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Jumbo Package: Game week is upon us!

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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Syndication: Tuscaloosa News Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK

Happy Monday, everyone. First off, some awful news out of Washington DC in case you haven’t heard: Brian Robinson was shot multiple times, apparently in the leg, during an attempted carjacking. It sounds like he will be OK in time physically, but I can’t imagine how traumatic and painful that must have been. He was less than two miles from the National Mall before 6pm on a Sunday when it happened. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

In better news, congratulations! You have managed to endure yet another long, grueling offseason and made it successfully to game week. Christopher Walsh wrote about the reasons that Alabama has moved away from neutral site openers.

Financially, the neutral-site games weren’t as appealing, either. Granted, the payout grew from the $4.17 million combined that Alabama and Clemson got in 2008, to the $6 million the Crimson Tide landed eight years later to face USC in Arlington, Texas. It crushed the Trojans 52-6, but a good part of the rewards were offset by traveling costs and logistics.

Finally, the matchups were becoming increasingly difficult, as interest from other programs waned. In 2019, the Chick-fil-A Bowl scheduled Alabama against Duke and the outcome was a predictable rout.

It’s hard to believe that annual neutral site games with those types of payouts are less lucrative than home-and-homes where you get zero every other year. It’s far more likely that a combination of fan/student demand and fewer quality opponents led to the change. In any case, the most expensive cupcake in the history of the sport will be played this weekend and plenty of reasonably priced seats are available on the secondary market. Utah State opened the season with a 31-20 win over UConn in week zero, and you can read a nice primer on them here.

Tide beat writer Nick Kelly thinks two losses is the floor for this team.

Best case: 12-0. Alabama has arguably the two best players in the country on offense and defense in Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr. Add in a veteran-filled defense, and the Crimson Tide has the ability to go undefeated in the regular season.

Worst case: 10-2. Alabama’s offensive line must step up, and the new receivers need to produce at a high level. If not, the Crimson Tide could lose a couple games.

Speaking of Nick, he has some questions heading into the season.

Will tight end Cameron Latu be ready to go?

Alabama’s tight end group has more questions than answers. The group already lacked experienced depth entering the preseason. Then, Saban announced at the beginning of preseason practices that fifth-year senior Cameron Latu was going to miss time with a knee injury. Practices are not open to reporters, so it’s unclear what Latu’s status is heading into Saturday. Even if he is back, how will the missed time affect him? He doesn’t need as much preparation as the younger players at the position considering his experience. Still, the more practice and prep time the better. With minimal experienced tight end depth, another question is how the Crimson Tide will use its tight ends. Multiple-tight end sets might not be as much of an option early as in past seasons.

It seems likely that the Tide will use more two back sets this season, but even still Latu is the only tight end on the roster with any experience. This will certainly be something to watch.

Prattville High and Alabama grad Kaitlan Collins of CNN gave her view on Saban’s new deal.

“And maybe it’s not what everyone likes or what everyone thinks is the most intellectual thing to pursue for a university, but it does draw students and it does boost morale, and it makes it a really exciting campus to join. I had a great time there. He is underpaid in the sense of the return on investment that they get for what he brings to the school. And he is also a coach who is very invested in the players’ development. It is not just their four years there, it is overall that means so much to him.”

During Friday’s edition of “New Day,” CNN Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten also joined Collins and Berman with to discuss which college football teams have a shot at winning the national championship this year and which teams are trending on Google among fans across the country.

Nick Saban congratulated the Alabama students who contributed to the preparation for today’s scheduled moon launch which should be happening in a half hour or so from this writing.

Nick Saban congratulated University of Alabama graduates who helped with the effort in a video released Saturday.

“This first step to landing astronauts, including the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the moon, is an inspiration to all of us. God speed Artemis and Roll Tide.”

Last, Nick continues his “AFLAC pitchman” gig.

“For the last three years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Aflac and advocate for those facing medical debt,” Alabama coach Saban said. “In football, we run into unexpected situations in games each week, but only through preparation are we able to overcome the challenges. It’s the same thing in life, which is why I work with Aflac to help fans better prepare for unexpected health expenses they may encounter.”

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

Roll Tide.