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Jumbo Package: Tua can “do things on a football field at levels we’ve never seen”

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Being called the LeBron James of college football is a pretty good accomplishment, I’d guess.

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">Alabama v Louisville

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

For the past decade, Americans have had a simmering debate regarding the “best ever”: LeBron James or Michael Jordan. Sometimes you see a Kobe Bryant or Oscar Robinson thrown in there. But it usually revolves around those two men.

No matter where you come down on the divide, to even be in that discussion requires abilities that completely shatter the norms, change our perception of how the position or sport is played. It requires a certain clutchness and elevation of play when the game matters most. Those players do things that leave you reaching for a thesaurus, having exhausted all other superlatives.

So, when those in the know, those who have played the sport at its highest level, make a comparison to James, or throw around words like “transcendent,” perhaps we should pause to reflect upon just how good Tua Tagovailoa has been a mere 93 throws into his college career.

From ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback, Dan Orlovsky:

And y’all thought Gump Day was yesterday?!

One skill that Tua does bring that will be familiar to Tide fans, is a spin-move in the pocket, and out of pressure, that has drawn (favorable) comparisons to A&M’s Johnny Manziel.

Jeudy loves it.

”That’s just natural to Tua,” Jeudy said. “You know, Tua’s used to doing all that spinning and stuff. Yeah.”

They call it the scramble drill and it’s repped pretty much every day.

It creates extra work for the defensive backfield who, like the offensive linemen, have to stay locked in longer than usual.

”It’s very difficult,” said Alabama defensive back Shyheim Carter. “We definitely have in a game and at practice, we have multiple guys that can do it, you know, run around and make plays with their feet. So, you’re kind of a little shaky about that. Then you know they can throw it, too.”

As Jonah Williams explains above, it’s harder work for the offensive linemen, but the receivers love it. And it’s lethal.

I’m just glad that Alabama is finally the beneficiary of these improbable plays.

Here is your practice report from Travis Reier. And here is Casagrande’s. Wednesday’s viewing session was limited, but focused on the linebackers.

Mack Wilson again had a light day, but I really like the second team MLBs. Markhail Benton is going to erupt next year, and Ale Kaho is progressing really well up the depth chart:

Freshman middle linebacker Ale Kaho was shadowing Markail Benton with the second-team defense running through some plays.

I think anyone with a finger on the pulse of this program guessed that Nick Saban likely received an epic ass-chewing from Miss Terry following his peevish reaction to Maria Taylor’s question on Saturday night.

Let’s call this one confirmed, shall we? LOL

“Miss Terry always tries to be supportive, but she makes no bones about correcting me if she thinks I need to be corrected. And I think we’ll just leave it at that.”

Do not underestimate the power that Miss Terry wields. From stadium enhancements and crowd cheers to marketing the program (and the Sabans,) she is as powerful a shadow ruler as Tuscaloosa has seen. And she does it all with a smile, polite gentility, and a plate of cookies. But she definitely will exercise that power when needs must.

Also, from Nick Saban’s presser yesterday, he praised special teams stud Keaton Anderson, talked about correcting the mental errors in Mack Wilson’s game, the offensive and defensive line play, and previewed the challenges that Arkansas state provides.

Saban also addressed the always-thorny issue (at Alabama, at least) of kickers.

For now, it appears the up-and-down kicking game will be in a wait-and-see evaluation period:

Austin Jones will again handle field goals with Joseph Bulovas again handling kickoffs. “We are planning to do things in this game like we did the last game and continue to evaluate the situation.”

Like most of the Tide’s performance on Saturday, there were some disappointments and some things to really like with the special teams play. I’m not going to overreact after one game, with so many new starters stepping onto the biggest stage in their first appearance. And, it doesn’t sound like the staff is either.

Man, this is weird. ESPN CFB analyst Mark Jones has been so dreadfully critical of the Washington Huskies the past few seasons, that ESPN is pulling the plug on him: he will no longer be permitted to call U Dub games. What’s especially strange is that Jones has no ties to the West Coast or a P12 rival — he’s from Canada and went to school in his hometown of Toronto. So, the antipathy is doubly weird.

