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Jumbo Package: Tide defense “sets their jaw” and gets healthier as conference opener looms

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NCAA Football: Fresno State at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Lets’ get the rankings out of the way: Yes, Alabama is still No. 1. Yes, Clemson is hard on their heels. Yes, Mississippi State is getting some love. No, Vandy are still not. Yes, LSU and Auburn (with four other SEC teams) are ranked.

In what will likely be a low-scoring, defensive scrum, the Tide could use some defenders. Last week, Alabama played without four of its top five linebackers. This week, three are back practicing in some capacity.

Injured linebackers Rashaan Evans (groin), Anfernee Jennings (ankle) and Dylan Moses (undisclosed) were all practicing, as coach Nick Saban said they would earlier in the day. Saban said he's not sure yet regarding their availability for Saturday's game against Vanderbilt, but it's clearly a good sign that they're all back practicing.

Also from the media viewing session, which was LB heavy, VanDarius Cowan and Ben Davis were spotted working with the scout team. At this point it looks like Cowan, fighting an injury much of fall camp and the first few games, will probably redshirt as he heals. Davis, meanwhile, is learning a new position.

Speaking of health, Bo Scarbrough is finally back to 100%, and as important, is trusting his body -- it’s often the latter that impacts a return to the field more than structural integrity or physical health (see Dont’a Hightower following his ACL injury vs. Kenyan Drake’s recovery, for instance.)

efense (‘tis an old joke, but apropos)

The defensive leaders were irritated with the Tide’s mental breakdowns and execution errors on Saturday night. They called a player’s only meeting yesterda; as SDH said, a “come to Jesus”. Saban said he does not encourage them, but that there is no reason to panic either.

This new kinder, forgiving Nick Saban is creeping me out y’all.


I wouldn’t look at it as CNS being more tolerant of errors, rather the staff is trying to juggle two difficult balancing acts. 1. He doesn’t want to impede the confidence of a young team. He’s consistently praised their efforts; the execution will get there. An asschewing when they’re trying to learn their jobs and are playing on emergency basis is counterproductive. 2. He constantly stresses the need to balance emotion with performance. You don’t want to deride their motivation, but at the same time there is no point in making every player feel as though they have to go outside themselves to make a big play.

It’ll get sorted out. (Though, Keith Holcombe added a phrase countrier than a hit possum, saying that for the defense it was time to “set your jaw.”)

More on the defense here from BoL:

“I think it’s really up to the players, but I also think that every player has got to look at what they have to do to try to improve and get better,” Saban said. “I think everybody can contribute in a more positive way by just a little better execution. The effort was good in the game, the toughness was good in the game. And really for three quarters in the game we played pretty well against a pretty good offensive team. We just didn’t finish the game like we needed to.


Jalen Hurts has the most runs of 10+ yards in the SEC (12.) That is 6th most in the nation and tied with Lamar Jackson and USF’s Quinton Fowler.


Players of the week:

Last week it was Matt Womack who balled out on the offensive line; this week it was senior center Bradley Bozeman. He and nine others were honored by the coaches for their play Saturday night:

Bozeman didn’t allow any sacks and helped Alabama run for 239 yards and three touchdowns.

The redshirt senior had a season-high four knockdown blocks and graded out at 87 percent.

Quick Pro Update

Feast Mode was a healthy scratch on Sunday: It seems to be more a function of wanting to give Thomas Rawls a shot rather than a permanent benching. The Seahawks OL hasn’t helped Lacy or Russell Wilson much this year though.

AJ McCarron is still talking the good talk even as Andy Dalton and the disappointing Bengals implode.

The ‘Bama boys have been showing out early this year, and they really showed up on MNF last night, where Landon Collins and Dalvin Tomlinson were two of the three highest graded Giants, and A’Shawn Robinson was a terror inside.

There’s also this little tidbit: Derrick Henry outrushed Leonard Fournette in the Titans’ domination of the Jags on Sunday. That’s not a surprise. Nor is it a surprise that in two games, Henry has seen 8-9 man fronts on 55% of his snaps. Maybe surprisingly, King Henry is averaging 6 yards per carry in the NFL despite running into the teeth overloaded lines. He’s a bad, bad man with fresh, fresh legs. Many are openly speculating it may be time for a changing of the guard.

It was also good to see Jalston Fowler get his first TD of the season on his first carry no less. Unfortunately for Nudie, he also was on the receiving end of a Henry stiff arm. LOL

Naughty, Naughty

Shaun White was dismissed yesterday following a public intox citation. White was already suspended for the first two games. And, speaking with many around the program, this was not a simple overreaction by Malzahn; he’s been a a discipline problem for two seasons -- this was just the final straw for the Auburn Staff.

What looked like a repeat of Alabama’s textbook charge-back infraction is not panning out that way for the Florida Gators. The Gator Nine are also implicated in debit card fraud and are being investigated for a credit card fraud ring. Felony charges, and a whole host of others, are coming down the pipe this week. FLORIDA’S BACK, BABY!

Finally, on the heels of a 30-point butt whippin’ by the Bulldogs, Ed Orgeron recognizes the lines are a mess. He’s oddly trying to blame this on the talent Baton LSU. He thinks the answer is raiding the Juco ranks next year rather than, ya’ know, developing the players on campus. Recruiting misses happen, sure. So do injuries and transfers, but this team went from one of the most physical in the SEC just 4-5 days ago to one of the least. That’s unconscionable.

Ole Miss fans will quickly point out that this same thing happened in Oxford: he took a solid offensive line and morphed it into a hot mess in just a year.

Who knew that someone with a 10-25 stint at Ole Miss (and 22-29 overall) may not be the best person to give the keys to kingdom?! (Besides everyone)

And, I leave you with this, from’s SEC Shorts:

We have a lot for you over the next few days. Go forth to evil.