There was some good news and a bit of bad news on the injury front as the Alabama football team returned to the practice field Friday to begin preparation for the College Football Playoff semifinal game against Washington in the Peach Bowl Dec. 31.
And there was also some, “What? Say that again!” news.
The good news is that cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who suffered an injury against Auburn and missed Bama’s Southeastern Conference Championship Game win over Florida, “was back in practice today and practicing full-go,” said Alabama Coach Nick Saban. “So we were happy about that.”
He also reported, “We had the players work out three times last week. (Nickel back) Tony Brown had a little muscle pull so he was out of practice today.”
Also missing was backup defensive end Dakota Ball. “He actually had a hunting accident and shot his finger,” Saban said. “Which, I don’t know what exactly, or how long he’ll be out. But we’ll let you know as we go.”
One of the more interesting stories of the pre-bowl season is that Alabama has acquired film of the so-called “trick plays” used by Washington Coach Chris Peterson, both in his time at Washington and in his previous coaching stint at Boise State. Peterson has a reputation for the unconventional.
Saban was asked how much focus is put on the trick plays.
“It’s a big focus because they score a lot of points on trick plays,” Saban said. “They have some dandies. We have a whole reel of them and you’re welcome to come look at them. But it takes a lot of discipline in terms of everybody doing their job and having disciplined eye control – double passes, throwbacks to the quarterback, throw it to the quarterback he throws it to somebody else. I mean, they have lots of reverses.
“They have a lot of things – and they’re not junk plays, now, they’re very well conceived, designed things that complement their offense. I think that’s what makes them difficult to defend and they’ve made a big plays and scored a lot of points off those things this year and through the years.”
As for the return to practice, Saban said, "Our first day back at practice, I was encouraged by the effort and the enthusiasm. I asked all the players to sort of embrace the challenge of what we have in front of us. It doesn't really matter what you've done to this point. Everybody is a good team now. Everybody is 0-0. So everybody has to be totally committed to what we need to do to get our team ready to play the best possible ball that they can play. It's difficult to carry the momentum of the season into a game that's this far off, so I think we kind of have to look at it like we're starting over and have the proper respect.”
Regarding Washington, Saban said, "This is the best team we've played this year, by far. Hands down. And anybody that doesn't have the proper respect for this team and what they've accomplished this year... I hear a lot of people talking about Ohio State and Clemson and all that... I don't want to hear anybody talking about anything in our camp, one of our fans or our supporters thinking about anything but this game. It's a one-game season from that standpoint against a very good team and we're going to have to play our best to have a chance to be successful.”