03 September 2010
The Alabama football team practiced in full pads for the final time before the kickoff of the 2010 season. The Tide will have a walk-through practice on Friday, before defense of the national championship begins on Saturday night.
Here's what you need to know:
The big news of the day is that Marcell Dareus has been suspended for two games due to his involvement in what was apparently two trips to Miami. He has to pay $1,787.17 to the charity of his choice in order to account for the total worth of his trips.
Alabama is appealing the decision, with the hopes of limiting the suspension to one game. The crux of the appeal appears to center on a comment from the from UA compliance director Mike Ward that the NCAA described Dareus as "one of the most truthful student-athletes we have ever interviewed." Bama hopes that the NCAA will reward that honesty with a game being taken off of the suspension.
If they don't, it's possible that the Tide could play Penn State without their biggest offensive threat (Mark Ingram) and their biggest defensive threat (Dareus). That's a daunting task for any team to face, and will be an early test for the Tide's depth.
I believe that we'll see Damion Square move to the left side and start in Dareus's place, but we'll have to wait for the first defensive play to know for certain.
Both Mark Ingram and Wesley Neighbors continue to progress well in their rehab, and both guys are still hoping to be back as early as next week.
Reports indicate that the practice on Thursday was a good one, with Bama upbeat and fired up at the idea of finally playing a game. Certainly San Jose State doesn't present the same challenge as the opening game in each of the last two seasons, but don't expect the Tide to come out flat. Playing at home in front of 100,000+ will be a big deal to these guys, as will the opportunity to play for a lot of guys who haven't had that chance before.
After looking at the redshirt freshmen yesteray, I'll take a look at the true freshmen today.
Cade Foster - if Bama opens the season kicking off, he'll be the first player to touch the football in the 2010 season. I still think we'll see Jeremy Shelley handle extra points and short field goals, but Foster will play a lot.
Jalston Fowler - he's been physically impressive since he set foot on campus in January. While the Tide is deep at middle linebacker, I expect we'll see Fowler play some late on Saturday. I also wouldn't be surprised to see him on kick off coverage.
John Fulton - Bama is incredibly thin at corner, and that means everyone has the potential to play. Fulton is third at his corner position, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him on the field Saturday. If he doesn't play this weekend, it means the staff will try their hardest to redshirt him.
Corey Grant - I think the plan was to redshirt him, but the injury to Mark Ingram could cause that to be changed. He's blisteringly fast, and that gives him a different dynamic than all of the other Tide backs. If Ingram is out for more than two weeks, we might see Grant return kicks to give Trent Richardson a break. If he doesn't play Saturday, look for a redshirt.
Adrian Hubbard - I'm guessing that he'll redshirt, simply because he's very raw and is learning the linebacker position. Most guys that play jack for Bama will end up redshirting because most of them will have played defensive end in high school, and it takes time to learn to play in space. He has a huge frame, and once he grows into it, he could be a terror.
Brandon Ivory - Bama has two solid guys at nose guard, plus an additional two or three guys that could slide inside. That means it's unlikely that Ivory will have to play in 2010, and that's a good thing. He's been impressive so far, but it looks like Bama will have the luxury of not having to play him as a true freshman.
Harrison Jones - the fact that he came in late indicates that he'll probably redshirt. Having said that, Bama isn't deep at H-back. If Brad Smelley struggles like he did in 2009, the staff might look for other options, and Jones is a natural for the position.
Arie Kouandjio - I'd love for him to redshirt, simply because it's a good thing for all linemen to redshirt. The fact that he's worked pretty consistently with the second unit at both right and left tackle indicates that he might simply be too talented to keep off of the field. If he doesn't play Saturday, it means they're hoping to be able to redshirt him.
Chad Lindsay - He has totally reshaped his body, but he's behind a returning starter and a senior at center. It's a good thing that he'll be able to redshirt, because it looks like he could be the center of the future.
Keiwone Malone - receivers are tough to measure this early in their career. The fact that he shares a number with fellow receiver Kenny Bell tells me he's probably not going to see action. If Bama's receivers struggle, though, the staff will not hesitate to go to the freshmen.
DeMarcus Milliner - it's likely that he'll be the third corner when Bama goes to nickel. The fact that he's still learning the position after playing safety in high school should tell you that he's only going to get better as the season progresses. He's a real talent.
C.J. Mosley - I'll be shocked if he doesn't play on kick coverage, and I expect we'll see him some in the second half on Saturday. He's been very impressive both physically and mentally, and looks to be the next in a line of true freshmen linebackers to be impressive.
Anthony Orr - five years ago this kid would have walked onto campus and earned immediate playing time. As it is now, Bama is just too deep at defensive end for him to see meaningful playing time. With Dareus out, it's possible that the Tide will go deeper into the depth chart, but I expect he'll redshirt.
Nick Perry - the Tide is also thin at safety, and it's unlikely that the staff will be able to redshirt Perry. He has really grasped the defense mentally, and has great athleticism. I expect we'll see him Saturday.
Austin Shepherd - only the most elite of true freshmen linemen play in their first season. Shepherd has shown good progress throughout the summer and fall camp, but thankfully Bama is deep enough to afford to redshirt him.
Phillip Sims - The fact that we're even discussing redshirt is indication that the staff is very pleased with Bama's top two QBs. Having said that, Bama was very lucky to only play two QBs in 2009, and I wouldn't be surprised if Sims has to play in 2010. If he doesn't play Saturday, it means that they are hoping to treat his 2010 season like they did A.J. McCarron's 2009.
Blake Sims - if he hadn't been injured in camp, I think we'd see him Saturday. As it is, I don't know if they've come to a final decision as to where he will line up. He's got ridiculous athletic ability, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him play. I'm hoping they'll be able to point to BJ Scott as an example of why he should.
Petey Smith - he's been very physically imposing and has done a great job of shadowing Dont'a Hightower and soaking up every bit of information he can get from Bama's defensive leader. Thankfully Bama is deep enough at linebacker that they won't have to play him.
Brian Vogler - he's got a unique combination of size and skill-set among Bama's tight ends, and that could be a ticket to getting him on the field in 2010. He's another guy that we'll probably get an answer on during Saturday's game. If he doesn't play, it means the staff is trying to redshirt him.
DeAndrew White - he and Grant will battle throughout their career for title of fastest guy on the team. And guys with that level of speed are hard to keep off of the field. He hasn't cracked the three-deep at receiver yet, though, and that could mean we'll see a redshirt. As with Malone, though, if Bama isn't getting the production from the receivers at midseason, he might get a look. If the Tide isn't getting the production from kickoff return, he could get a look there, as well.
Jarrick Williams - look back up at what I wrote about Nick Perry. It's the same thing here. I expect he'll play kick coverage and will play at safety every time the staff can afford to get him on the field.
Jay Williams - he's still battling with Cody Mandell over the punting job. I expect we'll see both guys get a chance to kick on Saturday.
Bama will practice tomorrow, but there will be no media access.
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