27 September 2010
The #1 ranked Alabama football team practiced in shells on Monday. Coming off of their 24-20 victory over Arkansas this past Saturday, the Tide is preparing for the Florida Gators this coming Saturday.
Here's what you need to know:
Marcell Dareus was limited in practice. He was cleared for contact, but the staff was being very careful with an ankle issue that plagued him during the second half against Arkansas. He's expected to do a little more on Tuesday, but be back in the regular rotation on Wednesday.
With Dareus not working in his normal first string spot, Luther Davis was working with the first group. He's battling a couple of leg injuries, but neither is expected to keep him out of the lineup.
Greg McElroy has a wrap on his left thigh and was showing a noticable limp. He doesn't expect it to be an issue, calling is mostly a deep bruise.
Courtney Upshaw was able to play more on Saturday than in the previous two weeks, and he expects to be back to 100% by this weekend.
Otherwise, the Tide is at full strength through the 1/4 mark of the regular season. With everyone expected to play on Saturday, chalk that up as a solid piece of good luck.
Obviously the secondary has some things to work on this week, after giving up 421 yards of total offense to the Hogs. It's important to note that Bama only gave up 120 yards in the second half, and only 39 in the fourth quarter. The staff made some crucial adjustments, and there was a higher level of execution.
Florida brings a different offensive scheme in Tuscaloosa, one now bolstered by Trey Burton doing his best Tim Tebow impression. Bama has already demonstrated that they know how to stop that offense, and it will be interesting to see just how much Urban Meyer is willing to test that.
The psyche of the team is in good shape, with confidence high. I learned a lot more about this team on Saturday than I expected to. Honestly, if the Tide had gone in and won 31-10, all we would have learned is that Arkansas wasn't very good. Instead, we saw that Arkansas is a pretty good team. And then we saw that Bama has the mental toughness to battle from behind on the road. They also showed great patience in never panicking, and never abandoning the the game plan.
Falling behind 7-0 in the first 50 seconds of a game, and trailing 17-7 with 45 seconds left in the third quarter, on the road, to a top ten team, is usually a recipe for a loss. The fact that Bama was able to win the game, and win it without seeming to exert any extra effort than the norm, speaks volumes about this team's talent and mental state. The "Fourth Quarter Program" isn't just a catchy phrase - it's a real thing that paid huge dividends on Saturday. The Hogs were tired late in the game. Bama wasn't.
Chris Low of ESPN recently did an article where he built the perfect SEC program by using parts from different programs. He chose Florida's strength and conditioning program. Without getting into an argument with Mr. Low, let's just say that if that's the case, Bama won't have that distinct late game advantage against the Gators. Florida will also, doubtless, have the same type of revenge on mind that Bama took to Atlanta in 2009.
So Bama will have its hands full this weekend with a talented and determined football team. Thankfully the staff and the team are fully aware, and practice today was intense for a Monday. Expect that intensity to climb throughout the week, and for the game Saturday to have an electric atmosphere.
Also expect to see a pretty heavy dose of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.
Bama will practice again on Tuesday and we'll have our normal report.
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