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Jumbo Package: You just wish Saban was your company’s CEO

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The season is ALMOST here

NCAA Football: SEC Football Media Day Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting Alabama’s 2018 season game by game

vs. Louisville (Orlando), Sept. 1

The skinny: No player in college football has a tougher assignment than Cardinals first-year starting quarterback Jawon Pass during opening weekend. He’s going to be asked by Bobby Petrino to make plays against the nation’s most talented defense in a neutral-site setting Alabama often dominates. Decision-making and ball security will be extremely important for the young quarterback’s confidence level. On the other side, we’re anticipating the much-talked about debut of Tua Tagovailoa as QB1 for the Crimson Tide. Louisville just misses a backdoor cover when Alabama scores a defensive touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Alabama 38, Louisville 14.

247 is being real bold here and predicting an undefeated season from the Crimson Tide. On paper, this is one of our easiest schedules in years, and on paper, we have one of our most talented teams in years (scary, since the Tide has been to three and won two of the last three National Championships.)

As such, I’m always going to worry about all the rat poison and bad juju of such unanimous lofty expectations harming the team somehow.

Projecting Alabama’s pre-camp depth chart

Starter: Jalen Hurts / Tua Tagovailoa

Reserve: Mac Jones

Newcomer: Layne Hatcher

Reasoning: We’ve come a long way from the end of the national championship game to now, but Nick Saban has said many times recently the quarterback competition between Hurts and Tagovailoa is still to be determined and that one of them has to win the team. With 20 fall camp practices in front of them, both signal callers will have opportunities to accomplish that.

For now, however, the / remains between the junior and sophomore quarterbacks.

As with their first article, 247 continues to be extra bold and predict the QB depth chart to have a slash.

That’s just boring. I personally prefer a 300 comment argument on my article all rehashing the same thing over and over. It really bumps up the reader engagement.

Alabama remains the team to beat in the SEC

1. Alabama

The most prolific dynasty in college football’s modern era reloads for another title run. There’s likely a new quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, along with the annual remaking of a depth chart dinged by NFL departures. That’s nothing new. The Tide are the best team in the SEC and, depending on how you feel about Clemson, no worse than No. 2 in the entire FBS.

You know, everyone sure is really high on a team that Alabama just finished blowing out on a national stage, despite the fact that the Tide was limping on a broken and ineffective offense. I’m not sure I buy into all this Clemson hype. Their defensive line is pretty scary, yeah, but nothing else about them screams “#1 team in the nation.”

Why this Alabama football QB battle has more at stake

Almost every time a new starter won the job, he wasn’t required to make the difference. Wins came elsewhere.

Keep in mind three of the five seasons with new starters ended in national titles. Another saw the Tide earn the No. 1 seed in the playoff and the other it lost in the championship game.

By any measure, the last five first-year starters had successful seasons. They also stepped into favorable situations.

The three championship seasons had a defense ranked no worse than No. 3 nationally. Two of the three had Heisman Trophy running backs in Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015). Trent Richardson was a finalist in 2011 when AJ McCarron beat Phillip Sims in a championship season.

Only once in those five seasons with new starting quarterbacks did Alabama rank better than 62nd in passing offense. The exception was 2014 when Amari Cooper broke all the receiving records in Blake Sims’ season for a No. 29 passing offense ranking.

We note all of that because, again, this season is different.

TRIGGER WARNING

This article is doing some more stirring the pot about the QB situation. As am I. The years that Jake Coker and Jalen Hurts won their respective battles, the Tide sported an other-worldly defense and a Heisman running back. This year, the defense is a total unknown, while the offense is a collection of extremely talented skill players that need someone to distribute the ball.

The winner of this QB battle will be absolutely instrumental in just how far this Tide team goes in 2018.

Alabama Football: Patrick Surtain Island closed to opponents this season

The challenge for Surtain is how quickly can he learn and process Alabama football head coach Nick Saban’s complicated defensive scheme. Tasked with getting the youngster up to par with the grizzled veterans is new defensive backs coach Karl Scott. Player comparisons range from prior LSU All American and first-team All-Pro Patrick Peterson to Jacksonville Jaguars lockdown corner Jalen Ramsey. Expectations loom large for this young player but coupled with his father’s wisdom and Saban’s player development, expect gargantuan results from the true freshman.

With every single starter from last season’s secondary leaving the team, there is no better time for some freshmen to jump into the action and become a three year starter and 1st round draft pick from day 1. Surtain, Jr. has the prototypical size and speed to go along with the right bloodlines, but all of that means nothing if he doesn’t show the consistency and study discipline needed to become a Tide cornerback.

Nick Saban Has Six New Assistants — and Will Probably Still Win

Saban hears complaints about his large ancillary staff — his “analysts” — but he employs so many, he said, to cultivate a pool of candidates to choose from when he has an opening. Mike Groh, the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, was one of those analysts who became a full-time Alabama assistant coach.

“I’d rather hire somebody that I know as a person in terms of who they are, kind of character they have, kind of leadership they demonstrate, the kind of teacher they can be, rather than having to go on somebody else’s recommendation,” Saban said, at media day for the Southeastern Conference last week.

To vet new hires McElwain said, Saban finds coaches who already have relationships in certain areas of the country, which is important in recruiting.

This is a New York Times piece, so be mindful that it will count towards your 5 free articles/month if you click it.

It’s a solid look at the way Nick Saban runs his program from the top down and how hands-on he is. The very fact that the Tide never seems to take a step back after staff turnover is a testament to just how admirable a job the CEO does at replacing his departures while keeping a company culture intact.

Oh, and if he ever needs a nutrition analyst, perhaps Coach Khaki will be the man for the job.

Harbaugh pulled [former QB Wilton] Speight aside and told him not to eat chicken, a protein that is considered fairly safe by nutritionists. When Speight asked why, Harbaugh said, “because it’s a nervous bird.”

“He thinks some type of sickness injected its way into the human population when people began eating white meats instead of beef and pork,” Speight says. “And he believes it, 100 percent.”

That’s almost as weird as a middle aged man having sleepovers with teenage boys.

That should do you for today.

Roll Tide!