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Jumbo Package: Alabama’s favored streak at 67 games and counting

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. We open today with this from ESPN about Alabama’s current streak of consecutive games as a betting favorite.

Alabama has been favored in its past 67 games, and 139 of its past 140 overall. The Crimson Tide were 1-point underdogs at Georgia in 2015, a game they won 38-10. It was the first time Alabama hadn’t been favored since the 2009 SEC championship game, when the Tide beat Tim Tebow and Florida 32-13 as 5-point underdogs. Alabama was favored in its next 72 games, the longest such streak since at least 1978, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Think about that for a minute, folks. We are talking about a full decade’s worth of games here, from 2010-2019. Alabama was an underdog one time in that span, by one skinny point on the road. Every other time the Tide took the field over that decade, including conference championship games, playoff games and national title games, they were projected to win. Talk about pressure.

Or is it rat poison?

Good old Lane.

Brett Hudson has a nice rundown of the embarrassment of riches that is the Alabama running back room.

Sanders was making up ground on Robinson Jr. and making a case to be UA’s No. 2 back before his season-ending foot injury. Now he’s not the only five-star freshman running back, joined by true freshman McClellan.

In the four freshmen, UA has the top running back in the 2019 class (Sanders), two top 10 running backs in the 2020 class (McClellan and Williams) and Edwards out of talent factory Destrehan High School in Louisiana.

This group is phenomenal.

Drew Sanders has a chance to be as well. Check out this note.

Interestingly enough, Drew’s elite production came without him participating in live reps during practice. Coaches learned early on that it was better to keep the 6-foot-5, 230-pound wrecking ball on the sidelines during “good-on-good” drills in order to keep the rest of the team healthy.

Tolleson recalls one of Drew’s initial practice reps where he was lined up at receiver. After catching a slant over the middle he squared up against an unfortunate teammate and “ran smooth over the guy.”

“We could not put that guy up against our starting offensive tackle,” Tolleson said. “I jumped his butt so many times because he didn’t have a three-quarter speed… ‘I said, ‘Drew, what the hell is wrong with you? We need that kid. What are you doing?’ When he has that helmet on, he’s different. Every time he tackles a guy, he tries to break them.”

The man is so intense that they wouldn’t even let him run against the ones. Put him in, Coach. Of course, there are others competing, too.

Ben Davis is still leading for a starting job, it seems. A breakout campaign from him as a senior would be one hell of a story.

Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts are both going through some growing pains early, as expected.

And there’s still a great deal to learn for Tagovailoa playing behind veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick ahead of Miami’s season opener on Sept. 13.

After Tagovailoa’s second full practice, Dolphins coach Brian Flores assessed his quarterback’s play and admitted that he’s experiencing growing pains early on.

“Some good, some bad,” Flores said, via Safid Deen of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Some good throws and good decisions, some throws that aren’t so good and some decisions that weren’t so good.”

On his first play, Hurts makes an awkward jumping throw to Killins in the flat after he is immediately flushed out of the pocket to his right. In a live scrimmage, Killins would have been taken down for a one- or two-yard gain. On the next play, Hurts is almost immediately “sacked” by veteran defensive end Vinny Curry.

I couldn’t help but emphasize that one line. I didn’t see the play, but I’m pretty sure I have seen the play.

Last, Nate Oats is gushing about improvement Herbert Jones has made as a shooter.

“And I’ll say this: he’s been shooting the ball remarkably well compared to what he had in the past here. We’ve only been able to go live in our practices for the last few weeks here, but he’s been shooting it really well. He’s been in the gym working. I think that’s the No. 1 thing in leadership. If the guys don’t think you’re working harder than them, or at least as hard as them, it’s going to be hard for them to listen to you when you do speak.

“He’s turned himself into one of the hardest-working kids on the team. He’s one of the hardest-playing kids already with all of the little stuff that he does. So, I think Herb’s senior year is set up to be great. We just need to keep him injury-free, and I think we have a pretty good roster to go around him, too.”

Herb has always brought a ton of effort and is one of the best defenders in the country, but poor shooting from the field and at the line has limited his value. Much of that likely had to do with a bum wrist. Hopefully he is healthy and ready to make strides in this area. If so, he may well be drafted in 2021.

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

Roll Tide.