08 August 2011
The University of Alabama football team held its second full unit practice of the 2011 fall camp on Sunday. The practice, held in shells (shorts, shoulder pads, and helmets) was held in front of a roaring crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It was fan day at the Capstone, and lots of folks weathered the blistering afternoon heat to get a peak at the 2011 Tide.
Here's what you need to know:
Eddie Lacy was in a black jersey. We anticipated that this would happen, but Coach Saban continues to insist that there are no injuries that are expected to keep a player out of game. Lacy injured his right pectoral muscle while lifting weights a couple of weeks ago, and rumors were rampant that he might miss the entire season. That, obviously, looks to be entirely false, and Eddie having practiced for the first two days out of a black jersey is a solid sign that he's not far away from being okay to play in a game. In fact, I am guessing that if the Tide were playing tomorrow, Eddie would probably be good to go. But since it's 27 days until Bama plays, there is absolutely no reason to risk turning a minor injury into a major one.
Redshirt freshman Brian Vogler was also in a black jersey, though no reason has been given. He was moving around and participating in drills, so I does not appear to be serious.
That's it on the injury front. Trent Richardson seems to be fine with his hamstring. And more surprisingly, Alex Watkins seems like he could be ready to go after having off-season knee surgery. Throw in Mark Barron in a red jersey - he was in black through all of the spring - and it looks like Bama has good news on the injury front.
It looks like our guess of DeAndrew White getting the first chance to step into the two-game Darius Hanks void was a correct one. White was working with the first group of wide receivers a lot on Sunday, after running with the first group some during individual drills on Saturday. As we told you, there was serious consideration to pulling the redshirt off of him late in the season last year. So this one is not a surprise to anyone who followed things closesly last year. He got praise from Coach Saban on Friday, and in Jim McElwain's one press conference of the year, he also praised White. Add Phillip Sims to the list of fans, also. The co-quarterback listed White alongside Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks when talking about Bama's receivers. See the trend? I expect a big year.
"Co-quarterback" is likely the annoying term that I will use to talk about both Sims and A.J. McCarron. It's not that I want to avoid talking about the quarterback battle, but there is just nothing to report. Both guys worked in tandem again. And both guys looked really good again. But the staff is not going to tip their hand on this, because I think that they genuinely don't know who the starter will be. And I think that will be the case through the first three games. I think we'll know when Arkansas comes to town. The good news is that this won't be a battle of attrition with one guy winning the job because of the failures of the other. Both of these guys are elite quarterbacks, and Bama will win with either of them at the helm. When is the last time Bama could say that? Steve Sloan and Kenny Stabler? McCarron is probably still ahead (probably) because of game experience.
The Tide went through their typical pre-practice calisthenics, but for the first time we got a glimpse of the players who are stepping forward to lead the workouts. This is typically a good indication of the most likely candidates for team captains will be, and if I gave you three guesses as to who they were, most of you could probably get all three. Barrett Jones, Dont'a Hightower, and Mark Barron. Look for those three guys to be permanent captains at the end of the year. And look for them to provide the type of leadership that Bama got from Rolando McClain and Mike Johnson two years ago.
The daily "where was Christion Jones?" watch saw the true freshman back with the wide receivers again, after working with the running backs yesterday. I'm still shocked that we haven't seen him at corner, and I'll remain that way until we actually do see him there. My guess is that he's likely to redshirt regardless of what side of the ball he's on.
Hasean Clinton-Dix was impressive again, and he's starting to get some first and second team reps with the dime package at the star position. He might be one of those guys that is simply too talented to keep off of the field. Bama has two legitimate All-American candidates in safeties Mark Barron and Robert Lester, and that's probably the only thing that will keep him from being a starter this year.
And speaking of Robert Lester... we don't talk about him much, which is a shame. Show of hands - and be honest... how many of you thought that Lester was offered a scholarship just because he was a high school teammate of Julio Jones? This kid has worked his butt off over the last three years and has made himself into a player that some NFL analysts think might skip his senior year for the draft. He's not just producing on Saturdays, either. He is a very visible and vocal leader during defensive back drills.
Cyrus Kouandjio is continuing to get a lot of extra attention at practice. Barrett Jones is likely to be the starter at left tackle, but his experience and knowledge of the system is a big bonus to have in the same grouping with Cyrus. The two of them can often be seen talking through things when the other groupings are running drills. Barrett is one of those guys that is the proverbial "coach on the field" and the fact that he is working alongside one of the most naturally gifted true freshmen in the country should be a big bonus for Bama (and Cyrus) down the road.
One possible position change has seen Tana Patrick go from working with the sam linebackers to working with the will linebackers. He has done this some in the past, so it's not really a shock. My guess is that the staff has identified him as a guy capable of playing both inside and out, and he's going to continue to get reps at both places.
Still no news on the Duron Carter front. There is hope that things will get corrected on Monday and he'll be available to practice then. If that happens, he'll miss just one full pads practice, as he'll have to practice twice without pads before he can work with the full set on (NCAA rule for all players during a practice period).
Bama will practice again in shells on Monday before the pads go on for Tuesday. That's when we'll start to see who is in great shape and who needs work. It's also when we'll start to see which of the new guys is ready to challenge for reps during next Saturday's scrimmage.
We'll have our normal reports.
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