28 March 2010
The Alabama football team was once again in full pads on Saturday for its fifth practice of the spring. The practice marked the first time this spring that the Tide has worked on consecutive days, and they have now been in pads for three consecutive workouts.
Here's what you need to know:
Star Jackson was absent from practice for the second consecutive day, and we now know the reason - academics. He is still academically eligible, but has not met the standards set by Coach Saban and staff when it comes to attendance. Coach Saban indicated that Star is participating in meetings, but when the team heads out to practice, he "does schoolwork." Sounds a little like detention. Coach Saban also indicated that Star could be back on the practice field as soon as he does the things required of him. That's a little vague, but that is also how the Coach likes it.
The injury situation still looks pretty good, with only William Vlachos and Milton Talbert in black jerseys. As has been the case all spring, Vlachos has not participated in any drills, while Talbert has run through individual drills despite the black jersey.
Trent Richardson has a heavy wrap on his hamstring, but he is working in a white jersey. The fact that he was able to go on consecutive days tells me that the injury isn't serious. He is getting extra attention from the training staff, though.
Dont'a Hightower has yet to be in black this spring, though he was limited in Saturday's practice. I doubt we'll see him in any of the scrimmages, possibly including A-Day. Even though I think he's probably going to change positions and take over the mike linebacker spot, he is a known quanitity at this point, and there is simply no reason to risk things with his knee injury.
In yesterday's report I told you that I thought Kendall Kelly might be making a more permanent move to defensive back, and today I'm back to tell you that I wrong. Kelly was back at wide receiver today, and it was Brandon Gibson who was working with the safeties. Coach Saban indicated in his post practice press conference that these guys are simply learning the position in order to give the team depth, but it is unlikely that either of them will actually make the move to the other side of the ball. He also dropped the bombshell that it is likely that Julio Jones will practice at safety at some point this spring. Most of these guys played both ways in high school, so this isn't totally new for them. But Nick Saban's defensive schemes are a little more complicated. If one of them is able to grasp those schemes, you'd have to think that it would not only give them a real shot at playing in a nickel or dime situation, but that it might also really help their ability to read defenses when they are on the offensive side of the ball.
One guy who looks like he might be making a big move on the depth (ahem) - organizational - chart is Undra Billingsley. After moving over to defensive end from tight end at the beginning of spring practice, he was working with the second unit at right end - behind Marcell Dareus. Bama has a great deal of talent on the defensive line, and the fact that Undra was working with the second unit is a great indication that he is ready to go physically. His year at tight end should help him with understanding blocking schemes, and I wouldn't be at all shocked if he was still used as a short yardage blocker on offense.
Phillip Sims continues to take advantage of Star Jackson's absence, with him getting more reps behind Greg McElroy and A.J. McCarron. The early enrollee has impressed a lot of folks with his overall arm strength and his improved quick release. He is in much better shape than at the time he reported, and looks nothing like a guy three months removed from high school. I'll still be shocked if he doesn't redshirt, but that has a lot more to do with the guys in front of him than anything else.
Kevin Norwood impressed a lot of folks during his redshirt season last year, and he looks to be having a great spring. He's moved up the line in individual drills, and is working behind Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks. Bama will likely have a five or six man rotation at the receiver position again, and the top half of that is all but set with Maze, Hanks, and Julio Jones. There are six guys already competing for those other three spots this spring, with possibly four more coming in this summer. So it will be important for all of the receivers to establish their spot in the rotation as quickly as possible.
Bama will be off on Sunday, and will practice again on Monday. The first scrimmage of the spring has been set for Friday. We'll have our normal reports.
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