Happy Monday, everyone. Fresh off a highly stressful yet gratifying victory over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, the Tide look forward to another playoff appearance. How are Georgia fans feeling?
Friend of mine sent me this picture of the front page of Georgia's student newspaper today: pic.twitter.com/KbHNK0DFIL— Ben Jones (@BW_Jones) December 2, 2018
Nice headline. The Tide now move on to Miami, where the explosive Oklahoma Sooners await. Jalen Hurts got to play the hero on Saturday, and is now the talk of college football.
He accepted Tagovailoa had won the job. Hurts not only accepted, but he yielded his position graciously. Hurts didn’t fade away. It was not just a humble heart, one that let him step aside and enjoy the perks of being a backup at Alabama as sort of an elder statesman.
His heart was also a warrior’s heart.
Quietly, as the well-deserved accolades poured down on Tagovailoa, Hurts kept working. He kept getting better. Anyone who saw the passes Hurts made in directing the two game-winning touchdown drives in the final 10 minutes — because it took two — saw something different in his passing.
Dan Enos has clearly worked wonders with Jalen, and his passing has certainly improved. A few old tendencies still showed up, chiefly the propensity to get flushed out and roll right, but to his credit he made plays with his arm once he was out there.
Here’s hoping that getting pushed to the limit will serve the Tide well in the playoffs.
How could we be certain that this team had the heart to fight back should it ever find itself in the midst of an actual fight?
That brawl finally happened, and there was nothing manufactured about the stumbling, slippery uphill climb that Alabama endured and ultimately survived Saturday night. Tagovailoa was in the dreaded sideline medical tent nearly as quickly as the game started, and was back in that tent in the second half. The Tide trailed at the half for the first time this season. They faced their largest deficit of the season. The first time they led the game was with 1 minute, 4 seconds remaining in the contest. All of this took place in front of a pro-Georgia crowd.
-- Kirby Smart later said the fake punt was there if the ball was snapped before Alabama adjusted. The CBS cameras never captured a moment in which the gunners were uncovered and it didn’t look like all of them attempted to run a route.
-- The guys in my hotel lobby were NOT happy with the decision to fake the punt.
-- The Alabama bench was going nuts after the fake punt. Saban’s son, Nicholas Saban, was standing on the bench waving his hands in the air to pump up the crowd that didn’t need encouragement.
The team certainly showed some resilience on Saturday, but Kirby’s bonehead decisions helped. Starting that last drive out with Justin Fields in the wildcat was a head scratcher, and the fake punt was just inexplicable. Georgia had just missed downing several punts inside the five yard line. Perhaps they would have been successful on that one, which completely changes the playcalling for both sides. Plus, Alabama doesn’t punt well. The odds of Georgia getting the ball back already in field goal range were far greater than converting that 4th and 11. Thanks, Kirby.
We now know who will have their handprints at Denny Chimes.
There, Alabama named four permanent team captains, all of them were seniors, in linebacker Christian Miller and center Ross Pierschbacher, who are both fifth-year seniors, and running back Damien Harris and tight end Hale Hentges. Captains are chosen by the players.
Great choices here.
Nick Saban voted his team #2 again.
Saban doesn’t want his players to think he believes they’re the best team in the country. And considering Alabama hasn’t been unanimously ranked at No. 1 in the Coaches Poll at any point this season, there’s a significant chance he’s been doing this all season. The whole game is a little silly, but it’s hard to knock Saban’s tactics given his continued success.
Funnymaine’s video this week is fantastic. Doing the same thing over and over can get stale, but he really hits the nail on the head with this one.
Moving on to Oklahoma, you’ll be shocked to read that Saban is preaching the importance of finishing.
- On what Saban hopes to accomplish in this month: He said they didn’t finish the season as well as it started. He’s not sure if it’s mental fatigue but they want to learn lessons from the three previous games when they weren’t as sharp.
-- Saban said he wasn’t asked any preference for Orange vs. Cotton bowl as a venue.
Last, two ankles are likely to have a profound impact on the Orange Bowl.
“Going to meet with the doctors in the next couple of days and see where we’re at,” Riley said. “It was certainly a significant enough injury that there was no way he was going to be able to return in the game. The extent of that is a little bit unknown. But we’ve got a great medical team and we’ll fight hard to try and get him back.”
Brown, a potential 2019 first-round NFL draft pick, leads Oklahoma and ranks fourth among Power Five players with 1,318 receiving yards. He has 75 catches and 10 touchdowns.
We will see how much practice time Tua Tagovailoa is able to get in, but Marquise Brown would be a huge blow to Oklahoma.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.