Vlachos Says Tide Prepares For Noise
"We played these guys first (in Southeastern Conference competition) last year, and going into it I thought I was ready," Alabama center William Vlachos said. "I thought I was ready to step up to the challenge of SEC play, but I wasn't. That was the worst game I played."
Vlachos's first SEC game last year was against Arkansas. On Saturday, the Crimson Tide opens league play this season against the Razorbacks in Fayetteville. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m. CDT with television coverage by CBS.
Last year in a 14-0 national championship season, Alabama defeated Arkansas in Tuscaloosa, 35-7.
"As a line, we didn't play very well," Vlachos said of the 2009 game. "We didn't cover them up. We won the game because Greg (Bama quarterback Greg McElroy) and the receivers played well. But rushing the ball, we didn't do very well."
Vlachos said there is a little different feel to practice this week "for the guys who have played, because we know the SEC is fastger, it's more physical, it's a different type of football.
" We know it's going to be a challenge, they've got a really good team, and going to their place it can really be loud in Fayetteville. We're looking forward to it, but for the guys who have played...I'm not going to say we're taking a different approach, but we kind of know what to expect and it's a different style of play."
Crowd noise can be a factor in large stadiums. Football fans understand the concept of trying to disrupt communications by the visiting team by being very loud when the opponent is on offense.
A football team can take two steps to combat the noise. The first is in preparation, and Alabama does that.
"You go on silent count, and that's what we've practiced all week," Vlachos said. "The young guys, D.J. (tackle D.J. Fluker) and Chance (guard Chance Warmack), have done a really good job adapting to that, because it takes time. We have different variations of the snap count on silent. We've been practicing it. If it gets quiet in there, we'll go back on verbal cadence. But for now we're on silent count. We're expecting some noise."
On Thursdays, the Tide practices in its indoor practice facility with simulated crowd noise blaring over loudspeakers.
Vlachos said, "The three guys who have played up front (left tackle James Carpenter and right guard Barrett Jones are the other returning offensive line starters with Vlachos) know how loud it gets and we're used to communicating when it gets loud, and that's the key in these games – getting the communications across to all the guys on the line. It's going to be a challenge, but we're looking forward to it."
There is another way to combat crowd noise on the road, as demonstrated by the Crimson Tide last season.
"Lucky for us last year, we won every game, so a lot of times we had leads, and when you have the lead you take the home crowd out of it for the most part," Vlachos said. "Auburn got extremely loud last year when we were backed up on our goal line. But all the SEC stadiums, they're loud. They all have the potential to be extremely loud, especially in Baton Rouge and Auburn and Knoxville. In Arkansas, we got up on them big two years ago at their place (an eventual 49-14 Alabama win), but that first quarter was extremely loud. So we're certainly prepared for any noise and distractions.
"Last week at Duke we got up big early and it was a real quiet game. But in rivalry games it's not going to get quiet, and the closer the game the louder it's going to be. We're prepared for the worst, and that's something we're used to."
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