20 August 2008
Today was Alabama's final practice for "fundamental work" (Coach Saban's words) and tomorrow starts work on Clemson. This means players who have been working with more reps to help the staff understand where they are will return to their rightful places and those who will contribute now will receive the vast majority of attention during practice time.
This will be particularly interesting at MIKE linebacker, where Charlie Higgenbotham
continues to don the black jersey (groin). With Hall's suspension, the only scholarship player available, other than Higgenbotham, is Jennings Hester. Either Higgenbotham gets well, or someone else must be ready to play.
Other than Higgenbotham, Alabama remains injury free. Even Will Oakley
joined the Tide today in a white contact jersey. Oakley will almost certainly work his way into the rotation at wide receiver, but it's getting harder and harder to find playing time there as Julio Jones
and BJ Scott
continue to wow.
Oakley was back in the rotation today due to the start of fall classes. That means all walk ons were back in practice, and among them was sprightly Jonathon Lowe. He worked with the running backs in practice today, but Lowe is unlikely to see the field this year in any capacity other than kick returns.
It appears that Corey Reamer
could see playing time at SAM and WILL, and he's the probably starter at SAM. That will likely mean freshman sensation Don'ta Hightower
will start at the WILL.
In the past, when Bama has gone to the nickel defense, the SAM backer has left the field for the extra defensive back. Reamer's emergence at WILL combined with his safety experience means the Tide has extra flexibility when moving to five defensive back packages. That could mean Mark Barron
could slide into the "star" DB position, giving Alabama additional flexibility and an exceptional ability to disguise formations; both Barron and Reamer have experience at linebacker and safety (though Barron's was in high school).
Javier Arenas is likely to see action in the star position as well when Bama goes to a more traditional nickel package. Obviously, the starting corners in the base defense will be Kareem Jackson
and Arenas. However, one of the last remaining battles before the regular season starts is for the third corner. Both Alonzo Lawrence
and Robby Green
have pushed Marquis Johnson
hard for time.
We hope to assemble a more complete list of walk-ons as soon as the University releases the full roster in the next few days.
Bama practices at 3:30 pm tomorrow, with a Saban press conference to follow. We'll have all the updates then.