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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Alabama leads the way in Pro Bowl selections

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

With recruiting taking up the majority of our coverage today, I’ll keep this one short for those of you that want to talk about things other than recruiting and players not playing in bowl games.

“He told us those guys took the right approach to get ready for the game,” Alabama senior safety Jared Mayden said. “He told us if we want to go out and have a lasting memory of what our team could do and what this season could finish up and be like, the mindset that team has is the same mindset we need to bring toward facing Michigan.”

Saban pointed to two other bowl games in his Alabama tenure as an example. While noting energy was solid in Monday’s first practice of bowl season, he referenced the Sugar Bowls following the 2008 and 2013 seasons.

“I can only tell you that the last two times that we’ve been in this situation, whether it was to play Utah or to play Oklahoma, the other team sure had more to prove in the game than we did, and the results certainly showed it,” Saban said, not mentioning that Capital One Bowl win over Michigan State. “So, we need to learn something from those experiences.”

Since it’s Gump Day, I’ll go all out here. At first I was going to point out that the time Alabama got stuck in a non-championship bowl and dominated Michigan State, they went on a two-season tear that saw back-to-back dominant championships.

But, then I remembered the other two times Alabama played in “meaningless” bowls under Saban, and lost. 2008 and 2014. You know what happened? They went on and won championships the next season.

So what I’m getting at is:

It’s good to be an Alabama fan.

For the fifth time in the last six seasons, the winner of the Alabama Media Good Guy award is a defensive player.

Senior defensive back Jared Mayden is this year’s winner and was presented with the award on Tuesday.

The Media Good Guy award is given to a player who consistently makes himself available to the media and consistently provides good, insightful answers.

Speaking of Jared Mayden, if you haven’t noticed, he’s probably given the most quotes for and the other outlets all season long. Mayden spent a long time in the background, but never quit and worked his way into a starting spot as a senior— and led the team in interceptions.

Alabama has its first All-American of the 2019 season.

Jaylen Waddle made the first team at returner on the Sporting News All-American team, one of the five official teams that count toward consensus and unanimous status.

Second-team picks include Trevon Diggs, Xavier McKinney, DeVonta Smith and Jedrick Wills.

Waddle missed the first teams from the Walter Camp and Associated Press All-American teams announced last week and Monday, respectively. He can still earn consensus status if he lands on the first team of the AFCA and FWAA All-American teams.

Congrats to Waddle for landing on this list, but how anyone else anywhere in the nation can be considered a better returner is beyond me. Apart from that, Alabama not having a single AP first-team All-American for the first time since 2010 has to sting. I won’t sit around and try to justify which Alabama players should be on there, but I do know that it just gives the team even more fuel to ignite an “us-against-the-world” attitude in 2020.

Next, the NFL released the Pro Bowl Rosters last night. Alabama, led by noted #BamaBusts at RB Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry, put 7 (one more than Ohio State) alumni into the first wave of pro-bowlers before the inevitable flood of alternates get invited.

Henry, Ingram, Julio Jones, Donta Hightower, Marlon Humphrey, Eddie Jackson, and Minkah Fitzpatrick were all at the top of their respective positions in the league this year.

And don’t be surprised to see Josh Jacobs, Landon Collins, Amari Cooper, and Kareem Jackson wind up as alternates.

Now, for those of you that like to hate on recruiting rankings: Jones, Henry, Humphrey, and Fitzpatrick were all five-star recruits. Hightower was a very high 4-star, and Jackson and Ingram were both on the line of 3 and 4 stars, depending on which recruiting service you asked.

Now think about the percentages of total five star players vs four star players in any given year, and that, despite there only being a handful of fives every year, they outnumber the 4s and 3s combined in NFL Pro Bowlers (from Alabama’s program, anyway).

Sure, five stars bust quite often. And unranked players can turn into great NFL players. But the chances are always better that a five star player is going to be a much better player.

Oats said that Bama is relatively healthy for the game in a year that started with serious injuries and has been plagued with minor injuries. He said that Herbert Jones, Reese, and Beetle Bolden were held out of Monday’s practice in order them to heal a bit.

Oats said that he hopes that Bolden will be able to provide some game rest for Lewis, who is averaging nearly 38 minutes playing time per game. The coach would like to get that down to the 32-34 minute range.

Prior to last week’s game at Penn State, Oats said an emphasis had been placed on reducing turnovers, which have been in the range of 20 in several games. The Tide had a season-low 10 at Penn State, which the coach noted “helped us stay in the game and have a chance to win.”

He also said that just because there were only 10 turnovers at Penn State “that doesn’t mean it’s fixed.”

One area that was a problem at Penn State was transition defense, and Oats said that Samford will be a test in that area because the Bulldogs do a good job in transition. Oats said Alabama has been playing with good effort in the half court defense.

He would also like to see better rebounding by the Tide.

Alabama takes on Samford tonight in Huntsville, and hopefully will give the Tide the chance to work on some issues that have been plaguing them so far. If anything, I’ve really come to enjoy the frankness from Coach Oates in what he wants his team to work on.

Roll Tide!