SABAN: Hightower Injury Prognosis Not Good

An injury to one of Alabama football's best defenders put a damper on another near-perfect showing by the Crimson Tide Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium; this time in a 35-7 win over Arkansas in the Tide's Southeastern Conference opener.

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban reported that sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower's knee injury suffered in early in Saturday's game was likely a serious one.

"He'll have an MRI tomorrow," Saban said. "The initial prognosis is not good. We're hopeful it won't be bad but we'll know for sure tomorrow. The initial prognosis is not good."

"You hate to see any player get hurt but that one there is a good one," Saban said of Hightower. "He's a great young man; one best players on team; our best pass rusher."

The injury causes a three-man shift in Bama's linebacker personnel: Cory Reamer moves over to Hightower's weak side spot, Eryk Anders moves to Reamer's strong side spot, and Courtney Upshaw comes in to take Anders' spot as the "Jack" linebacker.

In other injury news, Greg McElroy was seen on the sideline with ice wrapped around his hip and later riding a stationary bicycle in Saturday's game. McElroy said that was due to him falling on his hip just after launching an 80-yard touchdown pass to Marquis Maze in the third quarter.

"It's called a hip pointer," MeElroy said. "I got hit when I threw the ball and I just came down right on my hip. I just had to keep moving and keep loose so it wouldn't swell up on me. It should heal up in a week or two, but I went back in the game and I can play with it."

McElroy said the hip injury is was exactly the same as one former Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson suffered two years ago and played through. "It's not something that's going to limit me or keep me off the field," McElroy said.

Big plays were the key to Alabama's dominating offensive showing. The Tide had a combined 182 yards on its first three touchdown plays (a 52-yard Trent Richardson run, 50-yard Julio Jones reception, and an 80-yard Marquis Maze reception), compared to 140 yards on all its other plays combined up to the point of that third score.

"One thing we're doing more this year than last year is getting a lot of explosive plays," Saban said, "and that's because we've done a lot more things. As long as you know where you're going with the ball, and Greg does, that is a real positive. We're not the overpowering running team we were a year ago in many ways and thats good. We can involve more people in the offense and it allows us to develop the offense more."

The defensive domination -- Arkansas punted 10 times and managed just one scoring drive -- came against what Saban called "one of the most difficult offensive systems we've had to defend."

"Making (Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett) feel uncomfortable was probably the key," Saban said. "We gave a lot of different looks and played a lot of odd stuff. We rushed four guys sometimes and then rushed the wrong four guys sometimes; played more zones; basically did a good job of executing on what we did."

The play Arkansas scored on, Saban said, "in football terms, that play is called the oh sh*t shit screen. I said it today when they ran it."

Saban said the best pressure the Tide got against Mallett came from the edge. Bama's Javier Arenas had two sacks blitzing from his cornerback position.

"A lot of things we did today were not conventional," Saban said.

Overall, the Tide coach was pleased with his squad's performance on offense, defense, and special teams. He also complimented the fans for responding well to his challenge to be loud in order to try and disrupt Arkansas' offense.

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