clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jumbo Package: Alabama looking to break tendencies ahead of Rose Bowl

All of your non-recruiting Alabama news

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Football: SEC Football Championship-Georgia at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Since my other article this morning covers all of the National Signing Day news, this Jumbo Package will be a bit abbreviated. If you’re more interested in recruiting stuff, go read that instead.

Well, other than linking this recap from Fox Sports, since I like when national outlets praise Alabama.

The Crimson Tide began the early signing period with the No. 4 class in the country in what would be viewed as an incredible haul for most schools and a disappointing group for head coach Nick Saban. But come Wednesday, Saban did what Saban does and flipped a pair of blue-chip prospects to reach No. 2 in the national rankings, briefly threatening Georgia for the top spot. First, Alabama pried four-star athlete/wide receiver Aeryn Hampton (No. 224 overall, No. 11 ATH) from a verbal commitment to Texas. Then, Saban and his staff convinced four-star tailback Kevin Riley (No. 76 overall, No. 4 RB) to bail on Miami in favor of the Crimson Tide. Those additions gave Saban a total of 20 four- and five-star signees with an average prospect score of 92.82, which sits third behind Georgia and Ohio State. The gem of the class is five-star quarterback Julian Sayin (No. 5 overall, No. 1 QB), who was named MVP at the Elite 11 Finals and supplanted Dylan Raiola as the No. 1 signal-caller in the country. Grade: A+

Alabama backup quarterback Tyler Buchner says he will transfer back to Notre Dame to play lacrosse following the Crimson Tide’s run in the College Football Playoff.

Buchner, who began his football career with the Fighting Irish and was the starting quarterback to begin the 2022 season, has yet to officially enter the transfer portal but announced Wednesday on social media that he will return to Notre Dame and earn his degree in May. He transferred to Alabama following spring practice earlier this year and reunited with offensive coordinator Tommy Rees.

“I’ll be continuing my initial commitment to Alabama Football through the playoff and finishing what I started,” Buchner wrote on X. “I can’t thank everyone enough for their continued support.”

Well, best of luck to Buchner. Here’s to hoping we can make sure he gets a National Championship ring for his one season of service at Alabama!

Well, this was a weird piece of news to get released late last night:

Police in Tuscaloosa arrested redshirt freshman offensive lineman Elijah Pritchett Wednesday night and charged him with knowingly passing on a sexually transmitted disease.

Stephanie Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Tuscaloosa Police Department, confirmed a report was filed last week that led to a warrant for Pritchett’s arrest being issued and served Wednesday evening.

Pritchett, 19, was charged under AL Code § 22-11A-21, which classifies the knowing transmission of a sexually transmitted disease as a Class C misdemeanor.

I wonder how much this had to do with Pritchett entering and then removing himself from the transfer portal last week? Regardless, the backup OT has definitely now gotten his name in the news a lot in the last 7 days.

Anyway, on to some talk about the upcoming Rose Bowl.

“The first three days of practice we’ve really tried to focus on fundamentals,” Saban said Monday. “I think everybody’s got to practice with a plan, a sense of purpose. Everybody’s got to kind of reinvest into conditioning, reinvest into fundamental techniques, discipline to execute, blocking, tackling. It will all translate into positive performance in the game.”

The Crimson Tide continued practice Tuesday. It’s a busy time of year, with the early signing period for the recruiting class of 2024 starting on Wednesday, and the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl matchup with Michigan coming up fast.

Saban was complimentary of how his team has handled the time so far. His quarterback agreed with him on how important emphasizing fundamentals is early in the bowl practice time.

“With us, we just try to fall back on our level of training and work on our fundamentals and read things properly and little things like that,” Jalen Milroe said Tuesday. “We’re trying to take our game to the next step in this time period before Michigan. We’re really trying to master our game and improve and little things like that. This is a great opportunity for our team, and I’m happy to have this time.”

“Uh, not really,” coach Nick Saban said when asked whether he had added concerns based on findings that a Michigan staffer attended and paid for others to attend games of future UM opponents with the purpose of stealing signs, in violation of NCAA rules. “We always change things up a little bit. We’re focused on what we have to do to try to get good execution and we’re not really concerned about any of that stuff.”

Saban said his coaching staff goes through the same self-evaluation process ahead of postseason play that it does during an idle week. Along with whatever signal changes are in order, the staff also seeks to find tendencies in the Crimson Tide’s play that should be broken.

I like hearing about the staff looking to self-scout for tendencies, and here’s to hoping it goes well for the Tide in a couple of weeks.

Alabama surrendered 43 sacks this season, second-most in the SEC and almost double what it had allowed in 13 games last year. Texas sacked Milroe five times in Week 2 and notched nine TFLs. USF sacked the Tide QBs five more times the next week. Milroe was sacked 23 times in the following five games. In the last five games, Alabama has allowed only eight sacks.

“What they were up front at the time, that was as bad as they’d been in a couple of years,” said a head coach who faced Alabama in the first half of the season.

No player seemed to have come further on the line than Proctor. According to Pro Football Focus, the former five-star recruit allowed multiple sacks in four games and has surrendered 11 sacks this season.

“He looked lost against Texas and USF,” said an SEC defensive coordinator who faced Alabama in the middle of the season. “He’s gotten a lot better. He’s not an elite mover. To me, he’s more of an Orlando Brown-type of O-lineman.”

“I think he’s improved a ton,” said an SEC defensive line coach. “He really went though those growing pains, but he’s responded and the stage hasn’t been too big for him. They’re (the offensive line) clicking at the right time.”

While most of the praise has gone toward Jalen Milroe and Tommy Rees for improving the offense as the year has gone one, I think the growth from Kadyn Proctor has been the #1 factor for Alabama’s improvement. It was an absolute disaster early in the season, and he’s now almost totally locked down the left side of the line. It’s made a huge difference for Milroe.

That’s all for today. Roll Tide!