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Jumbo Package: Two days away. Will Tua play?

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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

Happy Thursday, everyone. Only two more days until the spectacle that is the biggest, most hyped, regular season college football game of the year between Alabama and LSU. If you don’t yet have your tickets, there are plenty available on StubHub starting at about $275 as of this writing.

Would you like to see some footage (anklage?) of Tua at practice? Of course you would.

Needless to say, he has that thing heavily taped to the point of being immobilized, and I have it on good authority that he’s keeping off of it at school by rolling one of those little carts. That’s all to ensure that he doesn’t reaggravate it though, and there is little reason to believe that he won’t be out there on Saturday. Jeff Allen continues to be a wizard and perhaps the most important staffer we have.

Herbie is hearing the same things we are.

Let it be written. Saban’s guidelines are pretty clear, though.

Meanwhile, Grant Delpit still hasn’t been seen at practice. So, you have one coach allowing his player to be filmed practicing while maintaining that he is a gametime decision, while the other coach insists that a player who either isn’t practicing or is being hidden during the media portions will be “totally healthy” for the game.

Whether the latter is a matter of hope or gamesmanship remains to be seen.

Dan Wetzel thinks that this is a must-win for Alabama’s playoff chances.

Committee chairperson Rob Mullens noted that Alabama was highly regarded not because of who the Tide beat — a Texas A&M team that was ranked 24th at kickoff is ostensibly its best win — but in spite of it, namely that it’s looked good against a blah schedule.

“Alabama is No. 3 because committee members are impressed with its overall performance and quality of play on both sides of the ball,” said Mullens, who is Oregon’s athletic director.

For ‘Bama this is about the eye test, not a strong résumé full of quality wins. And that means a loss, which is almost by definition ugly to the eye, becomes even more problematic.

I mean, I’m picking up what Dan is putting down about the schedule, but it really isn’t all about “eye test.” Alabama is #2 in the country in both SP+ and ESPN FPI, and as far as I know none of those computers even have eyeballs. In fact, if anyone is getting the benefit of the eye test it’s Penn State, who is currently seeded #4 despite coming in at #7 and #5 in those respective metrics,

Of course, it doesn’t really matter in the end since it will sort itself out.

Dennis Dodd notes just how much this game means to LSU, playoffs be damned.

“I’m not going to say he’s the single most important recruit in LSU history. but he’s one of the top five for sure,” Orgeron said of Burrow. “Joe is the reason we’ve been having the success we’ve been having on offense.”

That offense is considered the key to beating Alabama, which was ahead of the curve in installing the spread. Now the best coach at this point of 2019 might also have the best team. We’ll find out Saturday and beyond.

”It goes to show you the direction of the SEC,” Orgeron said. “The spread, all the top players in the country have interest in playing in the SEC. We basically can go anywhere in the country for the top receivers. We’ve just been fortunate we have top receivers here in the state of Louisiana.”

Joe Burrow, a transfer, is the most important recruit in LSU history, eh? What is it about the SEC West opponents needing transfer QBs to compete with Alabama? Anyhow, as our friends over at ATVS note, the Alabama game has become an unhealthy obsession for much of that fanbase. From Billy Gomila:

It’s become the ultimate bellwether, for everything in a way that is frustrating and stupid. It only exists for LSU and the insanity of the fanbase has even effected how national media view it. Everything is “yeah, but what about Alabama” and it isn’t that way for anyone else. Nobody else remembers that the 2014 Ole Miss team lost two out of their last three SEC games and received one of the all-time bowl game ass-kickings by TCU, they remember that they beat Bama. In 2017, Auburn lost four games -- blew a 20-point lead versus LSU and got humiliated by UCF in their bowl game -- but what what do people remember? They beat Bama. This LSU team will more than likely win out, but if they lose to Alabama, and that’s literally their only loss, that will somehow become the dominant narrative. Earlier this summer, some of our own readers were talking about being satisfied if only they game is competitive. And I have a feeling that won’t hold up.

The LSU fans always come into this game with plenty of bravado, but I think this is the first time in a few years that they truly believe that they are going to win.

Pro Football Focus put out a unit by unit comparison, and it’s fairly solid. They lose me here, though.


Adrian Magee, Lloyd Cushenberry, Damien Lewis vs Evan Neal, Landon Dickerson, Deonte Brown

Magee made waves earlier this season with a double-pancake block for the ages as he put his defenders on their backside quicker than we’ve seen all season long. Cushenberry and Lewis have each allowed three sacks this year but have limited those to just two in SEC play, as they seem to certainly play up to their competition. Brown, Dickerson and Neal have played just four games together this season and have surrendered just 15 total pressures among the trio. They have the edge in pass protection but have seen woes in the run game outside of Brown.

The Verdict: Magee, Cushenberry, Lewis. The good of the LSU trio on the inside is too good to look over as they seem to play at elite levels against elite competition.

Yeah, I’ve watched plenty of both, and there is absolutely no way I’d take that group over Alabama’s trio. I mean, it says right there that the center and guard have allowed three sacks apiece in eight games. If you’re allowing that much inside pressure, there are problems.

Last, besides the whole story about Bill Clinton and the couch, Saban had some interesting things to say on the weekly teleconference.

— On the LSU game: “Well, I think that this is obviously a big challenge for our team, playing what probably, arguably is the best team in the nation right now, the way they’re playing on offense, defense and special teams. We’re just trying to get our guys to focus on doing the things they need to do to execute and give themselves the best chance to be successful.”

You know he just loves that line about LSU being the best team right now. His players have been hearing that for two weeks, I guarantee.

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

Roll Tide.