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Jumbo Package: Tide back at #1, Devonta Smith named national Offensive Player of the Week

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. Heading into the first of what will be two bye weeks this season, Alabama is ranked #1, the spot that Nick Saban probably least wants them to be at this point in the season, and has joined Clemson with the best odds (9/4) to win it all. The advanced metrics bear that out as well, as SP+ has Alabama in the number one spot just slightly ahead of Ohio State, the only other team that ranks top ten in both offense and defense.

Yes, you read that correctly.

For all of the hand-wringing about the garbage time defense, Saban’s calling card has been exactly what we thought it would be: far from his best but still plenty good enough at #8 overall. The Tide’s offense ranks third behind Oklahoma and in a virtual tie with LSU, whose Dave Aranda-led defense is a decidedly mediocre #35. I expect Alabama to end up as the clear #2 offensively since the Sooners’ legitimately mediocre to bad defense will necessitate more urgency from their offense, while LSU gets knocked down a peg or two as they get deeper into conference play.

Among the SEC unbeatens Auburn does indeed have the best win in #12 Oregon, and Texas A&M checks in at #23. LSU’s signature accomplishment thus far came at #16 Texas (#61 on defense - ouch), while Alabama’s best is #34 South Carolina. Notre Dame checks in at only #22, which makes Georgia’s struggles against them a bit more concerning for Kirby and crew. Still, the Dawgs are right there in the top five. Remember, these metrics are opponent adjusted and have garbage time removed, though there is still a smidge of preseason projection baked in for one more week. The impact of that is fairly minimal at this stage, however.

You may have heard that Devonta Smith had himself a day against the Rebels.

Alabama’s junior wide receiver accounted for 274 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s 59-31 win over Ole Miss and established new single-game school records in each receiving category. He accomplished all of this by way of 11 receptions on 12 targets.

Smith actually became the program’s all-time receiving touchdowns leader in a game with his fourth catch in the second quarter, passing the previous record of three touchdown catches, which was held by multiple players and last achieved by ArDarius Stewart against Mississippi State on Nov. 12, 2016. Smith also passed Amari Cooper (224) for most receiving yards in a game.

Congrats to Devonta on a well deserved accomplishment. This receiving corps is a veritable freak show.

Wrapping up the Ole Miss game:

“It doesn’t matter to me if I run it or throw it as long as we score points,” Tagovailoa said. “I have a great line in front of me so we can do both.”

Alabama ran for 155 yards on Saturday and both Najee Harris (7.9) and Brian Robinson (6.0) averaged at least six yards per carry. Though posting their third-highest running total of the season, and their highest against a power five opponent, there is still work left to do according to the redshirt junior.

“We know we left a lot of yards on the table,” Owens said. “It’s not enough to just get a win because we’ll play better teams down the line.”

-- Saban said they need to look at the bye week as an opportunity and not a rest.

-- “We got exposed in some areas where we didn’t play very well,” Saban said. “The players we have are the players we have.”

-- On how Alabama adjusted to Ole Miss QB John Ryse Plumlee: “Obviously not very well.” He said they adjusted well to some of his QB runs but he hurt them when Alabama defense lost contain when rushing five. “That extended drives for them.”

That’s not meant to let the defense off the hook for many Saturday problems — loss of containment that allowed Plumlee to convert several third downs by running, penalties that prolonged drives, missed tackles at a higher rate than Alabama, traditionally the best in the nation under Saban at putting guys on the ground, used to make.

What comes next, though, isn’t Armageddon. It’s an open week, a chance to teach that Saban is “looking forward to,” as he said in a calm postgame interview. There was no ranting, no references to Ole Miss doing anything related to a tin horn. There is just a recognition of a need to improve.

Speaking of the offensive line, we have some flat out nastiness on that right side.

I sure hope they apologized for embarrassing those young men on national television.

The game certainly wasn’t perfect. John Rhys Plumlee stressed the edges of the defense more than he should have been able to do, but the benefit of the weak early schedule is the ability to have kinks exposed before the tough competition hits. The next game against Texas A&M may not be the matchup we thought it would be, but College Station is not an easy place to play for anyone.

Last, Reggie Ragland had all kinds of fun with Kansas City Chiefs teammate and former Dawg Mecole Hardman when Hardman’s copycat box showed up.

If Paul Anka was Kirby Smart, that iconic song would have been titled “I did it his way.”

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

Roll Tide.