19 August 2008
The Tide football team was in full pads today, after 2 days off, for the first practice of the regular season. Things will change again tomorrow as the Tide will welcome a host of new walk-on players, as well as senior wide receiver Will Oakley
who has been recovering from foot surgery. Here's what you need to know:
The Tide is still healthy after all of fall camp, and the beginning of the regular practices. Josh Chapman
were both at full strength after being in black no contact jerseys for Saturday's scrimmage. Charlie Higgenbotham
is still struggling a little with a sore groin, but he is expected back any day.
With fall camp out of the way the Tide will now be dealing with the NCAA mandated 20 hours per week limit on practice. With that being the case, there will be more focus put on developing a 2-deep roster and getting those guys ready to play. There will be some things done to try to figure out ways to get the best 11 on the field, even if that means a guy serving as the starter at one position and serving as a backup at another.
has been moved from defensive end to left guard. After having been moved from nose guard to DE in the spring, that makes 3 positions in just over a year for McCullough. I wouldn't say that this move is a total surprise, because he was a good offensive lineman in high school. But it is safe to say that this was unexpected after the huge day he had on A-day. This could simply be a case of taking advantage of depth at one position, DE, to help a position that lacks depth, guard.
Chapman being back healthy might have resulted in a position move. It was briefly hinted at last week, and today it seemed to become a reality: Lorenzo Washington
is working at defensive end. We talked about that being a distinct possibility in his player profile
, and it looks as though he's getting a shot to take his quickness to the outside. He's already moved ahead of Milton Talbert
at the left end spot.
If that move is a reality there will have to be another position move. With Brian Motley
having settled in at center (still with the 2nd unit), Washington moving to DE would leave the Tide with Terrence Cody
, Chapman & true freshman Damien Square
at the nose guard position. We haven't heard much from Square since he moved inside, but the coaches could have enough quiet confidence in him to man that 3rd spot in the rotation.
If one of the DEs does not move inside the Tide would have 8 guys battling for time on the outside. It is possible that Washington could serve as a reserve on both the outside and inside, he has the talent and experience to do so. I think he could push Bobby Greenwood
for his starting spot, which means that the coaches could have more confidence in Greenwood as a backup at this end than they do with someone else as a #3 NG... looking to get the best 3 lineman on the field at all times.
The linebacker situation still looks like it could be in the hands of Cory Reamer
. Cory is still being looked at with the 1s at both the WILL and SAM linebacker situations. When he is at the WILL Eryk Anders
is the #1 guy at SAM. When he is at the SAM Don'ta Hightower
is the #1 at WILL and Anders is getting snaps with Brandon Fanney
at the JACK. The continuing development of Courtney Upshaw
at the JACK could impact this as well, freeing up Anders for the SAM.
My guess is that this is an attempt to identify Bama's 4 best linebackers and get them on the field at the same time. This could be a formation thing, however. When Bama goes into its nickel defense there will be a linebacker coming off of the field; sometimes the SAM and sometimes the JACK. With Reamer's experience as a defensive back, this could be a way to take advantage of his versatility in that regard.
looks to have clearly established himself as the Tide's #2 quarterback. Before anyone starts about Star Jackson
being a disappointment, this could be the best thing for both Jackson and the Tide. It is possible that the Bama coaches will look to get more than one of the backups playing time in anticipation of John Parker Wilson
being gone in 2009, but my guess is that if Jackson isn't the #2 guy he will redshirt. The more of these incoming guys that can redshirt, the better off Bama will be down the road.
That could become an issue on the offensive line as well, with the Tide closing fall camp with 3 true freshman on the 2nd unit offensive line. That changed today as Barrett Jones
was moved back out to tackle, working with the 3rd team, and Evan Cardwell
was getting snaps at left guard with the 2nd unit. Still surprisingly absent from the 2nd unit is William Vlachos
Looking at the way that guys run in individual passing drills does not always equate to how they shape up on the depth chart - having said that the first 3 receivers in those drills were Mike McCoy
, Julio Jones
& Darius Hanks
. Those 3 guys were the most consistent and steady guys during fall camp, and look very likely to be the 3 guys who would start - assuming the Tide opens in a 3-wide set.
is still at linebacker, and looks to be working at the MIKE. This is a good spot for him, based on size and depth at that position. With him having made a late move, it's not likely that he'll be ready for playing time in under 2 weeks. He's at a position that is manned by Rolando McClain
& Charlie Higgenbotham
for the first 3 weeks, and then also by Prince Hall
. That should give Jordan adequate time to learn the position, possibly even a redshirt year.
is still getting regular reps with the tight ends. I would think that if he is not going to be eligible to play in 2008 that his reps would massively decrease as Bama approaches game day. His getting those reps does not necessarily indicate that the coaches are optimistic that he'll be approved, but I would think that something would have to give on this soon.
As soon as we have a list of the new walk-ons that join the team we'll let you know. That might not always seem important, but Jonathan Lowe's
status should be known in the next 2 days, and there could be other potential contributors on special teams that come in with that group.
Tomorrow's practice is a little later, at 3:30. That should beat the late afternoon rain expected to roll into Tuscaloosa, though weather could be a major factor for the Tide next week as they put the final touches on in their preparation for Clemson. Tropical Storm Fay is expected to land on the U.S. mainland this weekend and could send both Alabama and Clemson inside for their final weeks of practice.