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Jumbo Package: Second-Half Kevin Steele is the secret ingredient

You might score on Alabama in the first half... But you better score enough to win, because you aren’t getting many more points

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Saban was asked about Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s comments, where he told reporters he wasn’t going to allow the pressure of winning to overtake his joy of coaching. Saban said he hadn’t heard what Swinney said, but explained his own process.

“The way I try to manage it is focus on the game that we’re playing,” Saban said. “Trying to get our team prepared to play the best that they can play. Don’t listen to the noise outside, whether it’s good noise, bad noise, rat poison, whatever. And try to keep our team focused on the task at hand.

“As well as, it goes both ways. You known when you have success, sometimes you get complacent. When you get criticized, it’s frustrating but best thing I’ve found to do is not listen to it either way and stay focused on what’s in front of you.”

Saban said it was his staff’s job to offer critiques on Alabama and filter out the outside influences. He said their main objective was to prepare players to play and create value for themselves.

“Outside noise to me, whether it creates expectation or is criticism, is really insignificant,” Saban said. “I don’t know what some guy puts on the the internet that’s sitting in his basement all day with nothing else to do. I don’t know what that means to us.”

In other words, Alabama has a coach who is a master at not letting anything get in his way... Meanwhile, Dabo gets a bit prickly any time someone questions him.

Alabama is good at football. It’s an evergreen statement over the last 15 years. For the first month of the season the wheels were shaking on Crimson Tide’s offensive machine. It’s abundantly clear that’s no longer the case.

Alabama travels to Kroger Field Saturday a week after quarterback Jalen Milroe rushed for four touchdowns and totaled 374 yards in a 42-28 win over LSU. Milroe’s big arm has made Alabama one of the most explosive offenses in the SEC. The Kentucky defense knows there’s a tall task at hand.

“It’s a big opportunity, especially on the defensive side of the ball, letting everyone know how good our defense is, showing them how we come together,” said defensive lineman Deone Walker.

The Kentucky defense was gashed for three straight weeks, allowing 42 points per game, before bouncing back at Mississippi State. The Cats limited the Bulldogs to three points and 3.3 yards per play.

I enjoyed the way this Kentucky writer opened the article. “Alabama is good at football.” It seemed for a while there that the entire nation had convinced themselves that Alabama was not, in fact, good at football. Until the Tide out-gunned the current Heisman favorite.

Next, here’s a weekly piece from BamaCentral that I’ve been enjoying:

After a bit of a dismal first drive effort offensively Jalen Milroe begins to take over. He completes two passes and manages two big runs, including the game-tying touchdown.

Snap 1 - 1&10: Jalen Milroe completes a short pass to Kendrick Law acting as a slider out of the backfield. Laws’s athleticism gains a first down after catch.

Snap 2 - 1&10: JAM Miller saw second team action and this seems like a run action we’ve seen a lot, but with personnel mixed up. 12 personnel and Law acts as the lead blocker and Miller gains four yards.

Snap 3 - 2&6: JC Latham is beat inside pretty quickly and Milroe scrambles out of the pocket for 11-yards.

Snap 4 - 1&10: Tommy Rees anticipates what the defense will be and Milroe reads the zone coverage perfectly hitting Kobe Prentice as Jermaine Burton runs a clear-out.

Snap 5 - 1&10: Milroe fakes the handoff and runs 23-yards around the left side for a touchdown. Nice blocking from sometimes spotty blockers this year in Burton and Amari Niblack. The Alabama QB outruns the safety to tie the game back up.

I like how he goes play-by-play and breaks it down by drive through the whole game, and includes a clip of each drive to watch. Just a very useful, informative piece of writing that few people have the patience or willingness to do.

“Right now the Reggie Bush, Percy Harvin of college football is playing quarterback at Alabama, and they’re running him,” Meyer said on “Urban’s Take with Tim May.” “He had 130 yards rushing, 20-something carries, 25 carries, and there’s a couple clips on that video tape that he is, other than Marvin Harrison, he’s the best athlete in college football and he’s touching the ball every snap at Alabama.”

That’s pretty high praise. Bush, who won the 2005 Heisman Trophy as a running back at USC, and Harvin, who helped the Florida Gators to a 2008 national title, are consider two of the most dynamic college football players to step foot on a field.

“This guy is, I heard about it, you could see it early on, but he is the best athlete on the field when he plays,” Meyer said. “To have that guy touch the ball every snap … at times the play was dead and he gets 30 yards. That was the (Ohio State quarterback) Braxton Miller effect that we had back in 2012.”

Call me cynical, but I bet Jalen Milroe has a bit of let down game against Kentucky this weekend. Too much hype over beating up a horrendous LSU defense, and now he’s being mentioned in the same breath as Reggie Bush and Percy Harvin? That’s just asking for fall back to earth this weekend.

The second half has become the turning point in just about every contest during this impressive stretch. In the 120 second-half minutes against Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Tennessee and LSU, Alabama had an 82-13 advantage.

82-13. Think about that.

Both the offense and defense are responsible, but it’s defensive coordinator Kevin Steele’s changes that are the most obvious.

The Crimson Tide allowed three points in the second half to both the Rebels and the Aggies. Alabama shutout the Volunteers in the final 30 minutes. And on Saturday, the Tigers scored 28 in the first 34 minutes of the game.

Then, nothing else.

“We all contribute to trying to make adjustments in the games,” Saban said on Monday. “Kevin’s done a really good job. He’s in the box, so he has a really good perspective of what we didn’t do correctly, what we need to fix. What’s not working, what might work better. But I think we also do a great job on the sidelines of showing the players the series before. The first series of the second half was not a good one for us, but we actually played better toward the end of the game. But I think we need to have a little more consistency. The drive right before the half was not great. The first drive of the second half was not great, but I thought we played really, really well after that.”

Well would you look at that? A coordinator in the booth can be successful, despite what many on the message boards seem to think.

Second-Half Kevin Steele has been nothing short of miraculous so far this season.

Speaking of, is Saban implying here that Steele is doing something that previous D.C.(s) did not do?

“My eye is all red,” Saban said. “I went to the doctor. He asks if you’re coughing, are you sick, and all that. He said it must be from yelling. I guess I do like the relief of other people getting on players when they need it. Not in a negative way, but in a way that is inspiring to them and gets them to play better.”

Does Steele, a veteran defensive coordinator do that often?

“He’s pretty soft-spoken most of the time,” Saban said. “When he does get on or say something, everybody listens.”

I’ll just leave things there... :)

Roll Tide!