31 August 2009
It's Game Week! The Alabama football team practiced inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility on Monday afternoon, with an actual football game looming at the end of the week.
Here's what you need to know:
Other than the quarterbacks, there were no players in black jerseys. Bama appears to be in good shape from an injury stanpoint. The flu bug is still hanging around, though. While Terrence Cody, Marquis Maze, and Darrington Sentimore were all at practice today, Cory Reamer, Alfred McCullough and A.J. McCarron were absent today. As Coach Saban said on Saturday, a guy being absent doesn't guarantee the flu. The medical staff is being very cautious, and a player showing any symptoms is being held out.
Otherwise, the team worked at full speed, and worked for the first time after the release of the depth chart. It's doubtful that anything came as a surprise to the players, but the depth chart certainly brings expectations. Because the team is now actively inserting a game plan for Virgnia Tech, we're going to concentrate on broader things; like the depth chart.
As much as we would love to continue to tell you what's being worked on, and how certain players are factoring into the game plan.... well, we don't want to tell Virginia Tech those things. So, over the course of the next couple of days, we'll take a look at the depth chart, and what certain things mean.
It's no shock that Greg McElroy is the number one guy, but it is nice to be able to officially say it. As Cecil Hurt pointed out, he's the first starting quarterback born outside the state of Alabama since Andrew Zow, and the total list of guys born outside of the state is limited.
Star Jackson won the number two job, and it looked like he had a renewed confidence at practice today. If he ends up playing in a meaningful time, the playbook will be drastically scaled back. He held off a nice charge for Thomas Darrah to claim the spot.
A.J. McCarron being listed as an "or" at the number three spot lends credence to the thought that he might be the guy Bama turns if McElroy goes down for an extended time. I think the coaches would prefer to redshirt him, but he'll play if he has to.
Mark Ingram being the #1 guy is no shock, but Terry Grant being listed at #2 got a eyebrow raise out of me. I think everyone, me included, assumed that Roy Upchurch would hold down that spot. The fact that Grant is listed there could be an indication that we're going to see a different type of Alabama offense this year.
It could also mean nothing.
It could mean that Upchurch missed enough time during the spring and fall with injuries that Grant is simply being rewarded. I did talk to one person close to the program who said that he didn't think it really mattered where the guys were listed, because Trent Richardson would be the one really opening eyes. That's not a unique opinion, as the talented freshman looks like the real deal. I still expect we'll see Ingram, Upchurch, and Richardson get the bulk of the carries in the base "between the tackles" offense. But Grant being listed where he is likely means we'll see more of a 3-wide, shotgun attack.
The only real shock here is that Kevin Norwood didn't make the top six guys. He had a couple of great scrimmages, and looked like he might be building for solid playing time. I doubt that Bama will really go seven deep very often with the receiver rotation, so Norwood might see playing time difficult to come by.
Julio Jones and Marquis Maze being the top two guys is pretty much what everyone saw all during the fall practice. What will be interesting to see is whether Mike McCoy or Darius Hanks is the third guy.
The only other issue that jumped out today, was Coach Saban's admission that the school still knows nothing about the status of the NCAA ruling on the fishing trip taken by Julio Jones and Mark Ingram. It is a little disconcerting that there has been no definite ruling yet, but I still find it hard to believe that either guy will miss time.