01 December 2008
It's nice to be practicing for a football game in early December. Bama is playing in the SEC Championship Game for the first time since 1999, and the Tide opened their practice for the Florida Gators today. It was a cold day in Tuscaloosa and the team worked out in shells.
The injury situation is pretty good. Roy Upchurch is being listed as questionable for Saturday, though he was in his normal practice jersey today. That means that the doctors have cleared him for contact, but seeing the way that he left the field on Saturday doesn't give me a lot of hope for seeing Roy this weekend.
The only guys who worked in black today were Tyler Love and Barrett Jones. Do we need to tell you again that these guys will likely redshirt?
For the Bama defense, it will be a heavy week of assignment football. Stopping the high powered and speedy Florida offense isn't about reacting and going to the football. If you do that, they have you beat. Instead, stopping Urban Meyer's and Tim Tebow's version of the spread offense is about carrying out your specific assignment and tackling guys when you have a shot. For guys like Rashad Johnson and Rolando McClain, it's a chance to show off their intelligence on the football field. For younger guys like Don'ta Hightower it will be essential that they play within themselves.
For the Bama offense, the rushing game will again get heavy work. The Gators' defensive line is beaten up, and at least one member of their DL rotation will not play. With that in mind, Bama should look to take advantage and run the ball. That's not much of a shock given Bama's offensive philosophy all season, but it will be essential that the Tide control the clock in this game. Roy Upchurch's health could be an issue here.
Darius Hanks appears to have put his name firmly on the top of the list of receivers contending to be the secondary look for John Parker behind Julio Jones. He hasn't had his break-out game yet, but his playing time has increased massively the last two weeks. The Gators will likely double team Julio, so someone else will have to fight to get open, and Hanks looks to be the most likely candidate.
The Tide will be playing in the Georgia Dome for the second time this season, and to prepare for that, all workouts this week are expected to be inside. Tomorrow's practice will be in full pads, and we'll have a report here.