11 November 2008
It was back into full pads for the Tide today as they continue preparation for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Sunday's day off and Monday's practice in shells seems to have the guys rested and ready to play what in recent years has been one of the more physical games of the season. Tuesday practices typically have more energy, as the guys tend to be more intense when they have the pads on, and this week was no different. There appears to be no danger of a letdown this weekend.
There was a Roy Upchurch sighting today. After missing yesterday's practice, the junior running back was on the field today in a black no contact jersey. Earl Alexander joined him in a black jersey, with both guys spending a lot of time riding the stationary bikes that are used to maintain conditioning in guys that are not cleared to participate in practice. We'll doubtless get an update on both guys during tomorrow's press conference.
The passing game is getting heavy work, with the lone strength of the Bulldogs being pass defense. Mississippi State current ranks second in the nation in passing yards allowed per game at 153.22. Obviously the way to attack that defense is to run the ball at them - MSU 67th nationally in run defense at 142.67 yards per game allowed on the ground. But you can not totally abandon the pass, and John Parker Wilson and his corps of receivers is preparing to to throw into the teeth of a tough pass defense.
The offensive line is getting heavy work in practicing their run blocking, after a subpar evening on the ground against LSU. Having three healthy running backs likely would have helped matters some, but the Tide got virtually nothing on the ground that wasn't gained by Glen Coffee. For the second consecutive day Terry Grant got the reps that typically go to Roy Upchurch.
Special teams is thankfully getting a lot of serious work. After several games in a row of poor place kicking and poor returning, Bama needs to shore up these two units that were a strength earlier in the season. Punting and kick coverage appear to have come around, but Bama is still making too many mistakes in the kicking game. Neither Javier Arenas or Leigh Tiffin appear to be in danger of losing their jobs, though both guys are clearly frustrated with their recent performance.
Nick Saban will have his normal press conference along with practice tomorrow, and we'll have a report from both.