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Jumbo Package: Tide’s first day in pads begins to answer questions about the O-Line, Wide Receiver

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Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Two problem areas from 2021 seem to be improving very nicely this fall.

All the bad words…

Alabama wide receiver JoJo Earle is expected to miss the first month of the season with a broken foot.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Wednesday that Earle sustained a Jones fracture in practice “a couple of days ago”. Saban said recovery typically takes 6-8 weeks and that the sophomore receiver and return man could be back as early as the Arkansas game on Oct. 1.

Alabama opens against Utah State on Sept. 3.

“He was doing a really, really good job, having a really good camp,” Saban said. “Probably the best he’s been on a consistent basis. Just saw a guy that grew up and was playing with a lot of confidence. We’ll miss him for a while.”

That is really unfortunate for Earle, who has the athleticism and talent to be Waddle 2.0, but just was not able to put it together last season. This year, he had really stepped up in the offseason and was figuring on being a part of the Tide’s rebuilt WR corps and return game.

Unfortunately, foot fractures also have a habit of lingering. Even if Earle “only” misses the first part of the season, he almost certainly won’t be at 100% until next year at this time.

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In a time where everyone is lamenting the demise of college football, I’m not sure why Dellenger decided to try and humanize NIL collectives to help both-sides patent cheating, but here we are. And of course it features the Vawls.

This is tough, stomach-churning read.

The Club, at more than 1,000 members, distributed about $4 million to 130 Tennessee athletes this past season, most coming since January. Spyre’s goal is to raise $25 million, and officials believe it is doable.

This is a well-oiled NIL machine, led by a pair of savvy marketing agents with an office that is ballooning. Spyre is in the process of moving to a larger facility in Knoxville after a recent staff expansion. In a few short months, the company is roughly half the size of the Tennessee athletic department’s own fundraising arm.

And they want to set the record straight.

“I think there is a narrative out there and it’s been driven by one side,” says James Clawson, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “I want to change the narrative about collectives.”

But many believe collectives are exploiting a loophole, using a concept that wasn’t the intention of NIL. Leaders within the college sports industry have questioned the collectives’ motives and tactics, in many ways demonizing them for operating a pay-for-play scheme and doling out salaries to college athletes.

And speaking of collectives, what happens when Boosters form their own private “collectives” against the express wishes of the school? USC is about to find out...and it’s a compliance nightmare on paper already.

What is the secret to success? Being in love with the process of doing things the right way. Interesting synthesis of thoughts here between Nick Saban and Larry Fitzgerald’s notion of “the Process”:

Saban on Wednesday revealed a key element of Fitzgerald’s message, saying he even learned something about himself in the process of discussing … The Process.

‘One of the players asked (Fitzgerald), ‘How did you stay motivated when you had so much success for so long?’,” Saban shared. “And he said, ‘I love the process. I love watching film. I love to practice, I caught extra balls before practice, I ran routes with the quarterback after practice, I love the process. And then when the game came, it was really, really easy.’

“And that’s kind of interesting because some of our best players, some of our really, really good players traditionally in the past, that’s exactly how they were. And that’s exactly how a lot of the guys on our team right now that are really good players, that’s how they are.”

Fornelli has an interesting article about the most likely agents of chaos for 2022. One name is sadly — all too sadly — a familiar one:

Auburn

How could one write about chaos in college football and not mention Auburn at some point? Chaos is the only non-chaotic thing about the program, and 2022 will give Auburn a few chances to ruin things for a couple of different contenders. Nobody is quite sure what to make of the Tigers entering 2022. Bryan Harsin was forced to navigate some choppy seas during his first season on The Plains, which has led to lowered expectations in 2022.

Auburn is never more dangerous than when you expect nothing of it, so be wary, playoff contenders within the SEC.

Auburn is always a sexy pick. But for my money, the chaos lords of the SEC seem to be Mississippi State and South Carolina: teams not expected to compete for their division, but with enough returning talent to catch contenders napping.

