Preparation Continues For Tide At OIe Miss
Alabama will travel to Oxford this week to take on the Ole Miss Rebels in a game that will kick off shortly after 11:30 a.m. CDT. Television coverage will be by the SEC's Lincoln Financial network.
Alabama is 4-2 and coming off a string of four very difficult games, two wins and two losses decided by a combined 19 points. Bama is 2-1 in SEC games.
Mississippi is 2-4, having broken a four-game losing streak with a 24-0 homecoming win over Louisiana Tech last Saturday. The Rebels are 0-3 in SEC games, but the high point of the season may have been Ole Miss' 30-24 loss to Florida a few weeks ago.
On Tuesday, the Crimson Tide worked on regular first-and-10, second and long, goal-line and short yardage situations at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility.
Jack linebacker Keith Saunders, who had been held out of contact Monday, was back at work. Back-up strong safety Ali Sharrief continued to work in the black jersey that signifies no contact. Left guard Justin Britt has missed practice for what was described as family reasons and Antoine Caldwell is working in that spot.
Caldwell, who started the first five Bama games at center (where he played all last year), was at right guard last week when Marlon Davis had to miss some practice time because of a death in his family. Caldwell was a starting left guard as a freshman in 2005.
Alabama has a three-game winning streak against Ole Miss, dating back to the 2004 season, but the last two games have been decided on the final play. In 2005, Jamie Christensen's 43-yard field goal as time expired gave the Crimson Tide a 13-10 win in Oxford. Last year, John Parker Wilson's 2-yard pass to Le'Ron McClain gave the Tide a 26-23 overtime win at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban expects another tough game this week from an Ole Miss team that returns a number of veteran players.
"We get Ole Miss, and Ole Miss has good players, too," Saban said at his weekly press conference Monday. "They have lots of starters back on offense. They've got one of the best receivers in the SEC in Mike Wallace, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a very good running back. Seth Adams has done a very good job for them at quarterback. They have four out of five offensive line starters back. Michael Oher is a good player.
"They have six starters back on defense. They are very active in the front, they have a good front. They give people problems up front. Greg Hardy's a tough guy to block. This is going to be a challenging game. They have all their specialists back from last year. They're good on special teams. We're going to have to play our best football against every team we play for 60 minutes to give ourselves the best opportunity to be successful, and it will be no different in this game. I promise you."
Alabama senior defensive back Simeon Castille and junior offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell met with the media following Tuesday's practice. Here are some of their comments:
On chemistry of the offensive line
"Chemistry is probably the most important thing you can have on the offensive line. When you build a trust with one another, you also build chemistry on and off the field. Trusting a guy who is going to go to class when he is supposed to and trusting a guy who is going to do the right thing each day. Chemistry is what brought this whole unit together. Being able to trust in one another and seeing guys grow up, with one more year of experience than before. It's like I said, it's probably the most important thing you can have in an offensive line and this offensive line has come a long way."
On difficulty playing center and guard
"It is only if you let it. I spend countless hours watching film on opponents and doing things on my own technique to overcome all of that. I started out at left guard, so I feel comfortable in that spot anyway. It's only a problem if you let it become one. One of the best things about this offense is every position on the offensive line is pretty much the same with the scheme we run, so it's a lot easier where I am now than it could be if I were somewhere else."
On Ole Miss' defense
"We have to be physical and establish the line of scrimmage early and be dominant up front. Ole Miss is real athletic on that side of the ball. They do a lot of things well. They like to slant. They like to pinch. They do a lot of different things. We just have to make sure that we are assignment proud and know what we have to do to establish the line of scrimmage."
On Ole Miss Receiver Mike Wallace
"He is as good as they come. We have been watching film all week and every team Ole Miss has played he is making big plays, left and right. He is a big-play receiver. We have to have our A-game every time we line up against him."
On the Ole Miss offense
"It's smash-mouth football. They are old-school where they are going to pound you and pound you and then hit you with the play-action, going deep. We are going to have to be ready to play a physical ballgame."
On first interception last week against Houston
"It felt great, especially with it being my first one (this year) and on homecoming and how big of a play it really was. I just thank God for putting me in the right place at the right time and letting me come down with it."
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