Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning
We’ve entered a dead period, and not just in recruiting. Wednesday marked two-and-a-half weeks out from the Peach Bowl and the College Football Playoff semifinals. On Saturday, we’ll be able to alleviate some of the boredom with bowl games. Until then, we’re left with the schadenfreude of whatever’s going on at Wake Forest and pretending to be interested in who lowly Western Kentucky has hired to replace Jeff Brohm.
In this time, much like the summer months, no news is good news. Practice hasn’t resumed, so there’s no injury news. Nobody’s been arrested or violated team rules, though there’s still time for Tony Brown to get sent home. Draft grades won’t come out until after the semifinal, though Alabama’s players could vote to delay learning them, like they did last year.
Nick Saban’s greatest enemy, especially at this time of year, is complacency. The whole idea of satisfaction with what you’ve done is anathema to him and his coaching philosophy. He calls it “relief syndrome” — usually in the press conferences after beating LSU. One of the best indicators of a Saban team’s ceiling is how well it has learned that lesson. To hear Jonathan Allen and Cam Robinson tell it, as reported by SEC Country’s Marq Burnett, there’s no doubt that the senior leaders who lost to Auburn and Ohio State in back-to-back seasons aren’t about to let relief syndrome set in.
- Check the latest installment of our countdown of the Alabama football team’s best players in 2016 and keep an eye out for the addition for Thursday, from your humble writer.
- Alabama signed two top-ranked JUCO linemen.
- ESPN’s postseason rankings have Allen as the top player in college football.
- Allen also a finalist for the Lombardi award.
- Jalen Hurts, meanwhile, is the CBS national freshman of the year.
- Saban, however, is not a finalist for the Bobby Dodd coach of the year award.
- Former Alabama defensive lineman and assistant strength coach Wilson Love will be Lane Kiffin’s new strength coach at FAU, per brilliantly named OwlAccess.com.
- A former Florida State quarterback and top JUCO player is headed to Boca Raton with Kiffin.
- USC defensive back Adoree Jackson is pulling for the Huskies in the Peach Bowl. P-A-C! P-A-C!
- LSU missed out on Kiffin and hired Matt Canada, who is not, it turns out, the boring-but-polite cousin of Captain America for our national northern neighbors, but Pitt’s former offensive coordinator. He wants you to know that he beat Alabama once.
- Five Alabama players made the AFCA All-America team.
- Allen, Reuben Foster and Cam Robinson are unanimous all-Americans.
- Six Alabama players made the first round in Todd McShay’s mock draft.
- Roll Bama Roll’s salute to the seniors continues with a one-and-done.
Is it too early for must-win games in college basketball?
Well, if we’re being honest, Alabama basketball’s matchup against USC Upstate on Thursday isn’t a must win; it’s a must perform. Through two months and eight games, Avery Johnson’s Alabama squad is still looking for its identity. Johnson said he wants the team to “take on his personality,” and he’s looking for his leaders and crunch-time player to replace Retin Obasohan.
If this team wants to contend for an at-large bid in the SEC, it’s past time to find that identity. USC Upstate is the warm-up before Alabama plays Clemson on Sunday in Birmingham — the last major conference opponent on its out-of-conference schedule. That’s a must win.
It might be unfair to call USC Upstate a warm-up game. The Spartans are a strange team. They’re 7-5, with wins all over lower-tier competition and losses to every possible tournament team they’ve faced. In the first game of the season, they were blown out by Georgetown in a 45-point loss. But they come to Tuscaloosa on a three-game winning streak and have a combined margin of defeat of 12 in the two preceding losses. The first of those losses? A seven-point defeat on the road to Auburn, a team that has flattered to deceive but has a much more prolific offense than Alabama through eight games.
The Spartans pull down 40 rebounds a game, better than Alabama’s mark of 35. Their average offense is 9 points better than Alabama’s. They pressure on defense, stealing the ball seven times a game. I understand these stats aren’t adjusted for the opponent, but in college basketball, that disparity is much less than in football.
Basically, Upstate can play a little bit.
To complicate Alabama’s situation, it’ll have to reverse the trend of statistically no-showing forwards, while one of its key additions is literally no-showing: junior forward Nick King is out until January after a lung infection caused him to drop 15 pounds in a week.
The game tips off at 8 p.m. ET on SECNetwork+.
Built by Bama
- Roman Harper still has something to prove.
- JaMychal Green posted 3 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes as the Grizzlies beat the Cavaliers, 93-85.
- And here’s a video of Justin Thomas shots set to Gus Johnson calls.
— Skratch (@Skratch) December 14, 2016