29 December 2009
The Alabama football team was back outside in the cold Tuscaloosa weather for their eigth practice in preparation for the Texas Longhorns in the BCS National Championship Game. With just two more practices remaining before the Tide heads to California, Bama was in full pads.
Here's what you need to know:
James Carpenter was back at practice after missing Monday with the flu. He wasn't at 100%, but was clear enough of the virus to be cleared for practice. Alfred McCullough continues to work as his backup at the left tackle position.
Marquis Johnson continues to practice with a large wrap on his left hand, with all indications being that he did break his thumb. I'm guessing he'd have to be missing the thumb in order to miss the game - and even then, I'm not sure he'd sit out. He's come so far from being abused against Florida State in 2007 and giving up big plays against Florida in Utah in 2008. How good has he been in 2009? His 16 passes broken up tie with Milo Lewis for the third most in a single season in Bama history. In case you're entering a trivia contest later, the record is 24 by John Mangum in 1989, with Efrum Thomas notching 19 in that same season for second place.
Otherwise, Bama's health looks to be in good shape. A lot of late season bumps and bruises were given time to heal during the break between the SEC Championship Game and the beginning of practice, and lots of minor stuff accumulated during the first week of practice had a chance to heal during the three day Christmas break. All in all, Bama's health is about as good as you could hope for.
For the second consecutive day Dont'a Hightower and Damion Square were participating in conditioning drills with the squad. Both guys had season ending knee surgery back in late September, and seeing them working out this soon is a good indication that they should be ready to go sooner, rather than later. I would guess both guys are setting their sights on being cleared for contact by spring practice, though the Tide medical staff tends to be more cautious than that.
There was once again heavy work done on Texas, though it was all done after the media viewing period. During recognition work that the media was allowed to see, there continued to be a lot of nickel and dime package work for the Tide defense. The coaches aren't going to show any new blitz packages during that time, but I think you can rest assured that Colt McCoy will be seeing some things that he hasn't seen on video.
I was asked in yesterday's report how I knew that Bama was ignoring the external factors...
The answer is that I don't know. But all appearances are that the Tide is working like the hungry, something-to-prove team that they've been all season. Teams that are complacent, or have been listening to too much of their own press don't work with the level of intensity that Bama is showing. And Bama is working like there is still unfinished business.
Bama will practice again tomorrow afternoon, and that will be the final practice with a media viewing period before Bama heads off to California on Friday. We'll have our normal report, though it will likely come after the basketball game.
As a reminder, Bama's hoops team will have a double-header tomorrow night, with the women hosting Southern Miss at 5:00, and the men hosting Tennessee State around 7:30 - the game will tip 30 minutes after the conclusion of the women's game. One ticket gets you in to both games, and Bama is running a holiday special, where tickets are just $5.00. So if you haven't had a chance to watch Bama play basketball this season, Wednesday is your shot to do it without breaking the bank.
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