10 September 2008
Alabama worked in full pads this afternoon in a light rain. The practice ran a full two hours. Sounds like fun. Nick Saban fielded questions after practice.
Once again today, no one wore the black non-contact jersey. So, what's up with the injury situations?
After practice, Saban reported that "Smitty", as he likes to call Andre Smith, "has not had a problem". Same for Earl Alexander.
Javier Arenas "has not missed a snap of practice". Leigh Tiffin? "Fine". Charlie Higginbotham? "OK".
Marlon Davis is - and this is a direct quote - "probably a little bit questionable". He's still able to practice some, but has not gone full speed.
Heath Thomas bruised his foot in practice yesterday and is wearing a boot; we shouldn't need him. Corey Smith and Leigh Tiffin will back up PJ Fitzgerald.
Will Oakley "hopefully will be able to play some this week".
Saban put the backups on the offensive line on notice - saying that they needed to get "better play" from them. Then, he threatened to play freshmen on the line Saturday so "we can make some evaluations". This is primarily due to a concern about depth at tackle. Secondarily, it's due to a lack of motivation by the second team.
Saban discussed the defense and its improvement over last year. He noted the the defense was much better at preventing big plays and making stops in the red zone. He pointed out that there was room for improvement in turnover generation - and called out Rashad Johnson for dropping a fistful of interceptions already.
The team practiced a good deal more nickel and dime sets in preparation for seeing the spread for the first time this year. Saban compared the offense to West Virginia's - especially in the rush game. They're prone to three and four wide receiver sets, and that's where we'll generally match-up with nickel and dime sets.
Additionally, Bama continues to emphasize practice against the no-huddle. Saban noted that every time the Tide runs "ones vs. ones" (first team against first team), or "twos vs. twos", they run that no huddle. It increases the reps, and makes practice more of a challenge. That means that not only can Alabama defend against no huddle, they can also potentially run the no huddle on offense. Something we've not seen in Saban's tenure.
To wrap up the press conference, Saban discussed Javier Arenas having his helmet taken from him after his injury last week. Saban indicated that was standard practice for players who haven't been cleared medically, or who otherwise were ineligible for a game. That way, no one can make a mistake and send a player on the field when they shouldn't be.
He noted that the decision was a medical decision - not made by the coaches or the players.
He closed with this gem:
The only thing the players don't like about that is that some of the players are a lot better looking with their helmet on than with their helmet off, so they don't like being without them. At least that's what I tell them to try and make them wear them all the time.
Sadly, tomorrow and Friday's practices are closed, so there will be no more of Nick Saban's smooth comedic stylings until post game on Saturday.