The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

6 mins ago

Saban discusses how he recruits great players to Tuscaloosa and builds their value

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide are currently undefeated through the first four games of the season. How does he build a championship-caliber team year in and year out? Recruiting.

Thursday evening, Saban appeared on his weekly radio show “Hey Coach” with Eli Gold to discuss all things Alabama and answer questions called in from fans. Of course, questions about the upcoming game versus Tennessee were asked frequently. However, there was some interesting recruiting talk between Saban and Gold.

Saban discussed everything from his recruiting pitch, to how he does not promise playing time like other schools but rather an opportunity to play and be developed by the best.

440

When Saban was asked about how he goes about his recruiting, he replied, “One of the biggest things we fight in recruiting is people historically tell guys (Alabama) has got all of these players there, and you’re not gonna be able to play, but if you come to our place you’ll be able to play earlier.”

He pointed out that this form of counter recruiting against Alabama actually ends up helping the Tide get the kind of players they want.

Saban explained, “That does us good in that we kind of get a lot of guys that are dogs I’m gonna call them… that means they’ve kind of got a competitive spirit, that he wants to be the best, wants to play against the best, and wants to compete against the best.”

The legendary coach made some comparisons to some greats that were “dogs” in his opinion, adding, “Kind of the Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Michael Jordan type guy. Which these types of guys make your team really really good.”

Some that Saban pointed out as having that competitive spirit were receivers John Metchie, Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith. He also mentioned tight end Miller Forristall as having that competitive edge that he looks for in recruiting.

He discussed what opportunities for development look like in his program, saying, “Almost every player wants to play when he is a freshman, but the thing is that how you develop, and what kind of player you become three years from now is the most important thing in creating value for yourself as a football player.”

Regarding a path to the NFL, Saban mentioned, “If you really want to play in the NFL someday it’s probably not gonna happen just in your freshman year, it’s gonna happen in terms of what you develop into three years from now.”

This recruiting approach has clearly worked out very well in Tuscaloosa since Saban got to town. The amount of four and five stars they recruit every year puts them near or at the top of recruiting lists every single year.

Alabama doesn’t have to offer gimmicks or promises to play. All they have to do is show where their players came from and where they are now. The Crimson Tide’s alumni success speaks for itself.

Saban ended the recruiting conversation by saying, “This is the approach that we have always tried to use in recruiting, not really promising them playing time, but an opportunity to play and to develop as a player. Which I think is what creates value for their future.”

WATCH:

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

6 days ago

Nix’s three turnovers cause Auburn’s loss; Malzahn promises the team will improve

(Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

Auburn started off strongly against South Carolina, but the offense and defense both sputtered out in the second half.

The Tigers lost 30-22 to the Gamecocks after going up 9-0 early in the game. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn started his post-game press conference by saying, “It was a disappointing loss, but I am proud of our guys fighting until the end.”

Classic Malzahn statement.

The offense started out nicely in the first quarter by finally throwing intermediate passes and balancing the offense just as promised from a Chad Morris offense. Malzahn touched on the offensive balance saying, “If you look at the stat sheet, we wanted to be balanced and for the most part we were. I think we were 209 yards rushing and 272 [passing].”

664

Accomplishing these things starts up front with the offensive line. Auburn’s line has been struggling this year and has been called out on it multiple times. However, when asked about the line play this week, Malzahn said, “I think while we were mixing in the run and the pass I thought our guys did a solid job. We had five guys, and we kept five guys out there… I think now you’ll see them grow and improve.”

Offensive balance and production was excellent for the Tigers early, and caused them to get out to an early lead. However, they were unable to pull out the win due to costly turnovers on offense.

“I think, like I said, the big thing was the three turnovers leading to 21 points,” Malzahn said in reference to what went wrong on offense. He then discussed how the three interceptions thrown by Bo Nix affected the game, saying, “I think for the most part they were short fields, one of them was from the eight-yard line, so that made it tough on [the defense].”

Nix’s trio of interceptions were the story of Auburn’s loss. Three of South Carolina’s four touchdowns came after an interception thrown by Nix.

