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Can Gardner keep up his three-year scoreless streak?

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<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">NCAA Football: The American Athletic Conference Championship-Houston at Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

Guess who’s likely earned a starting spot on the Crimson Tide hoops team? The much maligned Noah Gurley: A player we have noted before who has had little-to-no impact on the roster in the Tide’s first 13 games, the guy Parker begged to show up in yesterday’s preview, was also the guy who practically single-handedly willed Alabama to a 73-68 win over No. 14 Tennessee.

On a night when the ‘Bama frontcourt was being embarrassed (again), Gurley came in and took over, notching his first double-double for No. 19 Alabama. This was the player that Alabama thought they were getting from the Furman transfer. And given KAH’s struggles, Frenchie’s absence, and Charles’s Bediako’s flat-footed, half-assing on the glass, I’d be stunned in Gurley isn’t manning the 5-spot going forward.

Take a bow; you’re the man of the hour.

Despite not being able to hit the broad side of a barn for the first 58 12 minutes, there were several positive takeaways, as Coach Oats observed in last night’s post-game presser — mostly on the defensive end: Shack had one of his better evenings on the end of the floor, Quinerly did have his best night defensively this season, JDD struggled with a lot of early turnovers, but rebounded in the second half by picking up half-a-dozen rebounds and stepping up his defensive intensity.

This team is what it is: On night’s when the shots aren’t falling and dribble-drive penetration is being denied, then offense is going to be hard to come by. It will be incumbent on everyone to play solid defense, crash the boards, keep hustling, be smart with the basketball, and trust that the shots will eventually fall....as they did in the final two minutes of a must-win early game last night.

And, hey! Not only did Alabama win, they covered in the final 34 seconds #DegenerateGambler

Nick Saban had quite a bit to say yesterday, in the Crimson Tide’s CFP Playoff show with Eli Gold. 90 minutes of pure gold, right here:

Among some of the items on last night’s radio show, the great work that Ole’ Man Pendry has put in as this week’s on-field offensive line coach, as well as his remarks on John Madden, a legend who was an all-time coach and color man.

I’m not sure what kind of voodoo he works with players, but I doubt we’ll ever again see a coach with Saban’s ability to tweak all the right buttons to get maximum performances out of players, as well as get them to do the little things off-the-field that he wants.

Exhibit Elebenty Billion:

I love this story on Slade Bolden, often known as the other receiver, no matter who the Tide has on the outside. He’s got a chip on shoulder and comes into this contest with an even bigger one. But, for all that, he has an even bigger opportunity.

The Monroe, La., native has caught at least one pass in every game this season, a total of 32 for 333 yards and two touchdowns. For his career he has 58 receptions for 637 yards and 3 TDs, his one previous scoring catch coming in the national championship game win over Ohio State last year.

Not superstar stuff, it’s fair to say, but very solid on a star-studded roster.

Indeed, Bolden heard the warnings from opposing recruiters when Alabama began to pursue him. He said he was told “I would never play at Alabama, and then when I began to play, I heard that I would never start at Alabama. And then I started.”

A little chip? “There’s always something else,” he told reporters in a ZOOM meeting Wednesday. “‘He’ll never do this or that,’ but it’s okay, because I enjoy it.”

To my mind, there are four big questions entering the playoffs that will determine the national championship: Can Alabama’s offensive line continue the dominant performance it showed in Atlanta? Can Alabama’s next-man-up on the outside continue to move the chains with John Metchie sidelined for the season? How will all the coaching departures affect Georgia, who does have the harder draw this year? And, the greatest intangible of all: how is Georgia’s headspace; can they put Atlanta behind them?

The Dawgs are saying the right things, for sure. And they should smack the Wolverines around. But if they are flat, or it’s a close game late in the 4th, how will UGA respond? It’s not been a team that has had to face much adversity this season, nor a head coach who has particularly performed well under pressure.

The most fun matchup in the entirety of the CFP? Gimme Cincy’s Ahmad Gardner vs. JaMo. (Although, I’d also like to see Evan Neal stone Aidan Hutchinson’s overrated ass for about three hours too).

Both of these guys are going in the first round, but someone’s could make quite a bit of extra money come Draft Day depending on the outcome. And, as we saw last season, these elite-on-elite matchups can outright cost you too.

Ask Shawn Wade, who begged to be matched up vs. the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner...and became a 5th round pick.

Oh, Dan. Not like this...

I’m buying into the idea that Cincinnati can keep up with Alabama. I think the Crimson Tide have more top-end talent than the Bearcats and that ultimately will be the difference, but I’m also not sure that Cincinnati is overmatched.

Good hire by LMFK over at Oxford, where Charlie Weis Jr. has been named OC for departing Jeff Lebby.

CW2 was an analyst for ‘Bama back in 2015, and later led Kiffin’s offense in their rebuild of the FAU Owls. He’s definitely an up-and-comer in the profession, already stacking up a helluva’ resume before his 35th birthday

Is Cincinnati the least-popular Cinderella in the playoff’s history? There aren’t a whole lot of folks lining up behind them.

More on the confident Cincy corners who are looking to “dominate” in Friday’s game.

Gardner, a consensus first-team All-American, has not allowed a touchdown catch over him in three seasons at Cincinnati.

“I take a lot of pride in that,” he said Monday. “And that just comes with my preparation leading up to the game. It’s not something I just think of when I’m off the field or when I’m on the field. I just take every snap one at a time.”

Poll

Who should be Alabama’s go-to big man down low?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Angry Chuck Bediako still has more upside
    (57 votes)
  • 2%
    Let KAH develop and learn as he goes
    (10 votes)
  • 12%
    Where are you Frenchie?!
    (47 votes)
  • 69%
    Noah Gurley earned it last night
    (263 votes)
377 votes total Vote Now