Saban beats rain indoors in Wednesday practice

LSU football coach Nick Saban brought his team inside the LSU indoor practice facility on Wednesday, banking that the sunny skies that prevailed at the start of practice wouldn't last. The coach's forecast was right on the money, as the Tigers practiced inside while a typical late summer thunderstorm drenched the practice fields outside.

Evaluating his team's preparation for Utah State with reporters following the practice, Saban said he didn't recall having to deal with rain as much as he has this season. Last year, he said the only time he recalled using the indoor facility extensively was when the Tigers were preparing for the Peach Bowl. But instead of inclement conditions, it a desire to work out on an artificial service similar to the Georgia Dome's that took the Tigers inside.

Despite the lack of cooperation from Mother Nature, Saban said he was pleased with the way his team is readying itself, mentally and physically, for the Utah State game on Saturday.

"I think our preparation ahs been good," said Saban. "The players are working hard and they're focused on the game. They know it's important that do what we need to do to be a force in college football and not worry about who we're playing."

Updating the Tigers injury situation, Saban listed three players as questionable for this weekend – running back/safety Domanick Davis (knee), offensive tackle Terry Phillips (ankle) and fullback Solomon Lee (knee).

Of the group, Saban said Lee was the "most questionable" and that Davis, who is able to run straight ahead, has the best chance to play. Phillips turned his ankle in practice Tuesday, said the coach.

The 25-minute glimpse of practice Tiger Rag was allowed Wednesday showed the LSU defense working on nickel and dime packages. Utah State is a team that uses the pass extensively, Saban said, comparing the Aggies' attack to "playing basketball on grass" in that they spread the ball around a lot.

The Tigers' offense worked briefly on its standard sets in the early portion of practice. The challenge for this unit, Saban says, is to be able to establish consistency with its running and passing games.

"Utah State likes to stunt and blitz on defense," he said. "They're going to give us a lot of looks, so it will be a challenge for our offense to get a hat on a hat and run the ball consistently."

Saban noted room for improvement from his cornerbacks following the Tigers' 48-17 win over Tulane and was asked Wednesday if moving nickel back/free safety Damien James to the position might be a solution. The coach said the decision was made before the season to keep James at free safety and work with the existing talent at the corners. The end result, Saban noted, was James being named one of the co-defensive players of the week for the Tulane game, following his performance that included seven tackles and an interception.

Demetrius Hookfin will start again at the right cornerback spot, but Norman LeJeune is likely to be replaced at the left corner by Robert Davis, who Saban said performed closer to what he expected from a player at the position.

A couple of freshmen who didn't play against Tulane may see playing time against Utah State, as Saban and his staff are forced to decide which players are redshirt and which ones they'll need to turn to the remainder of the season. One player Saban identified as being "on the bubble" is offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. The West Monroe product is listed as a back-up at right and left tackle.


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