Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
As Tennessee game-weeks go, this one has been quiet. There’s been no frantic anticipation of Lane Kiffin’s return to Knoxville (as if he’s forgotten), no handwringing about Alabama flattering to deceive. As we approach kickoff, most Alabama fans I’ve talked to seem to be growing more and more confident. Tennessee has been more lucky than good, some have said. The talent disparity is too much, Alabama too well-rounded, for this game to end in anything but an Alabama win. The Crimson Tide should win by double digits. That’s what the rational Alabama fan says.
But then again, it’s Tennessee, right? This is the team that nearly beat Texas A&M despite handing the Aggies possession like a street-side preacher handing out pocket Bibles at Mardi Gras. This is the team that parlayed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty into a game-winning Hail Mary at Georgia. This is a magic team, the kind you can never count out. That’s what the irrational Alabama fan says.
Alabama, under Nick Saban, loathes the irrational. The whole purpose of Saban’s “Process” is not just to focus on what you can control to the exclusion of what you can’t, but, through relentless preparation, to extend your ability to control your environment until every possible variable can be accounted. Like the Hail Mary, which Saban’s teams have prepared for, despite not facing one for nearly a decade.
Alabama’s regular-season losses lately follow a simple formula: a transcendent athlete, usually a quarterback, puts in a performance for the record books while benefitting from Alabama turnovers and plays that succeed despite a low probability of success. On Saturday, we’ll see if Joshua Dobbs or any other Volunteers player fits that bill.
- People say this all the time, but I’m not sure they really understand it. Nick Saban is, honestly, seriously, never, ever, ever satisfied.
- Linebacker Reuben Foster is back from concussion, while offensive lineman Alphonse Taylor is not, Michael Casagrande of AL.com reports.
- Joe Goodman at AL.com has an excellently detailed story on expanded replay in the SEC, particularly regarding targeting.
- Jalen Hurd will play against Alabama on Saturday, Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. I think Alvin Kamara’s a better back than Hurd anyway, but there you are.
- Rainer Sabin takes a look at transfer wide receiver Gehrig Dieter, whose life has changed dramatically.
- From Kevin Scarbinsky, Josh Dobbs is smart, but Jalen Hurts is a better football player.
- Charlie Potter at BamaOnline has highlights from Nick Saban’s appearance on the SEC teleconference.
- BamaOnline also reports the Blake Barnett has enrolled at junior college and is fielding offers.
- Marq Burnett has a practice report from Wednesday.
- This video, from AL.com, is an interesting mini-doc about one of the most iconic photos in the history of sports in the state of Alabama:
Around the Capstone
- Gymnastics will be on TV a half-dozen times this season.
- Soccer hosts Georgia tonight in a Power of Pink match at 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.
- Cross country hosts its Power of Pink meet this weekend.
- Volleyball beat Mississippi State in four sets at home Wednesday night.
Hate lives forever
From AL.com, catching up with Irvin Carney, the guy who really hates Tennessee, and Nick Adams, the now-seminarian who made him famous.