25 August 2008
The only time of the year when Monday is a good day... is the Monday that brings in the first week of real football. Armed with an actual depth chart
, the Tide team took to the field today to begin final preparations for the season opener against Clemson.
With Hurricane Fay still lingering in the state of Alabama, the Tide practiced inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility again today. There is little space inside, so the team is a bit limited on what they can accomplish. However, if there was ever a week to practice indoors, this is the best week to do so since the Tide will be playing in the Georgia Dome.
The injury situation looks great. Charlie Higgenbotham
was back at practice in his crimson jersey after spending most of last week in black for a groin injury. With Prince Hall
ineligible for Saturday and listed behind him on the depth chart at the Mike, it was crucial that Charlie be healthy enough to play.
As expected ,Cory Reamer
is still working with both the Sam and Will linebacker groups. With Don'ta Hightower
listed as the starter at Will, things should be in good shape. Hightower's listed backup is Chris Jordan
who has practiced at the Will only slightly more than you or I have, so having Reamer able to slide over and play the Will to give Hightower a breather is key.
Reamer sliding over at times also means that Jerrell Harris
and Chavis Williams
need to be ready to go at the Sam. Reamer will take the majority of the snaps there. The Sam is typically the position that leaves the field when the Tide goes to the nickel package, so there could be limited opportunities for the two backups. Limited as they may be, both should play on Saturday and need the reps that they are getting.
The wide receiver position is generating one of the better battles in practice. With nine of the ten scholarship players being listed on the depth chart (Will Oakley
being the one not listed), the guys know that playing time will be hard to come by. One of the more interesting battles could be between B.J. Scott
and Marquis Maze.
Technically, they play different positions (Scott the 'H' and Maze the 'Z'), but with Mike McCoy
listed as the starter at both positions, one of these guys will likely be the first guy in when Bama goes to a 3-wide set. The play call could dictate which one gets that nod, but it is likely that which ever of these two guys is able to best fulfill the duties of his position will play alongside McCoy and Julio Jones
It was great to see William Vlachos
and Taylor Pharr
getting reps again with the 2nd unit. A good deal of their time the last few weeks has been with the third team, so seeing them get reps again is encouraging. These were two guys that I expected to be contributors after seeing them in the Spring and they both appear to have responded well after being buried a bit on the depth chart.
The nickel package guys continue to rotate a good bit in an attempt to find the best combination of five defensive backs. It still looks like Bama will have two different groups: one with Javier Arenas
at the star and Marquis Johnson
at the corner; and one with Arenas at corner and Mark Barron
at the star. Don't count out Tyrone King
yet. Most of King's time will likely remain with the dime package, but he has looked strong when given opportunities.
With 11 instances of the word "or" on the depth chart, there should be some fantastic battles this week. It is worth noting that all of those positions that are still up for grabs are back-up positions. It appears as though the starting 22 on offense and defense, as well as the starting skill players on special teams, are set. That could obviously change at Coach Saban's whim, but I did find it interesting to see that there were no "or" situations with the starting guys.
The chance of rain in Tuscaloosa tomorrow is still listed at 60% so don't be a bit surprised to see Bama inside once again. We'll have a report either way.
The folks at Tide Sports posted a short video
from today. Some folks are tough to identify, like Darius Hanks
, because they are wearing the number of the Clemson player that they are simulating. But the video is worth a look for the catch made by B.J. Scott at the 2:17 mark.