Tide Tries To Stay Focused On Game

Brandon Deaderick was released from DCH Medical Center in Tuscaloosa Tuesday afternoon and made a brief appearance at Alabama football practice. The focus was on Deaderick after he was shot and wounded by a would-be robber Monday night. This weekend he'll be on the minds of Tide players, but they'll have to focus on Virginia Tech.

Brandon Deaderick is a returning starting defensive end for Alabama. His teammate and friend, Lorenzo Washington, is the starter on the other side of the defensive line. Washington and other Crimson Tide players were shaken by the news. Most of them heard about it late Tuesday. Players and Bama Coach Nick Saban were among visitors to his hospital room.

"When something happens to an Alabama football player, word spreads pretty quick," Washington said.

"It's an unfortunate thing to happen, one of our brothers going down like that," Washington said. "But he's going to get through this. We're going to help him get through it. And he's going to make a full recovery.

"I'm just happy he's alive. He could have been gone. He's real lucky. God blessed him."

After leaving practice, Deaderick said he was going to be fine, that it was a "flesh wound" and that the bullet had gone all the way through his left arm. His left arm was in a thick bandage. His family had picked him up and was taking him to his apartment to rest.

The work of game preparation has to go on. Alabama has a difficult assignment Saturday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide, ranked fifth in the nation in pre-season polls, takes on Virginia Tech, ranked fifth, in a game to be nationally televised by ABC. Kickoff will be at 8 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. central time).

Washington wouldn't speculate on who might fill Deaderick's starting spot on the defensive line. Luther Davis, a 6-3, 275-pound junior, was listed behind Deaderick on the depth chart issued by The University Monday. Marcell Dareus, a 6-4, 296-pound sophomore, is listed behind Washington, but could conceivably move up to first unit.

Washington said all the candidates have worked hard and will continue to work hard. "Nobody knows who's going to play," Washington said. "Everybody practices every day like they're going to have an opportunity to play in the game. They've been practicing, even before this happened, like hopefully they'll get a chance to play. With this happening, of course they picked their intensity up."

Washington was asked if an incident such as this might serve to pull the team closer together. "You can look at it like that," he said, "but we're a pretty close-knit group anyway."

Personally, Washington said, he is very close to Deaderick. "We've been boys since '05," Washington said. "We've pretty much gone through everything together – coaches, position changes, all of that. I don't have a brother, but other than the other Brandon (Brandon Fanney, who was dismissed from the team this summer), he would be like my brother."

Washington said the mood for Tuesday's practice was "Good. We're just trying to get our preparation down for the game this weekend. We have to be upbeat about things and keep on trucking."

Washington called Virginia Tech "a great team. They're always one of the best in the ACC. I know they're going to come ready. They have a great defense, a great offense. They have Tyrod Taylor, who's a great quarterback. They're a great team. It's going to be a good game."

Washington said it will be the job of the Alabama defense to contain Taylor. "He's an incredibly athletic quarterback," Washington said. "We watched film and he's made many opposing defenses look silly. So we need to go out there and play our technique and try to contain him. If we do what we're supposed to do, hopefully we'll come out with a win."

Washington considers the first game to be important no matter the opponent. "You've got to come out there and just focus on winning on every play, executing on every play, coming out with a win. Of course, this has bigger implications. They're in the top 10. We're in the top 10 in some rankings. We just need to go out there and do our job."

Washington is from Logansville, Georgia, and considers the trip to Atlanta for the opener a trip home. He said, "Atlanta's a great city and there's going to be an incredible atmosphere. Last year, when we played Clemson, it was something a lot of people hadn't experienced before. So people are looking forward to that experience again and a lot of the younger players haven't been on that big a stage, so it's an incredible thing."

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