28 October 2009
Hey! Guess what I forgot to do when I got home today? Yep... I forgot to write a practice report. What can I say, it's been a long season. There have been practice reports every Monday through Wednesday from the first week of August forward, with eight straight games.
Much like the Bama team, I'm suffering from some mid-season fatigue. And, of course, typing for twenty to thirty minutes is pretty much the same thing as practice football for a couple of hours. Right?
Okay, maybe not. I'm little lazy and I had guests waiting on me when I got home. It's three o'clock in the morning now, and instead of going to bed, I'm writing the practice report. So, better late than never. And I'll try to do better tomorrow.
The Alabama football team worked inside the Thomas Drew Indoor Facility to avoid some late afternoon rain on Tuesday afternoon. The squad practiced in shells after having Sunday and Monday off. For the first time since the last week of August, the Tide worked without an opponent looming at the end of the week.
Here's what you need to know:
The injury news is pretty good. Initial report were that Colin Peek had sprained the MCL in his left leg, and he could be out for two to three weeks. He was out of today's practice, riding an exercise bike in a black jersey, but Coach Saban had this to say:
We are hopeful that we will get him back for the LSU game, but that's going to be day-to-day. He probably won't practice this week, but the real key to it will be where he is next week.
That's not the ringing endorsement of health that would be ideal, but it's certainly better than an absolute declaration that he won't play until Mississippi State. He's a tough kid who has played with a foot injury all season. If he's at all able to go next Saturday, he will.
Otherwise, fatigue is the main thing the Tide is battling this week. All teams go through it during the middle part of the season, which is why teams schedule off weeks. Coach Saban has said in the past that he doesn't like to play more than six consecutive games without an off week, but the SEC schedule didn't allow for one until now.
The good news is that Bama gets this off week before playing what could be its toughest opponent of the season. While the players will almost certainly spend this entire week working on fundamentals and trying to get rested, the coaching staff will already be working on the gameplan for LSU.
It would be incorrect to say that Alabama has been fortunate in the injury situation this season. After all, the Tide has lost three players to season ending injuries (Jeramie Griffin, Damion Square, and Dont'a Hightower), including a guy many people consider to be the most versatile guy on the defensive side of the ball.
But if you compare Bama's injury woes to what Georgia went through in 2008, or Oklahoma is going through this season, you have say that Bama has been at least a little lucky. Julio Jones and Javier Arenas have both been injured bad enough to miss a game, but they were both back the following week.
And other than Peek, everyone who played during Bama's rough stretch of three physical games leading into the break should be good to go for the LSU game - and Peek is a possibility. It could be a lot worse.
So what should we expect to see this week? Not a lot. We might see some guys get reps that don't normally get a lot.
It wouldn't shock me to see Star Jackson get a little more time at quarterback, simply because he hasn't gotten many reps in the last five weeks. Greg McElroy is in no danger of losing his position, and a couple of days of lighter work might do him some wonders. He won't take the time off completely, as he does need to rebuild some confidence, and build a rhythm with a receiving corps that has been pretty quiet outside of its top three guys.
It also wouldn't surprise me to see the linebackers working in some crazy groupings. Coach Saban has indicated that he isn't totally satisfied with the production from the guys who have replaced Hightower in the rabbit rusher package - Courtney Upshaw and Chavis Williams. He used the word "decent" to describe how they've played, which isn't exactly glowing praise.
It's doubtful that we'll see Bama take the redshirt off of Jonathan Atchison, Tana Patrick, or Ed Stinson at this point, but Bama could have as many as six games remaining. And if one of those guys could provide the desired level of play for that amount of time (with two of those games potentially being played for championships), then it would be well worth it.
I still don't expect we'll see it, though. Instead, I'm guessing we'll get a strong look at Jerrell Harris, with the possibility of Milton Talbert and Alex Watkins getting a chance to show what they can do.
I also doubt we'll see the team go heavy into pads much this week. I don't know that they'll get the whole week without them, but I doubt we'll see them go three full days like they normally do.
The Tide is scheduled to practice again tomorrow afternoon, and we'll have our normal report. Hopefully before 3:15 a.m.
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