11 November 2009
Happey Veteran's Day to all of you out there who have served, or who currently are serving, in our nation's military.
The Alabama football team had its final "open" practice of the week on Wednesday afternoon, and the weather in Tuscaloosa cooperated enough to allow the team to practice outside. Once again in full pads, the practice continued to be high intensity.
Here's what you need to know:
The injured guys continued to work out in their normal jerseys. Technically there is one unexpected guy working on a stationary bike, true freshman Mike Marrow. It's all but certain that he'll redshirt this season, so it's gone unnoticed by a lot of folks. It doesn't look to be anything serious, so he should be back at practice soon.
Colin Peek was active again, and looks like he should be ready to go on Saturday. How much he'll go, or how effective he'll be is another topic. Michael Williams and Preston Dial did a nice job of filling in for him against LSU when he missed some snaps. Expect to see both of those guys continue to get a lot of looks, with Williams being the biggest beneficiary of the extra playing time.
Dont'a Hightower was riding a stationary bike at practice today. Over the past few weeks he's been seen sitting on the bike and working out his upper body. Today, though, he was actually pedaling. I'm sure some folks will take that as a sign that he could be back later this season, but I wouldn't hold my breath on that. The good news is that he appears to be progressing nicely, which means that he should be ready to go, at least a little, in spring practice.
With former all-american center Antoine Caldwell in attendance today, it might be time to talk about the job that William Vlachos has done this season. After some problems in the first couple of weeks with low snaps in the shotgun and pistol formation, William has played pretty fantastic football in his first season as the Tide's center.
The center isn't solely responsible for the success of the offensive line, but he is the guy who makes the blocking calls at the line of scrimmage. Anyone who remembers the trouble Bama had in replacing J.B. Closner when he got hurt in 2005, should be paying a lot of attention to how well Vlachos has played. Bama, afterall, leads the SEC in fewest sacks allowed, and ranks fourth in the conference in rushing yards. It's tough to really ask for more from a guy who is not only getting his first starts in his career, but the first meaningful playing time in his career.
Ali Sharrief continued to shadow Cory Reamer when Bama was working in its nickel set. I still think this is a teaching expirement, to give Bama the option of possibly using a dime package that acts as a nickel package when playing teams that run the ball out of spread formations.
While I don't think Coach Saban is going to completely tip his hand this weekend, I do think that we'll get a decent look at how Alabama plans to stop the spread offenses of both Auburn and Florida. Mississippi State doesn't have the overall athletes of either of those schools, so there will be some things that are held back, but this offense is as similar to those two as any Bama will face.
Alabama's practices will be closed to the media on Thursday and Friday, but we'll let you know if we hear anything important.
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