22 December 2009
The Alabama football team practiced again on Tuesday in pre-Christmas preparation for the Texas Longhorns and the BCS National Championship Game. The Tide worked outside and in shells.
Here's what you need to know:
The injury situation is still good. With 16 days remaining until the game, there would certainly be time for a small injury to heal. But at the moment, everyone that has been expected to practice has been practicing - with the exception of Drew Davis missing the first practice due to illness.
Today's practice was, once again, a fundamentals practice. As I've said in each of the last three days' report, I'm sure Bama is working some on Texas once the media is gone, but during the first few sessions, it is all about Alabama.
The practice being in shells today is a bit interesting. That is typically the way coaches work the day before a scrimmage. So it is possible that Bama might do some scrimmage work, as rumored. That's when the biggest risk of injury would happen, though you can't work scared. If the players need a scrimmage, I'm guessing they'll get a scrimmage.
I'm also guessing that once Bama returns from their Christmas break the team will start seeing a lot of Texas on the practice field. I'm sure they'll already spent a good deal of time looking at the Longhorns on film, but the on-field recognition work does not look to have started yet. With that in mind, a scrimmage would probably be a nice way to close out the first 1/3 of the bowl practice schedule.
The one thing that we have seen Bama work on that is probably "Texas specific" is the secondary work. Like we saw against every spread team that the Tide played this year, Bama is working a lot on its nickel and dime packages. Texas simply doesn't run the football, so I'm thinking we'll see an awful lot of defensive backs, as well as a good dose of the rabbit rusher line.
It looks as though Justin Woodall has been invited to the East-West Shrine Game. That will be a good opportunity for Justin to work on his draft status in front of NFL Scouts. His combine will also be huge, as he'll have to demonstrate that he has the speed to go with his larger than normal size for a safety.
In answering some questions from yesterday's comments:
Regarding the lack of offensive linemen signed... Bama signed four high school offensive linemen last season, and three of those guys redshirted. Throw in the fact that Barrett Jones and Tyler Love also redshirted, and you've got six freshman offensive linemen on the team right now. The Tide also has two offensive linemen committed for the class of 2010 (Chad Lindsay & Austin Shepherd), and is expected to take two more - most likely James Stone and Arie Kouandjio. Bama has missed on some guys, but the Tide has recruited very heavily on the line of scrimmage the last few years, and Bama has signed enough guys that I'm not concerned. I'm also not ready to move any more offensive guys to defense, either, but there are enough talented bodies on the O-line that Bama should be in good shap.
As for the quarterback situation beyond 2010... It should be pretty exciting. Bama signed one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the nation in 2009 in A.J. McCarron, and they'll be backing that up in this class with the #2 rated quarterback Phillip Sims (only one "m" in his last name). Sims will be enrolling in January and will have the chance to participate in spring practice. He'll still be behind McCarron in terms of time in the system, but he should be considerably ahead of most incoming freshman quarterbacks.
Star Jackson hasn't indicated that he's looking to transfer. Could it happen? Sure. He probably sees the writing on the wall that he likely won't be the starting quarterback at Alabama during his career, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee a transfer. Everyone thought that Terry Grant was certain to transfer last year, and that didn't happen. Some guys like to stick with their commitment and see things through to the end. Jackson is quality kid, who has done a nice job of providing solid depth at the quarterback position. He's got one SEC Championship ring coming, and has a good shot at getting a National Championship ring to go with it. And he has to think that he'll be in contention to get two or three more of those before his playing days are through. So he'll have to ask himself the questions - is it better to be the starting quarterback at South Alabama? or is it better to be a part of championship teams at Alabama? I don't know how he'll answer, but I don't think a transfer is a guarantee.
Bama will also likely sign another top rated QB in the next recruiting class, who would be a true freshman beginning that 2011 season. With, potentially, Jackson, McCarron, and Sims ahead of him, it's doubtful that a true freshman would compete for real playing time, but since the guys we are talking about here just finished their junior season in high school, it's a bit premature to even go there.
Thomas Darrah won't factor into the quarterback position at Alabama. He's already fourth on the depth chart, prior to the addition of Sims. During the spring, he'll probably hold Sims off for a little while, but by the close of practice, he'll likely be 5th. Thomas could probably factor into playing time at a smaller school - especially in the FCS or Division II level - so he'll have to ask himself the same questions that Jackson will. I'm not exactly sure why so many fans fell in love with Darrah, but the bottom line is that Alabama has far too much talent on the playing field at this point in time for a guy with Darrah's limited skill set to be the starting quarterback. If Bama had the cataclysm of injuries that it suffered in 2004 (when Brandon Avalos got a start), then Darrah might play. Barring that, he'll work with Morgan Ogilvie in leading the scout teams, and that's a much more important job than most people realize.
The odds of a walk-on quarterback becoming the starter at Alabama are astronomical. I know that David Smith pulled the trick in the 1980s, but that was a different time. If Darrah does leave, you'll probably see some Tide fans jump on the Chris Vines bandwagon. Vines is another 6'5 quarterback with a big arm, and that seems to make some folks go crazy. Vines, like Darrah, will not factor into the playing rotation at quarterback. But that doesn't mean that he will have no contribution to Bama's success. Vines and Darrah will almost certainly emulate Colt McCoy in the final 10 practices leading up to the BCS Championship Game, and having talented guys do that is a major part of being ready to compete on game day.
The wildcard in all of this is the "other" Sims coming into Bama for 2010 - Blake Sims. Most people see him ending up at either wide receiver or corner, and that will likely be the case. But he has looked fantastic while playing quarterback, leading his team to the state title game in Georgia. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him get at least a look at quarterback in his first few days on campus. He is electric with the ball in his hands, and has a better arm than most folks give him credit for having. I'm guessing he ends up at wide receiver, but he at the very least deserves a mention in the conversation.
Bama will practice again on Wednesday before taking a three day break to allow guys to go home for Christmas. They will meet back on the 27th for five practices in Tuscaloosa, before heading west and working five times in southern California. We'll have our normal report as long as they continue to have a media viewing period.
And, always remember.... I hate orange.
|< Prev||Next >|