15 August 2011
The Alabama football team practiced twice on Monday as they begin working towards their second scrimmage of the fall. The morning practice was held outside in full pads, while the evening practice was held in shells inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.
Here's what you need to know:
The injury situation looks good. The only guys in black today were the quarterbacks. The guys that were in black yesterday - Brian Vogler (shoulder), Alex Watkins (knee), and Ryan Kelly (concussion) - were all cleared for contact today. Dee Milliner was banged up a bit on Saturday, but he practiced without limitation.
The off day on Sunday certainly helped with that, as well as with the overall energy level. The Tide had practiced for nine straight days before taking the day off after Saturday's scrimmage. You could not really see any evident fatigue in the last few practices, but the squad did seem to have a bit more energy today. Coach Saban has repeatedly talked about how pleased he has been with the energy and intensity levels, which speaks to not only the mental and physical toughness on the team, but also to the leadership. You want a team to build its energy level as you move towards the season, so that was a good sign today.
As we expected after Saturday's scrimmage, Quinton Dial did work with the first unit defensive line. He worked alongside Josh Chapman at nose guard and opposite Damion Square at the other end. That pushed Ed Stinson back to the second unit though I expect we'll see plenty of Stinson with the rabbit rusher package.
If I had to guess about the line for that rabbit rusher package, I would guess that we'll see Stinson and Square inside, with Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower on the outside. The staff has been pleased with the development of Adrian Hubbard as an outside pass rusher, and I would not be at all surprised to see Nick Gentry on the field as one of the inside guys. The Tide has options, and is simply deeper across the defensive line than probably every team in the nation.
Blake Sims is getting less work with the quarterbacks during the media viewing period, and more time with the running backs. Don't let that fool you, though. He's still getting some time at quarterback. That's not just for special packages, either. The staff would like to redshirt Phillip Ely, which means that Blake would be the third quarterback. It's important for him to stay somewhat involved at the position in case of an injury to one of the top two guys.
There's no word on which of those two guys is the top guy, either. As expected, during the media viewing period the two worked alongside of each other. That will almost certainly continue to be the case unless the staff decides to name a starter. I still think we'll be waiting until the Friday before the Kent State game before we hear that announcement, so don't expect to get any news there soon.
Christion Jones has continued his back and forth between wide receiver and running back, getting work at both in pretty much every practice. I think we're going to see him be a multi-purpose player, and I think there's a decent chance that he plays this season. He was probably down on the list of guys that most folks would have predicted would be an early contributor, but he's had a great camp.
With William Vlachos back at practice and fully participating we saw Barrett Jones move back to the first unit left tackle. That pushed Cyrus Kouandjio back to the second team, though I am guessing he probably took some reps with the first unit after the media was asked to leave. Cyrus is still developing at a fantastic pace, and I think the odds of a redshirt for him are slim. Whether or not he's ready to take on the left tackle job by September 3 is a whole different animal, though. I think we'll know a lot more about that when the Tide suits up next Monday.
There is still no word on Duron Carter. His father indicated that last week that they were targeting the end of this week. He's missed a ton of practice time so far, though his experience at Ohio State lessens the blow of that a bit. School starts at the Capstone Wednesday of next week, and the last day to enroll is August 31. Carter is a real talent and I think we'll see the staff continue to go one player short far as long as they can to try to get him enrolled.
Alabama will practice again on Tuesday afternoon, and we'll have our normal report.
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