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Jumbo Package: Alfano returns, but is Tua overrated? What if Colt McCoy hadn’t been hurt?

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. Tomorrow kicks off the college football season, and the Tide are only a week away. Congratulations, you have made it.

The Tide have now started game preparation, so practice notes are going to be next to nothing. Here is what we have:

-- Defensive lineman Antonio Alfano was back on the practice field after missing the previous three workouts this week.

-- Spotted with the running backs was Jerome Ford, the redshirt freshman who went down with what Nick Saban called a sprained ankle in Saturday’s scrimmage.

— Saban said it’s uncertain whether running back Jerome Ford (ankle sprain), who was back at practice Thursday, will be available for the first game.

— Saban said Alabama is “fortunate” it has players who can handle multiple positions in the secondary. He noted Shyheim Carter can play Star, Money and safety. Experience has helped with that, Saban noted.

— Saban said defensive tackle DJ Dale (knee) is getting back to “pretty normal.”

Great to see Alfano back at practice and Harris making progress. This is the week that Saban typically decides who is going to be on the depth chart, and who will be relegated to the scout team/developmental squad until bowl season unless injury forces a move up. I am basing this on absolutely nothing other than my own speculation, but it may very well be that Alfano was placed on the latter and didn’t react well initially, which happens almost every year to someone about this time. The current recruiting environment really makes it difficult for these young men to maintain perspective sometimes.

It appears that Carter is not starting at safety in the base defense, which is something of a surprise. In fact, he seems to be the sixth defensive back at this point since Josh Jobe has been playing outside in nickel and moving Patrick Surtain II to star. It’s hard to believe that he won’t see considerable playing time in some role, though. Something to keep an eye on.

Saban’s full remarks for you:

Greg McElroy and Marcus Spears were talking pro prospects, and Spears thinks Tua Tagovailoa is the most overrated. In case the video doesn’t start at the right point, move to about 5:15.

Hear that, Tua and team? There is plenty to prove this season.

Speaking of Greg, he and Emmanuel Acho had a little fun jabbing one another about the now decade-old 2009 national title game.

“PB, if Colt was healthy, it was game over. Donezo,” Acho said. “It wasn’t even a game, OK? But don’t get me started PB. Don’t make me relive this terror. But just know, if that man No. 12 would have stayed healthy, it’s a different ball game. But kudos to you, Mac, kudos.”

McElroy was quick to fire back with a quip.

“It’s funny,” McElroy said. “It’s funny because I’ve looked at my ring a couple times and I haven’t seen an asterisk on there that says, ‘If Colt would have played, this wouldn’t exist.’”

I somehow hadn’t remembered this, but Mack Brown apparently said at the time that “it wouldn’t have been close?” Poor Ol’ Butter Tooth. Maybe he will find the fountain of youth in Chapel Hill.

The line on the opener is absurd for a kickoff classic game between two Power Five teams.

Another one of the 2019 Week 1 college football predictions from the model: No. 2 Alabama (-34.5) covers against Duke. The Tide should be on a mission after getting embarrassed in last year’s national title game. On the opposite sideline, the Blue Devils will be adjusting to life without start quarterback Daniel Jones, who was picked No. 6 overall by the New York Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft.

SportsLine’s model projects almost 400 yards of passing for Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as he launches another Heisman campaign, while running back Najee Harris goes off for close to 150 on the ground.

Yeah, 34.5 seems pretty low with this offense and a brand new QB against the Tide’s experienced secondary. Hard to believe that Alabama doesn’t get some turnovers that turn it into a laugher early.

Saban stirred up a bit of controversy inviting Mike Tyson to speak to the team, and next up is Ray Rice.

Alabama has previously had speakers who were victims of domestic violence.

Rice played at Rutgers when current Alabama offensive line coach Kyle Flood was an offensive assistant.

“I think a lot of the players can relate to (Rice’s) circumstance,” Saban said. “And it will be interesting to hear a guy that has had issues that now has turned a corner and has really done everything he can to help other people not have the same problem that he has. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him doing that and we’re certainly glad to have him here.”

Whew, I guess I can see where there could be some benefit to letting him tell his story, particularly since Ray and the young woman in the video seem to be happily married now, but that was one ugly scene. Hopefully Rice really has grown and will help other young men follow suit. Trust Saban, I reckon.

Last, this play would probably be targeting in college, but Minkah Fitzpatrick lit up some poor fool.


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

Roll Tide.