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Jumbo Package: Alabama’s playoff hopes hinge on secondary improvement

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Texas A&M Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. We don’t do this often, but with no Alabama game tomorrow I’d like to open with a mailbag entry. It’s always great to hear from our readers, and a LSU fan named Mark particularly enjoyed yesterday’s Jumbo Package.

Yet another satisfied customer.

Christopher Walsh has a nice writeup on the secondary issues.

Tennessee: Daniel Wright gave up a pair of early big plays, although Alabama didn’t appear to be lined up correctly on either, including safety Jordan Battle. Jobe was targeted six times for five completions. One, of course, was the 70-yard touchdown when he was looking for a the play-call as the Vols snapped the ball.

Fisher and Kiffin know Saban’s defense and how to attack it better than anyone in college football. They obviously had some success, but the biggest theme of the secondary this season was on display against the Vols: When everyone’s on the same page and executing the defense has the potential to be very good.

As he notes, they play very well most of the time, but the busts create huge plays. Something tells me that Saban has been laser focused on his pet position group this week.

Nobody knows who will be playing QB for either team when Georgia and Florida face off.

Smart said Daniels, a former USC transfer, who started three of the first four games, has been throwing more in practice. Smart isn’t showing his hand more than that.

Likewise, Mullen isn’t saying much about his quarterbacks. Emory Jones has started every game this season, but freshman Anthony Richardson guided the Gators to four straight touchdowns in the second half of a 49-42 loss at LSU on Oct. 16.

The bowls are not happy about the idea that first round playoff games may be played on college campuses.

The letter is signed by Bowl Season executive director Nick Carparelli and chairman Mark Neville, executive director of the Holiday Bowl. All 43 bowl games are listed.

“To exclude Bowl games from any round of an expanded playoff would be harmful to Bowl Season, individual Bowls and their host communities, and post-season college football in general,” the letter states. “The future direction of college football has reached a volatile point. As a leader and caretaker of college athletics, we appreciate your consideration of the key role the Bowls play in your university experience.”

If you want an example for why NIL came to pass, this is one. College football has turned into a money machine with greed from all sides of the table. It was only natural that the players get to participate.

Seth Walder at ESPN analytics says that we shouldn’t assume that the ACC is out of the playoff picture just because Clemson is.

The Panthers are the sixth-best team in the country, according to FPI. Sixth best! That Cincinnati team that is getting so much buzz as the possible first Group of 5 school to crack the CFP? Pitt is better. Undefeated Michigan State? Pitt’s better. One-loss Notre Dame and one-loss Oregon? Pitt’s better. Undefeated Wake Forest? Pitt is much better. You get the idea.

So what makes FPI believe Pitt will be so great? To put it simply, Pitt has been exceptional on a play-by-play level.

Imagine a team making the playoffs after losing to Western Michigan. Sorry, but I’m not buying this one. Kenny Pickett is a hell of a QB, though.

Last, a bit of humor from FiveThirtyEight. We like humor.

FiveThirtyEight aimed to find out. We developed a new metric to answer those questions: What’re You Doing (On That Field), or WYD.

This isn’t meant to measure the quality of the storm itself, but rather the context leading up to it. The metric includes inputs for team and opponent rank in the Associated Press poll, kickoff time, whether the matchup was a rivalry,4 whether the matchup was decided in regulation, whether a walk-off score occurred5 and whether the game was decided by one score. The higher the WYD score, the more legitimate the field-storming was; the lower the score, the more unfortunate the collective decision.

No additional points will be granted to those who tear down the goalposts; that mostly just seems like wasteful overkill that produces spectacular photographs.

Spoiler: the Aggies had the highest WYD score of the season and were thus the most justified fanbase to storm the field this season. Maybe we should stop making fun of them for it.


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

Roll Tide.