Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Texas A&M’s quarterback, Trevor Knight, beat Alabama once. It’s true; I was there. And now, the popular narrative goes, is Alabama’s chance for revenge, a rematch against Knight. I mentioned this in passing Wednesday, but the more I think about it, the more this narrative bothers me.
Yes, Knight was an instrumental part of Oklahoma’s win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He played an efficient game, and he’s only grown more talented since then. Which makes sense, because that was three seasons ago.
In the time since Alabama lost that game, Knight has changed schools and transitioned into an entirely new offense, the Crimson Tide have enjoyed two College Football Playoff berths and a national championship, and nearly every player involved in that game to a major degree has graduated. To give you an idea of how long ago this game was, Knight’s counterpart for Alabama that game was a soon-to-graduate AJ McCarron.
This game isn’t the Trevor Knight rematch. This is a game between the top two teams in the SEC West, the No. 1- and No. 6-ranked teams in the country, with prime position to win a national championship on the line. That’s enough. Knight will be the quarterback in maroon on Saturday, but it’s not solely about him anymore than Alabama’s “revenge games” were solely about Johnny Manziel or Chad Kelly in the past.
We’re primed for one of the great regular-season SEC games since 2011 on Saturday. Let that be enough.
- Terrin Waack at the Tuscaloosa News on the bowling balls Alabama calls running backs.
- It turns out Nick Saban didn’t like Bo Scarbrough’s high-five attempt either.
- The worst part of all these pick-sixes? The linebackers have to learn how to block.
- Nick Saban on how to defend tall receivers: ‘Take get-taller pills.’
- He actually emphasizes good fundamental man defense, which for Alabama usually means defending on the inside hip and high-pointing the ball, if possible. Against these kinds of offenses, Alabama doesn’t like to rely on safety help over top too much, and tries to use its pattern-matching man defense as much as possible. It’s against taller receivers that Alabama’s CBs tend to get pass interference called against them for not turning their heads, which is actually how they’re coached.
- From SEC Country’s Marq Burnett, here’s a rundown of Saban’s comments on the weekly SEC teleconference.
- Also from Marq, here’s a practice report featuring a still-limited Alphonse Taylor.
- Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports: Lane Kiffin “is going to get another head coaching job, likely after this season.”
- Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples assesses Alabama’s biggest threats among other things in his weekly mailbag.
- John Parker Wilson and Lauren Sisler do a little film study of Alabama:
Saban in full
From our very own Marq Burnett this time.
Basketball season approaching
With Alabama’s Tide Tipoff set for Friday, preparations for Avery Johnson’s second season as Alabama basketball coach are in full swing. Johnson said at SEC media day that he spent part of his offseason studying Saban’s habits and promised an even faster offense. Alabama’s new small forward, Braxton Key, made Alex Martin Smith’s list of top SEC freshmen, and Johnson’s changes have pushed Alabama to a predicted seventh-place finish in the conference — well ahead of the 13th place predicted last year.
Around the Capstone
- Soccer is headed to No. 20 Florida on Thursday. That match will be on SECNetwork+ at 6 p.m. ET.
- Softball set a date for its annual game night fundraiser.
Thursday night lights
This might be the best Thursday night for a while. The action starts with Miami at Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Miami’s still finding its footing, but Virginia Tech hasn’t impressed me much. The Hokies are giving up 6 points at home, a number they won’t cover against the Hurricanes.
The real action starts 30 minutes later when in-state rivals Troy and South Alabama do battle in Mobile, broadcast on ESPNU. The South’s Newest Rivalry is sure to be a titanic clash, with this baby on the line:
— Troy FB ⚔️⚔️⚔️⚔️⚔️ (@TroyTrojansFB) September 28, 2015
I’ve watched all of South Alabama’s games this season, and the Jaguars have been maddeningly inconsistent to say the least. They haven’t won a game in the Sun Belt yet this season, but they’ve beaten two ranked teams, including Mississippi State on the road. That tells me that the Jags show up for big games, and what could be bigger than the Battle for the Belt? South is getting eight points at home, and I’m taking the Jags. 251 forever.
The game with actual possible important football implications kicks of at 10:15 p.m. on ESPN when BYU (4-3) travels to undefeated No. 14 Boise State. I don’t think the Broncos are going to be able to catapult themselves into the College Football Playoff this season, but they’re intent on making life difficult for the committee (so no different than the BCS, really). Boise State is at home on that horrific blue field and I’m picking the Broncos to cover the spread, which stands at Boise State (-7).