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Jumbo Package: Crimson Tide sees several injured players return to practice

And, friends, do we ever need them.

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

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images


On Dec. 10th at 8 central, HBO airs its exclusive inside look on these two giants:

Spanning 75 minutes, BELICHICK & SABAN: THE ART OF COACHING brings into focus a more than three-decades-long friendship between two of the most iconic and revered coaches ever, Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, as they grant unprecedented camera access to their annual coaching rendezvous where they share a multi-layered conversation about their interwoven history, admiration, coaching philosophies, and more.

Several banged up players made their way back on the field yesterday after missing time/limited action following Alabama routs of Mississippi State and Western:

A few notes from the brief media viewing period:

-- Receiver Henry Ruggs was back practicing with the receivers after sitting out Saturday with bruised ribs from the Mississippi State game.

-- On the defensive line, D.J. Dale, Raekwon Davis and Phidarian Mathis were all in full contact crimson jerseys. It looked like Davis and Mathis were doing more than Dale but this was just a small sliver of the practice.

Practice report here.

Yesterday was Nick’s opening week presser for the Arn Bow, and he was quite chatty about that banged-up defensive line:

Against the Catamounts last week, the Crimson Tide played with seven scholarship defensive linemen. Right now, it seems like it will get at least one of the four injured linemen back in time for Saturday’s Iron Bowl in Mathis, but the young players gained invaluable experience in the final home game of 2019 with Davis, Dale, Mathis and LaBryan Ray (foot) all sidelined.

“I think they did a pretty good job,” Saban said after the game. “I thought that, especially on the inside runs, for the most part, we did a pretty good job. I think any plays that they made were on boots, edges, losing contain on the quarterback -- not really something that the interior guys had a lot to do with. … I felt like we were controlling the line of scrimmage pretty well.

“Now, obviously their guys aren’t as big and as physical as what we’re going to face in the future, but I was not disappointed. And I’m sure the experience did them a lot of good.”

Complete presser transcript is here.

Demand is way down for the Iron Bowl this season, and that’s a good thing. I received this press release yesterday from TicketIQ:

With record of 8-3, and the game without any post-season implications for Auburn, prices for the Iron Bowl at Jordan Hare are down to almost half the price they were at the beginning of the 2019 season. Currently, the cheapest tickets start at $146, which makes it the second cheapest Iron Bowl at Auburn this decade, behind the 2011 game.

Low fan engagement, a coach that is more lame duck-ish than most, a dreadful offense, a gorgeous day, and an afternoon game: Given how Alabama has tended to play really dumb in Auburn, some external factors are lining up in the Tide’s favor for this one — ‘Barners may just decide they’ve got better things to do this holiday weekend.

I really liked this story on the Auburn sugar huddle , the problems it presents to defenses, and how to counter it:

No. 5 Alabama (10-1) will be rehearsing the response to sugar huddles all week ahead of the 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday return to Jordan-Hare. Most of the time, Nick Saban said, Auburn is unleashing a new look coming from the sugar huddle look -- one that requires a defensive adjustment and little time to make it.

“I think the players all have to stand in the sugar huddle in defense and definitely see how the players come out of the huddle,” Saban said. “A lot of times there will be tackle over unbalanced or some type of unusual type of formation. And then they want to quick snap the ball so you have a minimum amount of time to get ready for it. I think the only way you can prepare for it is doing it in practice so the players can anticipate to some degree what they might see and that’s what we’ll need to do this week.”

And, yes, it does explain what a sugar huddle is, if you’re unfamiliar with it.

Oh, god. Here comes this crap. Last week it was Fraud Oregon. This week it’s gonna’ be Fraud Utah:

Throw us a curveball, College Football Playoff committee. Put Utah at No. 5 ahead of Alabama.

It’ll be astonishing if Alabama isn’t at No. 5 on Tuesday when the next rankings come out. Utah, which beat Arizona handily on Saturday night, will likely be at No. 6 after Oregon’s loss to Arizona State. With Alabama easily handling business against FCS opponent Western Carolina, there’s no impetus for the committee to put Utah ahead of Alabama.

But maybe it should.

FTR: I like the Utes. I firmly believe that they are a bottom-of-the-Top 10 team; easily better than Oregon. Senior QB, stout running game, nasty defense. But they’ve beaten a total of two teams in the Top 50 all season and they have a gross loss to a 7-4 USC squad who will be coach shopping in two weeks. Beating Oregon next week won’t really do much to move that needle. They simply are not a playoff team and nothing they do against that schedule changes that. To be viable, the Utes had to run the table. They did not.
For some perspective: Texas A&M is 16th. While 4-7 South Carolina is 43rd in the SP+, Tennessee is 36th, Mississippi State is 49th — and even Ole Miss is 55th. Even the sucking squads in the SEC are better than the bowl eligible teams in the P12.


UNLV and Rutgers are shopping. Poor Rutgers, BTW, was very publicly turned down by Greg Schiano yesterday. And, a late entry into the mix: New Mexico parted ways with Bob Davie yesterday too.

Why does this matter to us? Sooner rather than later, Steve Sarkisian is going to get another chance at job...and maybe a decent gig at that. These stinker jobs out west are just the kind of opening where a guy like Jeff Banks becomes attractive. So, yes, it is time to start keeping an eye on the never-ending rotation in the Crimson Tide coaching staff.


Yesterday the Tide coaching staff named its six players of the week following Alabama’s defenestration of Western:

Christian Barmore

-- Put together his most impressive performance to date, finishing with six total tackles to rank second on the UA defense

-- Totaled one tackle for loss (-6 yards) and half a sack (-4 yards) to go with the redshirt freshman’s one quarterback hurry, part of the Tide’s five against WCU

Look, I don’t care how out of shape No. 58 is or how little he understands the base defense. Alabama is just infinitely better on that side of the ball with his high motor and raw power. Get that man some Aderall, a large Gatorade, and send him out there every snap the rest of the season.