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Jumbo Package: Both lines taking shape, Harbaugh whines about “SEC Cheaters”

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, everyone. The JP is late today because Erik had a very serious family emergency. I’ll leave it to him to share the details if he so chooses, but he could certainly use your thoughts, prayers, good juju, etc. right about now.

We’ll get to Alabama news in a second, but check out this Jim Harbaugh note.

“Harbaugh, who has made plenty of enemies south of the Mason-Dixon line since taking over at Michigan, has poked the cages of SEC coaches repeatedly and in the book, speaks to the disparity in spending by simply telling Bacon, “(It’s) hard to beat the cheaters.”

I so hope that Alabama gets a chance to stomp a mudhole the size of the UP in that knucklehead’s team this season. Dude’s whining never ends.

Practice notes:

— Offensive line coach Kyle Flood continued to mix up the combinations within the blocking front. The first team, during one period, was Alex Leatherwood at left tackle, Evan Neal at left guard, Chris Owens at center, Landon Dickerson at right guard and Jedrick Wills Jr. at right tackle. The second unit was comprised of Tanner Bowles at left tackle, Pierce Quick at left guard, Emil Ekiyor at center, Matt Womack at right guard and Tommy Brown at right tackle.

“That means a lot because we have been working hard as a unit to develop, and under coach (Kyle) Flood everything has gone real smooth,” Wills said.

It’s been a change of pace for Wills and the rest of the offensive line working under Flood, who comes to Tuscaloosa via the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons. The Crimson Tide players have responded well to Flood’s coaching style.

“He has a lot of knowledge coming from the NFL,” Wills said. “There are some different things he’s teaching us like coverages and things to look out for that you don’t normally see beyond the offensive line.”

On the field, Alabama had a handful of players who were not in the black (non-contact jerseys) that denote injured but who were limited nonetheless in the brief early media viewing period. Prominent among that group were senior defensive end Anfernee Jennings and freshman inside linebacker Christian Harris, who had worked with the first unit in last Saturday’s scrimmage. Another freshman, Shane Lee, occupied the spot next to Dylan Moses in the viewing period.

Freshman defensive lineman Antonio Alfano was not present for the media viewing period. There has been no update on his status at this time. Alabama head coach Nick Saban is scheduled to address the media after Thursday’s practice.

For a third straight day, the Crimson Tide’s Wednesday workout — held in the Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility — included full-speed work from defensive linemen LaBryan Ray, DJ Dale and Raekwon Davis. The unofficial second unit in the media viewing period included both freshman Justin Egboigbe, who had worked in Ray’s spot while Ray was out with a foot injury, and Phidarian Mathis, who stepped into Dale’s spot while Dale was out with a knee sprain.

On the offensive line, I’m not sure that much shuffling is really going on. Chris Owens has been limited, and Landon Dickerson slid over to center while Emil Ekiyor filled in at right guard. As soon as Owens came back, he was back at center with Dickerson flanked to his right. Reading the tea leaves, Owens is the starting center and Dickerson is the backup while starting at right guard. Matt Womack has also been limited so we will see if he makes a push for Dickerson’s guard slot at some point, but all indications are that Landon has blown everyone away with his ability, work ethic, and attitude. Now he just needs to finally stay healthy.

Christian Harris is limited, but the fact that he is out there in a brace should put him on track to play. Alfano is reportedly dealing with an undisclosed family issue. Hopefully everything works out for him. His father told Tony Tsoukalas at BamaInsider that Antonio is not considering a transfer, just to put any rumors to rest. Hopefully Saban will shed a little light as expected.

At this stage, CBS Sports has Jerry Jeudy as the best player in the 2020 draft.

1. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama: He’s an elite route runner who does everything well. If you’re looking to nitpick, Jeudy doesn’t have top-end speed, though you wouldn’t know it to watch him in games. Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy timed him at 4.53 in the 40-yard dash at Alabama’s pro day. Don’t tell that to Zedrick Woods, the Ole Miss safety whose 4.3 40 time was the fastest at the 2019 NFL combine; he never had a chance against Jeudy.

I will be very surprised if a WR goes #1 overall, particularly with Tua in the same draft, but Jeudy probably won’t be waiting long.

Alabama is ranked #2 by Sam Cooper of Yahoo Sports.

Alabama is — by far — the best team in the SEC, but going undefeated is really difficult. The Tide have won five national titles during the Nick Saban era. In four of those seasons, the Tide lost a regular season game. The 2019 schedule shakes out pretty favorably, but I think they slip up somewhere, go 11-1 and still win the SEC title.

Ho, hum.

Dennis Dodd wrote a well penned, if somewhat condescending, piece about college football in the South.

It’s a pride that is celebrated by the South’s greatest wordsmiths. Former Atlanta Journal sports editor Lewis Grizzard was once syndicated in 450 newspapers. Willie Morris once wrote 452 pages on the recruitment of Marcus Dupree.

Football in the South is a currency, a way to define your social status. Football as a way to define your existence.

That status might mark you as “T-shirt alumni,” someone who never came close to college but still pulls for the local U. It might mean you pour all your disposable income into an RV that arrives on campus Thursday to tailgate for a Saturday night game.

It means whether you wear jorts, skinny jeans, a sundress or a bow tie, you fit in. As long as there is a place to hide the flask.

“It just means more,” am I right?

Last, check out this minute-long clip and focus especially on the last half of it.

Imagine you spent a #1 overall draft choice on a 5’8” -and yes, considering that Antonio Brown has been generously listed at 5’10” his whole career, Murray really is that short - quarterback, and after the second preseason game he is crying about the opponent blitzing him. Great call, Cards. Kyler will be back in Texas playing for the Midland Rock Hounds, Oakland’s AA affiliate, before his rookie deal is up.

That’s about it for today. It’s almost Friday, folks. Roll Tide.