1 month ago

Bama’s roster vs. Clemson’s; Plus, picks for Auburn-LSU showdown, red-hot Razorbacks vs. A&M

A smart guy said something silly this week.

ESPN’s David Pollack used his network’s college football podcast to announce his belief that Jaylen Waddle’s season-ending injury was fatal to the Crimson Tide’s national championship run.

“I think it’s over for Bama,” Pollack said. “I think if you’re just talking about winning a national title, I don’t think they can win a national title without [Waddle].”

While it is a bit early to dip into specific matchups, a quick roster comparison — by position group — with Alabama’s perceived closest competitor may be in order. ESPN’s playoff predictor slots the Tide as the No. 1 seed in the playoff followed by Clemson at No. 2.

Alabama versus Clemson. Let’s see how the two compare.

Running back. Najee Harris has elevated his game to the same heights occupied by Clemson’s Travis Etienne. Stats for each of these two dynamic backs are nearly identical. While Harris has enjoyed running behind a far superior offensive line (spoiler alert), a deeper group for Bama makes the difference in grading out these units. Edge: Bama

Wide receiver. The largest gap in talent may exist here, which is what makes Pollack’s analysis so puzzling. Both teams lost their best wide receivers for the entire year, Waddle at Alabama and Justyn Ross at Clemson. If he were to switch teams, Clemson’s best remaining receiver would be the third-most talented in Tuscaloosa behind Devonta Smith and John Metchie, III. Edge: Bama

Tight end. The talent in both of these groups is pretty similar, with a slight nod to Clemson’s unit based on production so far  in 2020. Edge: Clemson

Offensive line. Another area where there is a fairly substantial gap. Alabama’s line has overpowered opponents and consistently given Mac Jones a clean pocket. Clemson has four new starters, has generally struggled to get a push in the middle and has allowed Trevor Lawrence to take some tough shots. Edge: Bama

Defensive line. This version of the Tide defensive line lacks the dominant presence of seasons past but remains serviceable. It is a group not asked to do a lot other than free up an athletic group of linebackers to make plays. Clemson’s defensive line is also not in the same class of some of the more heralded units of the Dabo Swinney era, but has a couple of true freshman with significant upside. Edge: Even

Linebacker. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables coaches this position group, and it shows. They are a group of smart overachievers. James Skalski, Baylon Spector and Jake Venables are never short on effort. But none are the type of player for which opposing offensive coordinators have to account. On the other hand, Dylan Moses, Christian Harris and Christopher Allen are a force. Freshman Will Anderson, Jr. is an athletic freak. Edge: Bama

Defensive back. The upgrade in athleticism in the back end of Alabama’s defense is noticeable this year. Patrick Surtain II can wall off his side of the field, while Daniel Wright and Malachi Moore have already recorded two interceptions each. Safety Nolan Turner, a former two-star prospect from Vestavia Hills, is now the dean of the Tigers’ defensive backfield. As a full-time starter this year, Turner is like a coach on the field. Clemson’s unit is in a bit of a rebuild after having lost two first-round draft picks from last season’s squad. Edge: Bama

Special teams. Alabama kicker Will Reichard is perfect on the year. That is a great sign, but there is naturally a little wait-and-see approach when evaluating the Tide’s kicking game. Waddle’s loss in the return game is significant. Clemson has no threats in that area. Edge: Even

Quarterback. The best debate is saved for last. Both of these quarterback rooms have raw, inexperienced 5-star freshman as backups, so this is all about the high-profile starters. Lawrence is the likely first pick in the 2021 NFL draft. But this comparison is not about who can best help the New York Jets resurrect its franchise. This is about 2020. Lawrence has thrown for 1,833 yards, including 17 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He has completed 71% of his passes and has averaged 9.6 yards per completion. Jones has thrown for 1,905 yards, including 12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He has completed 79% of his passes and has averaged 13 yards per completion. We said back in August that the Crimson Tide could win a national championship with Jones at the helm. Confidence in that assertion is now sky high. Jones’ performance this season demands that he take a backseat to no one. Edge: Even

Now that we have dispensed with Pollack’s notion that the Crimson Tide are out of the national championship hunt, let’s get to some picks.

THE BASICS

LSU (-3) at Auburn: Coach O is back. His Tigers hammered South Carolina last weekend by four touchdowns. A 2:30 kick on CBS and then get back to Baton Rouge in time to go out. What could go wrong?

