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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Is Alabama on upset alert again?

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Branch has two of the sacks — one Saturday against Mississippi State — and one quarterback hurry this fall. Pass-rush moves were a focus for the junior entering this season.

“I’m working on disguising them because a lot of times the quarterbacks will kind of point me out and it’d be like, they already know I’m coming,” Branch said, “so they’ll kind of shift the line out to kind of shift the mind can block me. I love blitzing and I need to work on a little more on my disguises when I blitz so that the quarterback won’t know.”

Other defensive backs with sacks include DeMarcco Hellams (1.0), Kool-Aid McKinstry (1.0), Malachi Moore (0.5) and Jahquez Robinson (0.5).

Outside linebacker Chris Braswell, part of the three-headed cheetah package, worked with Branch on some of the finer points of his pass-rush art.

“I kinda was telling him, sometimes he was spinning a lot,” Braswell said. “I kinda was telling him not to spin a lot because you know when you spring you kinda can’t see what’s coming on the other side. So I was just trying to tell him to use his speed, his athleticism and just bend the edge because a lot of tackles can’t block someone with speed. So I was just telling him, just bend the edge and just use your hands more.”

Here’s a couple of cool quotes from Chris Braswell and Brian Branch getting into some of the minutiae of playing football at their level. I’m on record with my love for Brian Branch’s game, and how his position asks a nearly impossible task of him from play to play. A corner who really plays linebacker, Branch is an extremely dangerous blitzer, but any blitzing DB is susceptible to becoming predictable (just ask Jamal Adams). So Branch working so hard to disguise his intentions pre-snap is huge.

I also like that Braswell was adding some coaching points on minimizing spin moves. NFL edge defenders love going for flashy spin moves... But more often than not, they wind up hurting the team as they lose gap integrity doing it. Having that kind of team-first focus from guys like Braswell is good to hear.

3 SEC victories for LSU this season have featured the Tigers coming back from double-digits deficits, including Saturday’s 45-20 win over Ole Miss. The Tigers trailed the Rebels 17-3 in the second quarter. LSU outscored Ole Miss 28-0 in the second half, when the Tigers had a 238-112 yardage advantage and limited the Rebels to one third-down conversion. On Sept. 17, LSU trailed Mississippi State 13-0 before posting a 31-16 victory. On Oct 1, LSU trailed Auburn 17-0 before taking a 21-17 win.

I went into this season expecting LSU to be a bit of a mess as they recovered from the disaster that Ed Orgeron left and as Brian Kelly figured out how to fit in the SEC. Well, I severely underestimated Kelly. He’s gotten the LSU roster playing with a whole lot of guts and fire even when things are going wrong. And that makes them very, very scary.

I said after the Tennessee loss that this LSU game after the bye will be the measuring stick where I decide if I trust this Alabama team to be a National Championship contender or not. If the Tide takes care of business and puts away the Tigers down in the swamp, I think they’ll have proven they have the mental makeup to take this whole season.

If not, well...

“I think Alabama will address some of their issues during the bye week, and I would anticipate a better Bama after the bye week,” McElroy said. “But if you look at the parallels between what Tennessee has and what LSU has, the parallels are there. Excellent receiving corps, a quarterback who is dual-threat in nature who can hurt you with his legs but is getting better and better throwing the football. They have a solid group along the defensive line that can create some pressure, create negative plays. And by the way, super hostile environments — Tennessee and LSU both put forth a very difficult place for Bama to play. So the parallels are very real when looking at that matchup between Bama and LSU here in a couple of weeks.”

McElroy agrees with me here. This game is a chance for Alabama to prove they learned from their issues against Tennessee and can maintain the mindset needed to accomplish their ultimate goals.

In the pros, Mac Jones now has his own Zapruder Film:

Jones missed the last 4 weeks or so with an ankle injury, and returned to throw all of 6 passes and was benched after this interception.

His replacement went on to throw 2 picks.

I don’t really know what’s happening in New England right now, but their offense is a disaster. The entire situation of not really having an offensive coordinator is weird, and they’ve essentially just pulled the rug out from under Mac for no discernable reason.

Meanwhile, after a bit of a down year in 2021, Josh Jacobs has possibly been the best running back in the NFL over the last month.

Check out the highlight video from one game here. (NFL is dumb and blocks embeds).