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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

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It’s SEC Championship week, and there’s all kinds of rat poison for us to revel in

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

Saban may hate positive media attention for his team, and I totally understand why. But we as fans are not subject to that abstinence, and as such, here is a smattering of quality gump, starting with a piece from Dawg Nation:

Georgia football will be challenged to find weakness in mighty Alabama

Maybe the weight of all that winning was beginning to wear on Alabama. Maybe players are blowing their own minds with what they are accomplishing this season, and mental fatigue is something that Georgia can exploit Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“If we were mentally tired maybe that affected our preparation going into the game, which affected how we started,” Saban said.

“Based on the mental errors we made and the fundamental execution not being as sharp as it needed to be, that may have been the case.”

Yeah, slow starts have been a real big problem. Alabama only beat The Citadel by 33 and Auburn by 31. Elvis started slow, too, but kicked it in pretty good by halftime.

If that is mental fatigue, we should all be so tired.

There’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor in this one, and it’s a really enjoyable read if you have a couple of minutes. The moral of the story is: Alabama is on top of the world, and Georgia has a tall task in front of them to pull off the upset.

What Happens If Alabama Loses? What If Every Favorite Wins? We Have Answers.

Alabama and Clemson win; Oklahoma and Ohio State lose.

Chances of happening: 4 percent

Likely playoff field: Alabama (>99 percent), Clemson (>99), Notre Dame (98) and … ???

Others: Texas (31 percent), Georgia (29), UCF (23), Washington (12), Ohio State (5)

Most of the scenarios on this list involve too many good teams for too few slots. But in this particular case, there wouldn’t be enough. The committee would be staring at three clear-cut deserving squads, plus a whole bunch of flawed lower-tier teams in the mix for the fourth and final bid. Our model actually thinks three-loss (!) Texas would be the most likely candidate, though this is also one of UCF’s best, most viable paths to that elusive playoff berth.

Weird. I thought having more teams in a playoff is a good thing??? It’s almost like, hear me out here, every single season is different. There are some seasons when a playoff makes sense, and others when it doesn’t. The lesson here is that making knee-jerk changes based on one season of a team getting left out isn’t a long-term strategy for success.

Alabama Safety Xavier McKinney Has Mind On Important Things

McKinney has a trick for keeping his mind on the present. On the thigh of his practice pants Tuesday was written “Run Everywhere.” He said it’s for his practice mindset.

“In the meetings, I like to write on my pants. ‘Run Everywhere,’ meaning basically just run to the ball wherever it is, whether that’s from drill to drill or whatever, just to make sure I have the sense of urgency and get the other guys going.”

McKinney believes that early in the season that Alabama’s secondary didn’t get the recognition it deserved. “We kind of carry that in our mindset in the way we practice and the way we play, and hold it as a chip on our shoulder to get better.” he said. “I feel we’ve done a great job of doing that and we’re going to keep trying to get better and get the defense better and make sure we have good games.”

After taking a few lumps in the opening games of the season, Xavier McKinney has been quietly excellent in the second half of 2018. He’s been more of a traditional strong safety that we haven’t really seen in Saban’s defense— usually a two high safety scheme— very often. He’s as sure a tackler as you’ll see, and he’s been a monster on safety blitzes all season.

Alabama tops penultimate College Football Playoff rankings

No. 1 is familiar territory for Alabama, but it isn’t something that interests Nick Saban.

“No, I actually didn’t, to be honest with you,” Saban said when asked if he watched the inaugural rankings four weeks ago. “It’s obviously certainly an honor for our team to be put in that position, but it’s not what you’ve done to this point, it’s how you finish that determines where you get to and how you get there. We’ve got some of our toughest games coming up, starting (with LSU).

“It’ll be really important to our team as to how we finish this season and kind of go from there. It’s kind of a little bit of a new season after this bye week in terms of how we improve and how we play and how we respond to some of these challenges.”

Never change, Nick. Never change.

Oh, and in case you’ve been living under a rock, Alabama was just named #1 yet again in last night’s CFP committee.

Georgia’s injury report for Alabama

ILB Monty Rice

This is a guy Georgia would love to get back before taking on Alabama. Rice was Georgia’s leading tackler coming into the UMass game before suffering a foot injury during pre-game warm-ups. He was in a walking boot and using crutches to get around during that game but he had shed the boot and was just using crutches when the Bulldogs took on Georgia Tech last week. Rice has also dealt with a minor knee injury this season and is likely UGA’s most instinctive inside linebacker. He has been the most reliable player at that position for Mel Tucker this season. He made a limited return to Tuesday’s practice but his status for Saturday is still very much uncertain.

The Bulldogs actually have a pretty long laundry list of injuries they’re dealing with, and this article summarizes all of them. Particularly, their depth on the offensive line is looking quite thin. Alabama has got some guys banged up, notably with Trevon Diggs out for the year at cornerback, but all in all look to be in much better shape than they were at this point last year, when over half the defense was injured.

History between Tagovailoa, Fromm stems back to recruiting days

“(Tua) has an unbelievable talent when throwing the football,” Fromm said. “I think he does a really good job of dispersing the football and getting it to his playmakers. And then he has the ability to extend that play with his legs — those extra six, seven, eight seconds of the play. But I definitely think when he’s playing, you could definitely tell he’s playing for a greater purpose and something bigger than himself.”

Fromm, on the other hand, has amassed 2,236 yards and 26 scores through the air. While the two-pronged rushing attack of D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield are what drives Georgia’s offense, Saban knows the threat Fromm poses.

“Jake was playing really well last year, played really well in our game,” Saban said. “I think he’s just gotten more confident with his knowledge and experience, having played more games. I think he gets them in the right plays. He’s smart. If he knows what you’re in on defense, he’s going to throw it to the right place and do the right thing.”

Much like Tagovailoa.

This relationship started when both were committed to Alabama at separate times, then escalated when Tua was inserted into the National Championship game to become an integral part of Crimson Tide lore. This week’s game will be the next installment in the series.

Take Two: Can Alabama land the five-star IMG Academy trio?

FIRST TAKE: ANDREW BONE, BAMAINSIDER.COM

“Alabama appears in great shape for at least two of the five-stars from IMG Academy: Sanders and Neal. Both are former Crimson Tide commitments who committed to Alabama when they were sophomores. Smith has taken several visits to Alabama since he committed to Georgia, which has some believing he will flip in the end. It’s hard to see him not going to Georgia despite all the trips to Tuscaloosa. It would definitely be a huge recruiting boost for Alabama to land all three of those players, but landing at least two of them is big for the Crimson Tide to help secure the top class in the country and perhaps help with future prospects at IMG Academy in the 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes.”

SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM

“Alabama could get all three of them. Smith is committed to Georgia but there have been a lot of rumors about him flipping. Neal has been considered a lean to Alabama for a little bit now. And Sanders has been considered a strong lean to Alabama ever since Florida kind of fell out of the picture.

“They could get all three of them. That would be quite an impressive grab from IMG and it would continue the recruiting efforts at that school next year and beyond.”

First of all, can we just take a minute to appreciate just how nuts it is that one high school has THREE 5-star players in the same class?? Ridiculous.

Anyway, just one of these guys would be huge for the Tide’s recruiting class. All three would be enough to have any Gump reaching for his inhaler.

That’s it for today. Roll Tide!