When asked about the two turnovers in the first half that changed the game’s momentum, Malzahn said, “I don’t think we punted in the first half, so the turnovers were tough, but still we were still in pretty good shape coming out of halftime.”

Malzahn pointed out, “We got the ball coming out, we had the lead, and we went down and put three points on the board which I thought was big.”

Everything was going great for the Tiger defense before the interceptions began. They had only allowed the Gamecocks to get one first down all game long until the first interception.

On the defensive performance early, Malzahn had this to say about Kevin Steele’s squad, “We got off to a very good start defensively, and some three and outs, and got the ball back to our offense.”

The Auburn defense held South Carolina’s offense to 297 total yards compared to the Tigers’ 481 yards. Linebacker Owen Pappoe even had an interception in the game. Pappoe spoke to the media after the game about the performance on his side of the ball. He said, “I really think we were hurting ourselves with a lot of penalties that we had man, so we’ve got to get that corrected in practice you know, so we can get off the field on third down.”

Third down defense would have been a highlight for the Auburn defense if not for penalties, as Pappoe stated. The Tiger offense also started out strongly on converting third downs but couldn’t keep that trend up through the end of the game.

Receiver Eli Stove spoke to the media after the loss as well, adding some praise to his quarterback even after Nix had a sub-par night. Stove gave a glimpse into the competitive spirit of Nix. While discussing Auburn’s final drive Stove said, “He is a competitor. Like that hurdle he tried to do, that just showed me he wants to win.”

Stove added, “Most quarterbacks won’t do that, they will just run out of bounds or something, but he wanted that first down.”

Stove caught a touchdown from Nix for the second week in a row, and Stove said he didn’t even know that he was that close to the end zone because he was so focused on getting to the middle of the field.

Overall, the Tigers had a rough game, and this was a major setback for the season. However, they have a chance for some redemption against Ole Miss next week. A win in Oxford could gain Auburn some much needed confidence going forward. However, a loss could start to cause disruption in the locker room and might be enough to set Malzahn’s seat fully ablaze.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

1 week ago

SEC head coaches who worked under Saban all have salaries over the FBS average

(SEC/Facebook, YHN)

Legendary University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban is one of the greatest head coaches of all time in the college ranks, and could eventually go down as the greatest. Working alongside him is a top goal of any up and coming assistant coach.

The amount of knowledge that can be bestowed upon an assistant from Saban is unlike any other coach in the country. To learn how to game plan, recruit, conduct practices, etc. are all valuable traits to learn if an assistant wants to move on and become a great head coach one day.

However, there is another reason to work for Saban that is backed by statistics that were recently released from USA Today — money. To put it humbly, Saban’s coaching tree is very green.

It seems like the monetary influence that comes from working for the greatest coach reflects who that assistant learned from. Five former assistants that are current SEC college football head coaches all make more than the FBS head coach average annual salary of $2.67 million. Let’s look into a few of their careers with Saban and after.

654

Jimbo Fisher: Texas A&M, Salary – $7.5 million

Fisher was the offensive coordinator under Saban all four years at LSU. Fisher later went on to be the head coach at Florida State from 2010 to 2017. He led the Seminoles to an 82-23 record during his eight years in Tallahassee. The .783 winning percentage Fisher achieved is the highest of any head coach in Florida State history.

He also took the Noles to three ACC championships, four AP Poll top-10 finishes, and four bowl game wins. His greatest achievement while in Tallahassee was leading the Seminoles to winning the 2013 BCS National Championship.

Fisher now works in the SEC once again in his third year as the head coach at Texas A&M.

Kirby Smart: Georgia, Salary- 6.8 million

Smart was first an assistant to Saban at LSU in 2004 as a defensive backs coach. However, he is most well-known for working as Defensive Coordinator at Alabama under Saban from 2009 to 2015. He worked closely with Saban to build one of the most dominant defenses in the SEC and all of college football.

