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Jumbo Package: Alabama has been nearly flawless when not ranked #1

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Southern Miss v Alabama Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Happy Thursday, everyone. In what should be seen as a positive sign, Alabama high school football will go forward on schedule.

Fall sports teams have the option to begin workouts on Monday with the first week used by football for acclimation purposes with helmets and shorts only. The other fall sports – volleyball, cross country and swimming and diving – can use the first week for acclimation and tryouts. Schools not choosing that option may start fall practice on Aug. 3.

The first contest officially can be Aug. 20.

Tuscaloosa city schools decided to go online only for the first nine weeks, but football will be allowed to go forward. Tuscaloosa county schools are full bore.

Kirk McNair has some historical perspective on Alabama in the AP poll.

Alabama dropped to No. 9 in The Associated Press college football poll with the loss to Auburn in the final game of last season, snapping the Crimson Tide’s record streak of 68 appearances in the top five. The previous record had been 55 straight polls by Miami, 2000-03. Bama had been in the AP’s top five for every poll since Nov. 8, 2015.

In addition to the long streaks by Alabama and Miami, the Crimson Tide is also tied with Oklahoma and Ohio State for the third longest streak in the AP top 5 at 48 consecutive polls, Bama’s streak running preseason, 2011, through Dec. 8, 2013. That streak included Alabama being ranked first in the nation for 25 weeks.

The Tide has played 88 games as the nation’s No. 1 team and has a record of 75-13 in those games.

That 75-13 Saban era mark comes to a very strong winning percentage of 85.2%, but it also means that, starting in 2008 which was the first season that the Tide was ranked at the top under Saban, Alabama is 75-4 when not ranked first, for a whopping 94.9%. The 2019 season was something of an anomaly as Alabama went 3-0 when ranked #1 but only 8-2 otherwise, which means that they won over 97% of their games played when not ranked at the top from 2008-2018. Whether this is due to added pressure, rat poison or something else is anyone’s guess. In any event, let’s celebrate the fact that Alabama has played more games ranked #1 than not.

247sports ranked Alabama’s position groups.

1. OFFENSIVE LINE

Returning starters: Alex Leatherwood, Evan Neal, Landon Dickerson, Deonte Brown

Other key players: Emil Ekiyor, Darrian Dalcourt, Chris Owens, Kendall Randolph, Pierce Quick

Four of Alabama’s five offensive line starters from last year’s team are back, including a trio of seniors in Leatherwood, Dickerson and Brown. Because of that, and Neal, the unit is considered the best returning line in the entire country for the upcoming season. There is a spot that has to be filled at right tackle with Jedrick Wills turning pro, and a number of things can happen to do that. The most likely is a returning starter like Neal or Dickerson moves to tackle while a player like Ekiyor or Dalcourt fills in in the interior. Regardless, UA has options.

The QB position, with Mac Jones and Bryce Young, was fourth out of five on the list. Think about that one.

Nate Oats has most of his crew working out, but not everyone.

Earlier reports have indicated that transfer point guard Jahvon Quinerly had shoulder surgery in the off-season. Sophomore Javian Davis is in the transfer portal and is expected to announce a new school next week so he is no longer participating in UA team functions. Senior John Petty, who has yet to announce whether he will remain in the NBA Draft or return to school, has also not been a part of skills sessions although he has participated in some Zoom meetings with the team this summer

“We talked this week,” Oats said of Petty. “He is still talking to some NBA teams. I think he is close to a decision but he has not made one yet.”

All but one of the Crimson Tide’s six-man recruiting class is on campus, although Oats again cited confidentiality when asked if all were participating.

Petty is running low on time at this point, as August 3 is fast approaching.

Last, Al Davis’s son sees some Cliff Branch in Henry Ruggs III.

“Henry Ruggs was the player I wanted for the last six months,” Davis told Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “My dad was always trying to replace Cliff with so many different types of guys. ... Speed, speed, speed, and we really got away from that the last five, six, seven years. We really didn’t have anybody that could run. Nobody could run.

“I watched Henry Ruggs, and his speed and quickness and his strength were pretty impressive. And then if you see his baseball highlights — my God. He made some nice tackles on interceptions, and he’ll block, too. He is a complete player. I was just so thrilled that we drafted him.

Sounds like Henry will have every opportunity to shine this year.

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

Roll Tide.