Vlachos Says Bye Comes At Good Time

Alabama center William Vlachos had been catching a little grief over the past few weeks. And for what? Giving exceptional effort. In the Crimson Tide's win over Ole Miss, tailback Trent Richardson took a short screen pass and turned it into an 85-yard run.

Anyone who has been watching Alabama football knows that Trent Richardson can make a big play. In fact, he did it again last week, a 65-yard run from scrimmage against Tennessee.

What made the touchdown scamper against Ole Miss interesting is that there were no Rebels anywhere near Richardson at the end of the run. No cornerbacks, no safeties, no one. But running almost stride-for-stride with the speedy Richardson was Bama's 6-1, 289-pound center, William Vlachos.

That prompted questions from sportswriters for Richardson about his speed relative to that of Vlachos. Richardson suggested that in a 100-yard race, Richardson would needed to be spotted a few yards. How many? "About 80," Richardson said.

Vlachos finally got to tell his side of the story this week, with Richardson listening. Vlachos said that he suspected Richardson's comment about an 80-yard head start was "a bit facetious."

Vlachos explained that he went out to block his man, but before he could get there Chance Warmack had knocked down the Ole Miss player Vlachos was responsible for. So with Richardson clear to run, Vlachos began running with him. There was no one else to block, so Vlachos just ran alongside (okay, dropping back a little).

"I told Trent if it was going to be like that, then from now on I'd just hop over to the sideline and get some water," Vlachos said.

Vlachos said that his speed was noticed by Special Teams Coach Bobby Williams. "He said he would try to find a place for me on special teams," Vlachos said. And he didn't mean deep snapper. "I'm thinking something like kickoff return where I can take advantage of my speed."

It's easy to joke when (a.) coming off a big win and (b.) facing a bye week. Alabama is doing both, having defeated Tennessee 41-10 in Knoxville last Saturday and not playing again until going to Baton Rouge to take on LSU on November 6.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban was discussing the progress of the team this week and said that he thought Bama had shown improvement against Tennessee. He also said that for the offense, it is a matter of consistency. The offense has demonstrated that it can run and it can pass. The only question is everyone doing it right on every play.

Vlachos said he thought the offensive line "played well. Tennessee came and did a lot of things we thought they'd do, did some things they did last year to stop us. We took it as a challenge to be able to perform better against those type things than we did the year before. James Carpenter played very well. He played his best game of the season. Just little things here and there stopped it from being a positive play every time. But I think overall it was a step forward and something we need to build on."

This week Alabama is practicing Tuesday-Thursday with players working on their own Friday before getting a short weekend break (when he'll probably watch some football on television).

Following Tuesday practice, Vlachos said this is a week to get better. He said Bama linemen had watched the running game of last year's Auburn game and "almost all" of the running plays from games this season.

With no game plan to install, Vlachos said it's a time to look at everything that can be improved, a time to look "at the big picture and see where we need to improve, what we're doing well, maybe see some things we've missed along the way, really try to iron everything out."

The Tide junior knows the schedule waiting for Alabama, or at least three-fourths of it.

"It's going to be tough," he said. "Going to Baton Rouge, everyone sees how good Auburn is, and Mississippi State is a very good team as well. So it's going to be tough.

"I think the timing of the off week works well for us. The second half we played against Tennessee was a positive and it needs to be something we need to be aiming for no matter who we play. No matter the score, no matter if we're home or away, no matter the circumstances, that's the standard we need to play as an offense. That's why we're practicing this week and not just sitting around. We're coming to work and trying to get better."

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