Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
The latest college football playoff rankings were released Tuesday night in the latest installment of our national tribute to futility. Alabama was No.1. I know you’re shocked.
The committee did lend some small bit of clarity to the morass of potential playoff opponents for the Crimson Tide. The field can essentially be narrowed to the top 8: No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Clemson, No. 5 Louisville, No. 6 Washington, No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 8 Penn State.
Looking ahead to the playoff, we can break down these potential foes into three tiers:
Tier 1 – The Doppelgangers
Alabama is in such a transitory period that it’s difficult to classify any teams as truly similar, but Ohio State and Michigan are close. All three have strangling defenses that occasionally give up the long bomb, though Michigan doesn’t give up nearly as many explosive plays as the other two. All three offenses prize efficiency first, with Alabama and Ohio State particularly relying on the running game.
Of these two teams, Alabama would probably most like to see Ohio State, strange as that may be to say. Rushing offenses have found no luck against Alabama, and Michigan’s secondary is good enough to cause problems for a freshman quarterback — even one as calm as Jalen Hurts. Fortunately for Alabama fans, only the winner of the rivals’ annual matchup will make it.
Tier 2 – The quarterbacks
It’s bizarre how similar Clemson and Louisville are and should be troubling for Alabama fans. Both have high-powered offenses led by near-miraculous quarterbacks and top-10 defenses that go underrated because of it. Both are ruthlessly efficient, though Louisville has been more explosive. If Alabama has to play one of these teams — and it may — Clemson is likely the preferable option. The offense has lost a step this year, despite Deshaun Watson’s continued excellence, and its rushing game is decidedly mediocre on both sides of the ball. Louisville, on the other hand, has possibly the best rushing offense in the country, led by the best player in the country, and a moderately impressive rushing offense.
Tier 3 – The rest
Any of these matchups would result in a heavily favored Alabama. Washington just lost to a team Alabama beat by 46 points and Penn State’s vaunted passing attack hasn’t seen a front seven like Alabama’s. Wisconsin would present the biggest challenge for the Crimson Tide, with a defense that ranks among the best in the country. The Badgers’ only losses came to Ohio State and Michigan, each by seven points. While Penn State boasts a win over the Buckeyes, it didn’t come by it in a replicable way. Alabama’s talent advantage over each of these three is drastic.
Anatomy of a rant
Wednesday of cupcake week marks a danger period for Alabama beat writers and the spiritual anniversary of the profanity-laced Tin Horn speech, below:
Alabama fans wait in breathless anticipation for Nick Saban to unleash a sequel this year. In the spirit of the occasion, I thought I’d take a look at what’s really going on when Saban goes on these rants.
A few people have asked which beat writer gets the duty of provoking Saban’s ire. This misunderstands what’s really happening here. Saban isn’t responding with righteous fury and indignation to a question about how easy Saturday’s opponent is. He’s looking for any possible excuse to deliver his message, which isn’t even intended for the media or the fans, but for his players.
Saban certainly has his favored targets for his mini-rants, but the real full-bore explosions? Those are coming, without cause or justification. Take the above video. The question is, essentially, “Hey, that quarterback’s pretty good, right?” And Saban’s response is “Yeah, he is a very good player … (insert 90 seconds of ranting about people underrating the team) … I don’t even remember what you asked me.”
Saban will rant when he wants to rant, and you’ll like it and do your best not to laugh. From experience, you will not always succeed.
- Hurts has two new national honors to add to his list.
- The SEC owes Alabama for carrying it in 2016, writes AL.com’s Kevin Scarbinsky.
- Urban Meyer is the latest coach to respond to Alabama’s use of former players in practice.
- How do you justify leaving J.K. Scott off the Ray Guy Award watch list, wonders AL.com’s Michael Casagrande?
- Casagrande also went deep on the question on all of college football’s minds: How do you beat Alabama?
- SEC Country’s Marq Burnett has notes from practice, including a still-shuffling offensive line.
- As usual BamaOnline’s Travis Reier has analysis of and video from Tuesday’s practice.
- And finally, the AL.com crew has a film breakdown on Hurts:
Alabama basketball blew a lead late at home against Dayton at noon on Tuesday. As Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News writes, Alabama’s turnovers and lack of late-game production showed how far the team has to go in developing an identity. However, at Alabama under Avery Johnson, each game isn’t just an evaluation of the current team, but a referendum on the validity of the program as a whole. Based on Tuesday’s frustrating loss and the news about the 2017 recruiting class, the verdict might tend toward “wait until next year.”
But that would be a disservice to a team that, despite two lackluster showings, has shown the potential to be a second-tier team in the SEC, able to go toe to toe with all but Kentucky. While point guard Dazon Ingram’s production down the stretch left much to be desired, he showed an ability to pick a pass in several games this season, and most of Alabama’s guards were getting to the basket at will for long stretches against a very good Dayton team.
The future is bright for Alabama basketball, but so is the present. Don’t get so caught up in what Johnson is building that you disregard what he’s already built.
Marq Burnett has the full rundown of Avery Johnson’s post-game press conference.
Built by Bama
- Aaron Rodgers praised Ha-Ha Clinton Dix’s leadership after the Packers lost to Tennessee.
- Alonzo Gee signed with the Denver Nuggets.
Around the Capstone
- Alabama placed among the SEC leaders in graduation success rate.
- Jordan Lewis was named SEC women’s basketball Freshman of the Week.
- Meanwhile, the seventh-ranked post player in the country, Ariyah Copeland, signed with Alabama.
- Men’s tennis signed four players in its early signing period.
- Softball, meanwhile, landed Kendall Beth Sides, a highly touted contact batter.