Off the Marq: Salty Nick Saban, room for improvement and October could get ugly for Alabama opponents

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama football had three years of pent-up frustration that it let out all over Ole Miss on Saturday night in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Everyone in attendance and those watching on television witnessed the worst possible skull dragging. The type when even though you know what’s happening next, you’re still not prepared for how bad it is.

Someone should have put a NSFW (not safe for work) tag on that destruction, and parents should have covered their children’s eyes and ears.

Oh, and don’t take it personal, Matt Luke. That was simply Alabama giving the double-middle finger salute to Pastor (Hugh) Freeze for the headaches he gave the Crimson Tide the last three years.

Salty Nick Saban

Shortly after his team was done with Ole Miss’ corpse, a feisty Nick Saban met with reporters to recap the fatality. Saban gave the team and players credit for how they “took care of business in the game,” but from there, Saban made sure to point out some of the issues he saw from the sideline.

Dropped balls and miscues on offense. Too many penalties. Big plays surrendered by Alabama’s defense.

Saban also had some fun with reporters. Saban took issue with the volume of a reporter’s question and asked why reporters are given microphones if they can’t speak into them properly.

One reporter mentioned how much Alabama has “scored 50 or more points against four of the last five SEC opponents” to get Saban’s thoughts on what seems like an incredible feat. Saban wasn’t having any of it.

Salty Saban is a good thing for Alabama fans. You don’t ever have to worry about the coach becoming satisfied with any victory no matter how dominant.

Not as bad as it looked?

Upon first glance, defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand’s injury looked like a season-ending one. Hand couldn’t put any pressure on his left leg and had to be carried off the field before being carted to the locker room. Saban, via Alabama’s team doctors, labeled Hand’s injury as an MCL sprain, which is probably the best-case scenario given the circumstances.

Hand provided a seemingly positive update about his future Sunday morning.

The last thing you want to see is a senior who’s waited his turn be taken out of the game by what looked like an illegal play. Hand has worked hard to put himself in this position, and he was having a solid game against the Rebels before the hit that took him out.

Former Alabama offensive lineman Alphonse Taylor took to the NCAA rulebook to show everyone why the hit on Hand was illegal.

Jalen Hurts on pace to rewrite some of Alabama’s history

Jalen Hurts is not even a year and a half into his Alabama career, but he’s already on pace to rewrite some of the Crimson Tide’s history books. Hurts has accounted for 46 total touchdowns to this point. That’s only 12 behind John Parker Wilson, who sits at No. 2 on the all-time list.

Hurts should pass Wilson at some point this season, and barring something unforeseen, he’ll pass AJ McCarron’s total of 80 in the No. 1 spot by next year.

Lockdown corner Levi Wallace Island brings back the NOT

Matt Zenitz, who does a great job covering Alabama for, and I talked after the game about how Levi Wallace was putting himself in position to be one of the top cornerbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

That may seem like hyperbole on the surface, but Wallace has developed into one of the better corners in the SEC. It’s crazy to think that a former 160-pound walk-on has grown into an 180-pound shutdown corner, but here we are with Wallace. He’s so technically sound.

This isn’t the first time Alabama has had a former walk-on garner NFL attention. Former Tide safety Rashad Johnson walked on and played well enough to be taken in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Wallace currently leads the SEC with 9 passes defended and is tied for the SEC lead with 3 interceptions.

Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson tried “Lockdown Corner Levi Wallace Island” one too many times and paid for it.

On his first interception, Wallace read and played the route beautifully before taking the ball 35 yards for a touchdown return. It marked Alabama’s first NOT —  non-offensive touchdown —  of the season.

Patterson didn’t learn his lesson and kept throwing at “Lockdown Corner Levi Wallace Island,” which led to another interception. Teams will learn one way or the other that they shouldn’t try this man.

Ronnie Clark is The Process

Speaking of guys who embody “The Process,” we have to give a quick shoutout to reserve running back Ronnie Clark.

Clark was a 4-star prospect and a top 100 player coming out of Calera (Ala.) High School in the 2014 recruiting cycle, according to 247Sports composite. He could have had a good career as a safety or even an outside linebacker had he stuck on defense.

But Alabama’s running back depth took a major hit early in Clark’s career, and he switched positions. Since then, injuries have piled up and Clark has split his time as a tailback and at H-back, but has continued to work and play hard.

Clark has gotten some serious touches the last two games, and scored his first career touchdown on Saturday. A lot of the players rushed him to celebrate as if he’d scored the game-winning touchdown. You could tell in that moment that his teammates appreciated him and his contributions.

Those are the types of selfless guys you need to round out your team.

Room for improvement?!

“Pick it up passing offense, passing defense and total defense.” — Saban, probably.

How about that defense?

Since its “struggles” against Colorado State, Alabama has held its two SEC opponents to 3 points. Over the last two weeks, Alabama has forced 12 three-and-outs and has 4 takeaways (3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery).

Against Ole Miss, Alabama didn’t allow a single third- (0-13) or fourth-down (0-2) conversion.

That’s the type of defense we’ve come to expect from Alabama over the years.

Who gets fired first?

What’s worse: paying a team nearly $ 1 million to come to your stadium for Homecoming and having that team beat you, or getting destroyed 41-0 at home by a conference rival who started a freshman quarterback?

Both are pretty egregious crimes from LSU — who lost to Troy on Homecoming — and Tennessee — who was beat into submission by Georgia at home. Butch Jones was too concerned with how the media was negatively affecting recruiting to bother with preparing his team for the game.

It’s doubtful Jones or LSU coach Ed Orgeron make it to next season. Orgeron does have a $ 12 million buyout.

If Troy can beat LSU at LSU and Georgia can embarrass Tennessee at Tennessee, imagine what’s going to happen when both of those teams have to come to Tuscaloosa later this season.

Looking ahead to Texas A&M and a potentially ugly October for Alabama opponents

The season is flying by as we’ve officially turned the calendar to October. This month, Alabama plays at Texas A&M this coming Saturday before hosting Arkansas (Oct. 14) and Tennessee (Oct. 21) before its bye week.

Basing it off how Alabama is looking at this point, it’s hard to see any of the upcoming opponents giving the Crimson Tide a serious push.

Texas A&M needed overtime to beat an Arkansas team that isn’t good. The Aggies also gave up 43 points in that win. Alabama has wrecked Texas A&M’s season the last three years, outscoring the Aggies 133-37 in that span.

As we mentioned a few sentences ago, Arkansas isn’t good.

We saw the effort the Champions of Life put forward at home against Georgia this past Saturday.

Things could get pretty ugly for these teams as a blood-thirsty Alabama squad hellbent on making up for how last season finished has seemingly started to find its stride.

The post Off the Marq: Salty Nick Saban, room for improvement and October could get ugly for Alabama opponents appeared first on SEC Country.

Marq Burnett – SEC Country

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