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Jumbo Package: Playing time is still up for grabs on the offensive line and secondary

Too many good players; too few starting jobs. #AlabamaProblems

Alabama Spring Game

Meet my large adult son, Chris Owens.

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Rodney Orr from Tider Insider has his breakdown of the 62-10 ‘Bama thumping over the New Mexico State Aggies.

It is safe to say, after two games, we still have no idea what kind of team Alabama is this year. It looks the part in ways. Freshmen have stepped up in other ways. There are things to clean up with the offense, and with defensive consistency, but I still couldn’t tell you just how good the Tide are entering the third week of September.

And, you know what? Only a Tide struggle on the road against the Gamecocks will we have any more meaningful data points to add to blowouts over Duke and NMSU. A big win is expected; it will most likely be delivered. Given Kellen Mond’s struggles, the woeful Arkansas and Ole Miss teams, an even worse Tennessee team, we may not even know until November how good Alabama actually is.

I’ve always maintained that Matt Luke most closely resembles a crooked county commissioner. After watching this, I’m downgrading him to “Roadhouse-knockoff villain.”

Ready for a doomsday scenario? Try three SEC teams in the playoffs. LOL.

And, while it is funny, it’s also horrifying. Such an outcome would almost certainly ensure playoff expansion, something that only the B12 and B1G are pushing for. But, hey, when you’re a combined 2-5 in the CFP — with both wins tallied by one team in one year — it’s natural to want to protect your own interests.

In yesterday’s practice, there was some more shuffling along the OL (Chris Owens back in at center, Landon Dickerson at guard, Emil Ekiyor dressed but not participating). And it seems that playing time in the secondary is still very competitive, with the lineup being fluid from day-to-day.

The defensive backs were working in the dime formation that included freshman Jordan Battle at safety on the first unit. He occupied the spot of Xavier McKinney who dropped down to the dime back (also known as Money) in the formation.

Here is Nick Saban’s final prep week press conference. Therein, he notes that Antonio Alfano, the super talented rush end whom we all had tremendous hope for, has gone AWOL a bit.

I’m not ready to slag the kid. The culture shock is a big one; the heat miserable — and he’s struggling with both, on top of the expectations placed on him. Those are all out of his control.

What is not out of reach, however, is his ability to go to class, to do the right things on the practice field, to have an attitude conducive to the team, to be willing to learn and to be coached, and to focus on the business at hand.

It would be a shame to lose another elite pass-rusher because of immaturity. But, this program is not for everyone. Entering the conference schedule, it’s time for Alfano to decide if it’s for him. I hope he gets it together. He has unreal potential. But a motivated 4-star who does the right things probably wins more games for Alabama in the long run than a No. 1 overall recruit who becomes a distraction to the team and is unreliable off the field.

This is a heart-breaking story about the suicide of former Wazzu quarterback Tyler Hilinski, and the impact that his life (and death) have had on SC’s new starter at the position — Ryan Hilinski.

This is a tough read, be forewarned. But it’s very much worth it.

“Tyler could tell you anything and sit with you,” Mark Hilinski said. “He couldn’t say … ‘Everybody else is dreaming about girls. I’m dreaming about killing myself and I don’t want to. Maybe I need help.’ He didn’t do it.”

Tyler, 21, left behind no clues, no reason, no hint anything was wrong. He also left behind a family that aches, not only daily but by the minute.

”Honestly, we don’t know anything. We know nothing,” Kym said. “We keep searching for the ‘why’ all the time and it just breaks my heart if that’s what he was thinking right before he passed.”

Having buried far too many friends and family by way of suicide, I think this where the do-gooder in me reminds you that there is help out there, for free, anytime, at 1-800-273-8255. If you hate phones, they also have an online chat. There are too many Tylers out there — you or someone you love don’t have to be another one.

In last Thursday’s Jumbo Package, I highlighted Saban’s quotes about the running game struggles (comparatively speaking), pinpointing that as far more relevant in the long run than the offensive line execution.

Well, those wrinkles still did not get ironed out against the Aggies, and Saban very much made it a point yesterday to say that the issue has been the ‘backs, not necessarily the line.

