Little Time To Get Ready For Panthers

Want to know what day this is? Your calendar says Monday, but in Alabama football preparation time there wasn't a Monday or a Tuesday, and this is Wednesday.

Alabama will have a rare Thursday football game this week. In order to have a little extra rest and preparation time for Auburn, which is open this week, Bama elected to move up its game this week to Saturday. One thing that did was get the game on television beyond the pay-per-view range. ESPNU picked the game up for telecast with a 6:30 p.m. CST kickoff.

The change was made because Auburn has an open date and the game against the Tigers next week is on Friday.

Alabama is 8-2 overall and 5-2 in Southeastern Conference games. Georgia State is in the first year of its football program and has a 6-4 record under former Tide Coach Bill Curry.

On Monday, Alabama Coach Nick Saban addressed the short work week issue. He said, "Well today is like Wednesday if we were playing on Saturday, yet it is sort of a Monday practice for us. Our approach is we're going to cut practice down by 20 minutes or so each of the next two days, but try to do and cover the repetitions that we get versus the other team and the scout team in preparation of the other team on Tuesday and Wednesday, which will not put us on the practice field much longer than we are on Monday and Thursday of a typical week. We'll practice in shells both days. At this point, with this approach, it's going to be a technical knowledge that we have to get and we can't be focusing on trying to get fundamental repetitions against each other because we just don't have that much practice time."

Alabama, the defending national champion, playing a first year program is not something to be proud of. There is also the danger that the Crimson Tide might be looking ahead to the Auburn game the next week.

Saban said, "I think in games like this we always want to be concerned with playing to our standard.. We always have a tremendous amount of respect for the team that we're playing. That's what our focus is, that's what we're concerned about this week. We're not concerned about anything else. We're not concerned about anybody else but the team that we play this week. Technically we need to prepare well and do what we need to do. This team (Georgia State) played to overtime against Jacksonville State who beat Ole Miss.

"We respect the players that they have. We respect the good job of coaching that they do. They present issues and problems that we need to resolve on offense, defense and special teams just like every other team that we play. Even though they have a lot of young players they have some good players, some very good players. Bill Curry is a very good coach and they have a good coaching staff, and they've certainly done a very good job with their team.

"They've been able to throw the ball effectively. They've got a pretty good passing quarterback and another guy they bring and do some Wildcat-type runs with who is a quarterback. This short week of preparation is something that is going to be challenging for us and it's going to be challenging for our players to be able to adapt to a new routine, to be able to prepare themselves like they need to prepare themselves, to go out and play a good game."

Incidentally, it does not appear that the quarterbacks Saban mentioned are Star Jackson, who transferred to Georgia State from Alabama following spring practice. Jackson is listed as the third quarterback for the Panthers. He has played in three games and completed 4-9 passes with two interceptions. Drew Little has completed 186 of 295 passes with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions for Georgia State.

Alabama is coming off a 30-10 win over Mississippi State. Georgia State had an open date last week. That is nothing new for Bama. The Tide's past five SEC opponents have had bye weeks before playing the Tide, and so will Auburn next week.

Saban said in the Mississippi State win, "There were a lot of good things we did in the game, and I think the most important one, or the most significant one to me was, we played with good intangibles – better intangibles in the game. We played with a lot of effort, with a lot of toughness and a little better discipline to execute, which I think led to some explosive plays, which is one of the things we did well offensively. Certainly I was really pleased and happy with the way the team responded to the challenge of finishing the season and playing well against a very good top-20 conference opponent.

"There are obviously some things that we want to clean up and get better on. We still made mental errors that led to negative plays on both sides of the ball. Ball security – the ball has been on the ground in the last two games more than it's been all year – that's something that we need to address in practice and practice those things so that they become the habits that carry over in the game. The mental errors on both sides of the ball are things that we really, really need to clean up. We always seem to see things that are different than what we practiced and with our little bit of lack of experience at certain positions, whether it be the offensive line or on defense. We get a little bit confused and have to make a lot of corrections."

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