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Jumbo Package: Is Alabama football too flawed to compete with #1 Georgia in 2021?

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Alabama The Tuscaloosa News-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. Let’s not bury the lede here. John Talty is just putting it out there for you this morning.

Alabama gets a bye next weekend before facing the injury-plagued and lame duck-coached LSU Tigers. From there, it plays New Mexico, Arkansas and then an Iron Bowl trip to Auburn. Alabama should win all those games before a trip to Atlanta to play Georgia in the SEC Championship. As of Oct. 24, Alabama is too flawed to beat the No. 1 Bulldogs. Not for a lack of talent but because of the issues listed above like sloppy execution and a lack of explosive plays.

The challenge for Saban and everyone involved with Alabama is fixing the issues to say differently by Dec. 4.

As Saban has said many times through the years, players shouldn’t need external motivation. Still, sometimes feeling doubted fuels people.

Nick Kelly over at the Tuscaloosa News took a look at the secondary issues on Saturday.

Notice how there were fewer chunk pass plays after the first quarter. Saban said Alabama often played a single-high safety early in the game because the Crimson Tide expected Tennessee to run more. The Volunteers didn’t, so Alabama had to adjust.

“We started playing a lot more split safeties,” Saban said. ”That was a halftime adjustment we made.”

These coverage blemishes stand out, but after the first quarter the Alabama defense didn’t give up much to Tennessee’s offense. The Volunteers didn’t have a first down in the second quarter and only had one first down in the third quarter.

Cecil Hurt wrote about those coverage busts, too.

There has been improvement since the Texas A&M loss, although Saban still grumbles that “you shouldn’t have to be humiliated” to improve. Will Anderson Jr. was as dominant as he was in Starkville a week ago when he was the National Defensive Player of the Week and showed he still deserves to be on the All-America Wrecking Crew. The linebackers were better, notably Henry To’o To’o, who had to be battling a conflicting set of emotions. Phil Mathis was a disruptive force up front.

But, oh, those busts, even the ones that weren’t busts to Saban. Whether LSU, which appeared to have reached the end of the gas tank after yet another crazy week in Baton Rouge that ended with a farewell to Ed Orgeron, can capitalize remains to be seen. Struggling against the Ole Miss defense as LSU did doesn’t bode especially well, but Saban wants to take full advantage of the two weeks until the Tigers arrive.

I’d rather have capable players making mental mistakes at this stage than guys who are executing well but are physically incapable of competing with the best. It’s bye week time, which means iron needs to sharpen iron.

Alabama may have looked a bit rough, but Oklahoma looked rougher.

The top of the AP Top 25 went through a shakeup despite the entire top five winning in Week 8. After posting its first scoreless first half since 2014 against lowly Kansas, No. 4 Oklahoma flipped spots with No. 3 Alabama. Cincinnati, meanwhile, held strong at No. 2 behind top-ranked Georgia.

The Crimson Tide were up just one score on Tennessee in the fourth quarter but used a late run to put the game out of reach. No. 5 Ohio State also looked dominant in a 54-7 win over Indiana, but the performance was not enough to pass the Sooners in the rankings. Michigan comes it at No. 6, while in-state rival Michigan State ranks No. 8.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1)

This is not the Alabama defense of old, and there was a time Saturday night that the Crimson Tide actually seemed to be on their heels. But it was an interception by redshirt freshman Jalyn Armour-Davis and 47-yard return that changed the complexion of the game and fueled a 28-point fourth quarter, leading to Alabama’s 52-24 victory over Tennessee. The Crimson Tide allowed 346 yards, but racked up 574 yards of their own offensively with quarterback Bryce Young throwing for 371 yards and two touchdowns. In his last two outings, Young has passed for 719 yards with six touchdown passes and no interceptions. — Chris Low

Last, Al com has this NFL wrapup for you, led by Damien Harris’ 113 scrimmage yards vs. the Jets.

As usual, many former Alabama players made plays. Jonathan Allen had two sacks, Marlon Humphrey got a pick, and Mac and Tua combined for 600 yards and six TDs. Oh, and Derrick Henry had a rather quiet day by his standards with “only” 86 yards on the ground, but he did this.

You tell him he can’t play QB. I dare you.

Seriously though, that play was hilarious. There were three dudes just standing there wide open in the end zone, like a bunch of kids recess screaming “I’m open! I’m open!”

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

Roll Tide.