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Jumbo Package: Tua to be a gametime decision, Joey Gatewood quits at Auburn

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Arkansas v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Happy Halloween everyone, and the happiest of 68th birthdays to Coach Nick Saban. I will embed his full press conference at the bottom, but he opened with The Ankle.

“Tua took some snaps today in practice and did a few things on air, was not involved in any team situations,” Saban said of the junior.

He added: “I can tell you that his mentality has been really good, in terms of how he’s working the things that he’s doing and how he’s progressing and his attitude toward trying to get back on the field and trying to progress, so that’s always a good sign.”

I could be totally off base here, but I’m guessing that Saban is doing some combination of toying with LSU and talking to his team to prepare them for the worst case scenario. I will be shocked if that kid doesn’t play.

It’s an interesting contrast with Ed Orgeron, who seems to be trying to will Grant Delpit onto the field.

We don’t know the true severity of either ankle injury, but Delpit’s came a week after Tua’s and, most importantly, an 85% ankle on Tua’s front foot would cause far fewer issues for him than it would for a safety who is tasked with covering this fleet of WRs. This LSU squad already has a couple of exploitable players in the dime package. A less than 100% Delpit would make things very difficult for them.

Alabama’s defense is feeling good about its improvement, with the understanding that there is still work to be done.

“Things are picking up a lot, but we still got things to work on, we still got stuff to prove,” senior defensive lineman Raekwon Davis said. “It’s the little things. It’s not just pass rushing and making the tackle. It’s communication, that’s where it all starts and we got to get better at reading formations quicker.

“We can use it (the open week), but we got to work on the little things, tackling better. The stuff we’re struggling with.”

Needless to say, both defenses are going to be facing their most difficult challenges to date.

Saban was pleased with Joe Bulovas.

“Joe probably kicked as well in his last game, when you look at the whole body of work,” Saban said Wednesday. “Hit the ball well, got it up quickly on extra points, field goals, kicked off with good direction. Did what we asked him to do in that regard.

”We’re encouraged with he is doing well and hopefully his confidence will continue to improve and that will help him with his consistency as a kicker.”

It’s about time for Joe to show the leg that worked like clockwork in high school. He’s always had the ability.

Last, Gus Malzahn’s reputation as a QB killer continues. In case you missed it, there was this moment in the LSU-Auburn game, where a package designed for backup Joey Gatewood was sent into the game... without Joey Gatewood.

I’m sure this had nothing to do with Gatewood quitting the team yesterday.

It came down to Gatewood, a player he had once compared to Cam Newton, and Nix, the son of an Auburn legend who only committed to the Tigers after Malzahn received a lucrative contract extension. There was a feeling around the program that Malzahn always preferred Nix over Gatewood even if the conventional wisdom suggested to start Gatewood. When Malzahn announced the true freshman as the starter on Aug. 20, it became only a matter of time before Gatewood left the program. When Malzahn wouldn’t budge from starting Nix after a poor outing against LSU, it signaled to Gatewood it was time to go after it became clear he wasn’t going to be Auburn’s starter unless Nix got injured.

Many thought that Gatewood looked to be a better fit, and more ready to take the reins, than Nix from the beginning of the season. Gus had better hope that Nix improves, or Bo will be left without the coach that caused him to commit to his father’s alma mater in the first place.

If only Earl had given this sage advice to Gus before the season.

“Until the University of Texas realizes you have to have a black quarterback, and nothing against Ehlinger, you got to have a talented, black quarterback,” Campbell told Kirk Bohls of The Statesman. “All these schools that are winning, even in the pros, have black quarterbacks. When guys are not open, something can still happen.”

Thank you, Coach Saban, for going to Hawaii and getting us a black QB. Just another reason that you’re the GOAT.

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

Roll Tide.