Countdown to Kickoff
Tide Defense Preps for Talented Running Back



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ?? The University of Alabama football team practiced for two hours in full gear Wednesday afternoon as preparations continue for Saturday’s non-conference home game against Louisiana Monroe.

The Tide defense has spent the week working against an offense that features a dual threat quarterback and one the nation’s top running backs.

“Louisiana Monroe is playing well,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said.  “They are 4-2 in their last six games.  They are a very good offensive team and high-scoring.  They run the football, spread you out, got some good skill guys and this is going to be another challenge for us.  As you know, anybody can beat anybody in college football and our guys better be ready and focused on what they need to do to play well.”

Calvin Dawson leads the Sun Belt Conference with 125.7 rushing yards per game.  That figures also ranks 10th nationally.  Dawson has rushed for 100 yards in 15 of his last 16 games, including five straight games against BCS schools, including 118 yards against the Tide in last year’s meeting.

Quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster is fourth in the Sun Belt Conference in pass efficiency (120.92), sixth in total offense (195.4) and 15th in rushing (34.8). 

“(Dawson) is a good runner,” Saban added.  “They are in a spread offense.  They run kind of a zone-option read offense.  The guy is 10th nationally and averages over 100 yards a game.  He has good quickness and vision as a runner and it’s going to be a real challenge for us.  We have to play well on the line of scrimmage and be sound in our gap fits. 

“(Lancaster) is a good runner too.  He is a dual-threat as a passer and a runner.  We have to make sure we are checking him off the zone read as well.  This is a team that can make explosive plays on you and we are going to have to a good job defensively to stop them.”

Alabama junior defensive back Rashad Johnson says the Tide is well aware of the Warhawks’ offense.

“The first thing Coach Saban told us in the defensive meeting was (Dawson) is a really good running back,” Johnson said.  “This may be the top quarterback-running back combination we have seen this year.  We need to work hard this week and play well on Saturday.”

*Alabama worked on red-zone offense, red-zone defense and third-down situations during Wednesday’s session.

*The Crimson Tide practiced inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility due to threatening weather in the Tuscaloosa area.

*Coach Saban said that B.J. Stabler and Roy Upchurch have practiced in a limited role this week.  Saban also said that Demarcus Waldrop has not practiced this week, but that all three players were listed as day-to-day.