Dareus Gives Best In Trying To Win

Marcell Dareus wasn't complaining about an easy day of practice, but in hindsight he wondered if it had been a good idea. Unlike most of its Southeastern Conference opponents, Bama doesn't usually come off a bye week for league games. As a result, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban has a plan to get his players some rest during the season.

Following Alabama's loss to South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, the first Crimson Tide loss in over a year, Bama players had a relatively easy Monday prior to last week's win over Ole Miss. Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus said later that taking the time off took away from Bama preparation and may have hindered execution against the Rebels.

Dareus made sure to point out that he wasn't second guessing his coach. It was just of "I kind of do" type thought.

"Coach Saban likes to take that Monday off to get our legs back and we just run through a couple of plays and sharpen up some things," Dareus said. "I think maybe we should have gone on ahead and do what we're supposed to do. The bye week is coming up and we can fight through it until then. We can do anything we put our minds to. We have to focus in; focus on each play and execute it to the best of our ability."

Alabama seemed to have that execution down defensively in the early going against Mississippi. The first three offensive series for the Rebels were three-and-out.

"That was our defense showing up," Dareus said. "We got to the point where we were like we were not going to give up these first downs on the first play, these big plays. We worked hard on trying to stop that. We worked at it all week, and we're still trying to get better and better at that, (not) giving up big plays and big runs and big passes on the first drive."

Dareus has shown glimpses of the man who was voted Most Valuable Defensive Player in Alabama's BCS National Championship Game victory over Texas at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last year. The 6-4, 306-pound junior defensive end from Birmingham has played in five of Bama's seven games and been in on 17 tackles. He has made two sacks and broken up two passes.

(Me missed the first two games of the season as part of an NCAA penalty for improper dealings with an agent.)

Dareus couldn't be at his very best, even with the extra rest prior to the Ole Miss game. He has been nursing an ankle injury all year, and it got a little worse when he took a cheap shot from one of the Rebels.

"I was tied up with their tight end and saw [a Mississippi lineman] coming, but I couldn't do anything about it," Dareus said. "You can't really do anything when you are in the middle of the play. The only thing I was thinking is I should have kept my feet more. I saw it happening, but I couldn't react fast enough. I'm getting treatment and trying to get it better, get it well."

Dareus was one of those Alabama players who went down following the shot. After getting his ankle wrapped, he was able to go back into the game later. Following the game, Saban talked about players staying down, revealing that the coach sometimes talks to the players about toughness, adding "They don't make them like they used to."

Dareus said, Back in his day, he'd make it sound like they were robots. When I hurt my ankle in the Arkansas game, he said, ‘I never would have laid out there on that field. I broke my leg in three places and I still got up and ran off the field.' I said, ‘Okay, but if I break my leg in three places, y'all might as well bring a stretcher.'"

Indirectly, the ankle injury led to a couple of offsides penalties against Dareus. He explained that because his ankle was hurt, he was trying to get a jump on the snap. He said the Rebels center "gave a little twitch, and I took off. I tried to give it my best. I'm not trying to be cheap. I didn't haul off on any offensive linemen, I didn't do anything dirty. I was just trying to give it all for my team."

This week Alabama is preparing to go to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. central time) with television coverage by ESPN. Bama is 6-1 overall, 3-1 in Southeastern Conference games, and ranked seventh in the nation. Tennessee is 2-4 overall, 0-3 in the conference.

Dareus expects a good game.

"It's a big rivalry," he said. "I didn't think it would be that big, but each year it grows and grows within me. You have to go out there and put on your best for The University of Alabama, because Tennessee is going to bring the ‘A' game. We can't expect to just show up and win because of their record of anything like that."

Dareus said he hears a lot from his classmates about the game. "They are fans," he said. "They say, ‘Beat Tennessee. We have to win against Tennessee. We hate Tennessee.' I'm sure their fans say the same about us. But we're going out to have fun and play our best. I don't hate anybody. It's just a team we have to play."

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