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Jumbo Package: A testy Nick Saban is no “sweater wearer” according to Mike Leach

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, everyone. Nick Saban seemed quite testy during his Wednesday press conference.

— Asked about Byron Young receiving playing time over Christian Barmore early against Tennessee, and whether that was discipline-related for Barmore, Saban said the playing time was, “just how I wanted to rotate the guys,” but then added, “What we do internally with our players on our team is not really anybody’s concern or really their business if a player is — I’m not going to explain to you why we use every player the way we use them. I was happy with how the guy played when he played, and I think that was the most important thing.”

He didn’t say it directly, but he comes across as if he isn’t terribly happy with the team’s level of focus this week. It wouldn’t be surprising, considering the point spread, emotional hangover from the loss of Jaylen Waddle, and the upcoming bye week. Hopefully we don’t see a sluggish performance on Saturday.

On the injury front, it sounds like LaBryan Ray will sit one more game and allow an extra two weeks of healing for his elbow. Ronald Williams is back from his broken arm, and Brian Branch seems to be progressing to Nick’s liking. Needless to say, the secondary needs some reinforcement.

Mike Leach is weird.

“I can’t say I know him real, well but I know him some over the year,” Leach said on the SEC coaches teleconference. “I’ve always been impressed … you know he’s very committed to coaching. With coaches, there are a certain number that are sweater wearers, you know they want to wear the sweater, but they’re not really up to their neck in it. Coach Saban is the guy that’s all football, all the time.”

This is a team that blew away SEC offensive records in a season-opening win at defending-champ LSU, then scored only a safety two weeks later at Kentucky.

The Bulldogs throw it 75.7% of the time yet rank second in the SEC in time of possession. Quarterback K.J. Costello threw for an SEC-record shattering 623 yards at LSU but could be benched for the 6 p.m. CT Saturday visit to Alabama after throwing eight interceptions in the next three games (10 total for the year).

What a sweater wearer that guy is, eh?

This is a nice story on Sam Pittman fixing the Hogs.

The Hogs’ defense under Odom has been one of the most improved units in the country. It’s fourth in the SEC in scoring defense (25.5 points per game), and that’s after finishing last in the SEC and 124th nationally a year ago (36.8 points per game). Arkansas has forced 13 turnovers in four games and leads the country with an average of 3.25 forced turnovers per game. The Hogs also lead the country with 10 interceptions, including six in the 33-21 win over Ole Miss, two of those returned for touchdowns.

And on offense, first-year coordinator Kendal Briles has helped Franks play some of the most consistent football of his career. Franks has thrown eight touchdown passes and three interceptions while completing 64.1% of his passes and averaging 243.5 yards per game. Pittman has said that Franks has allowed Arkansas to build a program because he’s been so steady, making quarterback — the most important position on the field — an area the Hogs’ staff hasn’t had to worry about.

Nobody expected much out of Sam, but he brought in a couple of smart coordinators and let them do their thing. Granted, he probably wouldn’t have Kendal Briles if the name wasn’t so toxic, but it’s working.

Last, huge 2022 recruiting news.

Ewers is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound prospect from Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas, and had committed to the Longhorns in August. Ewers had been rethinking his decision, however, as more and more schools were still recruiting him, including Ohio State and Alabama, among others.

“Recently, as I’ve competed alongside my teammates during my junior season at Southlake Carroll, I’ve also taken some time to think about my future,” Ewers wrote on Twitter. “Given the COVID-19 pandemic facing us, this has been a challenging year for all students like myself. With the support of my family, I tried to navigate the recruiting process the best way I could.

Let’s see, if Mac decides to use all of his eligibility, 2022 would be his last season, and it is the year that Bryce Young first becomes draft eligible at the end of the season. Ewers would be a fine foundation for the 2022 class.

That’s about it for now. Have a great day.

Roll Tide.