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Jumbo Package: Tide getting healthy just in time for first road test

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You excited yet?

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">Louisiana v Alabama

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Oh, hey! Did you know that you can vote on the Biletnikoff Award? Fan votes will be tallied as one official vote — and we know you’re going to pull the lever for Jerry Jeudy. Seriously, if you guys get on board, and add Josh and I (who both have votes,) we can have three votes for No. 4 right out of the gate.

While we’re on the subject of awards season, five Tide players were named semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik awards:

A handful of Alabama players have been named semifinalists for national awards.

Tua Tagovailoa is one of 20 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, which is presented annually to the player of the year in college football. Previous Alabama student-athletes who have been honored with the award include Derrick Henry (2015) and AJ McCarron (2013).

Deionte Thompson and Quinnen Williams are two of 20 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which honors the top defensive player in college football. Minkah Fitzpatrick (2017) and Jonathan Allen (2016) became Alabama’s first two Bednarik honorees over the last two seasons.

Jalen Hurts made it back to practice yesterday and participated in drills, which is a highly encouraging sign:

It’s still unclear though whether Hurts, who suffered a high ankle sprain against Tennessee Oct. 20, will be available against LSU on Saturday.

“It’s going to be day-to-day,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. “Today, he’s going to start throwing again. (We’ll) see how he moves around in the pocket. He’s making good progress.

AIN’T SKURRED*

*Too scared to stick around Columbus and fight for a starting job at Ohio State, but not too scared to face the death machine that is #JoylessSabanMurderball? Got it.

Tua expects to be tested in Death Valley

LSU is third in the conference and seventh in the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of just 15.1 points per game. It has snagged 17 interceptions, tying for the most by any team.

Meanwhile, in 152 pass attempts, Tagovailoa hasn’t thrown a single interception this season. He credits his coaching and the play calls.

“There’s been plenty of times where I should have thrown an interception,” Tagovailoa said. “But I was lucky the guys didn’t catch the ball.”

I do think it fair to point out some of the QBs that the Tigers defense has stifled: Fitzgerald, Flaky Fromm, Left-for-dead Stidham, and the awful mess that Miami trots out on the field in Malik Rozier — The best passing offense they’ve played? No. 66 — Georgia. Alabama, in case you were wondering, is No. 5 in YPG — and ranks third in the country in TDs (31), third in INTs thrown (2), first in YPA (13.1), and first in QBR. Why no one is talking about this is completely beyond me: It’s more of a test for LSU’s DBs than it is for Alabama’s passing attack.

GUMP DAY CAME EARLY, BOYS

Fall golf is here, and Alabama’s men and women’s teams have advanced to the stroke play of their first major event, finishing 3rd and 4th in match play:

The Alabama men’s and women’s golf teams finished third and fourth, respectively, in stroke play at the East Lake Cup on Monday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Duke finished atop the men’s team leaderboard at -3 (285), followed by Oklahoma State at 1- (287) to secure the top two seeds for match play. Alabama finished third at +5 (293), followed by Auburn at +8 (296).

#GolfSchool

Yesterday’s practice results from Zenitz updates more injuries — and the good news is that Alabama may finally be firing on all cylinders again (at least for those players not absent the balance of the season.)

— Alabama’s other injured player, wide receiver DeVonta Smith, was also participating in practice, and it looked like he was moving better during drills than he was last week.

— I didn’t notice anyone missing from practice.

Not sure if you’ve seen the rumors floating around about Alabama Basketball’s secret scrimmage against Jax State, but the rumors were true — Alabama got their butts handed to them. Worse, they were turnover machines the entire way.

That has been an immediate humbling experience:

Walk-on guard Lawson Schaffer, who did not play in the scrimmage, said it served as a wake-up call.

“Honestly, I think it was a good wake-up call for us, and I think it’s something we can learn from,” Schaffer said Monday. “I think it helps us refocus a little bit because we did have such good success, and although we ended on a bad note, I feel like, with the Villanova loss, I still think we believe with the experience we got back, the talent we got back we can get there.

