There are the glamor records like career passing yardage or touchdown receptions. They’re easily tracked and follow a linear path.
Damien Harris isn’t fighting for one of those.
No, more than halfway through his fourth Alabama season, he’s angling toward one of the obscure yet challenging corners of the school record book. Through 392 carries in a Crimson Tide uniform, Harris is averaging 6.7 yards per attempt.
For a ball carrier with at least 300 attempts, that ranks second only to Eddie Lacy. From 2010-12, Lacy averaged 6.8 yards a run. That’s 2,402 yards in 355 attempts.
By now, all of you know my feelings towards Damien Harris and how bad I want him to set every record he can possibly set. Basically the only thing that’s keeping him from becoming statistically the best back to ever play for Alabama is his own teammates— Josh Jacobs, Najee Harris, Bo Scarbrough, and Jalen Hurts have all taken carries from him that would have gone to the lead back, like Derrick Henry, in years past.
It’s highly unlikely he makes it to the career rushing yards leader, but he has a shot (and I dearly hope he gets enough carries to make it) of being the only Alabama back with three 1000-yard seasons.
But if Hurts was no longer on the roster, Tagovailoa’s absence could move the spread eight or nine points, which is nearly unheard of in football.
So, Alabama’s national championship hopes are better with Tagovailoa as the team’s starting quarterback. But the championship odds would remain strong with Hurts, and against unranked opponents, there would probably be very little difference on the scoreboard.
Tagovailoa gives the team a dynamic it has never had under Saban. But Hurts may be the greatest insurance policy in the team’s history, and remains a crucial piece to the team in the betting market and otherwise.
Want some more rat poison to fuel your Gump Day? How about this piece on the actual Vegas value of both Tagovailoa and Hurts? Nothing much truly substantial about it— we all already know the value of our players— but it’s fun to see what the rest of the media and betting folks think.
Winning the turnover battle is non-negotiable versus Alabama if you want to win. Not turning the ball over and capitalizing with points if Alabama turns the ball over is critical to success.
Tennessee cannot turn the ball over itself. You not only take away potential points for yourself but in more cases than not, give points to Alabama. By starving Alabama’s defense of turnovers, you eliminate the swing of momentum and keep its defense on the field while keeping Tua Tagovailoa off the field.
Tennessee must also create turnovers on defense against a Tagovailoa led offense that has not thrown an interception all year. Tennessee must find a way to not only create turnovers but then turn them into points. It is the only way to keep up with Alabama’s offense up to this point.
How to beat Alabama: Play better than Alabama.
Seriously. At this point, they have to paint such broad strokes to come up with a “strategy” to beat Alabama that they might as well say that the most surefire way to make it happen is to score more points.
Floating between safety and slot cornerback at the outset of the year, Carter now is playing exclusively at Star in the wake of the foot fracture that has left Trevon Diggs out for season.
”He only has one role now so he’s playing the same thing all the time,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “So I think he’s probably more comfortable with one role than two. So if you had to put a percentage on it, I’d say he’s 100 percent more comfortable.”
More so in spirit perhaps than body.
He is still dealing with the aftereffects of his injury, after all.
”My hand, it’s doing all right,” he said. “It’s good. I can’t really say anything.”
I personally thought that Shyheim Carter was going to be the leader of this secondary in 2018. It hasn’t quite turned out that way, as he’s struggled at times, nearly as often as he’s been a true playmaker. It’s interesting to learn that he’s been dealing with a hand injury since the Ole Miss game, which may have affected his tackling in the games since.
It’s also good to know that he’s now focusing solely on the STAR position, rather than swapping between that and safety. He may be a junior, but he’s still a first year starter.
Jacobs said that there’s an incentive to have a newcomer in the smoke-filled Alabama lockerroom in Knoxville after Saturday’s game
Following last season, when Bama Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was hired as Tennessee’s new head football coach, he replaced Butch Jones, who had been dismissed. Now Jones, usually easy to spot around the football offices dressed mostly in crimson, is an offensive analyst for Bama.
“You know, he’s never smoked the [victory] cigar before,” Jacobs said. “We’re trying to make that a goal of his.”
Now that he’s on our side, I really hope that intern Butch Jones gets to celebrate all the wins he wants to.
More than that, this article has some quotes from Josh Jacobs and Christian Miller, two out-of-state players, about what they’ve learned about the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry.
Quinnen Williams, Alabama
2018 Grade: 95.0
No player has dominated quite like Williams this fall, posting the top grade among all defensive players due to his disruptive nature against both the run and the pass. His 96.1 grade against the run tops all interior defensive linemen and he’s tied for second with a 90.4 pass-rush grade.
Pro Football Focus has released their mid-season All-American Team, and Alabama has landed quite a few players on there. Quinnen Williams is the highest ranked player in the enter nation. It seems that Jonathan Allen’s quote from a couple of years ago about Williams being the one to watch out for just may have been accurate.
Meanwhile, Tua Tagovailoa is ranked 3rd in the nation and is the top offensive player overall, while safety Deionte Thompson and Jonah Williams aren’t too far behind. Jerry Jeudy and Ross Pierschbacher made the 2nd team All-American list as well. Despite a few spots that have cause some hand-wringing, this Alabama team really has been and is special.