22 September 2008
After taking care of Arkansas in quick and easy fashion, the Tide went to work today on what should be a much more difficult opponent - the #3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs.
The best news continues to be on the injury front. All three Bama players who had minor injuries during Saturday's game - Rolando McClain, Javier Arenas, and Josh Chapman - participated fully in practice today. Bama will have three more practices prior to heading to Athens on Friday, and if no injuries crop up between now and then, Alabama will kick off on Saturday with a full squad.
This week will present the biggest challenge for the Alabama defense this season, with the Bulldogs possessing NFL prospects at QB, WR, and RB. The linebackers will likely be called on to play as a full unit this week much more so than we've seen in each of the last two weeks, which means a heavier dose of reps for the guys at the sam.
One point of emphasis for the linebackers will covering Georgia's screen game. The Bulldogs hit Bama hard with this last season, and given Bama's struggles with short passes over the middle this season, it would be easy to expect that Georgia will attack Bama here again. Rolando McClain was picked on last year, and I would guess that we will see Georgia take an early look at Don'ta Hightower, hoping to use his freshman aggressiveness against him.
The Bama passing attack is once again getting a heavy look in practice. The Tide only attempted 15 passes Saturday because, quite frankly, they didn't need to attempt any more. In a perfect world Bama will be able to run with that level of ease every week. But while I do think the Tide will be able to run successfully against most defenses, topping 300 yards on the ground won't happen against the SEC's better defenses.
With that in mind there was a greater emphasis put on pass protection and running crisp routes. After the Bama receivers saw very little action in the Tulane game we saw much larger numbers the next week against Western Kentucky. Certainly the Bulldog defense will be a tougher test than WKU, but don't be surprised to see the Alabama receivers become involved again.
One interesting coincidence to pay attention to this weekend is that both teams have a highly touted freshman wide receiver - Alabama has Julio Jones while the Dogs have A.J. Green - that wear the #8. The fact that they wear the same number means very little, about the same as the fact that Georgia will be wearing black uniforms... it is however a unique coincidence given the way that the two guys were compared all throughout their high school seasons a year ago.
Another note for this weekend is that Georgia's long time radio announcer Larry Munson announced today that he is retiring effective immidiately. This isn't likely to have much of an impact on the game, if any. It is possible that the Georgia players could play with a higher level of emotion, and the Georgia fans could join them in that. But, as Coach Saban would say, execution will take care of emotion.
Bama will hit the field tomorrow in full pads and we'll have a report then.