2 ACC champ with tight defeats against Alabama and, say, Clemson.
Scarb actually does OK in this one until those last couple of sentences. A loss to Auburn or Clemson, respectively, would be the most likely to prevent a division title. A more likely scenario would be for FSU to beat Clemson and then lose to some mediocre opponent as they have been wont to do.
Regardless, odds are that the committee will be looking to reward these teams for playing a game of this caliber.
The newness of Mercedes-Benz Stadium makes this a little different.
"It's just exciting to be, just walking out there and seeing the crowd," cornerback Anthony Averett said, "new stadium, new field, new smell. It's different."
The only downer: The retractable roof won't be operational just yet.
I have it on pretty good authority that the retractable roof may never be operational.
Instead, the game was a tie, and not an old-fashioned slobber knocker 0-0 tie played in a driving downpour. Shockingly for a generation of Alabama watchers, the game ended in a 37-37 tie, with only Stabler’s prowess — and a late interception by Bobby Johns — keeping the Crimson Tide from an outright loss. The final result, even though it wasn’t a loss, was disappointing. The way it happened, with all those points, was harrowing. To put it in perspective: FSU scored 37 points in that game. In the preceding year, the undefeated 1966 Alabama team had allowed 37 points in the entire regular season. No one knew it then, except Bryant himself, perhaps, but the game was a sign of things to come, the beginning of four lean years. It wasn’t quite famine, but given the expectations in Tuscaloosa, it sure wasn’t a feast.
Somehow I had missed that there was a season opener between these two schools 50 years ago. Want to know how much times have changed? That game was played on September 23.
Citing its strong defense, the Florida State alum is picking the Seminoles to defeat the Crimson Tide on Sept. 2 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic from the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
That’s a relief.
Tide players really showed out in the NFL preseason this weekend:
Four former Alabama players found the end zone during Week 3 of the NFL's preseason schedule. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper and Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry have been there before. But for New York Jets wide receiver ArDarius Stewart, his two touchdowns were his first in the NFL. New York Giants strong safety Landon Collins isn't really supposed to score touchdowns, but he did anyway.
Congrats to ArDarius on his first two scores, but whoever wrote that last sentence hasn’t watched much Alabama defense in the past few years. Oh, and Reuben looks just as fast against the NFL players as he did in college:
That first lick was on former FSU RB Dalvin Cook.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.