Now, if only we could get a Herbstreit-Buckeye restraining order.

Alabama women’s golf, returning nearly the entire squad from last year’s national championship runners-up, has been tabbed Golf Week’s preseason No. 1, and the WGCA preseason rankings places the Tide No. 2 in its early rankings.

Led by Kristen Gillman, the USA Women’s amateur team clinched the World Championship over the weekend. And there’s no reason this team can’t make a deep title run in 2018-2019.

#GolfSchool

You feel bad for the kid, you really do. The oft-injured Brandon Kennedy transferred to Tennessee to earn a shot along the Vols’ offensive line. Then, his season came to an abrupt end in practice on Wednesday”

Tennessee starting center Brandon Kennedy suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Tuesday in practice and will miss the remainder of the season, coach Jeremy Pruitt told reporters following Wednesday’s practice.

Pruitt said Kennedy was standing on his feet when the injury occurred and “nobody rolled up into him.”

Not great news for an interior offensive line that struggled at times dealing with some of the more creative blitzes from WVU’s 3-3-5.

Competitively, for Alabama his absence is a good thing, of course (though you don’t want it to end like that for him.) Kennedy was already going to struggle against Quinnen Williams — his backup will get plenty of time starring in Williams draft evaluation highlight tape.

Heal up. We’ll see you next year for the 13th loss in a row.

This could greatly complicate NCAA enforcement of its worst offenders going forward: a trial judge in California has ruled that the issuance of a show-cause penalty against Todd McNair unlawfully restricted his ability to engage in a lawful profession. The ruling is pursuant to California law to be sure, but The Golden State is hardly the only jurisdiction where disciplinary actions and non-competes constitute a restraint of trade. It’s worth keeping an eye on, at least.

There is a lot of speculation about Nick Saban’s plans for Jalen Hurts going forward. Though Tua has been tabbed the starter, Hurts still brings a lot of potential and athleticism to the offense. Now, whether that’s a quarterback remains to be seen.

In either case, don’t expect CNS to tip his hand.

On Wednesday, Saban was asked how he would describe Jalen Hurts’ role on the team moving forward and if he can envision creating packages to keep him involved.

“Look, what we do with Jalen Hurts internally is going to be decided internally,” he said. “If I was going to tell you, I’d just call the other coach and tell him what we were going to do. Is that fair?

Two of the main contenders in the SEC East are Saban disciples. Throw in Pruitt at Tennessee, and the East is slowly being rebuilt in his image...and that is for the good. After a decade mired in mediocrity, the East is looking to rebound under variations of The Process:

There’s a real possibility that this Saturday’s SEC on CBS Game of the Week between No. 3 Georgia and No. 24 South Carolina will decide the SEC East. And yet, it’s a game that’s going to have a heavy SEC West flavor. Perhaps that’s a coincidence. More likely, it’s the formative characteristic that has both of these teams in a decided “up” cycle.

Saban has also transformed the academic standards among the program. From the APR-killing days of Mike Shula, to one of the conference standard-bearers in graduation and GPA, the Crimson Tide is more than a behemoth on the gridiron:

The National Football Foundation released its list of 1,161 student-athletes on 2018 NCAA and NAIA football rosters today and the Alabama Crimson Tide once again ranks among the national leaders in active players who have already received their degrees.

Alabama’s 12 graduates ties for eighth among all college football programs in the NCAA and NAIA for the 2018 season. It also ties for eighth in the Football Bowl Subdivision and shares No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference with Auburn.

(Except our players didn’t get degrees in Sociology, amirite?)

Jarez Parks had been missing from practice the last several days. As is customary with the program, no word was released on what was responsible for his absence. It turns out Parks had a death in the family: he did not take a runner, transfer quit, go AWOL, etc. He has returned to the team and will resume practicing.

Finally

Shout out Huntsville’s newest AA baseball franchise — alongside its new nickname and mascot: The Rocket City Trash Pandas.

Hell. Yeah.

I’m going to one of you in North Alabama to hook me up with some merch from that club ASAP. I honestly don’t know if there’s a better name in sports than this. Minor league ball is known for its promotional creativity and sense of humor, but this is the piece de resistance.