Easy Week?

There's no open week during the regular season for Alabama this year thanks to the implementation of the 12-game schedule, but playing Duke this Saturday night at 6 p.m. should be about as close to a night off as the Crimson Tide will see all season.

That's not to deny that anything can happen on any given night – Duke fell a point shy in a 14-13 loss in week two on the road against Wake Forest, who pounded Ole Miss 27-3 in week four, who gave 10th-ranked Georgia all they could handle in a 14-9 loss in week five – but Alabama will enter the week as confident as an Auburn player needing to pass sociology.

Aside from that 13-point outburst that was almost enough to beat Wake Forest, Duke hasn't scored this year. Division I-AA Richmond got a 13-0 win, while Virginia Tech and Virginia score 36 and 37 points in their respective shutouts.

No hint of any difference in approach this week for the Bama football team however.

"It's a difficult week," Head Coach Mike Shula said. "You don't want to overlook a Division I team that might not be playing well, but every week is different. We've got to concern ourselves with us and get back on the winning track; get that winning feeling we haven't had in a couple of weeks and get our confidence back."

It was likely Alabama, and not Duke, the Tide was focusing on during Sunday night's practice when lights were still on at a quarter past 10 o'clock and at least one player was still on the field. Defensive tackle Jeremy Clark talked Sunday afternoon about his one-game-at-a-time approach.

"We play Duke next, right?" he said. "Duke doesn't care if we won two straight or lost two straight. To be honest with you it's a one game season to me. My whole focus from week to week was that one team. I don't like looking down because you tend to lose focus."

Clark said he never looked ahead in the schedule, even with the Arkansas and Florida road trips coming up after Louisiana-Monroe. "I knew Florida was coming up during the Arkansas week, but if someone had asked me I would have had to stop and think about it."

Clark also talked Sunday about playing in Alabama's now familiar three-man defensive line.

"It's kind of fun," he said. "It's a little tougher than a four man front but it confuses offensive linemen and its just, you have to be a man to play the three man line, the nose man. If it was a one-man front it really wouldn't matter. My goal is to either make a tackle or get a sack on every play. We tie up guys and they're freed up but my goal is to make a sack. When I'm double-teamed I'm still trying to get back there."

One reporter asked Clark if he thought Alabama was better than Florida and Arkansas.

"Umm - I really don't try to focus on the other two teams," Clark said. "I focus on us getting better as a team. We still haven't played our best football yet, I'll just leave it at that."


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