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Jumbo Package: Time for younger players to step up and seize their opportunities

That’s not us saying it; that’s Nick Saban saying it.

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

John Talty has a new book out about Nick Saban. Let’s see what the GOAT has to say...


Speaking of Saban, here’s his end-of-week presser, the most recent since the second scrimmage. Let’s just say that some of the issues that were apparent last season seem to be manifesting this year among the younger guys: some of the second-teamers haven’t fully embraced the opportunity in front of them. Unfortunate too, because they truly are just one snap away from being pressed into service. It’s distressing to hear that several youngsters are distracted with everything but making the most of their opportunities. But if you’re not a dog, you’ll wash out.

We’ll keep an eye on this.

In a nice moment of synergy, Saban also addressed James Burnip’s progress. He’s done a good just generally, but his consistency and form still don’t sound like Burnip is there, although the mental part of his game has been ironed out.

By happy coincidence, I just wrote on that very thing on Wednesday.

Speedy Louisville transfer Tyrell Harrell is on the mend after missing a significant amount of time with a foot injury. With Earle sidelined, Harrell is likely going to fill that Waddle role of home run hitter.

“He wasn’t able to practice all the time,” Saban said. “But now the last, probably the last scrimmage and this week — Tuesday, Wednesday of this week — he’s started to get more reps, I think he’s started to get more confident.

“I do think he’s a guy because of his speed can help us. I think he’s got to continue to make progress, and we’re certainly working with him and he’s had a great attitude about doing. We’ll sort of keep on keeping on with him.”

Corner is a loaded position for now, with four or five guys all vying for a starting spot. On one hand, that sort of depth is great news. On the other, you’d really rather see that two or three guys having separated themselves by now.

In another happy coincidence, our Brent Taylor just wrote on this very thing Wednesday.

CBS Sports hit us with their preseason SEC predictions. And many of them seem commonsense to me, such as wondering why in the hell Texas A&M is getting so much love?

Most overrated team

Texas A&M: The Aggies begin the year as No. 6 in the Preseason AP Top 25 and the consensus favorite to be Alabama’s top contender in the SEC West after reeling in the top recruiting class of all-time. That said, an 8-4 record and fifth-place finish in the SEC West last season doesn’t exactly scream playoff contender. Granted, they lost opening-day starter Haynes King to a season-ending injury early in 2021, but Texas A&M is the only team to finish with fewer than 10 wins in the preseason top 12. The Aggies should be in prove-it mode, especially after losing their four All-SEC players to the NFL. — Shehan Jeyarajah (also Dennis Dodd, Barrett Sallee)

This is a team that has finished as division runner-up one time under Fisher and one time under Sumlin in their decade of SEC play. They’ve never won it. And they’re a mingy 2-8 against Alabama. At some point, A&M will have to realize who they are — Bo Pelini’s Nebraska with oil money: 9-4 most years.

Come at me, bro.

Keep an eye on this one, as 4-star WR/ATH Demitrius Bell, a long-time Michigan State pickup, dropped Sparty yesterday after being given an offer by the Tide. He’s made no bones that ‘Bama is his favorite team and the Crimson Tide was his long-standing dream offer.

Bell got it, now it’s a matter of getting him signed on the dotted line.

He is very reminiscent of Slim Reaper in stature; as he’s listed at 6’1” and a fairly wiry 185 (but probably closer to 6’ and 175). I love the way he watches the pass into his hands, and actually gets his mitts out there to snag the ball. He’s not a passive receiver; he goes after it (watch the second clip below, on the slant in the red zone). He’s a fluid player, with a nice little hop, and has plainly had some solid high school coaching. Holmon Wiggins is going to love working with Demitrius, because Bell has some polish, not just athleticism.

Sam Cooper broke down the weaknesses of every contender for the 2022-2023 title, and I guess Yahoo has not really paid attention to Fall camp. 80% of the offensive line is set in stone. There are four to six WRs who have distinguished themselves at times over the Fall — not even counting Harrell. And finding corners on the outside isn’t the problem; finding the right ones out of the half-dozen who can start actually may be. And it’s a good problem to have...we think.


Tua and Jalen. Jalen and Tua (with a dash of Mac Jones!) The Eagles and Dolphins (and Patriots!) Those three are going to be joined at the hip and heart for as long as they suit up. And Jalen and Tua paired up yesterday in a joint practice/scrimmage. The result was the same as in 2018: Tua won out.

Tagovailoa completed 14 of his 20 passing attempts for 155 yards with no interceptions or touchdowns in team drills against the Eagles’ defense (which gave him a passer rating of 92.7).

Hurts, meanwhile, had a higher completion percentage (78.9%) but a substantially lower yards-per-attempt average (5.8). His passer rating (90.8) was also a tick below.

But beyond the stats, Tagovailoa was the more dangerous quarterback. He looked to stretch the field in ways Hurts did not Wednesday, connecting with Tyreek Hill on three passes of 20 or more yards. Hurts, meanwhile, was a checkdown passer for much of Wednesday’s two-hour session.

And there were plenty of other tasty morsels in there for you Shieldball types. But I particularly loved this one RE: Tua’s development between last year and this. It has been “completely different.”

The offense is different. The confidence that the guys have coming out to practice is different. The confidence that the guys have coming into the building is different. The way we do things around the building is different. Just everything. I can’t necessarily point to one thing and I think that’s what’s going to help make us a better team is us spending more time with each other, not just in the building, but outside the building. And we’ll see where this thing goes for us.”

FINALLY, time to leave you heathens with some culture.

Anyone that has been to LSU has likely walked across The Big Mound on campus, gigantic earthen humps smack dab in the middle of all those varmints. But, it turns out that those are not just any ole’ giant lumps of dirt. They may actually be the oldest man-made structures in all of North America.

How old? 11,000 years old. When agriculture was getting its start in Mesopotamia, the First Americans were constructing earthenwork mounds down the US river systems, from Cahokia to Louisiana.

A team of scientists has determined that a large mound on the campus of Louisiana State University is the oldest known human-made structure in the Americas, according to a paper published in the American Journal of Science.

The scientists behind the recent work radiocarbon dated two mounds—both roughly 20 feet tall—on LSU campus. One of the mounds (“Mound B”) began around 11,000 years ago, when people started taking soil from the surrounding areas and piling it on one site. If the scientists are correct, that age would make Mound B the oldest known human-made structure in North or South America.

If you’ve not been to LSU to see the Big Hump, fear not. Just a 20 minute drive from Tuscaloosa down 69 South will allow you to visit another archeological marvel of Amerindian culture: Moundville.

At the time of Moundville’s peak, from 1100 to 1450, it was the largest city in North America, with extensive settlement around the complex. By 1500 it would be abandoned, and the giant pyramids of Cahokia eventually claimed the “largest” title. And it’s worth the visit and worth your time and money to walk in the shadows of the past.

We’ll see you later with Random Thoughts. Have a great day, and Roll Tide


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