27 December 2008
The Tide is in the Big Easy, and getting ready for Utah. Bama held its first practice in New Orleans today at the Saints practice facility. This allowed the Tide to practice inside - minus the kickers who kicked outside - and should help simulate the conditions inside the Super Dome.
Things look pretty good on the injury front. The only three guys that practiced in a black no contact jersey were Roy Upchurch (neck), Will Oakley (shoulder), and Tyler Love (leg). Coach Saban had previously indicated that all three of these guys would miss the game, so none of these were surprises.
Another thing that wasn't a surprise was seeing Colin Peek working with the tight ends. By this point in the practice schedule he has typically been with the scout team, simulating the opponent's tight end. But since the junior transfer is eligible to play in the game, he's working with the regular offense. Don't be shocked at all to see him get into the game, and have a pass thrown his way. Utah won't have any film on him, and Coach Saban likes to exploit each and every advantage.
The only player absent from today's practice was Star Jackson. It's nothing to be alarmed about, though. Players typically make their own way to a bowl game, and Star was simply late in getting from his Florida home to New Orleans. There's no word on whether there will be any disciplinary action taken, but with Jackson set to be a part of a two-man spring QB battle, hopefully the situation will work itself out quickly. Edit
- turns out this was an unavoidable travel delay and was excused by the coaches.
With Upchurch out, we saw more of Jeramie Griffin working as the number three running back, ahead of Terry Grant. We didn't see much of Griffin this year, just his few carries in the Mississippi State game, but the redshirt freshman impressed during that stretch of play. He's a completely different kind of back than either Glen Coffee or Mark Ingram, as his bruising style could be used to pound on a relatively small Utah defensive line.
While winning the game is certainly important, there is a balancing act going on right now. This is the first "New Year's Day" Bowl game for all of these players (yes, I know the game is technically the 2nd), and they are being given the opportunity to enjoy themselves a bit in New Orleans. On top of getting to work out and play in an NFL facility, and enjoy the city of New Orleans, the players from both teams will also get a sweet gift back from the Sugar Bowl - one that includes a Blu-Ray player.
We'll have more as news makes itself available.