I can't stress that enough.
Part of what makes the Tide such a difficult opponent is that they are truly a team. Apart from Richardson, no one else really stands out. It's like that frightening Prius commercial where a bunch of people fit together to make a big, freaky looking clump of stuff that sorta looks like a giant body but makes you go, "WHAT IS THAT THING? I NEVER WANT A PRIUS BECAUSE OF THIS COMMERCIAL!" Call it Nightmare Synergy.
He's disappointed because there was no talk about the game Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning. "It's the biggest game all year to me when we play Tennessee. I just lost it. It's important to me." He said he told his players, "I think we're getting set up. They're just saying how good your are." The Vols are going to "quietly come down here and kick your ass. You just can't be set up that way. They should walk into a stadium Saturday night and say, 'I can't believe these people are ready for us like this."
Alabama coach Nick Saban was asked about the tradition after Wednesday's practice. "You know, anything that we do like that, I think is something that is internal to the team, and I don't think it should be a public issue," he said. "And we're certainly not going to make it one, one way or the other."
Does Alabama's star running back ever amaze himself? "Yeah, sometimes," he said Wednesday. "Sometimes I don't know where it came from. People ask me how I do this and that. It just happens. I'm blessed with a lot of ability. I'm just happy to be the person who can do it."
Alabama put two players in position for punt returns against Ole Miss because the Rebels were kicking the ball rugby style. Tyler Campbell took several steps after catching the snap, then let loose low punts that were designed to roll. Hanks joined senior Marquis Maze, the Tide's usual punt returner, in deep position. Alabama coach Nick Saban was pleased that they fielded a few punts before they could roll another 20 yards. "The reason we put Hanks back there is because he's a (former) baseball player, and you guys know I sort of favor baseball players and their judgment of how to play shortstop and all that kind of thing," Saban said.
"Practice this week, from a team aspect, things were excellent," Alabama running back Trent Richardson said. "This is one of our best weeks of practice. Everyone has stayed very focused and really done a good job of staying on task."
Alabama coach Nick Saban estimates Gentry sees about 18-20 snaps a game, mostly when passing situations leave the opposing quarterback in the crosshairs. "The things he does well, some of our other guys don’t do quite as well," Saban said. "Those kinds of differences is what helps us be able to put together 18 or 20 guys who play a lot and contribute a lot on defense in different situations in the game. … Some people think he’s not big enough to do that, but his quickness and explosive power has been a real asset for us."
Hart arrived from Alabama as Tennessee's new AD knowing the obvious: Alabama and Tennessee must continue playing football every year. "The history that rivalry has produced is unparalleled in my mind," Hart said. "I know [Tide AD] Mal [Moore] feels exactly as I do. I feel strongly we can keep it and hope it can go back to the Third Saturday of October where it belongs. It would be a nice cherry on the top if all that would unfold."
If luck is on our side, then Bama will be relaxed with the news of LSU's suspensions this week and perhaps not at their best. Turnovers, as always, would be helpful. Maybe we'll catch a few breaks. But even if we don't, Tennessee needs to learn to fight through adversity for sixty minutes regardless of the outcome. They have to avoid penalties that kill drives, and they have to stay strong defensively in the second half. In a game like this one, you can't even entertain the thought of keeping it close if you can't be sure you can play for sixty minutes. The Vols will need to survive early to give themselves any chance to surprise late. Some of the pieces were there against LSU, but Tennessee gave them away or couldn't put them in place offensively, and eventually the defense simply gave out. Has Tennessee made progress in the last seven days? Can the Vols be better against Alabama than they were against LSU?
The first round of preseason basketball polls confirmed the summer speculation. Alabama landed at No. 17 in the USA Today/ESPN poll released Thursday morning. The Crimson Tide was one of four SEC ranks represented along with Kentucky (2), Vanderbilt (7) and Florida (10). Subject to high expectations for the first time in Anthony Grant's three Alabama seasons, the coach is using the poll to motivate his players.There will be no sneaking up on the competition this year, forward Charles Hankerson said. "No, they better know about us," he said.
Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant and sophomores Carl Engstrom and Charles Hankerson spoke to the media before practice on Thursday.
The board game is NICK SABAN'S FUTILITY. There are exactly 100 squares on the board. One of them says "Touchdown." The others, well...they're all just pictures of Courtney Upshaw tackling things to death and allowing 141 yards or so to your whole team the whole game. The board game is reviled everywhere else, but is a huge seller in the state of Alabama.
No one is saying college football is anything but big business. That is clear. No one is saying college football doesn’t have a sleaze factor that seems to be rising at an alarming rate. But the sport’s greatest assets are the games themselves and the changing cast of characters who become stars under the brightest of lights. That has been overlooked this season - or overwhelmed by all of the other nonsense. Let’s hope that at least for the second half of the season, we can focus just on the games.