Alright guys, Erik got a little down on us with some Anti-Gump yesterday, so today is the day we try to bring things back to acceptable levels (in public anyway. You know I’m gonna be fretting behind closed doors).
Alabama practice report: Starting LB not spotted
-- Starting outside linebacker Terrell Lewis wasn’t practicing with his group during the viewing period. Nick Saban on Monday said there were some bumps and bruises but nothing overly serious coming off the South Carolina game outside of LaBryan Ray’s foot injury.
-- The middle linebacker groups had Christian Harris and Shane Lee in the first wave followed by Ale Kaho and Jaylen Moody. Kaho replaced Harris in the second half of the South Carolina game and Saban said Monday they were undecided how the lineup would look Saturday for Southern Miss.
-- Defensive lineman Antonio Alfano remains absent, though AL.com can report the former five-star recruit has not officially entered the NCAA’s transfer portal. His father Frank Alfano took to Twitter on Friday to discuss the situation as it stood at that moment.
-- Justin Eboigbe is the next guy up on the defensive line with Ray out for the foreseeable future. “He is a really great guy,” Alabama offensive guard Landon Dickerson said. “I think he brings a lot to the table, he always practices hard so you know I’m excited I’m sure he’ll uh you know step it up whenever we start practicing together a little more.”
There’s no reason to worry about Terrell Lewis. The coaches are basically just being careful with him, as he’s a 4th year veteran with an injury history. Basically, Saban is just doing his best to make sure we at least have 1 scholarship pass rusher not injured by the time we start post-season play.
Though the news about Ray isn’t great, I’m quite excited for Eboigbe. To quote myself from when he signed with Alabama:
Eboigbe is a tall, lean player with a generally terrifying body build. He’s an incredible edge rusher who is full-speed ahead every play and is quite happy to rush headlong straight into an offensive lineman and knock them backwards. He’s got both the speed and power to be a terror for offensive tackles trying to figure out the best way to keep him from getting to their QB. And he’s got just enough lateral ability to throw out a counter move back to the inside if the lineman starts to cheat outside too much.
When he tackles someone, he’s going for blood. Think Reuben Foster, but as a 280 pound lineman. He’s also got long legs and can really cover ground quickly if he’s chasing a ball carrier to the sideline.
I like chaotic players. Guys like Jedrick Wills, Eboigbe, Reuben Foster, etc— no matter where they are on the field, there’s probably an opponent on the ground nearby. It’s the kind of energy that, when harnessed, changes a defense from reactive to explosive.
He got some time last week against USC, but didn’t have much impact. Of course, throwing in a true freshman one week after he finally recovered from his own injury after missing much of fall camp isn’t the best of situations to walk in to. I have high hopes though.
Fairly simple reason Alabama hit so many slants at South Carolina
“No, not really because as you study film and you play against your opponent, they played a lot of one-high,” Smith said referring to the use of a single safety. “So, we knew there was a lot of open space in the middle of the field, so we just advantage of it.”
Most of those quick slants came as part of run-pass option plays. When the look was favorable to throw instead of run, there was a quick clock. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had to unload it before any lineman got more than three yards down field.
“It’s one of those things that usually it’s timed up pretty well,” offensive guard Landon Dickerson said. “With an RPO, it’s coming out quick. By the time that we get to our assignments and start working to the second level, the ball should be out.”
For the receivers, knowing their surroundings and trusting Tagovailoa are critical factors.
Smith said he used to have a habit for trying to run over safeties before new receivers coach Holmon Wiggins worked with him.
“The biggest thing is, I mean, you know you’re going to get hit at some point, sometimes you do,” Ruggs said. “So, it’s just like when the ball’s in the air, you’ve got to make that play. And that’s the biggest thing is you don’t mind the hit or who hits you from what angle, you’ve got to catch the ball. And that’s our job.”
With all the love/hate we’ve had the last few weeks over the very nebulous concept of the RPO, here’s a good article on it from the perspective of Alabama receivers and offensive linemen (though more focused on the slant route aspect than the actual option aspect).
Mostly, I just wanted to highlight the fact that DeVonta Smith used to want to try and truck safeties. This dude was all of about 160 pounds 2 years ago, and honestly is not likely too much bigger than that now.
Guilbeau: Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame does the right thing by putting in Bama’s Saban
The former LSU football coach, whom LSU fans have loved to hate since he became rival Alabama’s coach in 2007 but have frequently fantasized about his return as LSU’s coach, will be forever enshrined in Louisiana.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame announced Tuesday that Saban, who won LSU’s first national championship since 1958 in the 2003 season and set the Tigers up for their next one in 2007, will be one of eight inductees into the 2020 Hall class on Saturday, June 27, in Natchitoches.
”I’m just amazed this has happened,” Saban told Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland and selection committee member/sports writer Ron Higgins two weeks ago when he got the call. “I didn’t know Louisiana would do this for me.”
Take a minute to be happy for Nick. Being put into a Hall of Fame while still an active coach is definitely an accomplishment. But even more so, just think about how much this has to be rubbing LSU fans the wrong way, and might even be giving Nick one more foothold into the fertile Louisiana recruiting soil.
Henry Ruggs Is All-Around Good Alabama Player
Which brings up another job for Ruggs and his wide receiver teammates.
“We take pride in the blocking as a receiver, especially as smaller guys because we know that more so it’s just getting in people’s way. But we try to take pride in blocking and getting our hands on bigger defenders. So, when we do make a play and you see a guy with your jersey on make a block or chasing you downfield, it just feels like the whole team made a play.”
This is a nice piece from 247 on Henry Ruggs. They talk about kick returns, route-running, kick coverage, ball placement on passes, and blocking.
Personally, I decided last week that Alabama should go ahead and move to a full-time four wide-receiver offense. It’s almost criminal to keep any one of Smith, Jeudy, Ruggs, or Waddle on the bench, and, to be frank, all four are probably better at blocking than the tight ends have shown thus far.
What’s behind Alabama’s penalty problem
Twice in his opening statement Monday did Nick Saban mention Alabama’s issue with penalties.
Through three games, the Crimson Tide’s 7.7 average penalties rank 102nd-best and the coach is already sick of it. The flags were flying regularly Saturday with a season-high 11 costing 92 yards in the 47-23 win at South Carolina.
Huh. That’s funny. And here I thought Alabama got ALL the calls and preferential treatment. At least, that’s what the LSU and Barners have been telling me.
That said, one stat in this piece stuck out to me. Alabama has had 10 offensive penalties thus far in 2019, and only one of them has killed a drive (a 15-yard face mask on Miller Forristall). That the offense has overcome 90% of their penalties is absolutely outstanding, and I’d love to see what the national average is on that.