7 months ago

Crimson Tide 2020 schedule — Three key questions

Ten games in eleven weeks. That is the task ahead of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide in the race to the 2020 SEC Championship.

As part of a special Monday evening presentation on the SEC Network, the conference announced this year’s slate of games under the unique 10-game, conference-only format. In addition to the adapted format of the regular season as part of its preparation to manage COVID-19 conditions, the conference has built in a second open week leading up to the championship game on December 19.

The Tide kick off the season on September 26 at Missouri. After that things get interesting.

Here are three key questions, and some answers, based on what we know right now:

1. What is the Tide’s toughest game?

We know head coach Nick Saban preaches the importance of viewing and preparing for every opponent the same. But a few games just leap off the page.

One oddity of the 2020 scheduling format is that the Iron Bowl will be played the second-to-last week of the regular season. Should be a great game.

The Tide’s traditional matchup against LSU has been preserved in early November. It will be fascinating to see what a trip to Baton Rouge looks like in the midst of COVID-19. The stadium would be sold out — if permitted. However, imagine the contagion running through that stadium in a normal year? We doubt there will be few fans, if any, allowed to attend this time around. Even more uncertain is the kind of team taking the field for LSU after a massive amount of departures. The defending national champions will have the Tide’s attention, but we will pass on this one, too.

The Georgia Bulldogs come to Tuscaloosa for the first time since 2007. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart will have this game circled in dip spit. Smart has announced he is going to maintain an active four-deep roster to prepare for any outbreaks on his team. To his credit, they are probably just that talented. Yet, we cannot help thinking there are real questions about how quarterback Jamie Newman will fair against a Saban defense. The graduate transfer from Wake Forest has not had success against anything like what he will see at Bryant-Denny.

That being said, Texas A&M is the answer to the question. The Aggies come to a fan-less or fan-limited Bryant-Denny Stadium during the season’s second week. Prior to that game, head coach Jimbo Fisher’s squad has a warm-up game against Vanderbilt at home. Fisher will undoubtedly spend the next month preparing specifically for the Tide, a game he needs desperately to quell the murmurs among a school and fanbase that has guaranteed him $75 million. Add in an experienced, talented senior quarterback in Kellen Mond, and this will be the Tide’s toughest game.

2. Is there a trap game?

Assuming there is a trap game on the schedule of a Saban-coached team is sort of a silly exercise. It is preseason, though, so let’s play along.

We will go with the Tide’s October 24 game in Knoxville. On one hand, Alabama’s 13-game win streak over Tennessee shows just how far apart these two programs have drifted since Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa. On the other hand, every previous long streak in the series has ended at some point. That does not really matter when Alabama has been the better team on every Saturday it has showed up the last 13 years.

It only matters on that day, however. And the Tide will be coming off a physical, marquee matchup against Georgia the week before. Tennessee gets Kentucky the Saturday prior. Former Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt enters his third season as head coach in Knoxville. This game means something extra to the Rainsville native who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in Tuscaloosa in 1997. A top-shelf recruiter, Pruitt has finally replenished the Vol program with some serviceable talent.

This will not be the same type of Tennessee team the Tide have easily handled in recent years.

3. In what game will Bryce Young announce himself as the quarterback of the future?

We are big fans of Mac Jones in this space and think the junior quarterback can lead the Tide to a national championship.

However, Young’s talent is undeniable.

The opener against Missouri would be the logical choice for the entirety of the depth chart to receive meaningful game reps. With a tricky stretch of games coming after its visit to Columbia, Saban may see a need to get Jones extended time running the offense.

Then comes the showdown with Texas A&M, a circus atmosphere surrounding Lane Kiffin’s first game against Saban after getting shown the door by him, a war against Georgia and finally a potential trap game at Tennessee. That is a big-league stretch of games.

Which is why we are going with the Tide’s first run-in with Mike Leach as Mississippi State’s head coach. Appropriately played on Halloween, this game sees the pirate bring his patented Air Raid offense to Tuscaloosa. We doubt he brings much of a defense.

Look for the Tide to put up something in the 70-point range against Leach’s Bulldogs and Young to contribute some eye-popping numbers to go along with an impressive highlight reel.

Check out the Tide’s full 2020 schedule:

Sept 26 – at Missouri
Oct 3 – Texas A&M
Oct 10 – at Ole Miss
Oct 17 – Georgia
Oct 24 – at Tennessee
Oct 31 – Mississippi State
Nov 7 – Bye
Nov 14 – at LSU
Nov 21 – Kentucky
Nov 28 – Auburn
Dec 5 – at Arkansas
Dec 19 — SEC Championship Game

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

5 hours ago

Alabama basketball completes the sweep against Auburn

Fresh off of winning the SEC regular season championship for the first time in 19 years, the Alabama Crimson Tide on Tuesday completed a sweep of Auburn for the first time in six years after defeating the Tigers at home 70-58.

