28 October 2008
It was back into full pads on Tuesday for the Crimson Tide football team. The big change for the Tide was the weather, with temperatures in Tuscaloosa coming in under 60 degrees. It's expected to be a little warmer on Saturday for the game, but that's one of those external factors that Coach Saban doesn't like folks to bother him with.
Terrence Cody continues to progress nicely. He and Scott Cochran (Strength and Conditioning) worked out for the second straight day. So far it's been straight ahead running, testing the strength of the ankle. Before he is cleared to play he'll have to show that he's capable of side to side drills, and presumably he would do that with agility drills. Either way it will be up to the doctors.
Earl Alexander was back into his white jersey, participating fully after being in black yesterday. This is almost not worth noting since the same thing has happened in each of the last three game weeks. It's possible that Earl's balky ankle has been what has held him back this year. The Tide did attempt a deep fade route to Earl on Saturday, but there have been far fewer balls thrown his way than many anticipated.
We saw a decent amount of the base 3-4 defense on Saturday, and that should be the case against Red Wolves. Arkansas State is a run-heavy offense, which should mean many more opportunities for Cory Reamer and Chavis Williams - and possibly a return to game action for Jerrell Harris. The best case scenario would see the Tide run out to a big lead so that all of the young linebackers get playing time, but given how little the guys at the Sam have played this year, giving them reps is always a good thing.
The defensive backs are working on their run-stop defense in preparation for the Red Wolves' offense. As we told you yesterday, they average 225.14 yards per game on the ground (more than Bama's 205.38), so the expectation is that they will try to establish the run. The DBs can't completely sell out on the run, though, as Arkansas State puts up 210.57 yards in the air.
The running back rotation has remained the same, despite seeing Roy Upchurch get more carries than Mark Ingram in Knoxville. Ingram is still working with the second unit, though we have seen the Tide coaches go with the hot hand all season. The Upchurch at fullback wrinkle should allow Roy to get more playing time, though we likely haven't seen all that formation has to offer.
The team will be back in full pads tomorrow, and Nick Saban will have his final press conference of the week. We'll have a report of both.