01 October 2008
Full pads this Wednesday as the Tide prepares to host the Kentucky Wildcats Saturday at Bryant-Denny.
Under the heading of damning with faint praise, coach Nick Saban noted that Kentucky was very good defensively. Additionally, the Wildcats are "very good offensively and did a lot of good things last year." Also, the quarterback has done a nice job of "not turning it over". Although he was actually trying to talk up the Wildcats, I was surprised he didn't yawn during the discussion. I did.
Saban talked at length about injuries. Mike McCoy and Preston Dial were in black non-contact jerseys, but participated in individual drills. They are both "very questionable".
When pressed on McCoy, Saban mocked the reporter for asking if he was 80% or some other "metric". Apparently, we have no meter to measure the percentage of readiness, and if we did, it wouldn't matter unless they could go full speed in practice. If McCoy is unable to go, there will not be just one receiver stepping up there. He mentioned Will Oakley and BJ Scott as those who would see more time.
Mark Ingram seems to be back at full strength.
He was asked if he felt fortunate at the lack of injuries, or if there was something about preparation. Saban knocked wood - and noted that we had been fortunate and he hoped we'd stay that way.
However, we practice in a way that prevents injuries. Practicing quickly and safely means there are hopefully less injuries. Conditioning is part of that formula, and Saban obviously is a huge proponent of conditioning.
Special teams are getting better. The practice method has changed and Saban said that the problems were mostly about awareness and making better decisions.
He was asked about Leigh Tiffin's extra special tackling skills - and got animated about the fact that he's bad at it:
Tackling comes from wanting to. I love the guy, I tried to teach him how to tackle. But we still have a lot of work to do... Everybody needs to know how to tackle. It's a tough game for tough people.
He griped for a moment about specialization (sounding a bit like a grumpy old man griping about the emergence of closers in baseball), then noted that the kickers enjoyed the tackling drills. Someone asked if they were good at the drills - he responded that they were, but the tackles "weren't the type to break eggs or anything, but they were at least forming them up". As usual, he cracked himself up.
The scout team earned kudos from the coach when he was asked about it. Charlie Kirschman, Damion Square and Marcel Dareus were saluted as multiple winners of "Scout Team Player of the Week". It's a good thing we're getting something out of Kirschman.
Thomas Darrah was singled out as being especially good in impersonating Matthew Stafford ("the guy from Georgia" to the coach) last week. Coach mentioned Darrrah's strong arm resembling Stafford's. If it were that close, he'd be getting snaps. Demetrius Goode also received praise for his impression of "#24" from Georgia.
Saban also talked a bit about recruiting. There are lots of high school kids on campus this weekend. Saban is not a fan of mid-season recruiting visits; he likes to use the visits to "build relationships" and "get to know them and their family". The weeks when the Tide plays, there's not much time for that sort of thing.
He talked a bit about Hail Mary plays (like LSU's win over Kentucky in Lexington on Saban's last trip). On any play like that, there's a good bit of luck - but Saban noted that consistent effort puts players in positions to make plays, lucky or not.
And consistent effort is what Alabama will need this week - and every week in the SEC (my editorial, not the coach's). As usual, Thursday and Friday practices are closed. We'll be back with information as it happens.
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