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Jumbo Package: Brian Branch is standing out in the secondary

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 10 CFP National Championship Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. It was a fine weekend on the diamond as softball took the first two in Gainesville with one left today, and baseball swept #7 Ole Miss in Oxford. Brian Bohannon’s squad now sits at 7-5 in SEC play, good for a three way tie for second place in the West and only one game behind Arkansas for the division lead. Also, this was hilarious.

Such a shame.

In some other expected news, Keon Ellis has signed with an agent and will officially not be returning to school for a super senior season.

The football team had its second scrimmage of the spring on Saturday, and reports are that the secondary had a day.

Jackson and Kool-Aid McKinstry served as the first-team cornerback in the formation, while Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams were the two deep safeties. Branch manned the Star position while Moore took on the Money role.

According to one source, Saban spoke about the new formation after the scrimmage, stating the team wanted to find a way to get its three best pass rushers — Anderson, Braswell and Turner — on the field at the same time. The setup would be used almost exclusively on third-and-long and other passing situations.

On the flip side, he said Milroe had a few interceptions but that number didn’t tell the whole truth since there were a few balls that hit receivers’ hands before going to the defense.

“If you look at the statistics you’ll say, ‘wow, the quarterback threw an interception or two,’ but really wasn’t his fault,” Saban said. “You have to be careful in how you analyze and make sure you’re looking at what that individual needs to do to continue to get better. He’s got a much better command of the offense. He’s much more confident. He makes a lot better decisions because of the confidence and the knowledge and experience that he has.”

We had assumed that Branch had the nickel job on lockdown, and all indications are that he’s in for a big season. It seems that Malachi Moore will get the first look at dime. With the four man pass rush discussed in that first piece, the secondary shouldn’t have to cover for long. In Anderson, Braswell and Turner, Pete Golding is deploying the top two pass rushers in the 2020 class and the top one in the 2021 class. Just incredible.

We got another very short Saban approved highlight reel.

Nice pick six from Branch, and Jahmyr Gibbs is something to behold in open space.

Heather Dinich wonders if anyone will challenge the Tide or Dawgs.

1. Is there another CFP contender in the SEC besides Alabama and Georgia?

Eh, believe it when you see it. Texas A&M, Arkansas and Ole Miss are the most realistic options, but they’re also all stuck in the West Division with the Tide. The Aggies and Arkansas will settle it first when they face each other on Sept. 24 in the Southwest Classic at AT&T Stadium. To be taken seriously in the CFP, the Aggies will need to beat Arkansas and go 4-0 in September because October is going to be brutal with three straight road trips to Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina.

Speaking of Georgia, they have suffered some serious attrition this offseason.

Georgia has seen a flurry of transfer portal activity since winning the College Football Playoff National Championship, and now two former five-star offensive linemen added their names to the growing list of Bulldogs entertaining an exit from the program. Both Amarius Mims and Clay Webb have entered the transfer portal, Dawgs 247 confirmed on Sunday. In doing so, they become the second and third Bulldogs offensive linemen to enter the transfer portal this spring and brings the total number of Georgia players looking toward greener pastures this offseason to 11.

Last, Drew Sanders is playing Mike for the Razorbacks.

At a listed 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds, Sanders will be one of the biggest inside linebackers in college football. Sanders acknowledged that he will need to make multiple adjustments as he takes on a new role.

“Switching to a whole different position, you’ve got a bunch things you gotta change,” Sanders said. “It’s a whole different play style. You go from reading one part of the ball, you’re reading the whole field now. It’s just really kind of all aspects you gotta improve on. You’re not coming in here playing something you’ve played before. It’s all brand new. So you’ve kind of gotta work on everything a little bit as much as you can.”

That will be interesting to watch.

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

Roll Tide.