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Jumbo Package: Feisty Saban is focused on the Hogs

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">Alabama v Texas A&amp;M Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Happy Thursday, everyone. Nick Saban held his last press conference of Arkansas week yesterday, and some reporter decided to ask him if Taulia Tagovailoa would get a chance to play in order to expedite his development.

There is nothing Saban hates worse than for reporters to assume victory. As usual, he was talking to his team during that rant. Deep down, of course he wants and probably even plans on playing Taulia along with a lot of players on homecoming.

There was probably a little talking to the current team as he reminisced about the 2009 team. As he notes, back then there was a travel allowance for bowl games that was the same for every player, and if a player found a cheap flight then he could pocket the difference. That allowance was not payable if the team provided transportation. Saban thought it would be better to take a team charter to assure that everyone arrived at the same time.

“But I said, there’s no way that I’m going to tell these guys that we’re going to take a charter. I’m gonna let them vote because they’re going to give up something (with the money) if I tell them they have to take a charter, so it’s got to be their choice. So we had a vote and they voted 125 to nothing to take a charter. So I always remember that. And Rolando McClain said, ‘Well Coach, we won’t remember what we did with that $700 three months from now, but we’ll remember what happened in this game for the rest of our life.’ So now 10 years later, they’re all being honored for what they were able to accomplish. So it’s pretty special to me.”

Great story. Hopefully we don’t have an issue this year with personal agendas as Saban suggested about last year’s squad.

The practice report is pretty light, but check out this note.

Today, we saw an interesting look: a three-man front, with Davis, Barmore and Jarez Parks, and Ben Davis completing the front as a stack linebacker in the middle. It allows UA to get creative with how it can move people, primarily Ben Davis, to different gaps and give offensive lines different looks.

That’s certainly new. Ben has always had plenty of athletic talent, perhaps putting him in a special package that asks him to simply use that to shoot a gap will give him a chance to contribute.

Listening to ornery Sal coaching up the OLBs never gets old.

As Cecil notes, there may not be a wider gulf within a college football conference than that between Alabama and Arkansas.

Arkansas’ last SEC win came on October 28, 2017 at Ole Miss. The Razorbacks are 0-4 in the league this year, fluctuating between games in which they played well enough but couldn’t get over the hump (Kentucky, Texas A&M) to a sloppy blowout by Auburn last week. There has been an ongoing quarterback battle between Ben Hicks (ex-SMU) and Nick Starkel (ex-Texas A&M), each of whom can throw well enough, of not always (especially in Starkel’s case) to their own teammates. The best offensive player is the tight end, Cheyenne O’Grady. One of the great consistencies of Arkansas football is that there is always a good tight end, if not two.

Sometimes those tight ends show off great lateraling skills against Ole Miss, too.

Alabama’s DBs drew all the hankies against Tennessee.

“We have to do better in practice,” Diggs said. “Practicing not getting pass-interference calls and just playing defense. We don’t need to hold them. Guys are good enough not to hold them. It’s just little things like that that we’re going to work on and get better.”

Of the eight penalties (for 93 yards) against Tennessee, six were on the defense. It was the first time in four SEC games, however, that the penalty total didn’t hit double figures.

That eight penalties is actually an improvement says something. Like most Saban teams, this one has plenty of talent, but it can be undone by its own mistakes.

CBS has a profile on Mac Jones today.

If you’re hoping for encouragement, look to the Alabama spring game in 2018. With Tagovailoa out due to injury, the stage was set for Jalen Hurts to take the lead in the quarterback race prior to the 2018 season. Hurts finished 19 of 37 for 195 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, while Jones showed poise moving the ball down the field to the tune of 23 of 35, 289 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Jones was more accurate than Tagovailoa in the A-Day game a year later, too, completing 19 of 23 for 271 yards, two touchdowns and an interception to Tua’s 19 of 37 for 265, one touchdown and one interception.

Here’s your shot, Mac. Make us proud.

Last, Coach Oats had the basketball players deliver some season tickets.

Great stuff. The team will host Georgia Tech for a charity scrimmage this weekend.

That’s about it for today. Have a great day.

Roll Tide.