Dial Looks Forward To Florida's Best
Alabama tight end/H-back Preston Dial is looking forward to Saturday's game against Florida. The Crimson Tide, ranked first in the nation, hosts the Gators, ranked seventh, at 7 p.m. CDT in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Both teams are 4-0. CBS will televise the game.
Dial, a 6-3, 237-pound senior, raised a few eyebrows in a media briefing this week when asked about Florida starting slow, but playing well in its 48-14 blowout of Kentucky last week.
Dial said the Gators improved because of their ability to make adjustments. "You're going to get a lot done during two-a-days and you're going to make a lot of improvement, but you've got to keep improving during the season, and they've done a great job of it," Dial said. "I was happy to see how much improvement they had made in that last game, because that's what you look for in a good team. At Alabama, we look to do that same thing, adjust on the run. They've done a really good job of it and I know they are proud of that."
And Dial is "happy" why?
"You want to face good competition," Dial said. "They are definitely as good as it gets. They are a really good team. What I think I mean, more than happy, is that's what they wanted to do, that's what they are aiming for, to improve on the run, and that's what a team like Alabama is aiming to do. So I know they are proud of it."
Alabama didn't necessarily show improvement last week, but did make adjustments.
Dial said, "I hope last week taught us that the next week is the most important week. For us, it's mastering Florida's techniques and tendencies, and improving ourselves. We've got another big workday [Wednesday] to improve ourselves, and install the offense and defense. We really need to come out and emphasize ourselves as well as learning more about Florida.
"We've had pretty good tempo this year, but it started to falter a little bit. I think that everybody realizes through the Arkansas scare that you've got to bring your ‘A' game every week. In the SEC everybody is capable of beating everybody else."
There is also the Pogo factor. (Pogo was a long-ago cartoon character, and among his well-known quotes was, "We have met the enemy, and he is us.")
"We beat ourselves a lot against Arkansas," Dial said. "We came out with a victory, but we know that as a team we didn't play well. So we're emphasizing technique, the little things, going back to two-a-days. We're trying to better ourselves and learn more about Florida every day."
Back to two-a-days?
"We're focusing on technique, board drills, running the sled, little things that we kind of slipped up on last week that almost cost us."
Dial was asked how the Tide could stay focused on the Florida game and not look at the bigger picture.
He said, "I think it's mental conditioning, how Coach (Nick Saban) has trained our brains that we understand in order to keep the big picture looking the way we want it to, it's that little bitty week, five days, that's important to the big picture. On Sundays we may look and say here's what we've got to do, keep your chips in order, but come Mondays – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, especially those four days, are key to having us ready to play on Saturdays. You win on those four days. You have a bad week of practice, that's not something you want to go into a big game with. So we really pride ourselves on having a good week of practice."
Dial said the strength of Florida's defense will not be the announced 5-2 special heavy package. "If they do that, we'll adjust," he said. He expects Florida to just be Florida, which is very good.
"They pride themselves on speed," Dial said. "A lot of people talk about how fast Florida is. It's because they are fast."
With Florida just being Florida, Bama must counter "just playing Alabama football," Dial said. "We've got a lot of guys outside and behind me that have pretty good speed as well. Up front and in the passing game, we've just got to focus on running our routes, and up front, just do our technique."
Although Dial is known primarily for his blocking work as an H-back in front of tailbacks Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, or in pass protection for quarterback Greg McElroy, he has become more a threat as a receiver this year with eight catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. In three previous years total he had five catches for 54 yards and no TDs.
"It feels good to help on third down," he said. "I take pride in being a reliable option. If Coach Mac (Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain) thinks it's my time to make a play or score, so be it. But if not, I still pride myself on my blocking as much if not more than I do the passing game."
Dial was asked where Florida ranks as a rival for the Crimson Tide. "Because they're the next game," Dial said, "they are number one. If you had asked me last week, I would have said Arkansas."
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