Happy Thursday, everyone. With camp in full swing, coaches are talking to the media. Some probably shouldn’t talk as much as they do.
“Listen, the SEC is a great conference, but I don’t think they’ve been as deep the last few years. I think they’ve had two or three really good teams and then it’s kind of been hit or miss from there. It’s an awesome league, for sure, and I know people say that Alabama was tired because they went through the grind and had to play all these teams,” Swinney told ESPN, discussing a narrative he has heard mostly in media circles. “Well, they won by an average of 33.1 points per game [going into the playoff], so they ought to be well-rested.
”My thing on that is, ‘Are you serious? They’re tired?’ Then you look at Clemson, and we won 12 games by 20-plus. Who really challenged Alabama in the SEC? They didn’t get challenged by anybody until the Georgia game [for the SEC championship].”
Honestly, there is such a gulf between the ACC and SEC that it really doesn’t dignify a response. Use any statistical measure you want: S&P+, NFL draft picks, recruiting rankings, etc. The talent level faced week in and week out is just flat out better and more physical in the SEC, and Dabo knows it. In other Swinney news, he elected not to give Kelly Bryant a championship ring despite Bryant actually starting games during the championship season. Of course, that’s none of our business, but there is a very good chance that it comes up in some living room conversations moving forward.
Moving on to practice, if this doesn’t prove that Saban is locked in, nothing will.
Check out Nick Saban scold an unnamed staffer for a couple of off-target throws during a DB jump-ball drill at Wednesday’s preseason practice. Keep in mind, before his hip surgery, Saban — a successful HS QB from WVa back in the day — was the one throwing to the DBs. pic.twitter.com/zTmVOzAM7G— Alex Byington (@_AlexByington) August 7, 2019
Put some air under it, kid. Also, check out this little diatribe from his presser:
“One of the things we’re trying to establish that we talked about before is, to me, everything starts with discipline. I don’t care if it’s how you do flex, I don’t care if it’s how you run across the field, how you do karaoke, how you do high-knee, how you do up-downs, if you don’t respect that enough to do it right when you know that’s the right way to do it, how are you going to be trusted in the game to do what you’re supposed to do? Because I think discipline is a mindset that’s part of who you are.
”It’s how you live your life. It’s what you do everything you do, whether it’s how you focus in a meeting, how you get ready to practice and how you sustain practice and make the right choices and decisions. It goes back to, what are you willing to accept? It’s not what you say, it’s not even what you do sometimes. It’s what you’re willing to accept from yourself and what you’re willing to accept from your teammates.
”It’s great to have high expectations. We’ve always had a relentless pursuit of excellence around here in terms of what we try to accomplish and what we try to do. But if you don’t do things right all the time at a high standard, you watch someone else celebrate. That’s something that our players have to make a commitment to in terms of what they want to do, what they want to accomplish and what kind of team they want to be.”
Now, don’t you all feel terrible about yourselves? The head man seems bound and determined to keep this group focused through the ups, downs, and rat poison. Never waste a failure, right?
There isn’t too much in terms of interesting practice notes. Miller Forristall was back, which was nice to see. A couple of other nuggets:
-- Cornerback Josh Jobe was back in a full-contact crimson jersey after wearing a black top (reserved for non-contact players) Tuesday.
-- After working outdoors in the first four practices, the first in full pads was inside. It was sunny and 93 degrees (with a feels-like temp of 102) when practice was underway.
-- The basics were being drilled with the quarterbacks and running backs. They were drilling full-speed handoffs to get the timing down because it’s like missing a layup in a game when handoffs aren’t executed.
Whatever was ailing Jobe on Tuesday clearly wasn’t serious, which is good to see. This defense has a chance to be special, and the leaders are all saying the right things.
Jennings, a senior, is the leader of a linebacking corps eager to re-establish Alabama’s defensive dominance and right the wrongs of a disappointing finish.
“The way we finished last year was a humbling experience,” Jennings said. “This year we are paying more attention to details and emphasizing those things more now, because we don’t want to finish like that again.
“We are all on the same page and we are ready to go.”
“Sometimes it feels weird,” Davis said. “Feels like you’re the oldest. The thing is, sometimes I feel like I’m old but to them, they think I’m young. So, I’ve got to keep myself feeling young and play young to keep myself just moving better. I don’t really like to feel old.”
The Meridian, Mississippi product will have a higher burden in the race to the quarterback without Williams shredding blockers in the middle this fall.
Goals are simple in that sense.
“Just getting to my old self,” Davis said Tuesday, “to that sophomore Rae, to that sophomore pass-rushing Rae. That’s about it.”
Having two seniors along the front is always good, especially since the rest of the DL rotation is going to be very young. The talent level in the three-deep is absurd though, and hopefully Jennings and Davis can be the strong voices to get those guys to reach their potential.
Saban is digging the competition on the offensive side, too.
The friendly competitive nature of the wide receivers hasn’t gone unnoticed, even by Alabama coach Nick Saban.
”Average players, they would like to just be left alone,” Saban said. “Good players really want to be coached and great players want to be told the truth, and these guys are always seeking the truth in terms of what they can do — character, attitude, competitor, technical execution at their position — to get better.
“I have a lot of respect what those guys have done here and how much I think they can improve in the future and be even more productive.”
If they can stay healthy, this group can be one of the most prolific as a group in college football history with Tua at the helm.
Last, the power brokers of college football aren’t fully embracing the whole Vegas thing. Yet.
NCAA Board of Governors says there will not be standardized injury reports in college football this fall. The board concluded player availability "would not advance student-athlete well-being nor the integrity of competition"— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 7, 2019
It was assumed that the legalization of sports betting would lead to standardized injury reports, but that would probably look a little too much like professional sports. Anything to preserve the amateurism sham, am I right?
That’s about it for today. Have a great workday.