Jayden Shackelford led the way for Alabama in Tuscaloosa, as the talented sophomore guard went 5-9 from behind the arc to finish with 23 total points in the win over Auburn.

Sophomore Jahvon Quinerly scored 11 points off of the bench and provided sparks for Alabama in crucial moments of the game.

While Alabama led by as much as 16 points in the first half, Auburn was able to cut the lead to five in the second. However, Alabama’s defense began to stiffen up, and seniors Herbert Jones and John Petty stalled the Tiger’s offense out before they could get too hot.

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For the Tide, the three-ball has become a major part of their offense. Second-year head coach Nate Oats always tells his players to get at least one touch in the paint first before shooting. This green-light mentality is becoming more and more popular throughout college hoops.

Bama has done really well with this philosophy by becoming one of the most dominant teams from downtown in the conference. Tuesday’s game showed that even when the three doesn’t come through for the Tide, they have other ways of scoring.

Alabama drove the basketball extremely well in the second half against Auburn and proved to be the more physical team in their win on Tuesday night. When tournament time begins, they may have to lean on this more physical style of play in certain games.

The Tide have one more regular season game against Georgia in Athens on Saturday. Bama will look to finish the regular season on a win before the SEC Tournament in Nashville gets underway.

The Tide are currently projected to be a two seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

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

5 hours ago

Alabama House recap: Bills to increase executive branch oversight, update sex ed language pass chamber

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama House of Representatives met Tuesday and passed six pieces of legislation, including bills that would increase oversight of executive branch agencies and update language in the state’s policy on sex education.

After convening shortly after 1:00 p.m. the chamber spent much of the next five hours in extended debate on two bills, with members of the Democratic Party engaging in protracted discussions of legislation they began their remarks saying they would ultimately vote for.

Seeing the most debate were HB 392 from Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) and HB 103 from Rep. Jamie Kiel (R-Russellville).

Jones’ bill creates a joint legislative committee to oversee large financial agreements made by the executive branch, and Kiel’s would prevent the state government from picking which businesses close during states of emergency.

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More information on Kiel’s bill is available here.

The legislation from Jones, chair of the powerful Rules Committee, would create the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Obligation Transparency. The committee would have the authority to approve or disapprove of contracts, leases and agreements by the executive branch and the agencies therein.

Under the proposed law the committee would meet to review any financial agreement greater than $10 million or 5% of the agency’s annual appropriation from the State General Fund.

Making up the committee would be the chair, vice-chair and ranking minority members of the committees in each legislative chamber that oversee taxation.

The proposed oversight committee would be able to meet when the legislature is in or out of session. It would have to issue approval or disapproval within 45 days of a state agency submitting a proposed contract.

If the proposed committee disapproved of a contract it would be delayed from going into effect until the end of the current or next occurring general session of the legislature.

Jones noted in remarks on the floor that this delay would give lawmakers time to address via legislation the proposal disapproved of by the committee, and added that new legislation would be required to put a halt to any state contract of which the proposed committee disapproved.

HB 392 ultimately received unanimous support in the House, with a final vote of 98-0.

Also passing the House on Tuesday was HB 385 sponsored by Rep. Laura Hall (D-Huntsville). The bill updates language in the legal code that governs how Alabama educators must teach sex ed.

It also deletes from the Code of Alabama language that requires those teaching sex ed to emphasize that “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.”

Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) and Rep. Charlotte Meadows (R-Montgomery), two staunch conservatives with backgrounds in education policy, spoke in favor of the legislation on the House floor and voted for its passage. The bill passed the House on a vote of 69-30.

Three other pieces of lower profile legislation passed the chamber on Tuesday:

HB 255 from Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Cullman) that would add a tenth member to the advisory board of directors of the Department of Senior Services, and let ex officio members name a designee to serve in their place.

HB 330 from Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton) that would change the outdated language in the state legal code concerning video depositions in criminal prosecutions.

HB 136 from Rep. Chip Brown (R-Hollinger’s Island) that would designate the aquarium at Dauphin Island Sea Lab as the Official Aquarium of Alabama.

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

9 hours ago

Alabama House passes bill that would block the government from picking and choosing which establishments close during states of emergency

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that would prevent the state government from designating which types of businesses were allowed to stay open in situations such as the one experienced during the advent of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020.

Sponsored by Rep. Jamie Kiel (R-Russellville), HB103 would not infringe on the governor or state health officer’s ability to implement public health guidance. It would only say that any business or house of worship that followed public health guidelines would be allowed to open.

