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Jumbo Package: Latest on OC search and Ohio State, Derrick Henry breaks 2,000 yards

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. We are a week away from yet another national championship game with yet another coordinator leaving for a head coach job after the game. Bruce Feldman broke a little news this morning on that front that is getting mixed reviews, to say the least.

We don’t know who Bruce’s source is, but he is generally a solid reporter. It should also be noted that he didn’t say that Nick is only considering those two names. Still, it’s not terribly hard to make the case for or against either of them. Gase worked under Saban as a GA at Michigan State and LSU, and O’Brien spent several years in New England with Bill Belichick. It seems that familiarity is very important to Saban these days, after his staff full of new young blood blew up a bit on him a couple of years ago. Stay tuned, as we will keep you updated.

Christopher Walsh wrapped up the Notre Dame game.

• A big part of this was Alabama taking its foot off the gas as it started to hold back for the National Championship Game, but the Crimson Tide went from averaging 14.7 yards per play in the first quarter (included 26.3 rushing, albeit on just three carries), to 6.4 in the second, 7.2 in the third and 3.2 in the fourth.

• The Crimson Tide got a little sloppy with penalties in the second half. Among the six, of course, was the 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty to Nick Saban that aided Notre Dame’s final touchdown.

The fourth quarter offense was downright dreadful. No, they didn’t need to be great and the intention was to run clock, but you can bet that Saban was frustrated that they couldn’t kill the clock.

We already have a couple of previews for the next one.

The 2014-15 team had played well but not spectacularly until morphing into a monster in the Big Ten Championship Game, destroying Wisconsin 59-0 and locking up a (controversial) College Football Playoff bid. Established as a significant underdog against the No. 1 seed Alabama, the Buckeyes gouged a vulnerable defense for 42 points to pull the upset in New Orleans—highlighted by Ezekiel Elliott’s famed run “85 yards through the heart of the South” for the clinching score.

Don’t get hung up on Ohio State holding Clemson to 44 rushing yards. The Tigers and Travis Etienne struggled a bit all year to get the ground game rolling. When and if Alabama wants to pound away with Najee Harris, it will.

Alabama hasn’t faced anyone who’s running like Trey Sermon. Texas A&M can run, and Georgia could pound a bit, but Sermon has been otherworldly over the last two games for the Buckeyes.

Alabama has an under-appreciated pass rush, but Clemson came into the Sugar Bowl averaging four sacks per game – the most in the Dabo Swinney era – and it didn’t matter all that much against an Ohio State offensive line that was close to flawless.

Both teams in the national title game should be able to say that the other guy “hasn’t faced anyone who can ______” as well as they can, thus their appearance in the final game of the season. In the preseason it was generally accepted that Alabama and Ohio State had the best two rosters in the country, despite many Alabama fans’ PTSD about Clemson. Nobody who has watched Clemson all year, with their struggles at WR, on the OL and in the secondary, should be terribly surprised that they were whipped on the big stage. There will be points scored on Monday in what is going to be a classic battle of heavyweights.

It has been a trying year for Dylan Moses.

A preseason All-American in 2019, Moses tore his ACL during an August 2019 practice and missed the entire season. He returned to practice this August but acknowledged that he had a “mental block” that coach Nick Saban brought up when he noticed Moses was not performing at his usual level.

Saban defended Moses’ play early this season and said he played ‘extremely well’ during an Oct. 17 game against Georgia when he was named as coaches by a player of the week. Two weeks later, Saban told ESPN broadcasters before a game against Mississippi State that Moses needed to be focus more on his own play and less about correcting mistakes by others in the defense.

There is no question that Dylan has been tentative at times. Hopefully he is able to collect his breath and deliver his best on the biggest stage.

Hugh Freeze is out here recruiting for Alabama.

“I don’t watch many teams on film because I’m obviously pretty consumed with who we are, and would like to think that we know what we’re doing offensively. And I think the stats over my 10 or so years in the college game prove that we do,” Freeze said. “I will tell you this, there is one team that my video coordinator will have cued up for me on Sundays when I come in to watch, and it’s Alabama. Sarkisian is great game day play-caller, and you’ve put together the best of the best – offensive line, tight ends, receivers and quarterbacks – that they’ve had over the last few years, and you see what’s happening because they have expanded their offense to what I consider to be the up-to-date version of offensive football.

Whoever Saban hires at OC will have a rebuild for next season, but there will be ample talent with which to work.

J. Brady McCollough over at Yahoo wrote on the competitive imbalance.

Only six programs — the aforementioned four plus Georgia and Oregon — have won CFP games. Eleven have made the bracket, although Notre Dame (twice), Washington and Michigan State were easily handled by the sport’s two powers, and Oklahoma has become a punchline with an 0-4 record.

For perspective, the controversial Bowl Championship Series, which selected only two teams to play for a title each year from 1998-2013, had 11 different champions in 16 years and placed 15 schools onto the sport’s premier stage.

The natural assumption was that doubling the access by creating a four-team playoff would lead to more variability and excitement. Instead, the opposite has happened.

That may have been the natural understanding for people without common sense, but we tried to tell y’all back then that giving a mulligan to the top teams would have that effect. Contenders don’t even sweat the first loss of the season nowadays, and that would only get worse with expansion.

Last, there are no more superlatives for King Henry.

The King, indeed.

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

Roll Tide.