22 December 2009
The Alabama football team practiced on Monday afternoon for the third time in preparation for the BCS National Championship Game. Sorry for the lateness of the post... Monday was a heck of a day.
The practice was outside, in full pads, and
Here's what you need to know:
There are no real changes from yesterday, and that's a great thing to hear.
Outside of the guys who are out for the season due to injury - Dont'a Hightower, Damion Square, and Jeramie Griffin - the Tide practiced at full strength, with every player cleared for full participation. The only guys in black jerseys, other than the three listed above, were the quarterbacks.
Dont'a Hightower was back at practice today, after missing the first two practices due to illness. As I said yesterday, forget about the lack of a physical contribution... Dont'a has been a very vocal leader for this team, and his presence on the practice field is very much a bonus. His leadership will be key to Bama's success in 2010, but don't overlook it during this very important stretch of practices.
Bama continued to work on fundamentals for the third straight day, with no Bama players donning Texas numbers for scout team work - at least not during the media viewing period. I'm guessing that the Tide is doing at least some work on the Longhorns during each practice, but for now, the focus is on Bama.
I expect that will change pretty drastically once the Tide meets again after breaking for Christmas. Bama will practice again on Tuesday and Wednesday, before breaking until the 27th. There has been some talk about the possibility of Bama holding a scrimmage on Wednesday, which would be a bit of a shock. In an article on AL.com, Coach Saban had this to say of the possibility:
That's not something I have done in prior years. The greatest opportunity to get injuries is when people are on the ground, so we want to try to avoid that. But we also feel like we need to do something that's very game-like that's going to help our players take the next step of getting ready for this game.
What that sounds like to me is that the guys have a tremendous amount of energy built up, and the coaches are looking for an outlet for them to release it. I don't expect that we'll see a full contact scrimmage - the risk there would simply be too great. But I wouldn't be surprised at all to find out that there was at least some scrimmage work done on the final practice before the three day break surrounding Christmas.
Cleaning up a few other notes:
As expected, Kareem Jackson has asked for input from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Kareem was a Prep School guy, so this is his fourth year out of high school. He's been a starting corne - the important boundary corner - for Nick Saban for three years, without a single inkling of being replaced. That should, above anything else, speak volumes about his overall ability.
It is important to note that the old "first day pick" saying doesn't mean the same thing for NFL Draft hopefuls in 2010. Unlike in all previous years, the "first day" of the draft in 2010 will only consist of the first round, in prime time for television. The second day will consist of the second and third rounds, also in prime time, with the third day consisting of the fourth through seventh rounds, at their normal Sunday morning time.
Kareem is likely to be projected to go somewhere between the second and fourth rounds, and if that is the case, I expect that he'll be playing his final game for Alabama in Pasadena. That would leave Bama with just three scholarship corners returning - Dre Kirkpatrick, B.J. Scott, and Phelon Jones. That makes the recruitment of guys like Demarcus Milliner (currently committed), Deion Belue (currently committed, but an academic question mark), and John Fulton (announcing on January 2 between Bama, Florida, and South Carolina) that much more important.
On a much more positive note, it looks as though Greg McElroy is making plans to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship next year. We mentioned back during the summer that Greg might be headed towards this, and it's excited to see it come to fruition. Obviously, applying for it and winning it are two different things. But it's nice to see a Bama player even mentioned in the same breath as "Rhodes Scholarship."
Addressing the question posed by a reader in Sunday's practice report - D.J. Fluker will play offensive tackle at Alabama. At this point it's unclear whether he'll play on the left or right, but I just don't see any way he plays on defense. Not only is he considerably taller than the ideal size for a nose guard, Bama has several talented players set to return at the position - Josh Chapman, Kerry Murphy, and Darrington Sentimore top that list right now. When you consider that only one nose guard plays at a time, and Bama has guys like Marcell Dareus that can play the position situationally, there's no real need for Fluker at that spot.
Looking at the tackle position, Bama will lose Drew Davis after the BCS Game, and James Carpenter and Taylor Pharr will finish their careers next season. That will leave Bama with Fluker, Tyler Love and Alfred McCullough as the projected guys on the depth chart in 2011. Obviously Bama will add some guys between now and then, and some guys could move out to tackle from guard. Either way, Bama is in much greater need of Fluker at the offensive tackle spot than on defense.
Bama will practice again on Tuesday, with just two practices remaining before a short Christmas break. We'll have our normal report.
And, even when it is in the burnt variety... I hate orange.
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