Monthly Archives: September 2009

Wednesday practice report

Another perfectly sunny afternoon in Tuscaloosa had the Crimson Tide practicing outdoors again today. As seen in the point-and-shoot photo masterpiece above, the defensive line was where I spent most of my media-viewing period today.

Check out the photo gallery below for more pictures of the first and second teams working on the Kentucky game plan led mostly by coach Sal Sunseri — easily the most excitable coach that we can see in practice everyday.

Over on the exercise bike was Jeramie Griffin, the sophomore running back who tore his ACL early in August preseason practice.

Alabama football

Rich Brooks: Alabama D better than Florida's

Kentucky coach Rich Brooks certainly has respect for the defense Alabama will bring to town Saturday. Speaking on the SEC teleconference, Brooks said the Crimson Tide defense is better than Florida’s which he saw last Saturday, at least statistically.

He wouldn’t be wrong, but Florida’s defense frustrated Kentucky all afternoon, holding the Wildcats down in a 41-7 win.

Read more in the coming days about his plan to increase productivity against Alabama.

SEC teleconference notes

The highlights from Nick Saban’s SEC teleconference call:

  • Dont’a Hightower had successful knee surgery although Saban didn’t say when it was performance and which ligaments were involved.
  • A reporter from Gainesville asked about Saban’s strategy for pulling players late in blowout wins. Saban recognized the obvious connection between the question and Tim Tebow’s injury and said it wasn’t a bad move having the starting quarterback on the field in a 31-7 game in the third quarter. A touchdown and on-sides kick recovery has Kentucky right back in it.
  • “I don’t think of football as a dangerous game,” Saban said. Injuries happen in football just like they do in any other sport, he added, but the NCAA carefully looks at the rules that keep players safe.
  • The ugly “comparison” question was asked about the SEC West and last season’s Big 12 South. Saban hates that C-word. He didn’t make one, but reiterated his view on the SEC West’s depth.
  • Alabama plays neutral-site games like the Virginia Tech opener in Atlanta to prepare the team for road games. This Saturday’s game with Kentucky is Alabama’s first “true road game.”
  • When talking about the linebacker situation, Saban said Hightower’s versatility makes him especially difficult to replace. Because of that, more than one player will be needed to fill those jobs ranging from inside nickle linebacker to defensive end pass rusher.

A new take on Yea Alabama

I bet you’ve never heard this version of the Alabama fight song that I found on YouTube. What do you think of it?

More on Arenas story

As promised, here are a few extra Javier Arenas thoughts on punt returning:

  • Returning kicks and practice can actually be more nerve-wracking than doing it in the game. “In practice, it’s hard to catch punts because you have coach Saban literally breathing on the back of your neck. That’s never good. But the ball is real slow in the game. It’s just sailing out there. Until you catch it, then everything is like NASCAR,” Arenas said.
  • Playing under control is a big part of successful punt returning. He wasn’t always good at the fair catch, but when Nick Saban came to Tuscaloosa, that all changed.
  • “It’s something I learned when coach Saban got here. He taught me to make better decisions. I wouldn’t necessarily making bad decisions. When I started dropping it, that’s when the decision becomes bad,” Arenas said.
  • “When you try to break a big one like I did in the past, you end up losing yards or you fumble trying to do too much.

Arenas is never shy with the media. We always end up with more than we can use when he comes for a visit.

Coleman Coliseum scoreboards installed

Check out the new scoreboards inside Coleman Coliseum as photographed Tuesday afternoon.

Reamer does it all

Sam, Will, Money.

Cory Reamer is all of these in the wake of Dont’a Hightower’s season-ending knee injury. Read more in Wednesday’s paper, but Reamer said after today’s practice that he split time between Sam (outside) linebacker, Will (inside) linebacker as well as playing “Money” in nickel packages.

Check out Wednesday’s paper to see what he said about the differences between preparing for inside and outside linebacker positions.

Then tune in at 11:21 CDT Saturday to see how the new-look Alabama defense looks against Kentucky

Tuesday afternoon practice report

It is a beautiful day in Tuscaloosa — not a cloud in the sky and very comfortable temperatures. It was a perfect day for Alabama, or any other football team, to get back to practice.

Monday’s workout was scaled back to a walk-through indoors, according to a news release from the school.

By Tuesday, the Tide went back outside. There were a few players working out with strength and conditioning, but they couldn’t be identified by practice jersey numbers. Several players share numbers, and one of the numbers did not appear on the dress-list from Saturday’s game.

The linebackers practiced a drill that helps shed cut blocks like the one that injured Dont’a Hightower’s knee against Arkansas. There is still no word on new alignments, but we will get to speak with a few linebackers once practice is over.

Also, we’re looking into when Hightower has surgery on the damaged ligaments in his left knee. Hopefully more information will be available later.

***MARCHING BAND SPOILER***

We can hear the marching band practicing off in the distance and it sounds like they are working on “Redneck Woman.” Not my first choice, but they don’t ask me.

Sad day in blogging

No, nobody died. But one of the best newspaper sports blogs around is losing its general. As a Yankee fan and sports writer, I gravitated to Peter Abraham’s LoHud Yankee blog. He was the first Yankee beat writer to dabble in the blog world and he did great skill, humor and dedication.

Now Abraham is taking his abilities to Boston.

Boston?

