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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Jase McClellan gears up for a breakout senior season

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

We’ll start with a little bad news:

Alabama guard Jaden Bradley has entered the transfer portal, BamaOnLine has confirmed, becoming the second Crimson Tide basketball player to transfer after the 2022-23 season.

A former McDonald’s All-American and 5-star recruit, Bradley appeared in all 37 games during his lone season spent in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and started 22 games. The SEC All-Freshman Team selection averaged 6.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game as a rookie last season.

Averaging 19.9 minutes per contest, Bradley’s role diminished toward the end of the season after Jahvon Quinerly started to look like his old self. Bradley scored 235 points during his first year of college, but over his last 10 games in the final month of play, he only scored 23 points.

For what it’s worth, I totally understand Bradley wanting a change of scenery after the off-field saga surrounding everything last season combined with his diminishing playing time towards the end of the season.

That said, he’d have likely been one of the main starters next year, so his loss definitely hurts the depth and rotation.

Although the Associated Press has its final men’s college basketball poll following the regular season and conference tournaments, the Coaches Poll delivers its final reckoning after the NCAA Tournament. Also, unlike the final AP and Coaches college football polls where the four teams in the College Football Playoff were ranked in the top four spots (all common sense to the contrary), the Coaches Poll went only with the top two — Connecticut number one (unanimously, all 32 coaches going with the tournament champion) and runner-up San Diego State second.

Miami was third and Alabama fourth.

But, hey, to cap off the end of the hoops season, Alabama was officially named the 4th best team in the country in the 2022-2023 season. I know we all wanted that sweet #1... But this is by far the highest Alabama has been in my lifetime, and maybe the highest in program history? (Someone fact check me on that).

“One thing we talked about coming into spring practice is attention to detail,” McClellan said. “One thing we’re harping on on the offensive side of the ball is being physical. Being mentally prepared, less penalties before the snap and just toning that stuff down and bringing up the physicality.”

McClellan isn’t the first offensive player for Alabama to mention being more physical on that side of the football. JC Latham, a returning starter along the offensive line, said he wants his unit to be “ruthless” and for opposing teams to be afraid of the Tide’s front five this fall. After six spring practices, McClellan said he has noticed a difference in the guys blocking for him.

“Those guys up front are being very physical at practice,” said McClellan of his offensive line. “That’s something we’re working on. I love to see it.”

Your words to my ears, Jase.

While the defense needs the same focus on less penalties, more physicality, its good to know that the running game/OL is focusing on what we as fans all knew was a problem the last two seasons.

Last year, McClellan and Roydell Williams both played the whole season, but both were also on their first season back from ACL injuries. So don’t be surprised if we see a hefty uptick in athletic ability and performance from both senior running backs over what we saw last year. (And in McClellan’s case, an uptick from his already impressive 6.2 yards per carry career average could propel him into superstar level).

Troy was the first, Trent Dilfer and UAB was second.

If an offer was extended for the Trojans to travel north on Highway 231 and play the Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium in a spring exhibition, Troy head coach Jon Sumrall is down.

I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I’d go play.

— Jon Sumrall, via 247 Sports

The same goes for Dilfer, who is still in his first six months with UAB. He isn’t backing down from the mighty Crimson Tide, because why would he? The Blazers have nothing to lose!

I was jumping out my skin like, yes! If (Saban) called tomorrow and asked if we wanted to get together to scrimmage, I’d get on the buses now and take the team to Tuscaloosa.

— Trent Dilfer, via Chris Vannini

Specifically, Dilfer appreciated Freeze’s mention of injury risk during a game versus a practice or intra-squad scrimmage. He thinks that is where progress could be made in changing the rules.

You’ve probably seen the headlines by now on this, so I’m mostly just linking to have an excuse to give some of my own thoughts.

I’m not wholly against the idea of a scrimmage. We already do it in basketball with a pre-season scrimmage. And I definitely think it could bring a lot of fun and intrigue to the spring.

That said, injuries aside, I have some concerns. First, I think it eliminates some of the controlled scenarios and matchups that Saban wants to set up in the A-Day game. There’d also be less snaps to go around to get so many players on the 4th team on the field for a significant amount of time. And, in terms of pageantry, I think we’d lose some of the feel of having an entire game of only Alabama players and Alabama fans. It would get over-commercialized and there’d be too much rooting interest, even if an entire summer of schadenfreude after Auburn loses to Troy would be tremendously entertaining.

Finally, us not being able to work ourselves into a fret after the offense beat the defense or vice versa for the rest of the spring just wouldn’t be right.