Aug. 27, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
The University of Alabama football team worked in helmets and shoulder pads Wednesday afternoon as preparations for the 2008 season opener against No. 9 Clemson continue. The Crimson Tide concentrated heavily on special teams during its two-hour practice.
"We got to practice outside today, which was nice," Alabama head football coach Nick Saban said. "We probably would have practiced outside Saturday, Monday and Tuesday and practiced inside today and tomorrow because we are playing inside and it would have lent itself to recovery.
"We can practice everything indoors, but its does inhibit us a little bit from a specialty standpoint, in terms of catching punts, catching kickoffs and getting the timing down in the kicking game, so the primary reason for going outside today was so that we could practice and improve the kicking game. We practiced a lot of situations in the kicking game."
Saban also noted that sophomore linebacker Charlie Higgenbotham had practiced all three days this week after missing time last week with a groin injury. Saban also said that senior wide receiver Will Oakley, who missed fall camp with a stress fracture, also practiced on Wednesday. Saban noted he was not "100 percent yet and might be a week or two away" from being ready to play.
The Crimson Tide will practice again on Thursday and will hold a walk-thru on Friday in Tuscaloosa before traveling to Atlanta.
No. 24 Alabama and No. 9 Clemson meet on Saturday, Aug, 30 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The game will be televised nationally by ABC Sports.
Coach Saban also participated in the SEC Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday and here are some excerpts from that call:
On preparing for Clemson game:
"We certainly had a good fall camp. We certainly had a good summer. I really like the attitude of the team that we have right now. I think this is a great opportunity for our team to play against an outstanding Clemson team, that's preseason rated in the top 10, and it will certainly give us an opportunity to evaluate the identity of our team, in terms of how we can play with consistency? How we can compete? Who can lead in adversity? Who can play through adversity? Finishing and consistency in performance is certainly two emphases that we have had this fall camp and this off season to help our team improve and hopefully we'll be able to get a gauge on that playing a very good Clemson team.
"Clemson has great skill players on offense. Quarterback Cullen Harper is a really good player. The two running backs that they have, I am sure everybody knows, are fantastic and may be the best running back combination in the country. Aaron Kelly is a fantastic receiver. Their defense probably goes unnoticed in a lot of ways. They were in the top 10 in the country in scoring defense and total defense last year and they were in the top 10 in turnover margin. They really have good defensive players and those defensive players spill over on special teams to some degree with Spiller and Ford being great speed guys on special teams. This is an outstanding team. Tommy Bowden has done a fantastic job."
On the decision to play Clemson at a neutral site:
"Well that was the opportunity that we had and philosophically, last year we played Florida State at a neutral site (Jacksonville, Fla.), we have tried to improve our schedule to play one national-type game, from an exposure standpoint and from a team development standpoint. I think you get better playing good teams and I think the only opportunity we had in this short time frame was to play at a neutral site.
"I think Atlanta is kind of strategically located in terms of Clemson and the University of Alabama. It is a good neutral site game. It's a great market. The people have done a great job of organizing the game. It was the only opportunity that we had. I feel like if you play four out of conference games, for your fans and your program development and your player development, all of those things there are benefits to playing a good team. We had a good off-season. Our players have been more focused and worked harder and maybe it's because they are playing a good team in the first game."