18 December 2008
Alabama has begun practice for Utah and the Sugar Bowl. Because the game will be played inside, the practice was held inside, and the Tide was in shells. Here's what you need to know:
Roy Upchurch is out. He had a minor surgery to fix the problem that was causing his late season neck spasms, and will not participate in the bowl game. There's nothing official stating so, but you have to think that Roy could be headed towards a medical hardship situation. He could certainly recover completely and be a major part of the offense next season, but neck surgery is never really minor. Having said that, he was at practice, in a black jersey.
Tyler Love and Will Oakley were also in black jerseys, with neither guy expected to play in bowl game. If Oakley can get cleared in time, he would almost certainly play, with the Sugar Bowl being his last chance to play in a Bama uniform. It would probably take an act of congress to get Love into the game, as he will almost certainly apply for a medical redshirt. The same could be said of Barrett Jones, who also had a minor surgery (shoulder) recently.
Chris Jackson, who played primarily on special teams in 2008, has moved from wide receiver to safety. It's doubtful that he'll play DB in the Sugar Bowl, but as the Tide looks to replace Rashad Johnson in 2009, having a guy with the overall athleticism of Jackson gives the coaching staff another realistic candidate.
Michael Williams will redshirt the 2008 season after not seeing any action at the jack linebacker position. It's doubtful that he'll see any action there at all, as he's now practicing at tight end. He was a guy that a lot of folks thought would start his career on offense anyway, so this move isn't much of a shock. Considering that Alabama will lose both Nick Walker and Travis McCall, this move is even less surprising.
Also practicing at tight end is Colin Peek. That's not a shock, as he's practiced there all season. The reason this is notable is because he is practicing with a realistic hope for playing time. For the first time all season the Georgia Tech transfer will be eligible to play. There's no guarantee that he will play, but I wouldn't be shocked at all.
The rumored position change of BJ Scott to defense has not happened, and likely will not until at least spring practice. Coach Saban has indicated that there are several guys that might be evaluated after the bowl game, and while he didn't mention any specific names, Scott to cornerback would not surprise anyone.
There was no word as to whether or not recently signed JuCo offensive lineman James Carpenter was at practice today - we didn't see him. Coach Saban has said that he will not practice with the team, but will observe practice and sit in on team meetings. He will enroll for the spring semester and could contend for one of the three offensive line spots that will be open in the fall (assuming Andre Smith leaves for the NFL).
2008 signee Jermaine Preyear is expected to enroll for the spring semester also, but according to Coach Saban, will not practice either. Without Preyear or Upchurch practicing it was redshirt freshman Jeramie Griffin taking snaps with the third unit ahead of 2007's leading rusher Terry Grant.
We'll have reports as the practice for the Sugar Bowl continues.