The pick: Auburn 36, LSU 24

Arkansas at No. 8 Texas A&M (-11.5): The Razorbacks had a bye last week, but there has been no shortage of praise heaped upon head coach Sam Pittman, and his improved team, in the intervening days. What a great story.

The pick: Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 17

BUYER BEWARE

No. 15 North Carolina (-7) at Virginia: Another great story is the Mack Brown reunion tour in Chapel Hill. With a national championship ring from his time at Texas, Brown returned to North Carolina, a place he previously coached from 1988 to 1997. His Heels face off against a struggling Virginia team long on grit but short on talent.

The pick: North Carolina 26, Virginia 20

No. 16 Kansas State at West Virginia (-3.5): There are 25,000 more people living in Manhattan, Kansas, than Morgantown, West Virginia. So Kansas State head coach Chris Kleiman will not have to worry about his team being intimidated by a big-city atmosphere. This is a sneaky big game in the Neal Brown era at West Virginia.

The pick: West Virginia 30, Kansas State 19

No. 4 Notre Dame (-20) at Georgia Tech: Notre Dame head coach Bryan Kelly has made no secret about his team’s anticipation for next week’s matchup against Clemson, a team which beat Georgia Tech 73-7 a few weeks ago. With Trevor Lawrence now doubtful in that matchup after a positive COVID-19 test, the Irish can undoubtedly smell blood and will be ready to exact revenge on an embarrassing playoff loss two years ago.

The pick: Notre Dame 24, Georgia Tech 17

Last week: 4-3 straight up; 3-4 ATS
Season: 17-5 straight up; 12-10 ATS

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

4 hours ago

Ivey lights official state Christmas tree – ‘Merry Christmas to each of you’

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Friday took part in the traditional annual lighting of the official State of Alabama Christmas Tree located on the steps of the capitol.

“Let this be a year you do a little bit more, and give a little bit more,” said Governor Ivey to those assembled.

“Merry Christmas to each of you and to all families across Alabama,” she added.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed introduced Ivey at the ceremony and praised her “steady leadership” during a tumultuous year. Ivey later thanked him for his “dedicated leadership” of Alabama’s capital city.

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Around 200 citizens braved temperatures in the mid-40s to take in the lighting ceremony. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, masks were required for attendance at the ceremony.

“I’m incredibly grateful we’re able to safely keep this Christmas tradition alive,” Ivey said of the circumstances.

Alabama’s 2020 tree was donated by Robbins Taylor, Sr. of Lowndes County. The Eastern Red Cedar is 35 feet tall and required a crew from the Alabama Department of Transportation for its installation.

Major General David J. Francis, commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, reminded the crowd in attendance that the Christmas standard “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” was written from the perspective of a soldier forced to be away from home during World War II.

“This is a great reminder to remember all our service members, including the members of the greatest generation, the deployed members who will not be with their loved ones this holiday season, and the many who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,” Francis added.

“Christmas is a direct reminder of the hope we find in Jesus Christ,” mentioned the governor, who makes her Christian faith a mainstay of her public persona.

“Through the birth of a baby boy over two thousand years ago, we can find salvation, peace, and purpose in our lives,” Ivey continued.

“For many of us, including myself, that hope and faith has been what has guided us through these difficult challenges of 2020,” she told the public.

“May God continue to bless our state,” the governor concluded.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

7 hours ago

Palmer: Pelosi, Democrats prioritize pot legalization over COVID-19 relief

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) raised eyebrows this week by calling the House of Representatives into session and pushing through votes on legislation that would legalize marijuana and ban private ownership of exotic animals — known as the “Tiger King” bill.

Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06) released a scathing statement on Friday decrying Pelosi’s prioritization of these bills over much-needed COVID-19 relief for the American people.

“Speaker Pelosi and her clueless Democrat colleagues have proven over and over again that their top priorities do not include the hardworking Americans who need help to get through this pandemic,” Palmer said.

“This week, their prioritization of pot legalization while people are struggling is a stunning display of partisan politics and shows just how out of touch Democrats are with the American people,” he continued. “The timing of this bill not only reflects a disregard for the businesses that need further relief funding, but also for the rampant mental health and drug overdose issues exacerbated by the pandemic.”

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Entitled the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act), the marijuana legalization passed the House on Friday by a vote of 228-164. The only Alabama representative to support the measure was Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07), a Democrat.