During his time at Bama he helped the Tide win multiple national championships as DC before becoming head coach at Georgia, his Alma Mater, in 2016. Smart is in his fifth season as Georgia’s head coach. In those five years he has led the Bulldogs to two SEC championship appearances, and a victory in the 2017 SEC championship. After the 2017 SEC championship victory, he would go on to lose in the national championship to Saban and Alabama.

Will Muschamp: South Carolina, Salary – $4.6 million

Muschamp coached under Saban at LSU for five years, four of those as defensive coordinator. Like any defensive coordinator working under Saban, he learned a lot and began to perfect his craft. He later became the defensive coordinator at Auburn for two years, before holding the same position at Texas from 2008 to 2010.

After a stop in Texas, Muschamp became head coach for the Florida Gators from 2011 to 2014 going a lackluster 28-21 in his four seasons in Gainesville. He went back to Auburn as defensive coordinator for the 2015 season before landing a new head coaching job at South Carolina. He is now in his fifth season as the head coach of the Gamecocks.

Jeremy Pruitt: Tennessee, Salary – $3.8 million

Pruitt is one of the more recent Saban assistants, serving as defensive coordinator at Alabama from 2016 to 2017. He worked with Saban to help Bama win the 2017 national championship game. After two years as defensive coordinator at Alabama, Pruitt was thought ready to be an SEC head coach.

Pruitt then got hired as head coach for the Tennessee Volunteers in 2018 and is now in his third year as head coach. In his time at Tennessee, the Vols have a 15-13 record, with signs of improvement on the horizons.

Lane Kiffin: Ole Miss, Salary – $3.9 million

Kiffin is another recent Saban assistant, and one of the more interesting coaches in the league. Kiffin was brought on as offensive coordinator for the Tide in 2014 and stayed until 2016. He brought a new offensive philosophy to Tuscaloosa and helped Saban win a national championship in 2015.

Later, Kiffin landed a head coaching job at Florida Atlantic for three years where his Owls won two Conference USA championships. After FAU, he became a head coach in the SEC again at Ole Miss. This is his first year in Oxford, and he is currently 1-2 on the season.

All of these coaches have gone on to achieve great things and great pay after working for Saban, thus proving how coveted a position under Saban can be for any assistant wanting to climb the ranks of college coaching. However, none have been able to defeat their former boss. Saban is currently 21-0 against his former assistants.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

2 weeks ago

Najee Harris makes the difference in a ‘crazy’ win for Alabama

(Alabama football/Twitter)

After Alabama’s 63-48 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday night, head coach Nick Saban said, “All in all, we’ve had some real crazy games over here, and this was another one.”

It was a crazy game for a Crimson Tide team that has been routing every team they have played so far this season. However, maybe nothing was crazier than the video game numbers running back Najee Harris put up in the game.

Just a week ago, Alabama relied heavily on quarterback Mac Jones’ arm for points, but that all changed this week when the Tide fed Harris the ball all night long. The senior back had an incredible night on the ground rushing for 206 yards on just 23 carries and accounting for five of Bama’s nine touchdowns. That put the star running back at almost nine yards per carry against Ole Miss.

Saban talked about his team fighting all game long, saying it did a “great job playing four quarters … I’m very proud of the resilience of this team.”

459

It is tough for a team that is used to dominating their competition so handedly to compete for a full 60 minutes of a dog fight. However, Bama never let up the entire game.

Saban addressed his team’s offensive performance in what turned out to be a shootout.

“We scored every time we had to score, we took the air out of it at the end of the game, the offense did a fantastic job in this game,” Saban emphasized.

He added of his team’s offense, “They had a good plan, did a good job at executing it. Najee Harris was good, Mac played really well, and the receiving core played really well.”

Alabama’s offense was something Saban had every right to brag about on Saturday following the game as the Tide produced 723 total yards of offense.

Ole Miss had an impressive night on offense as well, but ultimately could not keep up. The Tide defense came up big at the end when they needed to finally stop Ole Miss late in the fourth quarter. However, before that, Alabama’s defense had some struggles, and Nick Saban addressed those in his post-game press conference.

