01 September 2009
If the fact that the game is at the end of the week wasn't enough, typing the word "September" in the date really hammers it home for me... football season is here!
The Bama football team practiced inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility this afternoon after an overnight scare involving one of its senior leaders.
Here's what you need to know:
Brandon Deaderick was at practice today. Obviously he didn't participate, but the fact that he was able to attend practice immeditely after being released from the hospital was a boost in morale for the guys on the team. It also demonstrates the type of leader that Brandon is for this team. Obviously there is a huge sigh of a relief that Brandon Deaderick is already out of the hospital, and has avoided an injury serious enough to require surgery. Coach Saban indicated in an interview on ESPN-U that the wound is being treated as a puncture wound, with no damage to either bone or nerve. He also indicated that there was no consideration being paid to when he will return to football.
The flu watch looked to be positive today. Senior linebacker Cory Reamer was still absent. While you never like missing a starter, his experience in the system should allow him to jump right back into things once he is recovered and back on the field. A.J. McCarron and Alfred McCullough were back at practice today. Only the quarterbacks were in black no contact jerseys, signifying that there are no on-field injuries being dealt with right now.
Getting back to the Deaderick situation... with a game being played on Saturday, at some point the issue of exactly who is going to play right defensive end has to be addressed. If you believe Mobile radio announcer and former Bama quarterback Scott Hunter, there is a chance that Brandon will be playing. That would come as a huge shock, so for now, we'll assume that he will miss at least the first game. So who plays in his absence? Marcel Dareus. I know that Luther Davis is technically listed as the backup at right end, but Dareus is really the backup at both spots. He's been a beast since about week seven of last year, and has become a real factor for the Tide defense during the fall practices.
I thought that we might see Lorenzo Washington slide over to the right side, allowing Dareus to play on the side he's been spending most of his practice time on, but that doesn't look to be the case. Washington is a senior who has played both end spots, nose guard, and both defensive tackle spots in the 4-3 defense of Joe Kines, so moving him over is still a solid option. But the idea of having both Eryk Anders and Marcel Dareus coming at Tyrod Taylor's blind side has to be an appealing one for Nick Saban and Kirby Smart.
The reality is that we will likely see a lot of shifting by the defensive ends, as well as by the outside linebackers, in an attempt to confuse Taylor. The more difficult it is for him to identify his potenial running lanes pre-snap, the more success Bama will have in keeping him contained. And keeping him contained is likely the key to winning the game. Because containment is typically a mental discipline issue, missing a senior end with 14 career starts under his belt could be a factor here.
Moving on to other positions, and continuing to look at the depth chart:
Offensive Line The first unit is exactly what we saw for the last two weeks of practice, so there is no surprise there. Where the shock came in was with the second unit. While the tackles ended up being the same as what we saw in practice (McCullough and Love), the guard spots were radically different.
We had been seeing John Michael Boswell at left guard and Anthony Steen at right guard. On the depth chart it ended up being Brian Motley at left guard, and Boswell at the right guard spot that he worked at in the spring. Two true freshmen (Chance Warmack on the left and Anthony Steen on the right) ended up on the third unit.
Having said all of that, I still think that backup center David Ross is very likely the backup at all three interior spots. It could be that the depth on the line has increased to the point where this won't be the case, but I think Ross is pretty solid at either guard or center. Seeing Fluker show up on the depth chart at right tackle is also a bit of a surprise, given how many folks though he was 100% destined for the left side.
The big thing that jumps out is the absence of Chris Underwood. He had a really solid spring, and looked like he might be poised to work his way into the playing rotation. Instead he has not only been passed by Baron Huber (who moved over from fullback), but also two redshirt freshmen that were playing defense at this time last year - Michael Williams and Undra Billingsley.
I also think that we'll see Preston Dial move back and forth between the H-Back and Tight End positions, though the sheer size of the two freshman certainly makes them candidates to be good blockers. With Colin Peek''s foot injury a nagging concern, it will be interesting to see who actually plays the tight end spot if he misses some time. Tomorrow's practice will be the final one of the week that has a media viewing period. We'll have our normal report.
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