"Conference play is always special," said David Rader. "And I also think our guys are excited about going on the road."
Alabama (2-0) will open up SEC play this weekend at South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC), the first road game of the year for the Crimson Tide. CBS will televise the game with kickoff at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 CDT).
After preparing for two games, both of which had new defensive coordinators, without benefit of seeing videotapes of a game, Rader said it was helpful to have two tapes of South Carolina "to see what they've been doing."
He admitted that it would have been a little more helpful if either Central Florida or Georgia–the two teams the Gamecocks have played–had run an offense similar to Alabama's. But it still gives Rader an idea of South Carolina personel and what they might do in certain situations.
And, he said, the South Carolina defense is similar to that of last week's Bama opponent, Southern Miss, because the defensive coordinator for the Gamecocks, John Thompson, had the same job with the Golden Eagles last year.
"They really do a good job of offense," Rader said. "Watching them gives you a headache. But we're trying to devise a plan so we don't get a bigger headache on Saturday. And I think our guys will stand up."
He said, "South Carolina has good schemes, a good system. Good stuff that will keep us on our toes."
A reporter suggested that Alabama might "have a little more room for error" with Brodie Croyle at quarterback for the Crimson Tide. "I don't sense a comfort zone at all," Rader said. "If we get to run 80 plays, we'd better concentrate on all 80 of them. There is nothing in this game that allows you to let up."
Rader cited an example of concentration being "The Catch" by Tyrone Prothro near the end of the first half against Southern Miss. "It's the greatest catch I've ever seen," Rader said. Tyrone has the ability to concentrate. He will make a play this week."
Rader said, "We can't say, ‘We've arrived.' We're not there yet. And we'll see the best defense we've seen this year on Saturday. They aren't giving up any points."
Rader is particularly impressed with the speed of the South Carolina secondary and with a player who has been added at linebacker. Additionally, he said the front seven "is the lightest we will have played, but it is the fastest."
Rader said that the offense of Alabama, thus far, has had "too many pressures, too many sacks, and two interceptions, which are big minuses. We've got to keep them (opposing pass rushers) off the Q (quarterback), and not throw it to them."
Rader said that quarterback Brodie Croyle's "pocket presence was a lot better last week than the week before. Sometimes he needs to make a quicker release, but he can get rid of the ball so quickly that he can take that extra second to get a read. I think his best game is yet to come."
Rader said Bama has not held much back in its first two games, comfortable wins over MTSU and Southern Miss. "We've showed a lot, but not all of our blocking schemes," Rader said. He didn't say how many blocking schemes Alabama has, but said, "we used 11 last Saturday."