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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Prep your stomachs to feast on Alabama Basketball and a fresh #1 CFB Playoff Ranking

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

In Bama’s first three games, Missouri (8-16), Texas A&M (10-17), and Ole Miss (9-17) were all over 50 percent.

Against Georgia, the Tide defense won the third down battles, holding the Bulldogs to 7-16.

In the three most recent games, Alabama has held opponents to a total of only 8 successful third down conversion – Tennessee (4-16), Mississippi State (2-15), and Kentucky (2-13).

Now Bama is at 38.18 percent (48th in the nation, 2nd in the SEC) in third down defense.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong... But the Alabama offense has been scoring just as much and as quickly in the last 4 games as they did the first 3... Right? Seems to me that a defense getting gashed isn’t “a product of their own offense scoring too fast,” but is, quite simply, a defense that isn’t playing well.

If the defense doesn’t make stops on 3rd downs, then they wind up playing a whole bunch of plays all game, and give up more and more yards. It’s as simple as that. Want the defense to get off the field? They actually have to get themselves off the field.

Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox.

Alabama’s defense has improved remarkably since their first 3.5 games of the season. There’s still some warts with defending off-tackle rushing plays and covering tight ends and running backs out of the backfield, but it’s definitely been cleaned up in recent weeks. And no defense is perfect, especially in 2020. Get some stops, grab a turnover or two, and that will win the game with this version of the Alabama offense.

The full CFP rankings for Nov. 24:

1. Alabama

2. Notre Dame

3. Clemson

4. Ohio State

5. Texas A&M

6. Florida

7. Cincinnati

8. Northwestern

9. Georgia

10. Miami

11. Oklahoma

12. Indiana

13. Iowa State

14. BYU

15. Oregon

16. Wisconsin

17. Texas

18. USC

19. North Carolina

20. Coastal Carolina

21. Marshall

22. Auburn

23. Oklahoma State

24. Iowa

25. Tulsa

That ever-improving defense coupled with a dynamic offense is why Alabama was the clear-cut #1 ranked team in the first CFB Playoff rankings released last night. Notre Dame, with their big win over Clemson, was an easy choice for #2. Clemson gets a scapegoat for not having their starting QB when they lost to ND, Ohio State is the unknown “undefeated” that just has to not faceplant in their Big 10 schedule to have a clear path.

The Texas A&M blowout continues to look better and better for Alabama, as the Jimbo and Kellen Mond- led Aggies are absolutely dominating everyone else they’ve played... Though they did manage to delay that terrifying game against the Ole Miss offense last week.

Cincinnati has been as dominant as a non-P5 team can be and have crushed 3 teams that have been considered top-25 at some point or another. If they keep it up, you have to wonder if they become the first non-P5 to really have a shot at making the playoffs.

BYU and Coastal Carolina did not get the same amount of love despite all the dominance and hype so far, so it seems Cincy is going to lead the charge for the underdogs.

And Northwestern at 8? Sure. Sure. We’ll see how long that lasts.

“Before the week even started,” Surtain said, “we were talking about — we always have a thing where we talk about what’s your record against Tennessee? What’s your record in the national championship? And what’s your record against Auburn? It’s one of the biggest rivalries in college football and the most anticipated rivalries. I expected it to be that way.”

I really like how Surtain listed off the Alabama Football season achievement metrics in descending order of importance here.

Lyle Cain and the Alabama orthopaedic team have been recognized with multiple SEC awards.

Cain has been named the SEC team physician of the year. In addition, the Alabama orthopaedic team that’s led by Cain and Norman Waldrop of the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center has been selected as the SEC orthopaedic team of the year.

Roll Tide, Dr. Cain! That said, I’m hoping the preventative efforts of the Tide’s new Strength and Conditioning staff diminishes the importance of the orthopaedic for the foreseeable future.

Bruner averaged 3.5 three-point attempts last season and connected on 32 percent of them. He also averaged 3.7 assists per game and recorded Yale’s first-ever triple-double last February against Cornell in double overtime.

“I think his passing ability is at another level,” Oats said earlier this month. “He can really make guys around him really good. He’s shooting it way better than I knew. ... He’s one of the best shooters on the team right now. When he gets his feet set, he’s not missing very many shots.

“When you put him and Reese both, two bigs at 6-9, 6-10 who can make threes at the level they can, it makes it a lot harder for the defense to come out and cover that.”

Oats referred to Bruner as a “high IQ guy” off the court who emerged as a leader this summer, especially when senior John Petty was away from the team training in Huntsville as a potential draft prospect.

With the men’s basketball team tipping off tonight, here’s a good article detailing the careers of Javon Quinerly and Jordan Bruner— the two newcomers who are expected to be starters and major pieces for this Alabama team.

Quinerly is likely the only true point guard on the team (though guys like Herb Jones and Jaden Shackelford have done the job in spots in the past) and is slated to be the primary ball-handler all season. Meanwhile, Alabama’s depth in terms of big men who play under the basket was perilously thin, so securing the all-star grad transfer in Bruner was a huge offseason move for Coach Oats.

“So I’m not so worried on our end. I think we’ve got a pretty good handle on this now. We had to deal with back in June and July. Little bit more worried with who we’re supposed to play. Our game got moved to 7 p.m. [CT Wednesday, from 6:30 p.m.] so the SEC Network could pick it up, because Tennessee is not playing. That’s great for us, great for exposure, great for all that — but Tennessee is in our league. It would be great to see our league go out and get a bunch of quality wins right out of the gate.”

And, hey, look at 2020 doing us a solid for once. The season opener was originally set to be on ESPN+ (which I definitely do not subscribe to, and I assume neither do most of you), but now that it’s moved to the SECN, we can all watch these guys in action.

“We’re ready to play and excited, regardless of how many people are in the stands or all the other stuff that’s going on,” said Oats on a Tuesday Zoom call with reporters. “This is what we practice for. So, we’re excited. I thought we’ve had good practices. We told the guys after we finished today, ‘We got the full 30 in.’ A lot of programs around the country haven’t been able to get their full 30 practices in. We have. We’ve been fortunate in that regard.

“… I think Jacksonville State’s in a good spot, too. It’s gonna be a good game. It’s gonna be a good test for us. We’re looking forward to opening the season up.”

After a 16-15 season a year ago, Alabama enters this season ranked No. 25 in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 29 (50 votes) in the preseason AP Top 25 Poll. It marks the first time the Tide will start a season among the nation’s top-25 teams since 2017-18.

Seriously, get excited. Alabama actually got a preseason ranking, so even the national media is tentatively on board. In case you missed it, here was our hype piece on the start of the season from yesterday.

Roll Tide!