Hopefully, Parker will have his Season Preview ready to go in a bit, but in the event we have to push it back a day or so, please know that the Tide’s exhibition season begins tonight at 7:00 CST in Coleman Coliseum and it’s just $5. It’s a good night for a game, with the worst of the inclement weather not passing through until later in the week. So, once more into the fold, folks. #BuckleUp

While the results have been similar for a moribund Tigers offense, how they’re getting there is a different matter. Saban remarked yesterday that it’s an entirely new-look offense that LSU brings to the table in 2018:

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is a big part of that. He has completed 53.8 percent of his passes for 1,544 yards and six touchdowns. His most-used target is wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who has caught 40 passes for 471 yards and two touchdowns to lead the team.

“It’s not an I (formation), line it up and run it down your throat,” UA defensive back Deionte Thompson said. “These guys get in four open, empty and distribute the ball everywhere.”

The Tigers have running backs Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who are fully capable. Both have surpassed 500 rushing yards this season (697 and 521, respectively) and combined for 15 touchdowns.

AL.com has your tale of the tape here:

Statistically, it’s a bit of a mismatch.

The Tigers (7-1) have the nation’s 87th-best offense that includes the No. 102 passing game. They are better on defense (No. 22 in yardage allowed) and is tied for the national lead with 14 interceptions. That matches up with Alabama’s No. 5 passing offense and a starting quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa who hasn’t thrown a pick all season.

After eight games and a 37.8-point average victory, this should be a more interesting Saturday for the top-ranked team. Here’s how things break down on paper:

Pat Forde thinks LSU should pull out all the stops as tries to dethrone the Tide. He lists 8 things that should happen to position the Tigers to beat Alabama.

If LSU wins the coin toss, take the ball (1). Do not defer to the second half. The biggest reason why: Star linebacker Devin White is out for the first half after a targeting ejection against Mississippi State, to the howling outrage of LSU super fan James Carville. Taking the ball would mean one fewer possession without White on the field. The other reason why: Alabama has scored on its opening possession every single game, and you’re accepting an invitation to trail from the start. Don’t give the Tide the chance to strike first and lessen the Tiger Stadium cacophony right away.

Well done and good luck, Shallon!

Alabama gymnast Shallon Olsen made a splash during the qualifying round of the 2018 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships taking place in Doha, Qatar this week. Olsen helped lead Canada to the finals of the team competition, which will take place Tuesday. Team Canada is in fourth place after the qualifying round, just behind China. The United States finished first out of qualify while Russia is second and Brazil rounds out the top five.

A 2016 Olympian, Olsen is in second place in the vault after qualifying for event finals with a score of 14.55. The United States’ Simone Biles has the lead in the vault after scoring a 15.67 during qualifying.

Please let this give us a night Iron Bowl:

The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CT at Bryant-Denny Stadium with the game on CBS. It’ll be the third straight game on the network after playing Tennessee, then LSU this Saturday at 7 p.m. CT.

I honestly don’t remember if Alabama had another 2:30 on CBS this year. If so, then that will put the Iron Bowl on ESPN, and almost certainly will be their prime time kick. Does anyone recall if there was another CBS 2:30 earlier this year?

How wild is this? Alabama and OU are both on pace to have the most explosive offenses in history:

Alabama has scored a total of 433 points in 544 plays, a .80 pace that puts them ahead of Oklahoma’s record pace. And that’s not all. Not even close.

The FBS record for yards per play is 8.58, set by a 2006 Hawaii team that gained 7,829 yards in 913 snaps. To date this season, Alabama has gained 4,514 yards in 544 snaps — 8.30 a snap. Oklahoma has gained 4,386 yards in 492 tries — an astounding 8.91 yards a play.

Finally, yesterday was Saban’s Monday presser and he touched on a wide variety of things: from Tua’s knee to scouting the Tigers to (foolishly, IYAM) wading in on the Devin White drama.

As usual, Charlie has you covered.

On offensive line improvement...

”I think that it’s going to be a challenge in this game to get movement. This is the biggest, most physical front that we’ve played against. And very athletic at linebacker and in the perimeter and secondary. So it all starts up front and for us to be able to get some movement on these guys is going to be very important to create balance in terms of what we want to do on offense. I’m not disappointed at all in the progress we’ve made as an offensive line throughout the course of the year, but I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that we’re going to be very much challenged in this game.”

We may be back later with our season hoops preview, but if not, we’ll definitely see you for the CFP Show, where the first rankings of 2018 will be unveiled. I WONDER WHO NUMBER ONE WILL BE?!

RTR