Alabama Goes Back To Football Practice

Alabama went back to practice Thursday, and Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban was pleased to be back on the field. But it isn't because he or his coaches and players have gotten bored. The coaches have been recruiting and the players have been in final examinations. Grades on both to follow.

Meanwhile, Alabama has some football work to do. The Crimson Tide was back on the practice field Thursday, the beginning of preparation for a Sugar Bowl meeting against Utah on January 2.

Alabama, ranked fourth in the nation with a 12-1 record, will take on the Utes, 12-0 and ranked sixth in the nation, in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Fox will televise the game with kickoff at 7 p.m. CST in just over two weeks.

Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said Bama would "do a little something every day" while Bama practices in Tuscaloosa through Tuesday. That is normal procedure in a fall camp situation, working on things that the team will face in the season.

Saban calls a bowl game "a one-game season." He also considers the preparation to be akin to preparing for the opening game of a season. That means four days of work on fundamentals—blocking, tackling, steps, passing, catching, etc.

There will also be some work on Utah before the team gets its Christmas break following Tuesday's practice. The team will reassemble in New Orleans on December 27 and begin what would be a normal week of game preparation.

Saban had some information on personnel. He said that number three running back Roy Upchurch would miss the game. Saban reported that Upchurch had recent surgery to repair a neck problem. He also announced that freshman offensive lineman Barrett Jones, who had a little playing time early in the season, had a shoulder problem that required surgery. The hope is that both players will be physically ready for spring practice.

Saban said that safety Justin Woodall had a procedure on a finger, but that it wouldn't affect his availability.
Saban said players had done well on the academics side. Now he wants to see them finish well. "There's a lot to accomplish," he said, naming a 13-win season and winning a BCS bowl game. He said the legacy of this team will be what it does in the remainder of the season, which is one game. One reason for that is Bama lost in its previous outing, the Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Florida. The Gators took a 31-20 decision.

Saban has said on several occasions that one measure of a great team is its ability to bounce back from a loss.

Saban said that Utah presents a challenge, good players who are well coached. "They won't give us anything," Saban said. "Contrary to what some people think, they are a very good team."

Saban said there is a chance that some players will get a look at different positions during the bowl practice time, but didn't want to reveal specifics until discussing the experiments with the players involved.

He also said no early signees—and he indicated the only new signee to date is junior college offensive lineman James Carpenter—would participate in practices for the bowl game. He did say that tight end Colin Peek, a transfer from Georgia Tech who had to sit out regular season play, would be eligible for the bowl game and could provide some depth at the position. He also pointed out that Alabama has two senior tight ends, Travis McCall and Nick Walker, who have played very well this year.

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