Category Archives: College Football

Alabama Coach Nick Saban Tests Positive, Will Miss Iron Bowl

Nick Saban

After a false-positive earlier in the season, Alabama coach Nick Saban has now tested positive for Covid-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms, such as a runny nose.

The coach will now miss Saturday’s visit by Auburn in the Iron Bowl as he enters the mandated isolation period of a minimum of 10 days.

With Saban sidelined, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will take over the head-coach responsibilities, a well as his usual play-calling duties.

Saban will miss being on the sideline for one of the biggest games of the season, however, the coach will have access to the same 22-camera angle feed that coaches use to analyse the game.

“I know how important it is for a lot of them. And I know how difficult it is sometimes when you have disruptions to overcome those. But we have a lot of very capable coaches. And the biggest thing I’m going to miss about it is being with our players, being a part of our team and helping those players have the best opportunity to be successful.”

“We’ll do the best we can to try to analyze what’s happening and see if there’s any way we can be of some kind of use. But I have confidence in our coaches and our players that they’ll be able to do what they have to do. I mean, we’ve all got to live with the consequences of what happens whether I’m standing there or not. So that’s something I hope everybody realizes.”

As we reach the pointy end of the college football season, the earliest Saban can return to the touchline will be the game against Arkansas on December 5.

However, his return is subject to passing SEC protocol that states “At least 24 hours must have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and symptom improvement (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, etc.) has occurred, in accordance with current [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance for isolation.”

Saban is unaware of how he may have caught the virus.

“I’m around nobody. I go home, and I go to the office. I have no idea,” he concluded.

Crimson Tide Season Hits Low Ebb With Jaylen Waddle Injury

Just one week after blowing away SEC rivals Georgia, Alabama’s season hit a low ebb as star wide receiver Jaylen Waddle suffered an ankle injury on the opening play of the game against Tennessee that will keep him side-lined for the remainder of the season.

The most electric player in college football, Waddle is the Crimson Tide’s top receiver, a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, and before the injury, was an almost certain Top 10 draft pick if he elected to turn pro at the conclusion of the college season. That ranking is now in doubt.

Jaylen Waddle Suffers Broken Ankle

On the opening return of Alabama’s crushing 48-17 victory over Tennessee, Waddle was brought down, with his ankle pinned to the turf. At the completion of the play, he was carried from the field and didn’t put any weight on the injured ankle.

He was later taken to hospital in an ambulance, and coach Nick Saban confirmed the extent of the injury at half time.

‘He’s out for the year, and it’s a shame because he’s a great player. It’s exciting for college football to see a guy play like that. I hate it when he gets hurt on a play like that – you know, you’re not supposed to bring the ball out when you’re that deep in the end zone. But he’s a great player, so you got to let him use his judgement.’

Rehab Starts Now For Waddle

Waddle is being flown privately back to Alabama, where he will be assessed by team doctors before surgery to repair the damaged ankle.

Such a devastating injury will most likely mean the star receiver has played his last game for Alabama, with Waddle likely to declare for the draft.

‘We’re going to fly him back privately with the doctors and take him back to Birmingham and see what we have to do right away. If that’s the case, and we’re pretty certain that it is, he would probably be out for the year.’

‘It’s really a sad time for me for Jaylen Waddle and for his family. The guy’s a great player, a great teammate, an exciting player to watch. I hate that people in college football can’t see him play more. We’re going to coach the players we have and do the best we can to try to get better,’ added Saban.

Injury Leaves Hole In Offensive Production

The injury to Waddle leaves a big hole in the Alabama offence, as the junior from Houston was posting frightening numbers early in the season.

In the first four games he had at least 120 yards receiving, leading Alabama with a staggering 557 yards off only 25 catches.

His production on punt returns had also been immense, clocking up 733 punt return yards, placing him 6th all-time for Alabama.

Almost a footnote in the game was Saban getting yet another win over a former assistant, improving his record to 23-0 and giving him four consecutive wins over former assistants this season.

