Tide Has Monday Work Then Break

All bowl games are not created equal. But one thing Nick Saban has noticed is that things change in bowl games. Teams score more points, gain more yards, and have more turnovers. He's also determined the reason for that.

Alabama played its final game of the regular season on November 30. The Crimson Tide, 11-1 and ranked third in the nation, will meet Oklahoma (10-2 and ranked 10th in the nation) in the Sugar Bowl on January 2. If you're counting – and Bama Coach Nick Saban has – that's 33 days between games.

In his Sunday press briefing, the last one he'll have until the team reconvenes in New Orleans on Dec. 27, Saban said, "That means that all skill players, all the people handling the ball, haven't been hit for 33 days. It means that none of the defensive players have tackled for 33 days. Even though you try thud in practice to get yourself in position to tackle a guy ... the long and short of it is there's a pretty good percentage increase in offensive points as well as offensive yards in bowl games because of probably that. Probably defensive players don't tackle very well. There's also more turnovers usually in these games because when there is a good tackle, maybe the guys aren't as used to getting hit."

Alabama will have a final pre-Christmas practice Monday, then have a break until meeting in New Orleans Friday.

"The players are probably looking forward to tomorrow," Saban said. "they are probably looking forward to Christmas, looking forward to getting a few days off from football."

Saban talked about the way practices are spread out for a bowl game. He said that Monday's practice would be the Tide's eighth in a row (including two last Wednesday). He said eight practices in seven days "is difficult for the staff and difficult for the players.

"We had four really good days of fundamental work. We had three days of work on Oklahoma and Monday we'll do kind of a combination practice of practicing some of the Oklahoma stuff and actually have an extended period of practice against each other to try to simulate a game without tackling or anything like that.

"There's just something about getting in the routine and playing in the season. What we're trying to get tomorrow is to try to simulate the best we can something similar to that with player safety in mind, not getting guys hurt and doing the best job we can. We'll take three days off and then we're meeting in New Orleans on the 27th. We'll actually practice then."

Saban said that offensive lineman Leon Brown had missed a couple of days with a foot injury, but had practiced Sunday. Cornerback Deion Belue was also back at practice. And the coach said that safeties HaHa Clinton-Dix and Landon Collins had been in black (non-contact) jerseys "just to sort of bring them along a little bit."

Brown is one of those who might play right guard. Three-year starter Anthony Steen has undergone shoulder surgery and will miss the game. Saban said, "We tried Leon Brown in there and he did a good job in there. Shank (Alphonse Taylor) did a good job in there, Kellen Williams has been doing a good job in there." He said one of those three would probably end up at the position.

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