Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
There’s a (kind of terrible) saying in business: “under-promise and over-deliver.”
That appears to be Washington coach Chris Petersen’s psychological game plan ahead of the College Football Playoff semifinal matchup against Alabama. Through no fault of his own, Petersen has spent much of the past month answering questions about Alabama’s vaunted defense. To hear his answers, the Huskies will gain no yards on the ground and will be lucky if Jake Browning isn’t decapitated by a pass rush. And he’s right. Alabama’s defense is excellent — the best most of his players will ever see. But Petersen’s offense isn’t a pushover.
Petersen is an offensive mastermind. He’s notorious for his trick plays, like the 2007 Boise State Statue of Liberty in the Fiesta Bowl, but he’s an innovator in “normal” offensive production as well.
— Coach Mario Price (@CoachMarioPrice) December 20, 2016
Every indicator is that Washington has an excellent offense, with the ability to bust big plays with speed and accurate passing. It’s true that the Huskies have only played two defenses near to top quality, and struggled against both USC and Colorado. But there’s a reason Nick Saban keeps shouting to the masses about Washington being the best team he’s faced this season, particularly on offense. To think otherwise is hubris. I don’t think it matters one lick what fans think — especially if his program is as adept at shutting out outside noise as he would like us to believe — but the last thing Saban wants to deal with headed into a New Year’s playoff semifinal in a large Southern city is his fabled relief syndrome.
As for Petersen, if Alabama expects to walk over one of the best offenses in the country in the Peach Bowl, that’d suit him just fine. He loves a surprise.
- Our countdown of the 10 best players of the Alabama football season continues with No. 3 Minkah Fitzpatrick. Check back later Thursday for the runner-up.
- While a steady diet of dominance means few iconic plays, Alabama still appears several times on SEC Country’s list of the most memorable moments of 2016.
- Washington coach Chris Petersen loves trick plays. Jonathan Allen hates them.
- Saban and players weighed in on the bowl-skipping “controversy.”
- ArDarius Stewart practiced at quarterback.
- TideSports is counting down Alabama’s 50 ‘most wanted’ recruits, beginning with 50-41.
- Fitzpatrick and O.J. Howard recall their favorite moments of the season.
- Injury-haggled Tony Brown’s replacement, freshman Shyheim Carter, has impressed his teammates in what little first-team time he’s seen.
- On offense, jack-of-all-trades Trevon Diggs has been doing the same.
- A slideshow of Alabama’s 10 best pregame suits from AL.com fashion critic Vasha Hunt.
- In injury news, nearly everyone is approaching full health.
- Travis Reier of BamaOnline has video and analysis of the Crimson Tide’s practice session on Wednesday.
- Roll Bama Roll’s countdown of plays continues with a big Reuben Foster hit.
- And its senior salute with Korren Kirven.
- And finally, AL.com has a brand new Christmas short for you.
Alabama basketball landed its biggest win of the season when it beat Arkansas State in Huntsville, 67-52, on Wednesday night. It wasn’t a beautiful game of basketball, or high-scoring, but it was one Alabama absolutely had to win. The Red Wolves are a good team that beat Georgetown earlier in the year and gave Alabama its last opportunity to really salvage an otherwise dire nonconference slate.
I’ve said all season that Alabama’s forward play would be the key to its success. As go Shannon Hale, Riley Norris, Jimmie Taylor and Donta Hall, so go the Crimson Tide. For most of the season, at least three of those players have been anonymous at any given time. Hall has had the best season of the group, playing mostly as a traditional center and more willing and able to dominate in the low post than Taylor, typically.
Those forwards dominated Wednesday night. After jumping out to a quick lead, the Red Wolves couldn’t get to the rim against Alabama, barring a few fastbreaks. The team combined to block seven shots, led by Hall’s four. Taylor led Alabama’s scorers with 12 points, by far his best of the season. Taylor has the tools to dominate all but the best front courts in the country, if he can stay out of foul trouble and play with aggression. Even Hale contributed 9 points in his liveliest game of the year. Hale scored several nice driving baskets, though he was helped by some Arkansas State defensive breakdowns.
Strangely, Alabama lost the rebound battle, 37-34. But when you hold opponents to 36 percent shooting, a minus 3 rebound mark can be forgiven.
Built by Bama
This day on Dec. 21,1974 Ken Stabler and the Raiders played in perhaps the greatest playoff game ever as Snake made the greatest play ever. With 35 seconds left, falling while tackled, he connected with Clarence Davis on his 4th TD pass to defeat the mighty Miami Dolphins 28-24 in the AFC playoff divisional game. Once again showing the world his clutch comeback ability when it counted the most. ?#KeepingTheSnakeAlive
- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was named NFC defensive player of the week after a 2-interception performance as his Packers beat the Bears, 30-27.
What to watch: bowl season
OK, so, I know I promised a high-scoring affair in the Poinsettia Bowl, but that weather was a disaster and since when does it rain like that in San Diego? Besides, the fourth quarter was fun.
Next up is Idaho against Colorado State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, which is a top 5 bowl name, not least because the pregame festivities are called the “Mash Bash.” Colorado State is favored by more than two touchdowns and should handle Idaho with ease. The Vandals could be playing in their last bowl game ever, pending the results of the 2017 season, Idaho’s last in FBS. There aren’t many stars to watch, though Rams’ wide receiver Michael Gallup has gone over 1,100 yards and scored 11 touchdowns this season. The game will air on ESPN.
A charity appeal
In early December, a member of the Million Dollar Band Color Guard had to have emergency surgery after doctors discovered a brain tumor had been causing severe headaches. Stephanie Cartagena’s surgery has been successful and her recovery quick, by every indication. The surgery and ensuing therapy is costly, however. To that end, an extended family member has set up a GoFundMe to assist the family with those expenses. If you would like to donate to that campaign, you can find it here.