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Jumbo Package: Is Alabama really a Sleeper pick these days?

I am unsure how to feel

NCAA Football: Alabama at Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Terrion Arnold is quickly becoming one of my favorite interviews. Here’s a clip from him breaking down the anatomy of trash talking that’s a lot of fun:

And if you’re interested, Arnold talks for 18 minutes here on a whole variety of entertaining topics.


  • Arnold says that Caleb Downs is the no-nonsense perfectionist who is most like Nick Saban. Remind you of anyone (Hint: Minkah).
  • Saban still loves “Deez” jokes.
  • Arnold played safety in high school, so learning Star as well as corner wasn’t too much for him, and he’s wanting to hit someone as hard as Brian Branch did the last few years.
  • He’s still trying to convince Saban to let him play receiver and return more kicks.

Next, we have our usual Wednesday Saban press conference. This time around, he opened up with a lecture:

“OK, y’all ready for a lecture? Let’s talk about the importance of nothing,” Saban said. “You get up every day, you’re entitled to … nothing. Nobody owes you … nothing. You could have talent, but if you don’t have discipline, if you don’t execute, you don’t focus, you get … nothing. If you’re complacent, and not paying attention to detail, what does that get you? Nothing.”

The second part of it was even more clear, pointing to a standard of excellence Alabama has long been heralded for as one of college football’s dynasty teams.

Nothing is acceptable but your best. We need to be — everything is determined by what you do and you trying to be your best, so that you can build on positive performance. That’s the only thing. There should be nothing else but that, for everybody. That’s what we have to stay focused on. It’s what we need to do. We got rained out today, so we had to go inside. We need to not accept anything but our best in terms of what we’re doing for preparation.”

In other words.... He wasn’t happy with practice today. Good news? It’s was only Wednesday, which means he has plenty of time to use his displeasure to motivate for better practices to close out the week.

Here’s the whole video if you’re interested:

Next up, this is an awesome long-form article on the state of Alabama’s program by Chris Low:

It was only a month ago that we heard some of the same warnings we’ve heard before when Saban and the Tide have lost, which has happened only six times in his last 50 games — with five of those defeats coming to teams ranked in the top 15 nationally.

Immediately after the 34-24 home loss to Texas in Week 2, the familiar alarms went off: that the dynasty might be dead, that some cracks in the foundation might be forming, that while Saban might not have completely lost his fastball, he surely had lost some velocity.

But here we are, six games into the season, and the Crimson Tide are sitting atop the SEC West as the only unbeaten team in league play.

Seriously, go give this one a read. He talks about everything from coordinator turnover to college football rule changes, and how Alabama is still surging forward.

After a disastrous couple of weeks against Texas and USF, Alabama has rounded into a team that looks to have an identity and a personality, and is becoming a lot of fun to root for. There’s an underdog vibe to them, and something of an edge in their game as a whole.

There are still some major warts, of course, but there’s a lot more optimism slipping back in to our fanbase than there was a month ago.

Speaking of warts, I think this is the main one at this point:

Alabama Football has struggled to run the ball in general this season, but has particularly struggled in the first half of games. It has almost become a theme at the midway point in the season; the Crimson Tide gets completely shut down on the ground for the entire first half before finally making some headway late in the game.

It happened against lowly South Florida, it happened against Ole Miss, and it happened again against Texas A&M. In big division matchups against Ole Miss and A&M, Bama went into the locker room with 35 yards on 22 attempts and -13 yards on 10 attempts respectively. If this trend continues, it could eventually cost the Tide a game.

I think there are a few facets here. The OL isn’t opening holes like we’d want, but the RBs aren’t exactly taking advantage of things too well, either. Ultimately, I think the main factor is that the runs just feel predictable. It almost feels like any time there is an unsuccessful pass play, the next play call with always be a run. And there is very little mixup in using outside runs, cross-motion with blockers, or involving the receivers to try to spread the defense horizontally.

Anyway, even Joel Klatt is jumping back onto the Bama train:

“The reason I call this a sleeper team is because of the way that they played in two weeks during September, everybody wrote them off. I’m talking about Alabama,” Klatt said. “You can roll your eyes if you want but Alabama, at this point, is going to be in my sleeper teams because of the fact I just mentioned — everybody wrote them off.

“Texas beats them, they play terrible against South Florida and everyone’s like ‘Well they’re not going to the playoffs’ and now you look up, they’ve found a bit of a rhythm if you will. They’ve won two games now with two starkly different styles. A game in which they basically completed like seven passes and just ran the ball to death against Ole Miss and then a game in which they can’t run it and have to throw it in order to beat Texas A&M.”

I’d still like to see the passing game and rushing game work in harmony one of these days... But there are definitely a lot of encouraging signs.

Roll Tide!