Yes, he took a job with the Boston Globe and will be covering the (cringe) Red Sox. It is a good move for him even if he has to be around Sox people all the time.

Anyway, I’d encourage you to check out what he did with the Yankee blog to see how good sports writers handle both the print and online product.

Sorry if you were hoping for more Crimson Tide coverage. It is coming, though. Read tomorrow’s paper for Javier Arenas’ view on good punt/kick returning.

Bama Blog on radio

Tune into the “Sports X Change” radio after 5 p.m. CDT today to hear your favorite Alabama beat writer/blogger talk about the Tide.

I’m not totally sure about which radio stations carry the syndicated show, but you can always access the show online. Just follow this link to the show Web site if you want to hear what I have to say.

Update on Ole Miss game time situation

This television deal with the SEC can make things confusing when trying to make travel plans. Here is the latest.

The networks have exemptions to hold off making a decision until the Monday before the game. They exercised that this week so four games remain in the pot for four time slots.

The games: Alabama at Ole Miss, Auburn at Arkansas, Georgia at Tennessee and Houston at Mississippi State.

The time slots/network: 2:30 p.m/CBS, 11 a.m./ESPN, 11:30 a.m./ESPNU, 11:21 a.m./SEC Network. (All times are central).

Games already set: Florida at LSU (7 p.m./CBS), Kentucky at South Carolina (11:30 a.m./FSN), Vanderbilt at Army (CBS College Sports/11 a.m.)

I wonder how much the Ole Miss loss at South Carolina affected the decision to wait for the networks. It seems like having two top-5 teams would be a lock for the 2:30 CBS game at least.

Either way, we’ll know something by next Monday at the latest.

Harris to return for S.C game, other notes

It’s been an interesting morning/afternoon at the football complex for the weekly news conference and player interviews. Of course Dont’a Hightower’s injury was the hottest topic, but another linebacker made news. He tops today’s rundown.

  • Jerrell Harris will be eligible to return for the South Carolina game Oct. 17 after serving what turns out to be a six-game suspension. Coach Nick Saban said the university got word from the NCAA on Friday evening concerning the eligibility of the backup linebacker who broke an unspecified NCAA rule. Read more about that Tuesday.
  • Trent Richardson was named SEC freshman of the week for the second time this season on the strength of his 52-yard touchdown run against Arkansas.
  • The game time and television has yet to be determined for the Oct. 10 game at Ole Miss. Those decisions are typically announced two Mondays in advance, but the networks exercised their option to delay this call. Florida plays LSU the same day.
  • There was considerable discussion about the hit Hightower took on the play that injured his left knee. His fellow defenders stopped short of calling it a dirty hit, but nobody on that unit is a fan of the kind of cut block used on the play. Again, read more about that topic in Tuesday’s newspaper.
  • If you read Monday’s Decatur Daily Inside Alabama notebook column, you’ll remember the recruiting story from 2006 referenced several times. To read the entire thing, click here.

Jemison to miss '09-10 hoops season

In yet another injury-related story, Alabama basketball player Demetrius Jemison tore his Achilles tendon and will miss the upcoming season.

A news release sent out Sunday night said he will have surgery Tuesday on the ankle injured during a team workout Saturday.

“I’m extremely disappointed for Demetrius,” Alabama head coach Anthony Grant said in the release. “He has worked extremely hard in the offseason to prepare himself for the upcoming year and I’m confident that he will receive the best medical attention available.”

Jemison averaged 3.1 points and rebounds last season in 28 games.

BREAKING: Hightower needs surgery

Nick Saban just released a statement about Dont’a Hightower’s knee injury.

“Dont’a Hightower’s MRI confirmed that he has ligament damage in his knee that will require surgery. Dont’a is a fine young man, has been an outstanding player for us, and we are confident he will make a full recovery.”

We still don’t know which ligament was involved, but it’s safe to say his sophomore season is over. Read more Monday.

Alabama also third in Harris Interactive poll

Another of the BCS components was released for the first time today. Check out the first Harris Interactive Poll:

Record Pts Pvs
1. Florida (99) 4-0 2,825
2. Texas (4) 4-0 2,711
3. Alabama (11) 4-0 2,658
4. LSU 4-0 2,413
5. Boise State 4-0 2,264
6. Virginia Tech 3-1 2,129
7. USC 3-1 2,023
8. Ohio State 3-1 1,912
9. Oklahoma 2-1 1,898
10. Cincinnati 4-0 1,700
11. TCU 3-0 1,658
12. Penn State 3-1 1,135
13. Houston 3-0 1,122
14. Iowa 4-0 1,102
15. Oklahoma State 3-1 1,091
16. Kansas 4-0 951
17. Georgia 3-1 823
18. Mississippi 2-1 804
19. BYU 3-1 796
20. Michigan 4-0 713
21. California 3-1 676
22. Miami (FL) 2-1 665
23. Oregon 3-1 620
24. Nebraska 3-1 409
25. Missouri 4-0 404

Other teams receiving votes: Auburn 366; Georgia Tech 340; South Florida 308; South Carolina 144; Wisconsin 119; Utah 84; UCLA 55; Notre Dame 51; Texas A&M 30; North Carolina 9; Stanford 9; Washington 6; Arizona 5; Indiana 5; Connecticut 4; Southern Miss 3; Florida State 2; Kansas State 2; Minnesota 2; Pittsburgh 2; Iowa State 1; Texas Tech 1.