24 November 2008
After a much needed and well used weekend off the Alabama football team hit the practice field today in preparation for the Auburn Tigers. As is usually the case, Monday's practice was in shells - shorts and shoulder pads - with the team working on the basics of the game plan for this year's version of the Iron Bowl.
The best news from the today is that only Will Oakley
missed today's practice. The senior receiver is out until at least the bowl game after having surgery on his collarbone. It is unknown at this time whether he'll be back in time for the bowl game, though having the extra six days that would come with playing in the national title game would certainly help in that regard.
and Tyler Love
were both still in black no contact jerseys. That's been the case for the last four weeks, and doesn't come as much of a shock. At this point both guys appear absolutely destined for a medical redshirt, which would give them an extra year of eligibility.
and Earl Alexander
were both in a white jersey, signaling that they've been cleared for contact. Both guys were working in white last week, though it has been quite a while since Earl was in white for a Monday practice. With Oakley out, having Alexander back could be a real factor. Upchurch has missed the last two games, and his addition back to the lineup should give the coaches the flexibility to use him in the variety of roles on offense and special teams that we've become accustomed to seeing.
The oddity in today's practice was seeing true freshman Robert Lester
lining up at wide receiver on the scout team. It is not unheard of for a player to switch sides of the ball when simulating someone of similar size, or a similar athletic skill set, but it is unusual. There has been no indication that Lester, who has practiced at both corner and safety has moved to the offense, but we'll keep you updated if that changes.
is a finalist for both the Outland and Lombardi Awards, but the junior (and likely early NFL entrant) has not beaten Auburn in his career. The offensive line, a strength for the Tide this year, is set to take on an atheltic and quick Auburn defensive front that has helped Auburn's allow just 16.36 points per game. As the season has worn on, the Auburn defense has shown a weakness at stopping runs between the tackles, and the Tide line is getting ready to attack the middle of the Auburn defense.
Given Alabama's strength as a rushing offense, and Auburn's recent struggles, expect the Tigers to load the box, which could, again, put the game into the hands of John Parker Wilson
. The Tide receiving corps is still trying to develop a second option behind Julio Jones
, and Wilson is working with them to try to develop a rhythm with someone other than the talented freshman.
Tomorrow's practice should be in full pads, and we'll have a full report here.