Alabama Gets in Second Practice

A day after Christmas, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban was still spreading holiday spirit, smiling, shaking hands with reporters and wishing everyone back in Alabama a happy holiday season before taking questions at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport.

The Crimson Tide (6-6) went through its second Shreveport practice on Wednesday while its opponent in the game, Colorado (6-6), was still making its way to the site. The Buffs arrived about two hours later than scheduled on Wednesday because of a mechanical error on their plane, but still attended a bowl function before practicing Wednesday night about 15 minutes later than originally scheduled.

A steady rain stopped just as Bama was taking the practice field. The weather is expected to be dry and cold for the rest of the week.

"It was terrible today," Alabama receiver Nikita Stover said. "It was cold and wet, but you have to adapt to it."

Despite the weather, Saban and the players who were made available for interviews by Alabama's media relations staff – quarterback John Parker Wilson, defensive end Wallace Gilberry, kick returner Javier Arenas, cornerback Simeon Castille and Stover – generally indicated that both practices in Shreveport so far have been up tempo and productive.

"I've seen a dramatic change in practice in the way guys are hustling around and stuff," Wilson said. He contrasted the recent practices with those toward the end of the season where the unrelenting weekly schedule took a greater toll.

Saban said he was "impressed with the players' maturity" in the practices in Shreveport, and said the squad had a relatively good transition in arriving at the bowl site and getting into game mode. He said he wanted to get to the site and have five days of practice so that it would be as similar to a regular work week as possible. Like most coaches, Saban's biggest concern was regaining the consistency needed to play quality football after a long layoff.

Arenas, who has been hobbled by an ankle sprain since the Louisiana-Monroe game, said he felt like he was at about 80 percent of full strength, and predicted that he would play in Sunday. Saban also said he thought Arenas was okay, and added that safety Justin Woodall was able to go through practice (but with no contact) and "hopefully" would be available for the game.

Last night the Alabama contingent enjoyed a Christmas party together that was apparently mirth and dance. The Birmingham News' Ian Rappaport discovered a YouTube video – presumably taken by someone in the Alabama party – which featured great scenes of the Sabans, Andre Smith and others dancing and having a good time, and posted a link to it on his blog. The video was by far the most popular discussion of the day by reporters and unanimously well-received by those who saw it. Unfortunately, however, it removed before this reporter could watch it.

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