Sept. 15, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The ninth-ranked University of Alabama football team practiced for two hours in helmets and shoulder pads Monday afternoon as the Crimson Tide began their game-week preparations for its 2008 Southeastern Conference opener this Saturday against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
“Arkansas is an outstanding team and one of the best teams in the country throwing the football,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said at his Monday press conference. “It is going to be a real challenge for us from that standpoint. They are one of the highest ranked teams in the country in passing the football. Casey Dick has really played well for them, making plays in their offense and good decisions and passing the ball effectively and accurately. He can also make plays with his feet when he needs to. Their tight end (D.J.) Williams is probably one of the best in the league especially from a receiving standpoint. Their offense has played extremely well in my opinion. They have had two outstanding comeback wins.
“Defensively they have a lot of guys back in their front that gave us problems. It will be a real challenge for us to get those guys blocked in the run and pass. They have a lot of experience on how to defend people with a real good defensive coordinator that comes from the NFL in Willy Robinson. We just have to worry about what we do and take care of our business and try to play our best ball and see what happens. We are certainly looking forward to the challenge of the SEC schedule starting.”
The Alabama-Arkansas game will kick off Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark., and will be televised regionally by Raycom Sports. The game will also be aired on ESPN GamePlan outside the nine-state SEC region.
ESPN TO TELEVISE ALABAMA-GEORGIA GAME: The Southeastern Conference announced today that ESPN will televise the Alabama at Georgia football game to a national audience beginning at 6:45 p.m. (CDT) from Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, September 27.
Alabama and Georgia will be meeting for the 65th time with Alabama holding a 35-25-4 lead in the series that began in 1895. Georgia won a 26-23 overtime decision last year in Tuscaloosa and has won the last three meetings (37-23 in 2003 & 27-25 in 2002). Alabama’s last victory in the series was a 31-0 decision on the road in 1995. UA is 11-7 all-time against the Bulldogs in Athens.
Other SEC games to be televised on Saturday, Sept. 27 include Ole Miss at Florida (11:30 a.m. CDT on Raycom Sports), Tennessee at Auburn (2:30 p.m. on CBS), Arkansas at Texas (2:30 p.m. CDT on ABC) and Mississippi State at LSU (6:30 p.m. on ESPN2).
JONES NAMED SEC FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Alabama freshman wide receiver Julio Jones turned in his best game of the season last Saturday against Western Kentucky and for his efforts he was named the SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday, the league office announced.
Jones caught five passes for 66 yards and one touchdown in the 41-7 win over Western Kentucky. His 36-yard catch in the first quarter was the Tide’s longest pass play of the 2008 season. Jones also hauled in a 12-yard TD pass from John Parker Wilson that gave the Tide a 41-7 lead with 4:57 left in the third quarter. It was Wilson’s school-record tying 41st career touchdown pass.
Jones leads Alabama with 10 catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns this season.
COACHING STAFF NAMES PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Seven Alabama players earned player of the week honors following the Crimson Tide’s 41-7 victory over Western Kentucky University, head coach Nick Saban announced Monday.
Senior center Antoine Caldwell, junior left tackle Andre Smith and junior tailback Glen Coffee were recognized as the offensive players of the week after the coaching staff graded film from Saturday. Caldwell and Smith keyed a dominating performance by the Crimson Tide offensive line as UA piled up 557 totally yards, including 281 on the ground. The offensive line didn’t allow a sack and Alabama had 30 first downs, going 9-of-14 on third downs, which ranks ninth nationally. Coffee led the running game with 97 yards on 11 carries and had a career-long rush of 51 yards. Coffee is the team’s leading rusher and is sixth in the SEC with an average of 80.7 yards per game.
On the other side of the ball, junior defensive backs Javier Arenas and Justin Woodall earned top production honors. Arenas had seven tackles (four solo) and recorded his first career sack. He also returned a pair of punts for 38 yards in the victory. Woodall was credited with five tackles, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble and one interception. Alabama held WKU to 158 total yards and 3-of-12 on third downs. UA is now first nationally in rushing defense (42.7 yards per game), ninth in scoring defense (7.7 points per game) and 13th in total defense (221.3 yards per game).
On special teams, junior Chris Rogers and freshman Courtney Upshaw were recognized. Rogers had three tackles on special teams (kickoff). This is his second time on the special teams’ list as he returned a block punt for a touchdown against Tulane. Upshaw totaled six tackles on Saturday and also had a tackle for loss and a QB hurry from his linebacker position. Four of his six tackles were on the kickoff coverage team. He is one of 15 true freshmen to play this season for the Crimson Tide.
Four Alabama players have earned player of the week honors from the coaches multiple times: Coffee (Clemson & WKU), Arenas (Tulane & WKU), Rogers (Tulane & WKU) and Rolando McClain (Clemson & Tulane).