Kool-Aid will not be playing hoops for ‘Bama. And that’s probably a good call. He has exceptional potential at CB, and likely a far longer career ahead of him, by sticking to football.

Terrion Arnold has expressed his desire to continue doing so, but did report to the team earlier this year. Nate Oats is still interested in his services, but even Arnold admits it might be too much, that he’ll have to pick one.

Time to right the ship, and it sounds like Eric Wolford is doing just that with the offensive line:

“I’m not going into too much detail,” guard Emil Ekiyor said last week, “but it’s been a positive change with Coach Wolford

. . .

“I like the coach that we have now, and his energy and enthusiasm while he’s teaching the players,” Saban last week, adding Sunday, “I think he’s developed really good relationships with the players. I like the progress that we’ve made in the offensive line.”

It seems at times as though we are flogging a well-dead and desiccated equine here, but until those guys lace up, sac up, and put people on their ass, they’re going to keep getting these questions about their ability, talent, and toughness.

Among other questions for the 2022 Tide is who is going to be the man opposite Trey Burton. For now, we’ll pencil in the hero of last year’s Iron Bowl, Ja’Corey Brooks, who’s having a great fall camp:

Sophomore wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks missed the entire spring period because of an injury but has gotten off to a strong start in fall camp according to Nick Saban.

“Ja’Corey Brooks is doing really well,” Saban said on Wednesday. “Very competitive, smart, plays with a lot of toughness, very physical, doing a good. Has got really good hands.”

Sorry, haters. Nick sounds “nothing like a man pondering retirement.”

The grind itself is enough to keep him going.

According to Talty’s new book, Kick Six left half the locker room in tears:

In an excerpt published by CBS Sports from the new book, The Leadership Secrets of Nick Saban by Al.com senior sports editor John Talty, former Alabama player Christion Jones described what the Crimson Tide locker room was like in the immediate aftermath of the play, and how nearly everybody in the room—including Saban—was teary-eyed.

“You walk in and everyone is crying. Fifty percent crying and 50 percent tearing up,” Jones said in the book. “Coach Saban was in tears—he could barely talk. His face was red. Everyone was emotional; it was a funeral moment.”

Well, if you can’t get thirty-six inches on 4th down, with a division title on the line and a probable SEC and national championship to follow, then those tears are misplaced. Anger should have been the proper emotion. That the atmosphere was one of grief rather than ownership tells you a lot about that 2013 team — one that even Nick Saban apparently didn’t like.

I understand the shocking way the loss happened upset players. And I fully empathize with college kids being in pain. But the leaders didn’t lead, and even taking a month off for the SEC’s premiere Bowl did not heads right, as they didn’t redeem themselves in the Sugar Bowl either.

You have the losses you deserve to have and the empty trophy case you earned.

Too harsh?

And, finally, Potter uncorks everything Saban had to say after yesterday’s 6th Fall Practice, the Tide’s first in pads. I wanted to highlight this, especially, because even if teams think that they can gameplan around Will Anderson and neutralize Dallas Turner, there’s a third pass rusher waiting in the wings, and a guy who’s poised to have his own breakout season: Chris Braswell:

On Chris Braswell’s progress…

“Brass is a good player. He’s a good rusher. He’s got great first-step quickness, he can turn speed to power. He’s got a much better understanding of what he’s supposed to do on defense playing outside ‘backer. It takes guys a little bit of time who have their hands in the dirt all the time when they’re in high school and then we try to teach them how to play standing up, which is a good fit for a lot of guys. Because they’re not really big enough to be defensive ends, especially at the next level. So if they can play outside ‘backer and then they can rush on third down that creates tremendous value when they learn how to play standing up. And he has learned that and he’s improved that you know the past coverage part of it. But he’s a really good rusher, got great first step quickness. And look you can be quick and fast, but if you can’t turn speed to power, you’re never going to be an effective rusher, and he can do that really well. So I think we have three guys there right now that are really good players and outside ‘backer.”

Relentless.

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