16 September 2008
It was back into fulls pads today as the Tide continues its preparation for Arkansas. With three games to evaluate the coaches seem to have an indication as to the most likely players who will contribute based on the game plan. Since that changes from week to week, so do the guys who are most likely to break their way into the line up.
The Tide's injury luck continues to be good. Marlon Davis was the only real concern and he is back now. The fact that Alabama is heading into week four without a substantial injury is a pretty incredible thing. The games are likely to get much more physical beginning this weekend, and we should get a real look at the Tide's improved conditioning.
With Arkansas expected to be pass happy this weekend there has been extra work for Chavis Williams, who has been one of Bama's better pass rushers in limited time. Cory Reamer is still way ahead at the Sam position, with his specialties being pass coverage and run defense. Williams is still ahead of freshman Jerrell Harris at the position, though Harris is better in run defense. When Bama matches up against more run oriented teams, expect to see Harris get more looks.
Marlon Davis was back to work with the #1 unit on the offensive line. He got some time there yesterday, though his hamstring injury was still limiting him some. If you had that type of injury then you know that it can bite you at any time during the recovery process, so David Ross is still getting a few reps with the first unit. Don't be surprised to see this continue to evolve over the course of the week, and Davis could be a game-time decision. Even if he does play, expect to see Ross get some snaps.
John Michael Boswell has established himself as the #2 guy at right tackle, and still looks to be the likely guy to backup Andre Smith at left tackle should the big guy have another injury scare. Tyler Love is actively working at left tackle with the second unit, though he has not been able to move ahead of Boswell for the #3 tackle. Brian Motley joins Ross as the other guard with Evan Cardwell at center. That leaves four scholarship lineman fighting for time on the 2-deep - William Vlachos, Alfred McCullough, Barrett Jones, and Taylor Pharr. As I mentioned on Sunday, don't be surprised to see McCullough make use of the redshirt that he burned last year.
Terrence Cody and Josh Chapman have been the guys
at nose guard through the first three weeks, but the job gets tougher this week with Rimington Award winner Jonathan Luigs in the middle for Arkansas. With that in mind Nick Gentry has been working with Damion Square behind the two big guys. Luigs is known for wearing down tackles over the course of the game, and with that in mind the Tide defensive staff is preparing extra guys.
While Arkansas has a new defensive staff the Tide is looking to once again exploit a potentially weak Razorback secondary. Last year John Parker Wilson was able to attack to the Hog defense to the tune of 327 yards and four touchdowns. Don't expect Bama to abandon the four-headed rushing attack that is averaging 206.3 yards per game, but the passing attack will likely be featured more heavily than in weeks one or three.