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Jumbo Package: Lane Kiffin laments “GOAT fuel” fed to Saban by media

Your latest Crimson TIde news and notes.

Ole Miss v Texas A&M Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Saban got some tough questions at his Monday press conference, starting with the last play of the LSU game where Malachi Moore had to bust it off the field to avoid penalty. Saban didn’t appear to blame his coordinator for it.

“We were in dime personnel because they had receivers in the game,” he said. “And they went to two tight ends and two wide receivers, which we wanted to play that in regular. So that’s why we had to change personnel. We had to do it from the time they ran on the field as they’re over there in the huddle.

“But that wasn’t the issue. We were lined up. We were ready to play. We played what we were supposed to play. We just needed to tackle the guy a yard shorter than what he made. So that wasn’t an issue.”

Nick also expounded a bit on his remarks about anxiety over the course of the season.

“First of all, I don’t think it’s really fair to the team to create the kind of expectations that get created for the team before they ever have a body of work,” Saban said. “But that’s kind of the nature of the beast in this day and age. I think being able to handle that, not putting pressure on yourself to try to live up to that expectation, sort of creates a lot of anxiety in some cases. You put pressure on yourself, whatever it is, which means you’re really focused on outcomes, not process, and I think that’s the biggest thing that we’ve gotta get our players back to do.

“When I say you’ve got to focus on what it takes to win and enjoy winning, that’s what I’m talking about. Not the pressure to win and then the relief when you win rather than the job that you won. There’s a difference in all that. I’m not blaming anybody for it. It is what is. But you’ve gotta be able to handle that and not let it affect you. I’ve done, I guess, a pretty average of getting our players out of that mode.

That excerpt should be a salve for those who have complained about not hearing Saban talk about “process” as much.

Nick was asked if Bryce Young’s shoulder contributed to some of the passing inaccuracy we saw on Saturday.

“All indications in terms of what he says to us, to me, to the medical staff, is that he feels good, that he’s fine,” Nick Saban said Monday. “I guess you would have to ask him to really get a sense of how he feels. But he is telling us that he is fine. He said he was fine at practice relative to what he did.”

There certainly appears to be some limitation, but only Bryce could really know. You can check out all of Saban’s comments below. At you can see in the thumbnail, his background abruptly goes black so that he’s speaking out of the darkness, which is actually pretty hilarious in context.

Lane Kiffin isn’t particularly thrilled about everyone shoveling dirt on the program’s grave the week that they are hosting Alabama.

Bowl projections? Why not?

There is a lot of movement in the other New Year’s Six games as well. Clemson is still projected to be the ACC champion, and since the Tigers are no longer projected to make the CFP, they will go to the Orange Bowl.

LSU, coming off an expected SEC Championship Game loss to Georgia, would take the SEC’s place in the Sugar Bowl. These Tigers are now expected to face Texas, the runner-up to TCU in the Big 12.

After the dust settles, Alabama should be ranked higher than Penn State. The Crimson Tide therefore replace the Nittany Lions in the Orange Bowl projection.

The Sugar would absolutely take LSU. Besides the proximity, that fanbase will be thrilled to be invited and thus show out better than Alabama’s. A January trip to Miami might be enough to entice some Alabama travel, though another game against Clemson isn’t all that exciting. At this point no bowl game sounds exciting, as Saban warned about when the playoff was created.

Regardless of where they end up, Mike Rodak did a little speculating on what the bowl team might look like.

As much as Alabama would surely like to put its best foot forward in a bowl game, there could be a benefit from giving younger players an opportunity. That is especially true at quarterback, where Jalen Milroe’s performance was underwhelming in spot duty this season and five-star freshman Ty Simpson saw little playing time.

The Tide has plenty to evaluate in terms of where it could look for help in the transfer portal — maybe even at quarterback — and also what changes might be necessary on its coaching staff.

For the first week of November, these are unfamiliar questions for Alabama to face. But in one of the final years of a college football era in which two losses end a season, they are now relevant.