“The biggest issues is that you’ve got to get off the field on third down, and we haven’t been good at it all year,” he stated.

Saban continued, “When we did get off the field on third down, they went for it on fourth down, they went fast, and we never got lined up right. They must have converted three or four first downs in the game.”

He was right, as Ole Miss managed to go 4-4 on fourth down conversions against Bama’s defense.

The reasons for Alabama’s poor defensive performance Saturday were on the front of Saban’s mind after the game was over.

“I don’t think we tackled very well in the game, I don’t know if it was the surface or what, but all these things are things we can work on and try to improve,” Saban said.

He later added, “We struggled, didn’t play well, and couldn’t stop the run … we couldn’t get the quarterback on the ground.”

Defense will be a big factor next week when Bama hosts Georgia, who arguably has the best defense in the league this year.

There was one group Saban credited with making a big difference in the game: the special teams, specifically the kickoff return team. He said, “Really a great job on special teams recovering both onside kicks. … That could have made a huge difference in the game.”

Both onside kicks were unsuccessful and able to propel Alabama to 3-0 on the season and the Crimson Tide coach to 21-0 over his former assistants.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

2 weeks ago

Everything Nick Saban said about how Hurricane Delta could affect the Ole Miss game, and how Alabama has prepared

(Bruce Nix/Alabama NewsCenter)

Nick Saban will be coaching No. 2 Alabama against his former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin on Saturday. He will be looking to go to 21-0 in coaching against former assistants all-time when the Tide travel to Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels this Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday evening, Saban appeared on his weekly radio show “Hey Coach” with Eli Gold to discuss the upcoming game, and the conversation of Hurricane Delta hitting Oxford on game day came up fairly quickly. He had already been answering questions about using wet footballs and simulations all week but got a little more in-depth on Thursday.

466

Practicing for wet footballs

As the Tide coach had already said earlier this week, a wet ball is one of the most difficult parts of playing in the storm and rain. Everybody’s mind goes to that first, and with good reason, because it is tricky to play with a wet ball especially if you are not used to that.

Alabama will be used to it after practicing with a wet ball for quarterbacks to throw to receivers all week in practice, but the Alabama head coach points out that there is much more to worry about with a wet ball than just the passing game.

He said that as a team, Alabama has been practicing with wet balls for punters, long snappers, centers and even the holder for field goals. This way, Alabama will be prepared in every aspect of the game if the weather is as bad as expected.

Problems of a muddy field

Coach Saban believes that the muddy field is much more worrisome for the passing game than wet balls, but not for the offense. He says that passing defense is affected the most by rainy games and muddy fields.

According to Saban, rain affecting the offensive passing game is one of the most common misconceptions of rainy football games. Instead, he thinks muddy fields affect pass defense much more.

“Everybody says you won’t be able to throw the ball if it’s raining,” Saban said about muddy fields. “If it’s a bad field, and if it’s raining, it’s much easier to play offense and pass the ball than it is to play pass defense because the defense is at a disadvantage in reaction.”

He said they have been going over footwork and how defensive backs can shift their weight while covering receivers this week in practice.

How wind affects the passing game the most in a storm

Alabama’s coach is one of the greatest of all time, and he knows exactly how to prepare for any situation that can occur in football games.

He advised that the wind changes in storms like this, and every wind direction makes a big difference, whether that be throwing against the wind, with the wind, in crosswinds and even swirling winds.

All of the wind direction can hinder a quarterback’s ability to get the ball where it needs to go, and the way Alabama’s offense is finding success in the passing game, Alabama will just have to deal with the wind and find ways around it.

His last point about the wind was that it can drastically impact the kicking game, calling it “a tremendous factor in the kicking game.”

The way Alabama’s offense has been rolling, chances are this game will not be coming down to field goals.

WATCH:

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

3 weeks ago

Nick Saban says Mac Jones is playing as well as expected

Alabama football/Twitter

Alabama routed Texas A&M 52-24 in a game that showed why they may be the best team in the country. Fans got to see Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones have an exceptional game versus a quality opponent.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban was asked after the game about how he thought his starting quarterback performed.