“Federal surveys show that since the coronavirus arrived in the U.S., depression and anxiety have been on the rise, with a concerning 75% of young adults now struggling with at least one mental health or drug problem,” Palmer explained. “The Center for Disease Control has also predicted that the U.S. could see 75,500 drug overdose deaths in 2020 if recent trends hold. Pelosi’s pot bill is even more unconscionable with these concerning facts in mind, especially as it ignores common sense safety measures around marijuana use, and also funnels taxpayer dollars to the marijuana industry and convicted drug dealers. In short, the bill would grant easier access to a gateway drug for already vulnerable and struggling people.”

The Central Alabama congressman concluded, “Furthermore, at a time when we should be helping people with employment opportunities, this bill would move us in the wrong direction. Companies with drug-free work environments, many of them also hazardous work environments, should not and will not employ people who might come to work drug-impaired, endangering themselves and others. I hope we don’t waste more opportunities next week for needed relief.”

Palmer, as the chair of the Republican Policy Committee, is the fifth-highest ranking member of the House GOP.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

WWII vet finishes fight with COVID-19, turns 104 the next day

A World War II veteran in Alabama was released from the hospital this week after a battle with the coronavirus. He turned 104 years old on his first day back home.

Major Wooten, the veteran in question, has become something of a minor celebrity in recent years for his joyful approach to life at his advanced age.

Wooten turned heads in recent years during his trip to Normandy to celebrate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Similar lines cheered his return to the airport and his exit from the hospital earlier this week.

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An ardent Alabama fan, Wooten again made headlines earlier this year when Nick Saban gave him a call after a health scare in the spring.

RELATED: Nick Saban surprises 103-year-old WWII veteran with Facetime call

Wooten is from Cullman and was cared for at Madison Hospital during his fight with COVID-19.

His exit from the hospital has garnered attention across the nation, with the Associated Press publishing a widely circulated story and ABC’s World News Tonight featuring Wooten in a segment.

Watch employees of Madison Hospital sing Happy Birthday to Major Wooten:

 

Major Wooten turns 104!

Mr. Major Lee Wooten won his battle with COVID-19 in time to be home to celebrate his 104th birthday. Mr. Wooten, who is a veteran and warmly known as “Pop Pop,” is described by his granddaughter as “their family’s treasure.” Please join us in wishing Mr. Wooten a very, happy birthday!

Posted by Madison Hospital on Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

8 hours ago

Alabama receives over $50M from Dept. of Interior for energy produced in state

The State of Alabama is receiving $50.29 million from the federal government as a disbursement for energy that was produced in a federally owned area of the state.

Alabama’s funds come as part of a $1.81 billion payout to 34 states announced by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt on Friday.

The revenue sent to states Friday “was collected from oil, gas and mineral production on federal lands within the states’ borders and from offshore oil and gas tracts in federal waters adjacent to their shores,” according to a release from the department.

Virtually all of Alabama’s portion of the money was generated by offshore drilling, per the data available on an Interior Department web portal.

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Alabama’s payment was ninth highest in the nation. New Mexico took the top spot with $706.96 million followed by Wyoming, Louisiana, Texas, North Dakota, Colorado, Utah and Mississippi.

American Indian Tribes received $1 billion as part of the process; 100% of the revenue from the energy generated on their lands.

“[T]hese disbursements also go right back to the states and Tribes where the energy was produced, providing critical funding for schools, public services, conservation improvements and infrastructure projects that create good-paying American jobs,” said Bernhardt on Friday.

The over $50 million announced as on its way to Alabama on Friday is the state’s total for fiscal year 2020 that ended September 30. It is the largest amount the state has received under the disbursement policy in the last decade.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

10 hours ago

Aderholt tests positive for COVID-19, is asymptomatic

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) on Friday announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19 but is displaying no symptoms.

Aderholt originally went into quarantine on November 15 after learning he had been in close contact with someone who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Right after completing his 10-day quarantine period, Aderholt’s wife, Caroline, tested positive and he once again went into quarantine.

Under new CDC guidelines that allow for a seven-day quarantine if followed by a negative test result, Aderholt on Thursday received a COVID-19 test to ascertain if he could exit quarantine and resume voting on the House floor.

“I fully expected to receive a negative test, because I have felt, and continue to feel fine, and have no symptoms. Unfortunately, I received word Friday morning that my test came back positive. After speaking with the Attending Physician for Congress, I will continue to isolate,” he advised in a statement.

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Aderholt also said that his wife has recovered from the virus after experiencing mild symptoms.

During his original quarantine, Aderholt had isolated himself away from his wife and the rest of his family.

The dean of Alabama’s U.S. House delegation, Aderholt is a senior member of the Committee on Appropriations, including serving as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science and as a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Subcommittee and the Defense Subcommittee.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn