Happy Friday, everyone. The Tide will play the first of two consecutive 11am kickoffs tomorrow, this one against the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette. It’s going to be uncomfortable out there, with forecast air temps in the 80s plus humidity in the 60s that will make it feel like triple digits on the field. Hydration will be critical. As expected with a point spread nearing 50, there aren’t may writers wasting digital ink on this game, but here are a couple previews.
“I’m treating it like it’s another game,” said senior defensive linemen LaDarrius Kidd. “It’s just the next game up but yeah I’m a little bit excited. I’m ready to play. The best in the nation you know. See what they’re about,”
“You just you know this is a high caliber team because this is the game the scouts are actually looking at,” said junior offensive linemen Kevin Dotson. “You know that they want to compare you to NFL ready people.”
Napier indeed learned a lot at Alabama — not just what to say and what not to say.
“I think probably the biggest thing is you’ve got to go earn it, you know, regardless of what’s said on the outside, what the preseason polls would say, or who you’ve got coming back,” he said when asked about his biggest takeaway from working with Saban.
“You’ve got to start over every year. You’ve got to develop that team, that identity, the leadership, the voices. You can’t assume anything. You’ve got to clearly define the expectations. And you’ve got to be consistent and hold people accountable, and you’ve got to be relentless in your approach in terms of your self-discipline and work ethic.
“I think that,” Napier added, “is what I admired about Coach, is that he wasn’t asking anyone to do what he wasn’t already doing himself.”
Billy Napier’s return to Tuscaloosa is the main storyline in this one. Anyone who bets on Alabama to cover is a fool, as you can bet that Saban will do everything in his power not to. The bench is going to be emptied in this one, particularly considering the weather conditions, and Saban will be mad when the third string allows some points to ULL’s starting offense. We’ve all seen this movie before. Hope for good health and then move on to the porcine pushover of the conference next weekend.
Rat poison is in abundance.
“They are throwing the ball down the field,” said Fisher, whose team lost 45-23. They are making tremendous strides in that game. It’s Tua (Tagovailoa) who is playing outstanding, but I think their skill set guys have done a great job. They are very explosive and very dynamic on offense.”
Fisher, who coached under Saban at LSU, also pointed out the defense is just sound.
”This is a very good Alabama football team,” he explained. “They are very physical up front. ... Linebackers are athletic. Secondary is multiple. Guys can play, they can run, they’re long, they’re athletic. They are a very, very good football team all away around.”
Clearly, the difference is Tua Tagovailoa, who Westgate has posted as a -150 betting favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. The true sophomore QB leads the country with a 230.5 passer rating and 12.9 yards per pass attempt, which is incredibly unusual for Saban. Alabama also leads the nation in offensive efficiency, which has never occurred in the Saban era.
”Obviously in years past, the blueprint was defense and [be] conservative on offense. Now, Saban is just letting the kid go,” William Hill director of trading Nick Bogdanovich told ESPN. “They can score as many points as they want. He’s that talented.”
If this team stays healthy and keeps its collective heads on straight, it can go down among the greatest in college football history. There have been challenges along the way in each of Saban’s championship seasons, but this team may well be his Secretariat. Let ‘em run, Coach.
The defense does have a few things to clean up after the Texas A&M game, but they feel that they are making progress.
“We’re getting better, we’re getting better,” senior defensive end Isaiah Buggs said. “We still have some things that we need to critique and get better on and improve as a defensive unit, but I can say it’s getting better. … Just playing hard 60 minutes and just getting more effort each play in and each play out and being coachable and doing our jobs.”
Buggs leads Alabama’s pace of taking down quarterbacks with 5.5 sacks (16 yards) and is tied for the FBS lead in sacks per game (1.38). Christian Miller ranks No. 4 in the league with 3.5 (12 yards), while Anfernee Jennings is tied for 12th in the conference at 2.5 (12 yards).
Along those lines, a couple defensive guys have big-time momentum right now regarding their NFL stock. From what I’ve heard, NFL scouts believe safety Deionte Thompson, who’s a redshirt junior, could go in the top-15 of next year’s draft if he continues playing like he’s playing. NFL personnel guys have also really liked how redshirt sophomore Quinnen Williams has played through Alabama’s first four games. If he keeps it up, he’ll be in position to potentially turn pro after the season. In his first year as a starter, the Birmingham native has 15 tackles, four stops for a loss, four quarterback hurries and a pass breakup through four games.
Great to see the guys doing well, but should both Williams and Thompson go pro along with Buggs, Davis, and Mack Wilson, next year’s defense is going to have some serious growing pains. There aren’t obvious names on the roster to fill all of those spots.
That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.