Tigers getting lean at running back

A rash of ankle sprains has LSU down to just two running backs, as of Monday, heading into this weekend's game against Alabama. The Tigers, who are 4-3 after their 35-24 loss to Ole Miss last weekend, may get LaBrandon Toefield, Domanick Davis and Devery Henderson back for Saturday, but head coach Nick Saban said they would not have been available for practice on Monday.

In the absence of the first three running backs, the Tigers would have to turn to true freshman Joseph Addai and redshirt freshman Derron Parquet. The two have combined for 23 carries for 86 yards.

Saban gave his team Monday off from practice, although the Tigers did meet as a team and go over videotape in preparation for their showdown with the Crimson Tide. The coach said he noticed the team looked tired last week while practicing for Ole Miss and it may have had an impact on their performance in the game. But even before the Tigers played the Rebels, Saban said he planned to give the team a two-day break since they in the middle of playing seven straight games without a bye week.

Saban first learned the importance of resting players in the middle of the season from Don James, who was his former coach at Kent State. James used to give his players two days off every six weeks. Since the Tigers are playing seven games straight, Saban thought the extra day off would do his team more good this week than heading into the following week's game against Middle Tennessee.

Saban said despite the outcome of the game against Ole Miss, there were a few positives he observed. Michael Clayton's two touchdowns and the punt return for a score from Davis stood out on highlights, but the game also marked the return of defensive back Norman LeJeune, who had been out with a neck injury since before the Tennessee game.

LeJeune, who was tried at cornerback earlier this season, was used at strong safety when starter Lionel Thomas went down with an ankle injury.

LSU's performance in the third quarter against Ole Miss also pleased Saban. The Tigers erased a 21-10 halftime deficit and took a 24-21 lead, holding the Rebels without a score on six straight possessions. But the inability to take control of the game and hold quarterback Eli Manning in check over the fourth period resulted in LSU's third loss in Southeastern Conference action.

"There's plenty of things to get corrected," said Saban. "Obviously, the thing we're most concerned about is…we want our guys to compete, play hard all the time."

LSU meets Alabama for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. CBS will televised the game nationally.

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