Sept. 30, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama football team practiced for two hours in full pads Tuesday afternoon at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility as preparation for Saturday’s Southeastern Conference game at Kentucky continues.
“We have had two pretty good days of practice,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said following Wednesday’s practice. “The players have worked hard. I think everybody needs to understand the importance of when you play on the road - pay attention to detail, staying focused and not being affected by external factors takes a little maturity. The leadership of older players affect the younger players to do the same.”
Coach Saban also noted that Dont’a Hightower had successful knee surgery and Nick Gentry missed practice today with the flu.
“Dont’a’s surgery went well,” Saban added. “I talked to (the doctor) about it and he thinks he will have a full recovery. Nick Gentry has the flu and has had it for a couple days and missed a couple of days of practice.”
The Alabama-Kentucky game will be televised by the SEC Network, beginning at 11:21 a.m. (CDT) on Saturday, Oct. 3, with Dave Neal, Andre Ware and Cara Capuano calling the action. The game will be available on a regional basis throughout the nine-state SEC region, including WTTO (Channel 21) in Birmingham. The game is available outside the SEC region on ESPN GamePlan and ESPN360.com. The Crimson Tide Sports Network will also air the game, with Eli Gold, Phil Savage and Barry Krauss describing the action. The game can be heard locally in Tuscaloosa on WFFN-FM (95.3).
Coach Nick Saban participated in the SEC Head Coaches Teleconference Wednesday morning and here are some of his comments:
On Kentucky’s Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke:
“Those two guys to me are real play-maker guys. They have lots of guys that can make plays. Randall Cobb, they use him a little bit a quarterback. He is in the slot and returns punts. Locke is really a good runner, a very good athlete and one of the best kickoff return guys in the country. I think those two guys are capable of making explosive plays and certainly guys that we are going to have to do a good job on at the game.”
On playing first SEC road game this week:
“Well, we really played Virginia Tech in Atlanta, so that was not really at home. We had to get on an airplane to go over there. We stayed in a hotel. We played in a place that was not our home field and part of the reason we play some of these neutral sites games is to prepare our players to be able to play on the road in this league, which is very, very difficult. The players have to know that they have to stay focused, keep their intensity, sense of urgency, discipline and execution when they are on the road because the momentum of the game is sometimes going to change in the other team’s favor and I they have to be able to overcome that. I think that is a mental discipline and a mental toughness that all great competitors need to have and it will certainly be a test when we go to Kentucky.”
On whether Greg McElroy has exceeded your expectations or not:
“We don’t have expectations for our players. We try to coach our players to be the best they can. We have a lot of confidence in Greg. We felt like he was very capable. He’s very bright. He has a good understanding. He is instinctive. He goes to the right place with the ball and is pretty accurate with it. Hopefully our players on offense can continue to play well around him. He’ll continue to have opportunities to execute and our play-makers will continue to make plays. We will improve as a team and he will improve as a player and will have an outstanding year.”
On replacing Dont’a Hightower:
“Donta Hightower was a guy that played a lot of roles for us, probably more roles than anybody on our defense, relative to inside backer, nickel backer, defensive end or pass-rusher, odd inside linebacker in sub situations. There may not be one person who could actually fulfill all of those roles, but maybe several people who end up playing inside backer, somebody playing nickel backer, somebody may have to take his place as the sub-rusher. So, there are probably several opportunities created there for some guys on our team, but maybe not one particular player doing all those things.”