23 September 2008
It was back in full pads today as Alabama continues its preparation for #3 ranked Georgia. With ESPN's College Game Day, Georgia's "Black-Out", and a national television audience ahead, warding off distraction has been one of the chief goals for the week. Luckily Nick Saban is a master at getting his team to focus, and the Bulldogs are all that matter.
Preston Dial was in a black no contact jersey and spent group work on a stationary bike. His injury at the moment is undisclosed, though Coach Saban will almost certainly address it at tomorrow's press conference. Preston has had one reception, but outside of work in Bama's goal line and short yardage packages, he has seen little to no time with the first unit.
Georgia is going to start true freshman Ben Jones at center, giving Alabama's two-headed monster at nose guard a reason to look forward to Saturday night. After facing the nation's best center this past Saturday (and more than holding their own), the two are looking to get back into domination mode. Jones will almost certainly have lots of help from his guards and possibly a fullback, but don't expect Georgia to look for its rushing yards up the middle.
Instead, expect to see the Bulldogs attack the edges and go after Bama's inexperienced linebacker corps. Tackling and zone assignments have been a huge point of emphasis for the linebackers this week. The group struggled with both on Saturday, and the coaching staff is doing all that they can to avoid a repeat. Don'ta Hightower is being given extra reps to prepare for Georgia's screen attack, figuring that Mark Richt and staff will come right after him.
With Bama's first unit offensive line healthy and ready to go for a second consecutive week the Tide rushing attack is once again front and center. Expect Bama to come out pounding the ball between the tackles to try to take advantage of Georgia's injury depleted defensive line.
The offensive line for the Bulldogs has also taken some injury hits, and Bama is preparing a multitude of blitz packages to try to confuse the inexperienced line and get pressure onto Georgia QB Matthew Stafford. If he has time to throw Stafford is one of the nation's most accurate passers, especially in the down field passing game. Bama will likely try to get as much pressure as possible with a 4-man rush because of Georgia's ability to attack the blitz with screens.
The Bama corners are getting extra work in preparation of facing a duo of big, physical receivers from Georgia. Both AJ Green and Mohamed Massaquoi are downfield threats for the Bulldogs, and Bama's three corners are working on jamming these guys at the line of scrimmage. That type of coverage relies heavily on safety help over the top, and quick recognition has been a point of emphasis for the safeties.
Bama will hit the practice field again tomorrow at 3:30 with a Coach Saban press conference to follow. We'll have a full report here.