He clearly thinks Jones is living up to the Bama standard because he had this to say about his starting quarterback, “Mac is playing really well, but that’s what we expect him to do. I think he is playing with a lot of poise out there.”

395

Jones and his blazing fast receivers played as well as anyone, including Saban, could have hoped. He completed 75% of his passes for 435 yards and four touchdowns. Jones had one interception, but to be fair it was on a pass batted into the air at the line of scrimmage.

The head coach of the Tide talked about Jones’ sole interception on the night, saying that he liked how he did not seem to let the tipped ball affect him.

The breakout star of this game was John Metchie, III. Metchie recorded 181 receiving yards, the most of any Alabama receiver on the night. He also caught two touchdowns for the Tide, compiling a truly impressive stat sheet considering he only had five receptions in the game.

Jaylen Waddle had a great game, as well, finishing with the second-most receiving yards, at 142. He and Devonta Smith each had a receiving touchdown.

Anyone who wanted to see what Alabama’s defense would look like this year does not have to wonder anymore. They forced the Aggies to throw two interceptions, and no Texas A&M quarterback felt comfortable in the pocket for most of the game.

Saban talked about his defense making the quarterback uncomfortable in his post-game interview, reflecting back on how that was not the case last year.

“The front did a good job of containing the quarterback,” Saban said. “We didn’t let Kellen run all over us like he did last year.”

The Alabama defense had four pass deflections and eight QB hurries against Texas A&M, proving that they have improved, and that it will not be easy to score on the Tide this year. One of the leaders of the stingy Saban defense, Daniel Wright, had a pick-six off of a bad Kellen Mond pass. Wright also had three tackles on the night.

Alabama was very impressive on both sides of the ball versus no. 13 Texas A&M, and will now look ahead to its next matchup versus Ole Miss next Saturday.

Ole Miss is coached by former Saban assistant, Lane Kiffin, who has taken his fast-paced offense to Oxford. Ole Miss defeated Kentucky to start off 1-1 in the Kiffin era.

Coach Saban is now 20-0 versus his former assistants and will aim to make that number rise next weekend.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

3 weeks ago

Bama vs. Texas A&M — 3 keys to watch and a final thought

(Alabama Football/Facebook)

The Alabama Crimson Tide have been at the top of the SEC for the better part of the last decade, and they seem to be on track to spend the 20’s on top of the SEC again. This afternoon, Texas A&M will travel to Tuscaloosa in a top-15 matchup.

Let’s look at three keys in this game, plus one final thought.

Maintaining offensive momentum

Tide quarterback Mac Jones played a great game against Missouri a week ago. Jones completed 75% of his passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in Bama’s 38-19 win. Both of those touchdowns, and more than half of those yards, were thrown to Jaylen Waddle, Alabama’s breakout receiver.

Against the 13th-ranked Aggies, these two will be looking to duplicate their week one production in a much more important matchup. However, don’t forget about Devonta Smith and Najee Harris, who are maybe the biggest weapons for the No. 2 Crimson Tide.

The offense out of Alabama is explosive and wonderful, but this game will come down to defense and stopping Texas A&M. Let’s talk about how they can do that.

483


Shrinking the field on A&M’s offense

The first way is to make the window that A&M has to make a play shrink. This can be done by forcing Aggie’s quarterback Kellen Mond to hand the ball off. Alabama is one of the best run-stop defenses in the conference. If the Tide stuff the run, they can force  Mond to hit the quick underneath routes.

The one thing that the Alabama defense does not want to do is let Mond stand in the pocket long enough for deep passes or scrambles.

Alabama does not want flashbacks of 2013 when Johnny Manziel. Mond is not Manziel, and although his athletic ability is similar, Mond does not have the same decision-making or vision to torch the tide down field.

The only way A&M has a good day though the air is if Alabama lets Mond stay in the pocket and get comfortable.
Alabama will probably come out in a normal defense in the first quarter to see what the Aggies will throw at them, but expect Alabama to load up the box frequently to force Mond to throw down field passes.