An SEC road game facing a quality defensive line would be a very good time to sort it out. Just a suggestion.

We love to play the “BUT IF COLT HADN’T GOTTEN HURT” game here. Partly in jest, partly to poke fun at the decade-long saltiness of Longhorns fans.

One who still won’t let it go? Mack Brown, who said again yesterday that Texas would have beaten Alabama had McCoy not gotten hurt.

(P.S. Seeing how flatfooted the secondary was that night, and with the injury to Greg McElroy, I think he’s right. #NoRefunds. This sounds like a great poll question, and so it shall be.)

The over-regulated* lawyers paradise/purgatory of California is at it again, this time advancing its pay-for-play bill to Gov. Newsom’s desk.

The bullet chambered in the NCAA’s warning shot is a pretty good one, by the way: alleging that the state’s regulation impermissibly affects interstate commerce, and is therefore unconstitutional.

“We’ve explored how it might impact the association and what it might do. We believe it would inappropriately affect interstate commerce,” Donald Remy, the NCAA’s chief operating officer and chief legal officer, told The Associated Press. “It is not intended to be a threat at all. It’s a reflection about the way California is going about this.

The dormant commerce clause is beyond the scope of Roll ‘Bama Roll (it is, however, my primary scholarly specialty, alongside Indian law) so I’ll try to summarize this argument and response the best I can for a dispassionate football fan and explain why it matters.

I’ll blockquote this to set it off a bit:

Congress has affirmative powers to regulate commerce under the Constitution. These power can extend to things, ways, means, methods of commerce — even very tenuously, provided there are findings in the Congressional record to support the regulation and the ways that congress are acting is rationally related to ends being sought and proportional to the problem. (Though, you should know, that power been reigned in substantially over the last 15 years.) But, when Congress doesn’t act, states are generally free to do so.

However, there come occasions where states act, even seemingly in ways that wholly affect intrastate commerce, where they “discriminate” against interstate commerce — intruding into Congress’ powers. Federalism cuts both ways, yo’. Courts can then step in to stop the state regulation, even where Congress has not acted, and say that the action is “impliedly preempted.”

Here, what the NCAA is very much threatening, is to go nuclear against California — to take this proposed law to federal court and say “ours is a multibillion-dollar, national industry. California is forcing us to declare 24,000 student-athletes, in the largest state in the union, ineligible because such payments absolutely are a competitive advantage. Congress could regulate this if they want to. They have not. But this state action ‘discriminates’ against interstate commerce and is therefore ‘impliedly preempted’ under the ‘dormant commerce clause.’ So, make them stop.”

Got it?

And the NCAA’s is a very powerful threat indeed. Litigating such a case would have a starting price tag in the tens of millions and likely advance to the Supreme Court over a period of many years. A negative ruling on the dormant commerce issue would also carry the potential to stymie other less-drastic regulations states want to impose — not just California. And, I do think the NCAA would have a more than decent case here too.

Does Gov. Newsom want USC declared ineligible for the Rose Bowl? Does Stanford want to forfeit its abundance of water polo titles and other weird sports? UCLA gymnastics? Goodbye. Keep an eye on this. My guess is the schools pressure him into a veto — not to mention pressure from other states that want to pass their own regulations. But, just because it’s an expensive, bad idea doesn’t necessarily mean that California isn’t willing to have that fight.

* Even as a lawyer, I think California goes a bit nuts with it.

Okay, more for you later, but for now, take the poll!


Does Texas with a healthy Colt McCoy beat Alabama?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Yes, Third and Kirby was gonna’ doom us, and running QBs were an X Factor that were hard to account for in early Saban teams.
    (35 votes)
  • 68%
    No, Alabama would have righted the defense eventually and still pounded the rock for a win.
    (492 votes)
  • 24%
    I don’t know, but that final would have been close.
    (173 votes)
  • 0%
    I don’t know, but I think that game was going to be a blowout, one way or another.
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    Choose your own below in the comments
    (8 votes)
714 votes total Vote Now