‘It’s always a great win,’ Saban said. ‘It’s a great rivalry game. I know it means a lot to a lot of people in the state of Alabama and certainly proud of our players for the effort that they put in and the game we played. It’s always good to win.’

Saban and his coaches will need to work hard to instil the ‘next man up’ mentality in their charges over the coming weeks, or the tide could go out on what was once looking like a shot at another National Championship.

What Has Alabama v Georgia Told Us About College Football In 2020?

After a meeting of two SEC heavyweights, what has Alabama v Georgia told us about college football in 2020?

Well, it’s told us the more things change, the more they stay the same!

Off-field Drama

A week of turmoil saw master coach Nick Saban sidelined with COVID (a false positive it turns out). On the back of a terrible defensive showing against Ole Miss, this was supposed to be the week that the balance of power shifted in the SEC.

FALSE POSITIVE: Saban thankfully didn’t have Coronavirus

Only Alabama didn’t get the memo.

After three successive negative tests, coach Saban was cleared to don the headset and patrol the sideline, dealing a psychological blow to the Bulldogs of Georgia.

Going into this game, Saban was 21-0 against his former assistants.

In this match up of a high-octane offense vs a smothering defence, surely the tables would be turned and the all-conquering defence would strangle the Alabama offence.

This would’ve given Kirby Smart his first win against his old boss while atoning for defeats in 2017 and 2018.

But it wasn’t to be.

Game Day

After Saturday night’s 41-24 win, Nick Saban is now an incredible 22-0 against his former assistants.

Georgia had their chances in this match, but they lacked the composure and mentality needed to get over the hump.

Previous defeats are still fresh in the memory, and may have played their part.

On Saturday, Georgia led 24-20 at halftime, and lost.

In the 2017 Championship game, they led 13-0 at half time and had one hand on the bowl, but lost.

In the 2018 SEC Championship game, they led 21-14 at half time, but lost.

So, what does this result tell us?

Well it makes one thing very clear, Alabama are now the undisputed second best team in college football, behind the juggernaut that is Clemson.

After another Saban Masterclass, the coach was effusive in his praise for how his team handled a challenging week.

‘It felt great, it was a great win for our team, it was a great win for our fans. Georgia has a great team, this was the kind of game you come to Alabama to play.

‘Our players did a great job, they handled the disruption of the week very, very well. Showed a lot of maturity, played a lot better in the second half. Kind of got control of the game, I’m really proud of the players, the way they competed.

‘We knew it was going to be a street fight, we knew we were going to have to go 15 rounds. I’m really proud of the way they did that.’

And what of Georgia’s defense?

There is no shame in losing to a team that posts one of the most potent offences in the game today.

  • Mac Jones is firmly in the Heisman discussion after another week where he put up numbers eerily similar to his predecessor Tua Tagovailoa (Jones was also named SEC Offensive Player of the Week after the Georgia game).
  • Najee Harris is almost unstoppable. After five (yes, five!) touchdowns against Ole Miss, he followed up with 152 yards and one touchdown against a Georgia defence that was hell-bent on stopping him.
  • With a receiving core of Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and John Metchie III it gives Jones so many options to move the chains or take long shots and make explosive plays and keep the defence on the field, grinding them down.

However, you come at the King, you best not miss.

‘We couldn’t stop them. We got outcoached,’ said Georgia coach Kirby Smart.

After Saturday’s loss, Georgia have slipped to #4 in the AP Top 25 poll, with Notre Dame taking the #3 spot.

Naturally, Clemson stay in the #1 spot with an astonishing 54 votes, while Alabama are in the #2 spot with eight votes.

With Trevor Lawrence in devastating form it would take a miracle, a disaster, or both for Clemson to be dislodged from the top spot. And for Alabama, with no ranked teams remaining on their schedule, they should lock up that number two spot for the College Football Playoff.

However, the final two spots are well and truly up in the air, and as we have seen in 2020, anything is possible…