27 August 2009
The Alabama football team began inserting the offensive and defensive game plans for the Virginia Tech game in today's full pads practice. With just over one week until the Tide kicks off the 2009 season, the team had the type of spirited practice that you would expect from a group finally getting the chance to turn their eyes towards a real football game.
Here's what you need to know:
News on the injury front looks good. All of the players who had been practicing in black jerseys due to injury have been cleared for contact, except for Kenny Bell who is still nursing bad shin splints.
Terrence Cody was absent again from practice today, as he appears to be dealing with the flu. The flu has been a problem at both Ole Miss and Auburn in recent days, and it looks like the University of Alabama as a whole is seeing a lot more cases than is normal for this time of the year. Expect Terrence to stay away from the team until he is fully healthy, in order to keep from giving the flu to another player.
One bit of interesting news that came from the media's time with a few players after practice yesterday is that Eryk Anders has been practicing at both the jack and sam linebacker spots. My guess is that this is mostly for his time in the specialized "rabbit package", where Bama puts its best pass rushing front on the field. Having he and Dont'a Hightower be able to play both the jack and sam in this package will make it considerably more difficult to block.
Yesterday we talked about a couple of the freshman linebackers, and how the decision as to whether or not to redshirt them could be coming soon. The true freshman on the defensive line are in a similar situation, though it looks like the Tide might be in a good enough position to redshirt all of them. William Ming, Chris Bonds, Brandon Moore, Kerry Murphy, and Darrington Sentimore are all extremely talented guys, but the depth that Bama possesses on the defensive line could be sufficient that all of these guys can take a year to adjust to the college game.
If I had to pick the most likely candidate from this group to play, it would probably be Kerry Murphy. Not only did Murphy have the entire spring practice to learn the defense and acclimate himself to the program, but he is two years older than the other guys. He certainly has some things working against him - namely the year he spent away from football and the time he missed during fall camp after his brother's murder. But the reality with Murphy is that he is draft eligible after this year, so holding him back in the hopes of keeping him for four years is just unlikely. Sure, it's possible that he won't develop into an NFL talent... if that's the case, then using him sparingly as a true freshman won't hurt that badly when he is possibly leaving the program a year earlier than he would have had he redshirted. But if he is an NFL talent (or develops into one), he can leave at the end of any year at Alabama, so redshirting him just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
The Tide will practice again tomorrow afternoon, and the work for Virginia Tech is expected to intensify.