Flu Keeps Tide's Ingram From Practice

The flu bug has bitten the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week. Alabama tailback/wildcat Mark Ingram missed the Crimson Tide's Wednesday practice. Brandon Deaderick, who made a remarkable comeback to play last week, also missed practice because of a death in the family.

Sophomore running back Mark Ingram, who was SEC Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 150 yards and catching passes for 35 yards and scoring two fourth quarter touchdowns in Bama's 34-24 win over seventh-ranked Virginia Tech last week, isn't counted out of Saturday's game against Florida International. Alabama Coach Nick Saban said "We hope Mark can be back."

The coach noted that if Ingram is physically able to go, "he's bright" and would be able to work in the game plan.

Brandon Deaderick was a huge story last week. He was shot by a would-be robber on Monday and was able to play in the Virginia Tech game. This week the senior defensive end has missed Tuesday and Wednesday practices and "may not be back tomorrow," Saban said. Saban noted that Deaderick had no physical problems in the game against Virginia Tech or in Monday's practice. He said Deaderick would stay with his family as long as the family wished and that Deaderick has the support of the team.

Saban said that back-up quarterback Star Jackson and back-up defensive lineman Damion Square had both returned to practice after having been out with the flu.

Alabama football practice beat a heavy rain, finishing about an hour before a thunderstorm hit Tuscaloosa Wednesday. The Tide practiced for two hours in pads in preparation for Saturday's home opener. Alabama, ranked fourth in the nation, will host the Florida International Golden Panthers at 6 p.m. CDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will be televised on a pay-per-view basis in Alabama and Florida on the Crimson Tide Sports Network. The game can also be seen outside of Alabama and Florida on ESPN GamePlan and ESPN360.com.

"I think our players have really worked hard this week," Saban said after Wednesday's practice. "It has been hot out there and we have certainly worked hard with a lot of players to try and improve and correct some of the errors that we had.

"The biggest thing we like to do is continue to work on fundamentals, because we are getting ready for different teams, different offenses, different defenses, that we don't lose the fundamentals that are things that are important in being able to execute and do the proper techniques and give yourself a chance to be successful."

While Ingram was the big name at tailback (and wildcat when Alabama ran that formation) last week, Saban said he was also pleased with the way Roy Upchurch and freshman Trent Richardson ran against Virginia Tech. He noted that Demetrius Goode is also getting work at tailback.

There was a time in fall camp when junior Terry Grant was making a move. Saban said Wednesday that Grant is now working at both wide receiver and tailback. The coach noted that Grant "has ability (at tailback), but there are two or three others." He pointed to the use of tailback Josh Reed making the move to wide receiver under Saban at LSU and of Reed's resulting NFL career, while making it clear he wasn't comparing Grant and Reed.

Saban said that Grant is being looked at as "a dual role guy." The coach praised Grant for his leadership, attitude and productive work ethic, calling him "a coach's dream," and said he thought Grant has the ability to contribute more to the offense.

Saban said he had no information on sophomore linebacker Jerrell Harris, who was declared ineligible by The University just prior to the opening game of the season. The University's compliance department is working on the issue, he said. He did say that he had spoken with Harris's mother Wednesday.

Saban's contract extension through 2017 was approved by the Compensation Committee of The University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Saban did not respond to a question that he is now the third highest paid college football coach (a debatable claim at best), but reiterated what he had said earlier. He is grateful for the offer, appreciates the support of President Robert E. Witt and Athletics Director Mal Moore, and that his acceptance of the contract shows his commitment to The University.

Saban participated in the SEC Head Coaches Media Teleconference earlier Wednesday. Among his comments:

On the most important thing a coach learns about his team from week one to week two:

"I think every situation is a little bit different. I think the most important thing we try to do in preparing our players from week to week is focus on who they are individually and collectively, what they need to do to be complete players at their position so that they can play with the most consistency and have the most success as football players. In some cases, it's an emphasis on discipline and being able to execute critical situations; focus, make adjustments, get more experience and play better technique. I think all those change a little bit, but I think the bottom line it comes down to who you are and what you need to do to improve and become a better player. I would say that from this week to next week to every game that we have this year."

On implementing the wildcat offense this year and how you view it as a defensive coach:

"Well, I think it definitely presents a problem. I think we've learned that for a couple of years, playing Arkansas and Ole Miss. Houston (Nutt) kind of invented this or started it with his offensive coaches. It creates a lot of problems. I think it creates something the other team has to prepare for. We always have to work hard against it when we play against it. We thought it would be a good thing. I don't think we were prepared to do it last year. We spent some time investigating it in the off season offensively so that we could implement with the least amount of adjustments for our offensive players. I certainly don't think we've sort of got it geared up to where it needs to be, but it's something we want to continue to work on and try to improve on."

On the difficulty of throwing a pass from this formation:

"I think it's about the guy. Virginia Tech didn't do it in the game against us, but their No. 8, their tight end, who weighed about 280 pounds is the guy they did it with and he was a high school quarterback and he's thrown a couple of touchdown passes out of it and I definitely think it's more effective if you have a guy that can throw it. We have a few guys here who can throw it, but it's something they have to work on as well."

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