11 August 2010
The Alabama football team headed inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility on Wednesday - the first time they've practice inside this year. There was no rain in the area, so my best guess is that the staff wanted to get the guys a little bit of a break from the extreme heat. The squad was in full pads, and with the practice falling smack in the middle of the hottest time of the day, getting out of the sun was probably a good idea.
Here's what you need to know:
No one was withheld from contact. Kendall Kelly and Jeramie Griffin remain off of the 105 man roster, and will do so until the medical staff clears them.
Demetrius Goode has a hamstring issue that is limiting him, but he is not in a black jersey. It looks as though he was moved to the back of the repetition line at running back in order to limit his touches. He should be back to normal in time for Saturday's scrimmage. The missed reps now are giving Eddie Lacy the chance he needs to slip into that third spot in the rotation.
Mark Ingram was in full pads for the first time this fall, having completed the necessary days allocated by the NCAA for acclimation. The Heisman Trophy winner looks to be in great shape, and is demonstrating the type of leadership in his group that you want from star players.
Blake Sims was with the running backs again for the third straight practice. He was practicing behind Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, and Mike Marrow, but ahead of fellow freshman Corey Grant. This is a case where Coach Saban's "organizational" thing is probably true. Grant will be staying at running back, while Sims is likely to move around a bit more. By being higher in the rotation, he'll get more repetitions. He's not ahead of Grant in terms of a depth chart, but he's getting reps ahead of him to maximize his time in that grouping.
I thought we would see Sims stay with the quarterbacks a little bit longer, based on potential depth (or lack thereof) at the position next season. That doesn't appear to be as much of a concern as Bama received a public commitment from Elite 11 quarterback Phillip Ely (pronounced E-Lee) on Wednesday afternoon. Ely is ranked by Rivals as the #5 pro-style qarterback in the country, and he's led Plant High School (Tampa, FL) to a 19-0 record as a starter. Several publications have Plant HS ranked in their pre-season top five nationally, including RivalsHigh having them ranked #1. Ely isn't a big kid at 6'1, but he's been praised by all of the services for his coachability and sound fundamental technique.
It looks like Nick Perry is making a serious push for playing time in Bama's expanded defensive back packages. While the nickel defense typically uses an extra corner, the dime defense also utilizes and additional safety. Perry is fighting with Will Lowery for time at the "money" position, but is seeing his role increase by the day. He's a smart kid from a big-time high school program (Prattville), so it should not come as a shock that he has come in with a solid fundamental base.
It apears as though the staff is being very cautious with DeQuan Menzie as he tries to recover from surgery on his left achilles. Menzie is in serious consideration for the "star" position in the nickel package, and could even challenge B.J. Scott for time as Bama's boundary corner. But at this time it looks like the staff is limiting his repetitions a little. He's running with the second group of defensive backs, but routinely takes turns through the rotation off to get treatment. If he is 100% by the season opener, I expect we'll see him play a lot. If not, look for Phelon Jones and DeMarcus Milliner to battle it out for that role until Menzie is healthy.
Though the secondary is a concern in terms of experience, there is an absolute wealth of talent and athleticism in the group. The fact that Jones, who had limited experience as a true freshman at LSU, has not immediately grabbed hold of any of the three corner spots should tell you a lot about the other guys competing at those spots. Jones could end up winning the starting role, but the fact that Bama's two true freshman, and the incoming JuCo transfer are in real contention for time is impressive.
The fourth receiver spot behind Julio Jones, Marquis Maze, and Darius Hanks is still up for grabs. There continues to be a lot of praise being heeped on DeAndrew White, though that's not uncommon this early in camp. Saturday's scrimmage could be a big day for one of the guys behind the top three. Brandon Gibson had a big spring, but has yet to separate himself from the rest of the group during fall camp. If he can have a big scrimmage, that separation could begin to form. If not, and another guy does have a big scrimmage, then things could get interesting.
One interesting thing to watch for with the linebackers is the role of Chris Jordan. We're already seeing him taking reps with the first group at the mike linebacker when Dont'a Hightower slides into the rabbit rusher package. We've also seen him get a few reps at the mike with the first unit while Hightower took snaps at the will. Nico Johnson won't give up his starting will spot without a fight, but if Jordan can claim the mike spot, it will allow Hightower to continue to play the will spot that he played during his first two years on campus. I still think we see Dont'a end up at mike, but Jordan is quickly developing as a "ready now" player.
Bama will have two practices on Thursday, and we'll have our normal reports.
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