Defensive personnel

How will the Alabama defense dominate Texas A&M like we expect? Dylan Moses.

Moses is one of the top linebackers in the country and that is after not even playing last year. He had great production his sophomore year at Bama by recording 86 total tackles and three-and-a-half sacks.

However, the leadership that the senior linebacker brings is maybe the most important piece in the equation. If Alabama looked a little out of synch at times last year, it’s because they were, and that was because of Moses being out all season.

That will all change this year, and you already saw Moses making sideline checks and moving guys on defense around against Missouri.

Defensive back Daniel Wright had the best game of anyone on defense, and the best of his career. Wright recorded eleven tackles versus Missouri, 10 of those were solos. Everyone needs to keep their eye on the redshirt junior DB out of Florida as he grows into a leader for the Alabama defense this year.

Final thought

The Alabama defense has grown since last year, and they are looking to make the 2020 squad look like defenses from Nick Saban’s early years in Tuscaloosa.

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher told his team to come out today, “Like a pack of wild wolves.” A great mantra to fire up your team, but Saban does not have to tell his defense to do that because they already will.

The main thing that the Tide defense needs to do to defeat the Aggies is to come hot out of the gate and ready to play. Nick Saban’s teams have never had a problem with that, and most likely that will not be any different today.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

3 weeks ago

The reason Texas A&M vs. Alabama will be a better game than most people think

(@AggieFootball, @AlabamaFTBL/Twitter, YHN)

Alabama looked dominant in their 38-19 win over Missouri last weekend, but everyone expected dominance against a weak Missouri team with a first-year head coach. On the flip side of that, Texas A&M looked worse than they have in years.

If you didn’t see the headlines, Texas A&M narrowly defeated Vanderbilt 17-12 on Saturday. That is right, the same Vandy you are thinking of.

However, this game will be much more entertaining, and much closer than the majority of people are expecting. To be clear, this is not predicting an Aggie win, or even a nail-biter, but A&M will play much better versus the Crimson Tide.

439

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher has been planning for this game since the start of fall camp over a month ago. Since the seat is getting a little warm in College Station, Fisher knows he needs a big win under his belt.

The Aggies did not unleash the full playbook against one of the worst teams in the SEC. No, they were saving up for Saban’s squad. Look out for a wide variety of plays and formations that you didn’t see out of A&M from week 1 of the season.

The biggest threat to Alabama is Kellen Mond, Texas A&M’s senior quarterback who knows Fisher’s system backwards and forwards. Mond is an extremely versatile player who can beat you on his feet or with his arm.

Mond’s game against the Commodores on Saturday was slightly above average. He completed 60% of his passes including a touchdown with zero interceptions. However, the overall production didn’t translate to many points. He should step things up against the Tide and have a big night on the ground and through the air.

On the other hand, Alabama seems to be the same well-oiled machine that we are used to seeing out of Tuscaloosa year in and year out. The only question mark is still the defense because of the slight struggle they had in 2019. They looked great versus Missouri, but they have not faced a real threat in 2020.

That will all change Saturday. Alabama has struggled with mobile quarterbacks in the past, which is another reason this game will be closer than expected.

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and his plethora of great receivers such as Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle will gash a subpar Texas A&M defense. Waddle put up 134 yards and two touchdowns alone against Missouri last week. That combined with what could be another close to 100-yard rushing game for Najee Harris should ultimately push Bama to a double-digit victory.

Texas A&M is going to give the Tide their absolute best, and they have been hearing all week how embarrassing their game against the Commodores was. They know the only way to silence the skepticism is to come out and beat the No. 2 team in the nation. A&M will come out hot and on a mission to prove the doubters wrong.

The 13th ranked Aggies will travel to Tuscaloosa on Saturday to take on the 2nd ranked Crimson Tide. The game will be close through the half, but Alabama should have the strength to pull away by mid-third quarter.

Hayden Crigler is a graduate of Auburn University and writes about college sports for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler