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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

It’s a good time to be an Alabama fan. As always

NCAA Basketball: Alabama at Louisiana State Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

We’ll start with hoops and some quotes from Nate Oats:

It doesn’t take much thought to realize that Alabama’s basketball schedule was going to be difficult in the second half of the season and following Tuesday’s practice Crimson Tide Coach Nate Oats laid it out. “We’ve got a big stretch coming up, starting with Florida and then two tough road games (at Auburn Saturday and Tennessee next Wednesday).”

He said, “There are no easy wins in the SEC.”

Bama hosts Florida at 8 p.m. CST Wednesday (ESPN2).

Alabama is 20-3 overall and 10-0 in Southeastern Conference play and ranked third in the nation with an 11-0 record in Coleman Coliseum. Florida is 13-10, 6-4, but last week turned in a 67-43 win over Tennessee when the Vols were ranked second in the nation and then played Kentucky down to the wire in a 72-67 loss at Rupp Arena Saturday. The Gators are 3-4 in road games.

“They have a new coach and it took them a little while to get into the system,” Oats said. The 7-5 pre-conference Florida schedule, much like Alabama’s, was a competitive one with the five losses coming at the hands of FAU, Xavier, West Virginia, UConn, and Oklahoma. In the SEC-Big 12 challenge Florida fell to Kansas State.

The next three games are going to be a crazy tough stretch for the Tide. And if they manage to get through undefeated, I don’t know if I’ll be able to contain myself. And it’s all thanks to Nate Oats, who, thankfully, just got a nice contract extension.

“I think it’s the confidence that he instills in you,” Quinerly said. “Obviously, if you play basketball, you need to be confident in yourself, but it’s another thing when that guy who’s running things instills the same type of confidence in you that you have in yourself.

“And I think that’s one of the biggest things, that’s why he kind of gets the best out of his guys, and that’s why you see guys shoot the ball so well sometimes. Guys are very confident, and he’s big on that.”

I’ve never seen anything quite like what Oats has been doing at Alabama. Our basketball program has been in a bit of a purgatory for a long, long time. So seeing them reach new heights like this has been amazing. The sky is the limit on this season and going forward.

Alabama is returning 40 percent of its production from last season, which ranks 125th in the country. That includes 43 percent of its offensive production — receiving yards, passing yards, rushing yards and offensive line snaps played — coming back, and 38 percent coming back on defense. The defensive number includes tackles, passes defenses, tackles for loss and sacks.

That landed the Tide in ESPN’s “most likely to regress in 2023″ category, which included five total teams from its January “way-too-early” top 25 for the 2023 season that ranked 75th or worse in returning production. The others in that category were TCU, Kansas State, UTSA and Iowa.

Florida State, Texas A&M and Texas were among the teams landing in ESPN’s “most likely to improve in 2023″ category. The Seminoles were No. 4 in ESPN’s “way-too-early” top 25 for 2023, ahead of Alabama at No. 5. The Longhorns, which were No. 16, travel to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama on Sept. 9.

ESPN writer Bill Connelly, who compiled the statistical analysis, was not exactly sounding the alarm about Alabama in 2023.

“I’m not going to pretend to be all that worried about Nick Saban,” he wrote. “He’s still only two seasons removed from fielding his best-ever team (the 2020 rendition), and while Georgia has clearly surpassed the Crimson Tide for now, the Tide still finished second in SP+ in each of the past two seasons.

“That said, Saban is going to be dealing with quite a bit more change than usual in 2023.”

“Saban’s recruiting success is not even slightly waning, and most of the open on-field roles will be filled by recent blue-chippers who might quickly thrive,” Connelly wrote. “But this is a particularly stout amount of turnover, and there’s a chance the Tide start 2023 as low as, gasp, third or fourth in SP+.”

Of course, some could argue that, considering Alabama had their worst regular season since 2010, moving on 60% of the contributors from last year’s team might be a good thing.

Not me, though. I would not argue that. Not at all.

In any case, I mostly just wanted to link this for a little bit of snark from Bill Connelly. As much as the sky was falling for Alabama fans, the Tide was still, statistically, the 2nd best team in the whole country. I think we’re fine.

Again, it came down to one final play.

With Alabama up six in the closing seconds, Ole Miss’ sleepy offense kicked back into gear.

“Personally I thought we had a lot of confidence,” said Broeker, an offensive lineman. “I thought, especially after those two big running plays with (Quinshon Judkins) I thought we were going to win it but they kinda stepped up and made some really big plays down the stretch. It was a crazy moment. I thought it was a crazy game. Looking back on it, it was really fun with a fun atmosphere.”

I’ve got to admit, this quote makes me more angry than the quotes from the Tennessee player in this article. Teams shouldn’t be looking back on their games against Alabama as “fun.” I want the days back when a good team would lose to the Tide and then tailspin the rest of the season.

Hopefully, the addition of Kevin Steele to the defensive coaching staff will bring back some of that old-school “step-on-their-throat” mentality.

For what it’s worth, Marquis Maze, Reggie Ragland, and HaHa Clinton-Dix have all been publicly expressing their enthusiasm at having Steele back in Tuscaloosa.

Finally, the last football event of the season is about to feature a trio of Alabama players in DeVonta Smith, Landon Dickerson, and Jalen Hurts. Obviously, I am a huge Eagles fan right now.

And to really kick off your day right, check out Mark Ingram hyping up Smitty:

Devonta Smith is only going to keep getting better in the NFL. The Slim Reaper is a savage.

Roll Tide!