22 August 2008
The number of practices remaining before kickoff has shrunk to six after today's workout. Things are beginning to get more and more "game specific" for the Tigers, with Bama doing everything possible to recreate Clemson on both side of the ball. More on that in a minute.
Still no injuries to really report. Charlie Higgenbotham
is still in a black jersey, but that is expected to be the case until Monday. Higgenbotham is well versed in the defense and the coaches pretty much know what they've got with him. With that in mind there is no real reason to put him out there until you are 100% sure that he is back to full health.
It was assumed yesterday by most (including us) that a player working on the scout team indicated that they would not be playing in next Saturday's game. That thinking might have changed today when Darius Hanks
appears on the scout team. Hanks has been running with the #1 offense pretty much nonstop throughout the spring and the fall, so the idea that he dropped to outside the six or seven man rotation that Coach Saban
mentioned yesterday is a bit much.
Instead what I think we're seeing is the Tide coaches trying to truly emulate some of the Tigers, and Hanks was the guy that could most accuaretly fulfill the role of the Tiger receiver that he was immitating. I'm not sure if this means that the guys we mentioned in yesterday's report
are also still being looked at, or if Hanks is an isolated case.
It looks as though the linebacker situation is still being played with. Eryk Anders
spent most of a week running at the #1 position at the SAM, but with Cory Reamer
now manning that spot, Anders has taken the #2 spot at the JACK linebacker. With Alex Watkins running #3 at the position that is giving Courtney Upshaw
time to adjust. A redshirt is not out of the question at this point.
For Don'ta Hightower
a redshirt is pretty much out the window. Unless Bama opens in the nickel defense against Clemson Hightower will almost certainly line up alongside Rolando McClain
in the middle of the Tide defense. That would make it two consecutive years that the Tide started a true freshman at one of its middle linebacker positions, with McClain making that happen in 2007.
The situation at the MIKE linebacker is desperate for Higgenbotham to return. Behind McClain today was walk-on Michael DeJohn
. Jennings Hester
is still working at the position, but the fact that he hasn't moved past the walk-on from Hoover does not bode well for him for 2008 and possibly beyond.
The SAM linebacker position is still in flux, with where Reamer
plays affecting how much time Chavis Williams
ad Jerrell Harris
play. Williams is still ahead of the talented freshman, though his reps have gradually increased over the last week. Harris is still adjusting to the mental side of things, but his athleticism is so far superior to many of the other linebackers that he's tough to keep on the sidelines.
With Hanks spending time with the scout team B.J. Scott
and Chris Jackson
got more reps. That might be another reason for Hanks' move... the coaches know what Hanks can do, and giving Scott and Jackson more time could be the difference in them being able to contribute heavily and them standing on the sidelines.
After being called "one of the most impressive receivers I've ever seen" by Tom Arnold
on the Paul Finebaum show (Arnold attended yesterday's practice) Julio Jones
continued to lock down the outside receiver spot. We'll avoid speculating on his potential (we can play by the coach's rules) by stating that potential isn't an issue with this kid... he can play now.
The Tide is practicing much more aggressively at this point than Clemson. The Tigers took the day off, and will take off both Saturday and Sunday before beginning "Alabama practice" on Monday. The Tide was not only on the field today, but in full pads. Nick Saban has been adamant about his team's conditioning improving from last year, and Bama is now seeing the fruits of that.
Bama will go again tomorrow, before taking Sunday off. At that point the Tide will have a "real Monday" after the simulated one that they went through yesterday. That's when the depth chart is due from media relations, so expect tomorrow's practice to have some fierce battles. Obviously the guys will have all next week to impress, but being in the 2 deep on Monday will be important as it relates to who gets the reps next week. If you're not on the 2 deep, those reps will be limited, meaning the chance to impress and earn the way into the deep becomes tougher.
We'll let you know where we think things stand after tomorrow's practice.