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Jumbo Package: Saban misses “wadball”, one Alabama commit is sacking everyone

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

CFP National Championship - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Happy Thursday, everyone. As usual, Wednesday was a busy media day for Saban as he participated on the SEC teleconference and then held his regular press conference.

— Saban said of Kentucky, “Their defense plays really, really well. One of the best defenses in terms of scoring defense, total defense in the conference. No. 1 in pass defense.”

— Defensive lineman LaBryan Ray, who has not played since Oct. 10 because of an elbow injury, has been back at practice but his status remains unclear for Saturday. “I think it’s a matter of how confident he feels with it, in terms of his ability to use [the elbow],” Saban said. “Does he feel like he has enough strength to be able to go in there and play? Maybe there’s some role he can play in the game, but it’s going to be strictly up to how he feels. We’ve kind of cleared him to sort of make progress as he can. This is a different kind of injury when you’ve got an elbow and you’re a defensive lineman using your hands every play. It takes time to get confidence in your ability to do that when you’ve had that kind of injury.” Ray has been limited to six of a possible 19 games the past two seasons because of injuries.

“It’s tough, but I think the game’s changed. I think the rules have changed. We don’t play wadball anymore where everybody’s in a small box and all 11 players have to block somebody for a play to be effective for a 3-5-yard gain. I think the spread makes you defend 53 yards wide and 100 yards deep. The rules in college football, which I’ve commented on before — and I’m saying this in a negative way — but RPOs create a lot of run-pass conflicts for defensive players and the fact that you block downfield when the ball’s thrown behind the line of scrimmage and the way people, offensive coaches have utilized those things to create plays for the offense is very difficult to defend. But I also think that in this particular year, we’ve had to work really hard on tackling well, not having a normal preparation year for this year, and then having some disruptions during the season. And I think we’ve had to make improvements in that area, and I see a lot of the same issues when I watch games on TV and stuff. But I think the days of giving up seven or eight points average in the season is long gone in college football. Now, if you can hold a team to probably 14 to 17, you’re playing pretty well.”

Wadball, eh? That’s a new one.

Saban is going to keep banging the drum about college football rules that make defense next to impossible against better offenses. College quarterbacks are simply too good at this point to be provided that kind of crutch.

Christian Harris is respecting the opponent.

“Kentucky has a really great offense.,” Harris said Tuesday in a ZOOM interview. “They have a really good quarterback who’s able to throw the ball and run the ball. I think that presents a really good challenge for us being that a lot of the teams that we play might not have had as many QB runs as this team does. It makes you have to focus more on your gap control.”

That Kentucky quarterback, Terry Wilson, was injured last year, opening the door for converted wide receiver Lynn Bowden to star as a Wildcat quarterback. Now Wilson, 6-3, 202, is back for his senior season and has completed 75-116 passes (64.7 percent) for 712 yards with 6 touchdowns and only 1 interception. He has also rushed 68 times for 334 yards (4.9 per carry) for 4 TDs.

This is what you want to hear from players, but really, Christian. It’s OK. We know their offense is putrid. One of the best offensive lines in the country is being wasted because of poor execution by the skill players.

Alex Scarbrough put out a fantastic feature on Mac Jones yesterday.

But Jones popped back up as if nothing had happened. In fact, he seemed to have picked up a little edge about him, an aura of determination. A commemorative 150 patch had been partially torn and was hanging off the shoulder of his jersey. Jones stared at the sideline eager for the next call, then he ripped off the patch and got in position to take the snap. Inside, his teammates went berserk.

Wideout Mac Hereford and offensive lineman Pierce Quick were stunned. Hereford said it felt like a movie, like an emotional climax because it so perfectly summed up who Jones is and how long he had been waiting to show who he is. Hereford said he and Quick looked at each other on the sideline and said, “Oh my God, this guy’s a warrior.”

Also sounds an awful lot like Jake Coker when he trucked the Texas A&M dude. Guess between Jake and Derrick Henry, that team played a little wadball, eh? Mac won the team, has won every game since, and might just win himself a Heisman and a national title on the way to hearing his name called in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Alabama has some movers in the Top247 rankings. The class that so many were wringing hands over in the spring now has four of the top 20, seven of the top 50, and 13 of the top 150. I sure hope Saban will be able to field a team.

And Dallas Turner, have mercy.

In four games this fall, Turner has totaled 24 tackles and 10 sacks. He has also forced four fumbles – and it’s not like those numbers are coming against inferior competition. In STA’s season opener against Miami Gardens TRU Prep, Turner beat Clemson four-star offensive line commit Marcus Tate multiple times. The following week against Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons he got around three-star offensive lineman Anthony Earle, who will play his college football at FAU.

Emphasis mine. Hold on just a sec.

As noted in the excerpt, St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the premier football factories in the country and plays a requisite schedule. In addition to the two mentioned, Turner has also faced nationally ranked American Heritage, alma mater of Patrick Surtain II. He is dominating against premier competition at the high school level. Dallas is up to #14 in the country according to 247’s own rankings, and will likely earn his composite fifth star by the end of the season. Andrew Bone has a clip of one of his sacks for you.

Can’t wait to see that young man in Crimson.

Last, as one would expect, Kira Lewis Jr. is quite excited about being drafted in the top half of the first round.

Get it indeed, young man.

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

Roll Tide.