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Weekend Notes: Alabama arrives in Indy, Steve Spurrier picks Georgia to win

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Talk about strange bedfellows.

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Alabama v Florida Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Happy Saturday, everyone. Alabama basketball is on the road at Mizzou today with a 2:30 CT tip on ESPN2, and as usual we will have full coverage later in the morning. In football news, Alabama arrived in Indianapolis yesterday, right on schedule.

That bomber jacket got all kinds of social media attention.

Folks, that is one confident looking Nick Saban. Late money seems to be coming in on the Tide since the line fell back to 2.5 overnight. Is it the jacket?

Steve Spurrier has proven to be a much better coach than pundit through the years, so perhaps his picking Georgia is a good thing.

“I believe Georgia is going to do something different with their defense. After they played the first time, they’re going to say, ‘We can’t sit in these zones, and we’ve got to get pressure on the quarterback somehow,’” said Spurrier, who coached in same-season rematch games five times as the coach at Florida or South Carolina, winning the second installment twice.

While coaches can make adjustments ahead of rematches, like Spurrier did with his swap to the shotgun, he said winning a sequel isn’t about rewriting strategy. So, what type of team has the advantage in a rematch?

“The best team,” Spurrier said with a chuckle. “The best team has the advantage.”

Talk about strange bedfellows. Lest this make us overconfident, we received a kiss of death to counter it.

Yeah....

Andy Staples was a walk-on at Florida in 1996 when the Gators won the rematch after losing to Florida State to close the season.

Spurrier said he’s sure defensive coordinator Bob Stoops made some changes to slow Florida State’s offense in the rematch, but none of that was as significant as the shift in blocking assignments and the increased reliance on the shotgun. The Sunday before the game was the equivalent of a Tuesday practice. After that session at the Saints’ facility, I was convinced Florida State was going to score 150 points. Everything we did on scout team worked, leading to repeated screams of “MAYDAY” — translation: Run it again — from the defensive staff. Bo Carroll, a speedster from the Philadelphia area who signed in 1996 but couldn’t join the team until the semester break — had defenders gasping for air while simulating Warrick Dunn. But the following day, the defense had patched seemingly every flaw we’d exposed running the Seminoles’ plays.

As usual, Nick has a great perspective when it comes to the rematch element.

“I also think that a lot of players wanna play in the NFL someday, so this is something that’s a common occurrence. You play all the teams in your division twice, so that means you’re gonna play the same team twice. I don’t think college players are actually used to that, but this is something that you have to learn from whatever you can do better from when you played the first time and try to have the right mindset to know that you’re gonna have to be able to persevere and play with the same kind of energy and intensity in the game for 60 minutes this time around.

“So it is different for college players, but it’s something and a good experience for them to get used to if they’re gonna play at the next level someday because it happens all the time.”

What a great point, and a perfect way to get minds right headed into the game.

RJ Young over at Fox Sports wrote about another way that Saban has seamlessly adapted as the game changes.

With players signing “name, image and likeness” deals worth seven figures, some decry player-led capitalism in a sport in which some coaches make $10 million annually.

But Saban? He continues to not only adapt to the rules as they are but also dominate his opponents.

No, the transfer portal and NIL are just fine. It’s college football fans and coaches who must adapt.

Adapt or die. Saban has.

Last, Trevon Diggs’ mom apparently wasn’t too keen on Saban changing his position.

“I said, ‘You’re switching Trevon’s positions, what are you thinking?’” Stephanie remembered. “I didn’t want him to not hone in on one position, to be all over the place and (unable to) concentrate on being a cornerback or wide receiver.”

Mother asked coach: “Do you think he can do it?”

“Yes,” she says Saban replied. “Trevon can do it. He will be a great corner.”

Five seasons later, NFL record books agree.

Something tells me that Momma is just fine with it now.

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

Roll Tide.