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Jumbo Package: Alabama, Saban look to use the extended offseason to their advantage

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Will the Tide be playing smarter than ever this season?

NCAA Football: Alabama at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

For sophomore linebacker Christian Harris, the extended wait for the start of the SEC’s delayed, conference-only schedule has a benefit.

“We’re just really, like I said, locked in on getting back to the Alabama standard, no matter how long it’s going to take,” he said Monday. “I think, if anything, having more time helps us really focus in on the things that we need to work on and we saw last season that we lacked on.”

This is an interesting perspective from Harris. With so much time dedicated to studying the game and working out rather than practicing, we may see some differences in the way the team plays this season. I’d expect game plans for opponents will be more detailed and easily visible, corners and safeties will be better at jumping routes, playcalls will be a bit more streamlined, etc.

But I also think we see some issues with tackling and blocking early on (with all teams) and likely some issues with end-of-half type game management— things that you really just can’t get down with repetitive practice.

Turns out, Nick Saban is working on just that issue:

“One of the things that we’re really trying to focus on right now is situational football, create a lot more situational awareness of things that we do. But it was a simulated game on Saturday in the stadium so that players would get used to substitution, situations in the game, signaling, communicating without the coaches being out there. So we’ll continue to do that. Obviously we’re going to have a second scrimmage this weekend, and we’re going to emphasize even more situations. Today we had two minute before the half. You know, two minutes before the half was a bad thing. LSU scored 14 points in the last two minutes before the half, and Auburn scored 10. So those are the kinds of things that the players have to really understand — not only are we trying to score in that situation but we can’t give the other team the ball back so they get a chance to score.

Saban’s generally been one of the better coaches (not the best, but definitely upper tier) when it comes to situational football, though that seems to go out the window every other year against Auburn. So knowing the team is specifically working on that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

There’s plenty of other nuggets in Saban’s press conference, including talk about punters, building depth, Brian Branch and Malachi Moore, some unnamed player playing offense and defense, the importance of voting, the QBs, and COVID stuff. Give it a read or listen at the link above.

Alabama back at No. 1 in recruiting rankings

With Tuesday’s commitment from three-star tight end Robbie Ouzts, Alabama has overtaken Ohio State for the No. 1 spot in the 247Sports Composite Team Recruiting Rankings.

The Tide, with 21 commitments, has a score of 302.99, which edges the Buckeyes slightly, who currently sit with a score of 302.20.

Both programs hold almost an almost identical number of pledges, which will make the run-up to National Signing Day all the more intense

In the spring of 2019, Clemson had the BEST RECRUITING CLASS EVER, only to be passed by both Alabama and Georgia by the time Signing Day rolled around.

In the spring of 2020, Ohio State had OMG THE BEST RECRUITING CLASS EVERRR, until Alabama passed them in August. The two have been neck and neck and swapping the lead seemingly every other day since then.

In the pros, former Tide players have been struck by a number of last-minute injuries right at 53-man roster cut downs. Not that there’s anything shady going on, or anything.

The weirdest by far is Terrell Lewis.

Check out this timeline of comments from head coach Sean McVay:

On Saturday, McVay called it “a complicated situation. You’ll see when I’m able to articulate what it is.”

“I’m going to be able to give you guys true clarity on Wednesday,” McVay told reporters during a Saturday press conference. “It’s a knee situation, and that’s really where, when I’m understanding some of the things we’re trying to get back as far as the results, the test procedures that we’ve done, that’s when I’ll be able to have clarity for you guys. But he will be a guy that definitely will not be able to play against Dallas. …

“There’s a possibility (Lewis could be out longer), but like I said, it is a complicated situation. You’ll see when I’m able to articulate what it is. We’re still waiting on some possible results that come back to truly give it clarity. But what I will tell you is, unfortunately, he will not be available for the Dallas game.”

On Monday, McVay said Lewis’ injury was “a unique situation … something we’ve never experienced before.”

“We’re still waiting on those results,” McVay said about Lewis’ injury during his Monday press conference. “Like I said, this is a unique situation, and we are waiting on some of the results back from the tests that we’ve run. We have not gotten that back, and that’s why I haven’t shared that information with you guys. You’ll understand when I’m able to explain. We’re hopeful and optimistic that it’ll be positive reports back, but it’s something we’ve never experienced before.”

I’m absolutely keeping my eyes peeled on Twitter today to see what the Rams announce.

That’s all for today. The season draws nigh. Roll Tide!