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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Might Alabama’s offensive line be better than expected in 2022?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Cincinnati v Alabama Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Gump Day, everyone!

The Longhorns didn’t have a pass rusher log three sacks all season last year. It’s leader, former Alabama linebacker Ben Davis, notched 2.5 after transferring for his last season of eligibility. Shockingly enough, Texas also failed to attract a proven pass rusher from the transfer portal, despite that being the program’s most glaring concern. You’d think a wide-open opportunity to rush the passer for a program as high-profile as the Longhorns, in a pass-happy league like the Big 12, would cause a Texas-sized portal stampede, but that’s for another column.

Goodbread does have a bit of a point here... Alabama faces very, very few proven pass rushers going into this season, which should alleviate things a little and hopefully help the Tide’s offensive line gel early in the season.

Mostly, though, I wanted to highlight this gem: “The Longhorns didn’t have a pass rusher log three sacks all season last year. It’s leader, former Alabama linebacker Ben Davis, notched 2.5 after transferring for his last season of eligibility.”

Just... Man. Cmon, Texas, that was just sad.

Speaking of pass rush, Blake Brockermeyer is doing some writing for BamaOnline, and put together a nice scouting report on Will Anderson:

Anderson is a tempo-setter and throwback player and the alpha entering his third and last season. Anderson practices just as hard as he plays on Saturdays and is a great mentor to the younger players on doing things the Alabama way. The No. 5 prospect in 2020’s Top247, Anderson will be a top-pick in the 2023 NFL Draft as most evaluators will likely have him as the best player available but there are also two elite quarterbacks that I wrote about last week that hold a lot of value.

What’s most scary is he’s nowhere near his ceiling but I did notice this spring that he has developed his hands and is using the side-scissors hand swipe to add to his elite get off, explosiveness, and bullrush.

Spoiler alert: Will Anderson has no weaknesses, outside of pass coverage. Watch out, college football. He’s coming for your QBs for one more season.

“Now, what does the College Football Playoff look like going forward? We’re gonna make the best decision that we can for Alabama and the best decision for the SEC.”

But like his head football coach, Byrne is in favor of nine SEC games. And he isn’t alone.

“I can tell you there’s a lot of support for nine games in the room,” Byrne said. “I think we’re just kind of working through what that looks like and what the right decision is for the long-term health of the SEC and college football as a whole. And I know we’ll find a good landing spot here, whether it’s this summer or early in the fall.”

Pretty much the only ones that are NOT in favor of 9 SEC games are those scared of playing them. Not naming names, of course.

The way Byrne talked about it in this article, though, it sounds like the 9-game schedule is likely going to be the path forward... The SEC is just taking their time trying to decide how best to go about it.

And among football programs, the Crimson Tide had the third-highest score among FBS schools. Its 997 ranked behind only Clemson and Ole Miss, both of whom scored 999.

That score will earn Nick Saban a $100,000 bonus since Alabama’s score ranks in the top four among SEC football programs, according to his contract last updated in the summer of 2021.

The 997 is the highest score for an Alabama football team since the APR was introduced in the 2004-05 academic year. The Tide scored a 916 in the first year but went up or stayed the same in every year that followed. It scored a 990 in the last year scores were revealed for the 2018-19 year.

Roll Students Roll!

Not only was football near the top of the nation, Alabama’s Men’s Basketball, Men’s Golf, Women’s Golf, Gymnastics, Soccer, and Volleyball all got perfect scores. And all but 3 sports beat the national average.

In NFL news, I absolutely love this line from Da’Ron Payne:

Asked if Del Rio’s previous comments would have any impact on him, Payne said: “No, man. I play football.”

I’m leaving out any commentary on Del Rio’s comments. But Payne’s delivery of this line was just wonderful.

When the Tennessee Titans opened a three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, running back Derrick Henry was ready to go. The former Alabama All-American had been absent from the preceding activities in the Titans’ offseason program, which were voluntary. But that doesn’t mean Henry wasn’t working to prepare for the 2022 NFL campaign.

“In 2020, whenever COVID hit, we had to train by ourselves, and I really enjoyed that,” Henry said on Tuesday. “I got to go work out when I wanted to, whether it was twice a day or three times a day or twice a day and go to the field. Last year, I did the same thing, so I just felt like if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and continue to do those things.

Henry was well on his way to getting another 2000 yard season and claiming his 3rd straight NFL rushing crown in 2021 before the mortal bones in his foot fractured. Despite playing in only 8 games (less than half of the season), Henry finished 9th in the NFL in rushing yards.

With an offseason to stew over it, Henry will be looking to come back and claim his rightful throne.

Roll Tide!