Preparations continue for opener

It was back to business Tuesday at the Charles McClendon Practice Facility. <br><br> With just four days remaining before Saturday's season opener with the Oregon State Beavers in Tiger Stadium, the level of intensity seems to be getting higher as every day (even minute) passes.

"I think this game is an opportunity to find what kind of competitive spirit this team has this year, and what we do this year, basically, is not going to be affected at all by what we did in the past," said head coach Nick Saban. "I think our players need to definitely understand that. It's all about what are they going to say about you and how you compete and how you play? What are they going to say about this team in how you go about doing your business on the field?"

Saban was definitely getting down to serious business Tuesday. At the conclusion of the first period, the Tigers' head man went into a bit of a tizzy between two practice field and barked at the clock operator to reset the period clock and for the team to repeat first period drills.

But Saban knows this is crunch time as Oregon State enters Tiger Stadium Saturday with an explosive offense and one of the upper echelon defensive units in college football.

"They're (LSU) certainly going to be challenged by this team," Saban said. "I think that Oregon State has a very, very good football team. They won eight games last year, they were the No. 1 offensive team in the Pac-10, their quarterback (Derek Anderson) is back who threw for 485 (yards) against USC last year and they have a very good offensive scheme. Coach (Mike) Riley has done a very good job there, I think, of implementing a lot of pro-style type stuff that they do a good job of executing."

Saban expounded on the defense.

"Defensively, they were fourth against the rush last year, a top-10 team overall in terms of how they play defense," Saban said. "They are very aggressive in their style, they play a lot of bump and run man-to-man and give teams a lot of problems, especially in running the football. On special teams, they have some good specialists, and that will be an area that will be very challenging for us to try to take advantage of our team speed in some of our return people as we go." But most of all, the most important thing about this week is the Tigers get the chance to beat on someone else for a change.

"I'm just ready to get back," said defensive end Marcus Spears. "This has felt like the longest off-season for me ever. I'm excited that it's game week, and I'm excited that we're preparing for somebody else.

Back from the Olympic Games in Athens, Bennie Brazell attended practice for the first time in this fall camp. Brazell, who competed in the 400-meter Hurdles in Athens, was all smiles in his first workout. At one point, Saban sent Brazell over to take snaps with the first team, probably to get him some work after such a long layoff from football. Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and wide receivers coach Bobby Williams was seen joiking with Brazell and giving him grief during the stretching period.

"From an injury standpoint, we're hoping that (wide receiver) Skyler (Green) is going to do dry-land running today, and how he responds to that will determine whether he can practice tomorrow," Saban said Monday. "But he seems to be getting along very well. (Tight end) Mit Cole is probably within striking distance, so he'll be able to get back as soon as his brace gets in. He's going to do dry-land running, and they're going to start running Herman Johnson a little bit today. Those are really the only three guys that are not going to practice today."

According to websites in the Oregon State camp, Skyler Green is out of commission and is doubtful for Saturday's game. Don't believe Internet rumors!! Green was in a red jersey today with his ankle taped, but he was running routes and by this weekend, he should be in good shape. Xavier Carter showed no sign of any problems today and Herman Johnson was at practice dressed in a jersey and pants, but no pads with his left shin heavily taped.

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