24 November 2009
It's Tuesday, but don't tell that to members of the Alabama football team. For them it was a Wednesday, as the Tide steamrolls towards Friday's matchup against Auburn.
Here's what you need to know:
The injury situation looks good. Both Mike Johnson and Cory Reamer worked at their normal spots after taking things a little easy during the media viewing period.
Even Terry Grant was cleared for contact again, though he looked to be pretty far from 100%.
Alabama is by no means taking this game lightly, but it's not quite "throw it all on the line" time. Alabama is the more talented team by a considerable margin, and should be able to win this game by simply executing the game plan.
Seniors like Johnson and Reamer would have to be locked in their rooms in Tuscaloosa to miss this game, but there will be no motivation for the Tide to take chances on Friday.
The gameplan changes the following week, though, as Bama matches up with Florida. After that game the winning the team will have just over a month to rest, recuperate, and gameplan for the national title. So folks with nagging injuries could be limited a bit this week. That won't be the case next week.
For both Bama and the Gators, next week will have the feel of a World Series Game 7, when every pitcher on the roster is available to pitch. But that's next week....
Getting back to the Auburn game, Tuesday's workout was intense. Alabama has a great group of leaders, and in weeks like this, they really shine. Players like Mike Johnson, Rolando McClain, Greg McElroy, and Javier Arenas make it easy to see why they are the most likely candidates to be permanent team captains.
There is a tremendous focus on this team right now. Te short week isn't a distraction. The championship game being next week isn't a distraction. The rivalry isn't a distraction. Instead, this team uses those things as driving forces. They have figured out a way to channel all of those things - "external factors" as Coach Saban calls them - into motivating factors. It's what championship teams do.
The defense continued to get a heavy does of assignment ball. Lots of drills are being run in which players are required to react to a spot, or a particular player, rather than to where they think the ball might be. That's how you beat a team that runs the offense that Auburn runs.
The offense continues to work on being balanced. Don't let the Mark Ingram Heisman campaign fool you... Nick Saban still wants his team to be balanced. And if Auburn stacks the box to take away the run, Bama will pass the ball. The Tide will also run the ball into that formation, because it can. But Bama will take what the opponent gives them, and that's not going to change because of who the opponent is.
Bama worked outside today, after being inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility on Monday. Presumably they worked in doors to work on their hand signals, expecting a loud and raucous Jordan-Hare Stadium on Friday.
Today it was back to working on Bama, and simply doing the things that the Tide needs to do in order to impose its will on the opponent.
Bama will practice again on Wednesday, and if they let the media in, we'll have our normal report. I say "if" because, while tomorrow might actually be a Wednesday, for the football team, it will be more like a Thursday - and Thursday practices are closed.
Oh yeah, in case you forgot.... I hate orange.
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