Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
I can think of few Nick Saban press conferences as troubling as Wednesday evening’s.
Faced with his most hated of foes — complacency — Saban took the podium. It’s in these situations when Saban does his best work; a Monet of profanity and scorn, excoriating lackadaisical media and fan and player alike. Instead, on Wednesday, what did we get? Nothing. No spectacular sound-bites, no verbal fireworks. Just a typical, run-of-the-mill, midweek press conference. He even double-checks on the media’s well-being! Astonishing.
What could it mean? Has Saban finally given up? Has that spark of perfectionism gone out of his life? Has he finally, after more than 40 years coaching, relaxed? Is it over?
In seriousness, Saban’s relative good mood in yesterday’s presser may bode well for his confidence in this year’s team. He hasn’t mentioned complacency much this season, or stressed the importance of finding a new identity. This team hasn’t relented against one single opponent, or, from what I know, in a single week of practice. Whether it’s down to the individual leaders of the team or Saban’s philosophy, it seems clear that this edition of the Crimson Tide has assumed nothing and will be satisfied only by a national championship.
- The headline: “Why Chattanooga is thankful to play Alabama.” The answer: $$$$$
- Nick Saban continues to advocate for all-Power 5 schedules.
- As Alabama’s offensive line shuffling continues, Nick Saban explains Lester Cotton’s role.
- BamaOnline’s Travis Reier analyzes Wednesday’s practice.
- With a checkered past behind him, Tony Brown takes over at Star with the full backing of his teammates, from BamaOnline’s Charlie Potter.
- Left tackle Cam Robinson was named a finalist for the Outland Trophy.
- Marq Burnett has full highlights of Saban’s 10 minutes on the SEC teleconference.
Nick Saban in full
Built By Bama
- Eddie Lacy posted an update on his ankle injury on his personal website.
- Shaun Alexander and Cornelius Bennett were cut from the Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot.
Until in Heav’n we meet
— Michael Drew Kerekes (@mkerekes714) November 16, 2016
J.K. Scott for Heisman?
Since his lauded debut as a freshman, punter J.K. Scott has attracted something of a cult following among Alabama fans. Some have even gone so far as to start a tongue-in-cheek campaign to get him into Heisman Trophy consideration. So when news came that Scott didn’t make the shortlist of finalists for the Ray Guy award given to the country’s best punter, there was some disappointment, including on the part of Saban.
Scott is an excellent punter with incredible talent. This season he’s averaging 48.4 yards a punt, and more than half (19) of his 36 punts were either fair caught or downed inside the 20-yard line. He’s among the nation’s leaders in those categories, and his season-high of 62 yards is staggering. His 73-yard punt in the 2015 Sugar Bowl might have been Alabama’s best play of the night.
Scott’s problems mostly seem to come down to usage. He’s only punted 36 times this season, and while Ohio State’s Cameron Johnston has the same number of kicks, 75 percent of his punts were pinned deep. Alabama’s punt cover team is a little looser, giving up nearly 10 yards a return to Ohio State’s four.
By pure yardage, Scott deserves to be in consideration for the award, but the committee’s evaluation isn’t limited to average. So for Scott, the Ray Guy — and the Heisman – will have to wait until next year.
Incidentally, the Ray Guy winner has never played for the eventual national champion of that season.
Around the Capstone
- The swimming and diving teams will travel to Georgia Tech for a packed invitational that includes several conference rivals.
- Women’s basketball hosts Lipscomb Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on SECNetwork+.
- Two cross country runners will compete at the NCAA Championships.
Thursday Night Lights
No. 5 Louisville heads to bombed out and depleted Houston, with the largest of chips on its shoulder. The Cardinals are currently on the outside looking in at the playoff, despite an exceptionally impressive resume and a narrow loss to the defending national runners-up. Their players are, perhaps understandably, furious. Louisville is a two-touchdown favorite, and the over/under is 68.5. Maybe I’m reading too much into Lamar Jackson’s tweets, but it’s Louisville to cover and the over for me. That game kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Elsewhere, Troy and Arkansas State do battle for control of the Sun Belt. At 8-1, the Trojans are playing some of the best football in the country, considering its level, and while the Red Wolves are undefeated in conference, they’re just 5-4 overall. Troy quarterback has passed for 2302 yards and 19 touchdowns this season, and his team’s only loss was a six-point defeat at Clemson. Troy is favored by eight, but I expect them to cover. That game kicks off at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
That’s it for us this morning. Be good to each other today.