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Jumbo Package: Saban shares final QB, injury updates for Middle Tennessee State game

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

2023 SEC Media Days Photo by Johnnie Izquierdo/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. A long, grueling offseason finally comes to a close tomorrow as Alabama football takes the field against Middle Tennessee State. As one might expect, the sportswriters wasting energy on predictions for such a matchup are few and far between, but here are a few for you.

Expect Alabama to thwart the MTSU offensive efforts, ensuring its own team has multiple scoring chances. Notwithstanding the recent discussions around-the-clock changes, the Crimson Tide should have between six to eight possessions.

The sheer physical dominance of the Crimson Tide, especially in the forward lines, indicates that it will likely find the end zone on most possessions. Even when the primary squad takes a breather, Alabama remains a potent threat. For our Middle Tennessee vs. Alabama prediction, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it clinch a victory with a 40-plus point margin.

Alabama 49, Middle Tennessee 10: The Blue Raiders have proven they’re not afraid of Power Five competition, but there’s Power Five competition, and then there’s playing Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide might have a few blemishes with it being the first game, but expect Alabama to win and win big.

Prediction: Alabama 52, Middle Tennesse 10

In this game, we can expect the Crimson Tide to come out and make a statement against Middle Tennessee. Alabama and Nick Saban have heard all the talk that LSU is the team to beat in the SEC West, so predicting that the Crimson Tide will blow out the Blue Raiders, cover the -39.5, and hit the over 56 points.

All eyes will be on the quarterback position, and Nick Saban shared some insight on “Hey, Coach!” last night.

“I’ve told the guy who’s going to start the game, we want you to play well enough so we have an opportunity to play all the guys at the position because that’s important for us,” Saban said Thursday during his radio show at Baumhower’s Victory Grille.

Saban said Alabama would like to play more than one quarterback in the game on Saturday (6:30 p.m., SEC Network) at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson, Tyler Buchner and Dylan Lonergan have been competing for the starting quarterback job this offseason. Bryce Young started there the past two seasons before he became the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Reading between the lines there, it sounds like someone has in fact basically won the job until he loses it. “Would like to play more than one” certainly doesn’t sound like an open three- or four-man competition, does it? After all, if none of them had earned any more trust than the others, then there would be no perceived risk in playing them all.

Based on practice reports, I think most of us expect that player to be Jalen Milroe. Whoever plays QB, they will be standing behind a behemoth offensive line.

I’ve been watching football for many years, and don’t remember seeing two 350-lb. players lined up next to one another on offense at either the college or pro levels. Teams are going to have to commit some serious resources to stopping the runs to the left side.

It sounds like Justice Haynes will get to play tomorrow while Jihaad Campbell will not.

“He missed probably three or four days and he missed I think one scrimmage,’ Saban said. “He’s been practicing. He’s good. He’s a fine young man and a really good player. One of the freshman who will make a significant contribution to the team and maybe that role will continue to increase as the season goes on, but he’s doing really well.”

As for Campbell, Saban said the second-year linebacker had to get his knee scoped about a week ago. Saban said Campbell will probably be doubtful for the game on Saturday (6:30 p.m., SEC Network) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Saban said Campbell has shown promise.

Rece Davis is attempting to be the voice of depth chart reason.

“The one thing about Nick is that when he tells you why he’s doing something publicly, more times than not, that is why he’s doing it,” Davis said. “He said he wanted to keep the competition going, not only at quarterback but other players. Creates undue stress. They have started this mantra of they want to go back to be this team that you don’t want to compete against, and he doesn’t want to undercut that.

“Sooner or later, he’s going to have to put out a depth chart because the players already know what the depth chart is, they’re in practice every day and they know when they go to take their reps.”

Last, Christopher Walsh just needed to extend that offseason one more day.

That may be an extreme example, but the Southeastern Conference will soon spread to having members in 12 states, all of which will want to be on top. If they all have contrasting laws about collegiate athletics, you don’t really have much of a league any more, much less any sort of national cohesion.

It’s like taking the ongoing roster inequities in baseball, magnifying them and then applying unevenly them across the board — but especially to football. That’s why so many coaches and leagues have been lobbying Congress over the past couple of years, looking for help.

“I think the biggest challenge is we have states, beginning with the California bill [in 2019] that enacted name, image and likeness, and had a July 1, 2023 effective date,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. “We forget, if we had been on that same timeline we wouldn’t have NIL activity if that was the determining factor. Our prediction was that’s the worst way to enact name, image and likeness on a state-by-state basis, because they’re all different.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.