“I think if it is safe enough to go to the liquor store and wear a mask and socially distance, then it is safe enough to go to church and wear a mask and socially distance,” argued Kiehl on the House floor.

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The vote on the floor was 75 in favor and 22 opposed with three members abstaining.

The bill applies to declared states of emergency that involve a “pandemic, epidemic, bioterrorism event, or the appearance of a novel or previously controlled or eradicated infectious disease or biological toxin,” per the text of the legislation.

In explaining what inspired him to author the legislation, Kieh said of last spring, “I saw businesses in my town that were suffering,” adding that some small business owners he knew were “scared to death they were going to lose their livelihoods.”

Governor Ivey’s “Stay At Home” order, in place for most of April 2020, allowed major retailers like Walmart to remain open while smaller retail stores that did not sell groceries were forced to close.

Kiehl feels that this arrangement was unfair, and that small shops and establishments deserved the chance to stay open if able to implement the health guidelines. Ivey has expressed regret in recent months about creating the distinction between “essential” and “non-essential” businesses.

“[W]hat we were really doing is were we driving all the customers that would have been in all these other stores — in the small mom-and-pops, the Hibbetts of the world — we were driving all those to one central location to buy clothing. That cannot be good for the spread of the pandemic — to bring everybody together in one location or a few locations,” Kiel told FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show.”

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) is strongly supporting the passage of the legislation.

Kiel’s bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

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

Alabama Senate passes Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act

MONTGOMERY — On a party line vote, the Alabama Senate on Tuesday passed SB 10, the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act.

Sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville), the bill would ban the performance of medical procedures and the prescription of puberty-blocking medications and sex-change hormones used as transgender therapies for minors, with certain exceptions.

The vote was 23-4, with the only four Democrats present all dissenting: Sens. Billy Beasley (D-Clayton), Vivian Figures (D-Mobile), Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) and Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham).

Shelnutt, since first introducing a version of the legislation last year, has said his goal in bringing the bill was to simply protect children from making harmful longterm decisions that they may later regret once more mature.

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“The primary concern here is the health and well-being of Alabama’s children,” stated Shelnutt. “We must protect vulnerable minors who do not have the mental capacity to make life-altering decisions of this caliber. The efficacy and effects of these particular surgeries and methods of treatment are not well-sustained by medical evidence, and actions of this severity cannot be undone.”

“I believe it is our responsibility as lawmakers to do all we can to keep our children out of harm’s way,” he added. “Protecting minors from these powerful drugs and consequential procedures will help ensure they do not feel responsible to make a decision they may wish to later undo, ultimately causing more harm.”

The House Judiciary Committee last week approved as amended the lower chamber’s companion version of the bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy). HB 1 now awaits consideration on the House floor.

In response to the passage of SB 10, Scott McCoy — SPLC interim deputy director for LGBTQ Rights & Special Litigation — released a statement.

“The Alabama State Senate is dangerously close to passing yet another piece of discriminatory legislation that likely will lead to long and expensive litigation at high cost to Alabama taxpayers,” McCoy decried.

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

11 hours ago

Alabama GOP Senate candidate Lynda Blanchard: 2020 election ‘stolen from President Trump’

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Lynda Blanchard on Tuesday called upon the Alabama House Constitution, Campaigns, and Elections Committee to vote down a bill that would legalize no-excuse absentee voting in the state, among other alterations of Alabama’s elections laws.

The committee is set to meet on Wednesday regarding HB 396, which is sponsored by State Rep. Laura Hall (D-Huntsville). The bill was originally backed by Secretary of State John Merrill, although he has now withdrawn his support for the measure.

Blanchard served in the administration of President Donald J. Trump as his ambassador to Slovenia, the home country of then-First Lady Melania Trump.

The Montgomery resident is Alabama’s only declared U.S. Senate candidate ahead of the 2022 race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL). Blanchard in a written statement said HB 396 significantly weakens Alabama’s absentee balloting rules.

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“Absentee balloting invites corruption, cheating, and fraud, so it should be allowed only in rare and unavoidable cases,” she said. “The bill that has been introduced in the Legislature leaves the door wide open for ballot harvesting and other abuses that allowed the recent presidential election to be stolen from President Trump.”

“The bill also begins a dangerous process of watering down Alabama’s election laws, which could lead to the repeal of our photo voter ID requirements and other safeguards that Republicans have put in place,” Blanchard continued.

She concluded, “Alabama should focus on strengthening, not weakening, our honest election reforms, and we certainly shouldn’t implement no-excuse absentee voting, which is often used by liberal Democrats who have refined election fraud and ballot stuffing into an art form.”

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) and Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) have already voiced opposition to HB 396.

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