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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Alabama lands 4 on Coaches Preseason All-SEC

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Gump Day! What better way to kick it off than this?

Thanks for the recruiting pitch, Miles!

For the first time since before Jalen Hurts, the Alabama quarterback picture is unclear. Nick Saban and the Alabama football dynasty have enjoyed a long run of elite quarterback play. The Crimson Tide’s last four quarterbacks (Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, and Bryce Young) are all currently NFL starters. But with time running out before the start of the 2023 season, Alabama still hasn’t chosen a starting quarterback. Will it be 2022 backup Jalen Milroe? Former 5-star Ty Simpson? Or will Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner win the job?

I would like to push back a little on this sentiment that I’ve seen quite often. There’s a little bit of revisionist history going into the 2020 season.

Mac Jones hadn’t exactly proven he was going to be a starter-caliber player going into 2020. He had some good moments and a nice game against Michigan at the end, but he also threw two pick-sixes vs Auburn and looked like a deer in the headlights a couple of times earlier in the season when he took over for an injured Tua Tagovailoa mid-game.

Bryce Young was an exciting 5-star freshman that many hoped and predicted would win the job over Mac. Even at RBR, we wound up having to go back at the end of the 2020 season to own up to our predictions that Mac Jones wouldn’t cut it.

With high-octane passing offenses taking over college football in the mid-2010s, Coach Nick Saban begrudgingly made the decision to concede to the beat of the sport, installing a modernized quick-strike attack that fit his personnel.

Although the spread is the furthest thing from Saban’s preferred style, he hired several excellent coordinators to help facilitate the process, such as Mike Locksley and Steve Sarkisian.

I would argue that once he made the switch, spread offenses under Saban were as good as anywhere else in the country. Over the years, however, these offenses gradually grew more and more pass-heavy and quarterback reliant. At some point, it just went too far. By 2022, Bryce Young was essentially carrying the Alabama offense on his back at some points.

Ok, the overall content of this article from BamaHammer is pretty much just fan/gump optimism (it’s Fansided... That’s what to expect!) that just kind of smooths over a lot of very legitimate concerns about Alabama’s offense under Tommy Rees and talks about balance without defining it.

Regardless, I think one little point here is a big one: “At some point, it just went too far. By 2022, Bryce Young was essentially carrying the Alabama offense on his back at some points.”

Look, Alabama was similarly pass-heavy under Mike Locksley and Steve Sarkisian, being close to 50/50, plus or minus a couple of points from 2018-22. The difference under Bill O’Brien is that they became QB reliant. In 2020, for example, when the offense HAD to start moving, you threw a screen or a quick slant to DeVonta Smith, or tossed a little dump off too Najee Harris. If you HAD to get a 3rd down, you got it to Najee.

But in 2021 and 2022, the offense no longer became about getting the ball to playmakers in space - Bryce Young was the playmaker in space. The catch was the formality at the end of the highlight play, not the beginning of a highlight.

With Rees coming in and the Tide breaking in a new QB, the hope is that the Tide gets back to an offense that isn’t quite so centralized (and, therefore, predictable).

Every player has bad games, the key is to have a roster and scheme able to shift the load on the fly to make up for it.

The 2023 Preseason Coaches All-SEC Football Teams were announced by the conference Tuesday, and three schools — Alabama, Georgia and LSU — dominated the honors. The Crimson Tide and the two-time reigning national champion Bulldogs led the charge with 14 players selected each across the three preseason teams, followed by the Tigers with 11 total selections.

As expected, J.C. Latham, Kool-Aid McKinstry, Dallas Turner, and Will Reichard are the Tide’s representatives on the first team. What hurts is that Georgia nearly tripled that output with 10 first teamers. Sure, Alabama evened out the total count by the third team, but still. It’s about time this whole Bulldog thing runs its course.

1st team

JC Latham

Kool-Aid McKinstry (twice, also as a return man)

Dallas Turner

2nd team

Jase McClellan

Jermaine Burton

Tyler Booker

Jaheim Oatis

Justin Eboigbe

Malachi Moore

Kneeland Hibbett

Third team

Ja’Corey Brooks

Tim Smith

Chris Braswell

In the summer prior to his senior season, the Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek five-star safety picked Alabama over Georgia, Ohio State, Notre Dame and North Carolina, where his brother, Josh, played. There are questions at safety for the Crimson Tide this season but Downs could answer many of them and start right away.

Not the biggest player ever, Downs is so instinctual and does a great job using his athleticism to make plays. It also wouldn’t be a shock to see five-star

Kadyn Proctor at offensive tackle and quarterback Dylan Lonergan has been getting early rave reviews, too.

Caleb Downs is definitely getting noticed outside of Tuscaloosa already, and it seems like Proctor’s recent sightings with the first team OL and the Lonergan rumors are getting out as well.

May all the freshmen go on to be superstars. I like that sound of that.

Roll Tide!