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Jumbo Package: Tide more experienced in the trenches, Big Ten revote this weekend?

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Vrbo Citrus Bowl - Michigan v Alabama Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. Today’s date will forever be a somber one, as we are all compelled to remember the events and lives lost 19 years ago. More than anything, it serves as a reminder to hold your loved ones close, as none of us is promised tomorrow.

There was some ugly college football last night, as Miami pulled away late to take care of UAB 31-14. The ‘Canes have some issues to work out if they are to contend in the ACC.

Evan Neal seems to be transitioning well back to tackle.

This year he has been moved into the right tackle spot vacated by Jedrick Wills, Jr., who has gone on to a first round draft position in the NFL. He and his Bama teammates are scheduled to open the season in just over two weeks on Sept. 26 at Missouri.

In a Thursday Zoom interview, Neal said “the transition is treating me well. In high school, tackle was my natural position, so I feel like it made the transition go much smoother for me.

“I have more work that needs to be done, I can get better. But all in all I can say I’ve been pleased with my performance so far.”

Even played well at guard, but he’s really a bit too tall for that spot. Tackle is where he belongs. There will be some mild concern until we see him handle a good speed rush, but in general the OL should be strong again.

Hopefully, the DL is ready to return to its usually dominant form as well.

“He’s one of the leaders in the room,” fellow fourth-year junior defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis said Thursday. “We need that in the room right now. Him coming back, he’s gonna be a good help for us.”

Mathis noted that he and Ray are the “older cats” of a room that also includes some seasoned younger players in redshirt sophomore Christian Barmore as well as sophomores DJ Dale, Justin Eboigbe and Byron Young.

A lack of “older cats” was the main problem last year. Hopefully these dudes will elect to kick ass this season.

Bill Connelly has his first big writeup of the season for you.

On one hand, it appears likely that we’re probably going to be embarking on a national title race without two of the five power conferences. (There could still be some surprises in that regard, but for now, we’re going to assume the Big Ten and Pac-12 get started too late for inclusion.) That stinks for any number of reasons — we don’t get Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields II, we have to start arguing about asterisks soon, and this is all one constant, daily reminder about how college football’s siloed leaders couldn’t even work together during a pandemic. (And how there was no one in a position to force them to work together.)

As always, Bill’s coverage is great, but perhaps there is still a chance for the Big Ten.

A Big Ten source told The Athletic on Thursday that restarting competition at the end of October is not out of the question, under the assumption that Big Ten campuses are outfitted with equipment to produce daily tests by the end of September. The source said the league’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) is expected to be briefed by the conference’s medical subcommittee this weekend and — if the group feels confident based on that information — could vote on a restart date as soon as Sunday. The source added that it is possible the league moves forward but individual schools still opt not to play in 2020.

Guess we will see what happens. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is certainly on board.

Henry Ruggs III put out a great piece in the Players’ Tribune. He loves some Alabama, y’all.

When I moved to Tuscaloosa that summer, I honestly didn’t know how it was going to go for me. It was just … a lot. And for the first couple of days, I pretty much kept quiet and stayed to myself — just trying to handle my business and stay focused on getting from one day to the next.

Before long, though, something pretty amazing started happening.

Something very … Alabama.

People began finding out about Rod — like without me saying anything, just on their own. About our friendship, and what had happened, and how much I missed him. And before I knew it they….

Began to look out for me.

Rod is Henry’s best friend who was killed while they were in high school. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player more driven by tragedy than Henry. He makes his buddy proud every time he takes the field.

Speaking of Henry’s (Henries?) this thought is terrifying.

“We just have to be ready for it, and, hopefully, we will be,” Fangio said. “It’ll take a lot of guys to get him down, and we got to get a lot of guys to the ball. …

“Obviously, we all wish we’d had more time, had some preseason games. But sometimes you got to be a short-order cook, and that’s what we got to be here, maybe do a little Chef Boyardee instead of the homemade stuff. But we’ll be ready to go. I feel good about what we’ll put out there.”

Harder to tackle than this...

Have mercy.

Last, this is the most Ole Miss thing ever.

Amazing. Just amazing.

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

Roll Tide.