With Week 4 in the books, Bovada.lv released its updated set of odds for the favorite to win both the 2018 College Football Playoff national championship and the 2018 Heisman Trophy. In both cases, the new set of numbers have a decidedly Crimson Tide hue to them — Alabama is, at more than a scratch favorite, listed at 5/7 to win the playoff while its quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, is at 6/5 to claim the latest version of the most prestigious award in college football.
Heading into Week 4, Alabama was at 19/10 to win the title. Tagovailoa, meanwhile, was at 3/2 to win the Heisman.
Clemson (4/1), Ohio State (9/2) and Georgia (7/1) are the only teams even remotely in the same neighborhood in Bovada‘s odds. The next-closest after that trio? Notre Dame and Oklahoma, both at 22/1.
When it comes to the Heisman, a trio of quarterbacks are at least within shouting distance of Tagovailoa with two-thirds of the season left to unfold — Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins (5/1), West Virginia’s Will Grier (13/2) and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (8/1).
We’re starting off Gump Day strong this week, with Bovada showing some major love to Alabama as a team and Tua as a Heisman favorite. There’s some major rat poison that has to be giving Nick Saban some indigestion.
Most amazingly, Jalen Hurts isn’t transferring from Alabama.
That seems obvious now. A new NCAA rule that goes into effect Oct. 15 says a player can appear in up to four games and still retain that year of eligibility. On Monday, at the beginning of Week 5, a handful of players announced they were transferring. That saved them a year of eligibility.
Hurts wasn’t one of those players. A veteran of 28 career starts and an owner of a national championship ring basically sacrificed his Alabama starting job and a year of eligibility (elsewhere) to be a backup. Nick Saban said as much Friday in an ESPN report.
At the elite level, I don’t know if that has ever happened.
This has been hashed and rehashed so many times we might as well open up a Waffle House, but I thought I’d link to yet another Jalen Hurts story to point out just how awesome Hurts has been throughout all this. He’s been in an extremely uncomfortable and unenviable situation for the last 8 months. And rather than folding, he’s embraced the challenge and not only has been extremely supportive to Tagovailoa and his team, but has taken the opportunity to develop his game as a passer with QB coach Dan Enos without having to deal with the pressure of being the starting quarterback for the most football-crazed school in the nation.
Saban noted the Aggies used an extra defender in the box to limit running lanes and force throws. Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts combined to throw for 415 passing yards with four touchdowns.
Damien Harris didn’t sound overly concerned with the running game.
”I mean, we had like what 400 yards passing,” he said. “I think that that kind of played a factor in it. It was kind of a game where we needed to air the ball out and get the ball to guys on the perimeter. So, I think that’s a good part about our offense being so balanced. It’s not that we run 50 percent of the time and throw the ball 50 percent of the time. But that we can have success and be efficient in either phase of the game.”
Raise your hand if any of you would have ever thought we’d one day be talking about a Nick Saban-coached team that isn’t running as much as we want because the passing game is “too good.” Not only that, but we’re absolutely ecstatic that the opponent is loading the box against our run game, since, for the first time ever, we can truly make a defense pay for doing that.
So far this season, the Crimson Tide has had 31 penalties. That’s 12 flags more than last season’s first four games combined. Alabama never cracked double digits in a single game last year but did in this year’s season opener against Louisville with 10.
“Obviously you want to eliminate penalties,” running back Damien Harris said. “But it’s part of the game, too. You just got to flush it down the toilet and worry about the next play.”
That is, until practice rolls around the next week, because Saban sure isn’t letting the 288 yards Alabama has lost due to penalties this season just flush away.
“Players have to be more disciplined in the choices and decisions that they make,” he said, “and understand the consequences of what they do.”
We’ve been spoiled, for the most part, with relatively clean teams, penalty-wise, in the last decade. Saban’s relentless focus on attention to small details has kept Alabama free from referee influence more than many teams, which has fueled some minor grumblings of fans from other teams looking to find some way to call Alabama cheaters.
So, if you want to spin a positive out of the increased sloppiness from Alabama’s 2018 squad, use it to prove someone wrong the next time they try to bring up that argument.
The one knock most scouts will have is that Buggs, who was the No. 1 overall junior college player in the nation two years ago out of Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, is shorter-armed. Last spring, his arm length measured 30 5/8 inches and his wingspan was only 75 1/8. For comparative purposes, the standard that most teams are looking for at DT are 33-inch arms and closer to 78 or 79 inches on the wingspan. These are important numbers for scouts because having length is so critical at the next level, especially in the trenches. NFL offensive linemen that have the reach advantage and are far more skilled with their hands than most college OL are usually difficult matchups for DL that lack length.
On Saturday, the Alabama staff smartly schemed him to be on the move and he mainly got his pressures off twists and sheer effort. In order to make plays working off others, defensive linemen have to have good reactive instincts and Buggs’ good awareness was obvious throughout the game because he seemingly always sensed and located mobile A&M quarterback Kellen Mond. The other thing that stood out was his motor. At the Alabama pro-day last March, I timed Buggs at 4.86 and 4.94 in the 40-yard dash, so he has enough range to loop outside from an inside alignment and still get involved in the play, but it was his relentlessness to finish plays that led to a couple of cleanup sacks.
Buggs is light-footed and he does a good job keeping his feet so bringing him off stunts, where he can use his athleticism, is how he will be most effective the rest of the season. That said, coming to the Senior Bowl in January will give Buggs an opportunity to prove to NFL teams that he has the initial quickness and power to win 1-on-1 over guards as an interior pass rusher.
I quoted a lot from this article, but I’d still give it a click if I were you. It’s a good piece with a lot of info on Isaiah Buggs in it. Buggs was named defensive player of the week by the Senior Bowl after he racked up 3 sacks against Texas A&M. It was written by Jim Nagy, who’s one of the best college-to-NFL scouts in the business.