29 September 2009
After a day when practice was completely closed to the media, Tuesday's practice brought two viewing period. As is usually the case on Tuesday, the squad practiced in full pads.
Here's what you need to know:
Other than Dont'a Hightower's absence, the injury situation is getting better. Kenny Bell (shin splints) is still in black, but Demetrius Goode was practicing. Jeramie Griffin was seen riding an exercise bike, after having had surgery to repair a torn ACL in fall camp.
The Hightower absence is huge, though, and Bama is working to find the right group to put on the field. After giving my breakdown of potential candidates last night, I was shown a new solution today.
It isn't technically new, though, because it is exactly how the Tide lined up for the majority of the game on Saturday. Cory Reamer, as expected, moved to the will, but that's where my idea of what might happen ended. Instead of seeing Alex Watkins or Chavis Williams take over the sam, it's actually Eryk Anders. Since he's the starter at the jack, that means that Courtney Upshaw slides into starting position at the jack.
In the past Nick Saban has been loathe to make multiple guys play out of position in order to replace one, but that looks like the solution that gets the most talent on the field. It does, however, force two guys into new positions (Reamer and Anders). Both of those guys are seniors, and have had experience playing their "new" position, though. So that changes things a bit.
Nico Johnson was working with the second group behind Reamer, but considering how drastically things changed with Hightower out, I would hesitate to say that he would step right in for Reamer.
The offensive line got a heavy dose of run blocking thrown their way. After struggling to establish a consistent rushing attack against Arkansas, that's the focus for the line this week. Bama managed just 134 total rushing yards (3.3 ypc), but 52 of those came on one rush. If you take out Trent Richardson's long touchdown run, Bama managed just 82 yards on 41 attempts. Granted, a lot of those unsuccesful attempts came late in the game with the second group on the field, but that's just 2.0 per carry. And that's not acceptable.
The good news is that Roy Upchurch looks good after surprisingly playing on Saturday. There was some doubt that the senior back would play against Arkansas, and seeing him still healthy on Tuesday means that he should be good to go again this weekend. As good as Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson are, Roy is still, by far, the Tide's best third and long back.
If the recent Heisman talk is affecting Greg McElroy, it's not evident from watching practice. He continues to be an incredibly hard worker, never seeming satisfied with the state of the passing game. It's no shock to any of us that have watched the four games this season, but this kid is one hell of a leader.
The Tide will practice again tomorrow afternoon, and as long as there are media viewing periods, we'll have our normal report.
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