04 October 2010
The Alabama football team practiced in shells on Monday, beginning preparation for a road trip to South Carolina.
Here's what you need to know:
Julio Jones has a bruised left knee that is limiting him at the moment. They did an MRI yesterday, which apparently came back negative. He worked some at practice, but the staff is holding him out as much as possible. He's played through most of the last two seasons with injuries, so I would be shocked to see him miss Saturday. Expect him to be limited again tomorrow, and then practicing on Wednesday.
Chris Jordan pulled a hamstring during the Florida game, though he was able to work in a limited capacity today. Much as with Julio, expect him to be limited again tomorrow, and the be good to go on Saturday.
D.J. Fluker and Courtney Upshaw both managed to play against Florida despite ankle injuries that are still bothering them. Both guys practiced fine, and they should be able to play on Saturday with no problems. The fact that Upshaw is still not fully healthy and managed to play well enough to earn SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors has to be frightening to offensive coordinators around the league.
After facing several pass heavy offenses, Bama will now get a look at the Marcus Lattimore show this coming weekend. It's weird to talk about a Steve Spurrier offense and talk about the running game, but I don't think the Ole Ball Coach has enough confidence in either of his quarterbacks to put the game in their hands. So we'll get to find out where Bama's rushing defense stands. It's been better than two full seasons since Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis of Ole Miss ran for 100+ against the Tide defense, and no back has managed it since. Lattimore will give Bama a test on Saturday, and we should get a full indication of just how good the entire rotation of defensive linemen is.
We've seen Marcell Dareus, Josh Chapman, Damion Square, Luther Davis, Darrington Sentimore, Kerry Murphy, Nick Gentry, and Brandon Lewis all log minutes this season, and I would expect we'll see that rotation continue this weekend. Upshaw is a much better run stopper than Ed Stinson, so having him back and healthy should be a key.
We should also see a lot more of Bama's base 3-4 defense this weekend, which means more time for Jerrell Harris. He's been the guy to leave the field when Bama goes to the nickel and dime packages, but if South Carolina is going run-heavy, we will likely see more of the 3-4. Bama has also subbed liberally at linebacker, rotating in Dont'a Hightower, Upshaw, Stinson, Nico Johnson, Chris Jordan, Chavis Williams, Alex Watkins, and C.J. Mosley. Most of the subs on Saturday were situationally based, and it should be interesting to see if Bama sticks with that this Saturday.
Mark Ingram had his biggest game of the year last year against South Carolina, so don't be surprised to see the Gamecocks focus heavily on him. Florida did the same, and it opened the Tide offense up, allowing for a lot of different guys to make plays. With the way Bama was able to dominate the fourth quarter last season with the wildcat, it would not surprise me to see a few variations in that formation. We saw a two-back set for the first time this season on Saturday night, and I expect we'll see it again this week - only this time out of the wildcat.
Bama will practice in full pads tomorrow, and we'll have our normal report.
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