That’s a great point. Free agency may usher in a new trend of bowl season becoming a tryout for the following year, since coaches can now fix any roster issues immediately through transfers.

Pat Forde notes that the lack of turnovers, which is something of a fickle metric, is the biggest issue for the Tide this year.

But perhaps the biggest departure of all from ‘Alabusiness As Usual’ is a defense that isn’t producing enough big plays—specifically, the extreme reduction in takeaways (4). From 2008 to ’21, the Tide averaged 25.2 takeaways per season. The total thus far this year: six. That’s last in the SEC and tied for 127th nationally, which is shocking for a Saban team. And LSU was the fourth opponent this season to not turn the ball over at all against Alabama, which is more than the previous three seasons combined.

This team was supposed to be elite defensively, with linebacker Will Anderson Jr. leading what was expected to be a vaunted pass rush and a secondary touted as one of the best in the nation. But the unit hasn’t done enough in the turnover department to turn close games into blowouts or losses into wins.

Kirk McNair isn’t ready to call this the end of an era.

Bama had gone 6-5 in 1969 and 6-5-1 in 1970 and the rest of the Southeastern Conference – and the nation for that matter – thought it’s long college football nightmare of looking up at Alabama was over.

In the 1960s, Alabama’s team had won three national championships (1961-64-65) and 90 games, more than any other.

There were predictions of when Bryant would retire.

As it turned out, it would be a while.

In 1971 Alabama switched to the wishbone offense, went 11-0 in regular season play (including a 32-15 win over the Vols), and went on to one of the most dominant decades in college football. In the 1970s, the Crimson Tide won three more national championships (1973-78-79), eight SEC titles, and 103 games, again more than any other team in the nation.

Now, it’s important to note that Bryant was only 57 years old in 1970 while Saban just turned 71, but Saban is in far better health. It’s tough to imagine Nick coaching another decade, but that certainly doesn’t mean that he’s done winning. Greg McElroy, however, wonders if the modern player is going to drive Saban in to retirement.

“The world’s changed beneath him. The player that he used to have play for him genuinely wanted to do right by him, genuinely wanted to win at all cost. Didn’t care about NIL. Didn’t care about the NFL. It was on the back burner. It was a dream for everyone, but it was not the No. 1 dream. The No. 1 dream was to win, and we just wanted to play for Alabama, and we were proud to be playing for Alabama. That was a real honor for us. Now, I think there are a lot of players that view it as an obligation — ‘Man, if I could just go pro, I’d go pro right now. I don’t care about Alabama.’ And don’t let their Twitter handles fool you. A lot of these guys don’t care about Alabama. They use it, they look at it as transactional. ... Coach Saban coached a national championship team two years ago. We’ve talked about the 2020 season. That was a culture season. ... It’s tougher now to get the kids to do what you want them to do. I think the modern-day player frustrates him, probably — he hasn’t told me that, I just think that just knowing what was always important to him.”

Last, Nate Oats was pleased with the blue collar basketball his team displayed in the opener.

“Sometimes I think when guys’ offense goes bad, they quit playing hard,” Oats said after the game. “I didn’t think we had much of that tonight. We couldn’t make a three, turned the ball over too much and guys just kept playing hard. So I was pretty happy with our effort and our competitiveness.”

Four players (Miller, Griffen, Noah Clowney, Charles Bediako and) finished with double-digit rebounds. In their Crimson Tide debuts, Miller (14 points, 13 rebounds) and Sears (12 points, 10 rebounds) recorded double-doubles. Clowney was one point away from a double-double.

“We’ve got a lot more length and athleticism than we did a year ago,” Oats said. “Even Sears went in and got 10 rebounds. So our guards are a little tougher, gritty a little bit more physical.”

Within the first few minutes, it was evident that Sears is a tough dude. We will see later on how he is able to stack up talent-wise with some of the best point guards, but he got after it on defense and looks scared of absolutely nothing. It was just one game, but the attitude and hustle we saw from the squad was refreshing.

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

Roll Tide.