One focus of practice will be at the safety position, where a new starter will take the place of team captain Mark Barron, who will miss the game while recovering from a torn pectoral muscle. Walk-on Will Lowery is the immediate backup, and played extensively this season in UA's dime defense. In past seasons under Saban, UA bowl practices have also provided an opportunity for younger players to try a different position. It is unclear whether any players will practice at a new position during Capital One Bowl preparations, although redshirt freshman Ed Stinson began working with defensive ends instead of linebackers near the end of the regular season.
"It was good to see the ball go in," UA coach Anthony Grant said. "But the thing I was most concerned with was execution. I thought we executed very well. Our guys paid attention to what we stressed in practice all week in terms of what it takes to have success. So it was good to see the shots go in, but that was directly related to knowing where our shots would come if we executed our offense."
"I don't think a lot of people understand the magnitude of this game and the opportunity it provides," Dial said in a press release. "I think this will be my 19th Senior Bowl to attend and I'm just extremely happy about the opportunity to play in it this time around."
McElroy spoke Wednesday for the first time since the hit, and said this was unlike any concussion he had suffered before.
"After experiencing the severity, the symptoms and the feelings I had after experiencing a concussion against Auburn, I realized I had never had an experience like that," he said. "I feel 100 percent now."
"I knew there was something special about us," he said. "I said that then, but you know, we aren’t finished yet."
Stipek, a fifth-year senior and a survivor from the John L. Smith coaching regime, is holding out for a win against Alabama in the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., before he makes his final call on the Big Ten Conference co-champions.
"We’re not done yet," he said. "We’re going to Florida, and we’re going to play against last year’s national champions, and that’s awesome. I’m definitely ecstatic for that."
On a team full of the state’s best players, it was Brent Calloway who stood out on defense.
The Russellville linebacker recorded a team-high nine tackles in Alabama’s 24-17 double overtime victory over Mississippi last week in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.
He’s been compared to Alabama safety Mark Barron, and the Crimson Tide coaching staff has talked with him about possibly moving to safety.