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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

That’s right, Alabama may start 5 freshmen in the front 7 of their defense

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NCAA Football: Alabama at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

“Let’s just say he did fall out of the top-five or top-10,” a longtime NFL evaluator said. “I think there would be a pretty big scramble to take him, even if you had to redshirt him next year. Maybe it’s a team like the Chargers or the Saints — since by that time they’ll know whether Teddy Bridgewater’s there or not there. Or, heck, maybe even New England. But my thought is that he would still easily be a first-round pick. May not go top two or three just because there’s uncertainty there and some reservations with all the injuries. But, like Miami and ‘Tanking for Tua,’ they’ve won a couple games and are going to be picking third or fourth probably. Would he get past a team like that? I don’t know.”

Since it’s Gump Day and we’ve already talked about Tua Tagovailoa’s devastating injury to death, this is the only piece I’ll link to that’s about him.... And it’s still a fairly positive spin. His draft process is now going to be one of the most polarizing in years. In any case, most expect he’ll still be a first round pick. Those picks bust half the time anyway, so that kind of talent, even if injured, is going to be too great for some team to ignore. And, hey, this way he might get to go to a solid team to prepare to take over for an aging QB (Phillip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady??) in a year or so, rather than getting sacked 50 times behind the Cincinnati offensive line.

The real questions began at No. 5. Would Alabama hold its position within striking distance of the field despite the loss of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the season? Would Oregon pass the Crimson Tide and move into position to be selected if it can win the Pac-12 title? How would the committee value the comeback win by Oklahoma at unbeaten Baylor? The Sooners were 10th last week and needed a boost from that win to work themselves into contention.

The committee ultimately put Alabama in fifth followed by Oregon, Utah, Penn State, Oklahoma and Minnesota.

We talked about the ranking release plenty last night, but here’s your cursory mention of it today. The top 4 were about as undramatic as you’ll find, but there were plenty of questions of if the committee might drop Alabama due to the loss of a certain QB. Well, it didn’t happen yet, and won’t until we see what the Tide does against Auburn in the final week of the season.

At least they didn’t shoot Oklahoma up to 5th.

-- Tevita Musika and Byron Young were working in the first group followed by Christian Barmore and Justin Eboigbe. Nick Saban said the defensive line would be especially thin on Saturday.

-- Ben Davis was working third in the outside linebacker group behind Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis. The former top-10 recruit is coming off his first career sack against Mississippi State and safety Jared Mayden loved it. “Me and Ben go way back,” Mayden said earlier Tuesday. “I kind of met him my senior year in recruiting. So, for him to get on the field and make the sack like that, that was kind of ... I was on the field so that was a big sack. You could hear the pads pop from the collision. And once I’d seen who it was, I was excited for him. You know, waiting your turn and you finally go out there and make a play. That’s one of the best feelings in the world.”

I never, ever would have thought that Tevita Musika would be a starting defensive lineman. But here we are. There’s a good chance we see Byron Young, Justin Eboigbe, Christian Barmore, Christian Harris, and Shane Lee all on the field at the same time quite often this week. That’s an entire center of the defense manned solely by freshmen. And hey, we might actually even see Ishmael Sopsher this week.

It’s also a bit of a revelation that Ben Davis has leaped past Chris Allen as the 3rd outside linebacker behind the two stalwarts in Jennings and Lewis.

“Shane probably played one of his best games of the year, made a lot of plays and did a good job, a better job of tackling,” Saban said. “We still have the occasional mental error by some of the younger guys that shows up, but I thought this was his best performance, most consistent game and I see him sort of starting to develop confidence in what we’re asking him to do and how he’s going about doing it on a consistent basis.”

Lee posted a team- and career-high 10 tackles, the interception and a quarterback hurry while helping the Tide limit Mississippi State to seven points and Bulldogs standout running back Kylin Hill to an average of just 2.2 yards per carry.

“He’s a really good player even though he’s young,” defensive back Shyheim Carter said of Lee. “He’s still got a lot to learn and improve on, but he’s a really good player. He’s a starting linebacker as a freshman and that speaks highly of him. I feel he can get the job done, whether tackling or making the right call or anything.”

Speaking of Shane Lee, Coach Saban seems very pleased with Lee’s bounce back performance after giving up the early big pass to Kylin Hill last week. I’ve noted often that I’ve seen a lot of improvement from his fellow running mate Christian Harris, so it’s good that Lee is starting to settle into being a starting collegiate linebacker. Now if they can keep it up for the upcoming Auburn game...

Finally, Alabama’s basketball team beat Furman last night. While that name doesn’t exactly inspire fear, they are a solid basketball team that many expected Alabama would lose to. They very nearly cut Alabama’s lead in the waning seconds of the game by extending with a million fouls and betting on Alabama missing free throws, but the Tide managed to stay on top and put them away.

Rolll Tide!