TUSCALOOSA, Ala. The University of Alabama football team resumed its preparations for Saturday’s annual “Third Saturday in October” clash with the Tennessee Volunteers with a two-hour workout in full gear at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility.
The Crimson Tide held its normal Tuesday workout by working on first-and-10, second-and-long, goal-line and short-yardage situations.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban said at his Monday press conference that Tennessee may be the best team the Tide has faced this season.
“Tennessee, I think, may be the best team we’ve played,” Saban said. “Phillip Fulmer has been there a long time and done a really good job I think with his program overall, certainly with this team in terms of how they’ve kind of turned it around and (are) playing much better on defense right now and running the football very effectively the last two or three games. And obviously (they) have a very good quarterback in Erik Ainge, so they can make plays in the passing game. They’ve got a good receiving corp. (Lucas) Taylor has certainly been a guy that’s made some big plays for them. And they’ve got two or three running backs that play but (Arian) Foster has certainly been a guy that’s carried the load for them in the last couple of weeks.
“Defensively, they’ve got a host of guys that are hard to block up front. They’ve got a young secondary but they’ve played extremely well for them so far this year. They’ve got a lot of good football players on their team and they’ve got a lot of depth and it shows up on their special teams. They do a really good job all the way around. This team has played really well the last three weeks and it’s going to be a real challenge for us, and obviously a big game in the SEC, which they all are, but this is a good football team that we’re playing right now.”
*The Alabama-Tennessee game will be televised regionally by Lincoln Financial Sports with an 11:34 a.m. (CDT) kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium. Dave Neal (play-by-play), Dave Archer (analyst) and Dave Baker (sideline reporter) will call the action to 62 stations in the nine-state SEC region. The game will also be available on ESPN GamePlan, excluding the nine-state SEC region.
In other news, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Alex Stadler is no longer with the team. Stadler had not seen any game action this season after redshirting in 2006.
Alabama junior free safety Rashad Johnson and sophomore return specialist Javier Arenas met with the media following Tuesday’s practice and here are some of their comments:
On Tennessee QB Erik Ainge
“As we all know, Erik Ainge is a great quarterback. A lot of things Coach Saban and Coach (Kirby) Smart have been emphasizing some things with the safeties we need to disguise a little more and we can’t cheat in our alignments, because this guy can burn you. He knows how to read the defense real well, so we need to do a job of disguising things this week.”
On Tennessee WR Lucas Taylor
“He was a former quarterback in high school. He is a great athlete. He makes a lot of big plays for them. He has a lot of speed and we just have to try and contain him.”
On any added pressure to secondary that Tennessee has allowed only two sacks this season
“He does a good job of getting the ball out. He has had some pressure, but he always knows where he needs to put the ball once there is pressure in his face. So, they do a great job of playing-calling and setting him up. It’s not a lot of pressure on us. We just have to our job and make the plays.”
On leading team with four interceptions
“I just try and make plays on the ball. It’s being in the right position and when the ball is up in the air, go up and get it. Fortunately, I have been in the right spots a few times and had a chance to make a few plays on the ball.”
On what it takes to have a successful return
“A lot of work goes into it, as far as guys setting up blocks and the returner setting up defenders coming down, whether he is stepping to the outside or cutting back inside. I try to give my blocker better leverage. We practice those things every day.”
On what he looks for on a punt return
“I look for that hole or that seam. Our guys block so well, so I know it’s going to be there. If it’s not there, then what I look for is where the defenders are coming from. If they are coming hard inside, I’m going to give them a fake inside and then take it outside. If there is not a seam and we are trying to block a kick, then I look at where the guys are coming from and make my move.”
On setting the tempo for the offense with a key return
“That’s what I try to do. I go out there and try to score. If I fall short of scoring then it’s going to be great field position for the offense.”