TUSCALOOSA, Ala. The University of Alabama football team continued its preparation for the 2007 PetroSun Independence Bowl with two practice sessions Monday at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility.
The Crimson Tide held its first practice on Sunday in the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility as temperatures reached only the low 40s in Tuscaloosa. Sunday’s practice was the first in 21 days for the Crimson Tide. During the three-week layoff, the Tide did work on strength and conditioning and conducted 7-on-7 drills. The team was off last week for final exams.
“The first two practices have gone well,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “I think the expectation that we have as coaches is that we improve fundamentally and that each individual is responsible to work hard to improve and get back to knowing the importance of fundamentals and getting back to being able to execute those fundamentals so that we have the best chance to be successful.”
The Tide held two practices on Monday, its only two-a-day session of the week. Alabama practiced for two hours Monday morning and returned for a two-hour session Monday night. The evening session was held in the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility due to cold temperatures.
“I was excited to get back on the field and practice,” junior safety Rashad Johnson said after Monday’s morning session. “I’m looking forward to the bowl game. It gives us another opportunity to go out and compete against another quality opponent and get better. The energy at practice the last two days has been terrific. The energy, focus and the way everybody competing out there is good to see right now.”
Saban also said that junior Jimmy Johns (Brookhaven, Miss.) has been moved from running back/fullback to linebacker and that Johns was progressing well in his new role.
“Jimmy came to talk to me at the end of the season,” Saban said. “He came and talked to me with a few weeks to go in the season. We had discussed the possibility of trying Jimmy at linebacker. It never really worked out in the spring, so we are in the process of doing that and he’s done very well and worked very hard to learn the stuff.
“It looks like he may have some potential to be a contributor at that position in the future. We thought we’d use a few of these practices to make a determination on that and then decide where we use him in the game at some point and time later on, but right not that is where he is. It’s something he wanted to do. It’s something we were anxious to do. It’s worked out well both ways. We will work him there and see if he can learn, and I don’t know if he can learn it enough to contribute in the bowl game or not, we will certainly at least know what to do with him in the future.”
Johns, who played all 12 games as backup running back this season, is excited about the move.
“Coach Saban and I talked about it during the season, but it just wasn’t the right time,” Johns said. “With the extra bowl practices, we felt this was the appropriate time to move, so would I have some extra time to learn the defense. I feel great about it and will do the very best job that I can. I’m very excited about the move.”
*Saban also said that sophomore return specialist Javier Arenas (Tampa, Fla.) had returned to practice in a limited capacity and hoped that his role would expand each day this week. Arenas suffered a high ankle sprain against Louisiana Monroe and missed the regular-season finale at Auburn on Nov. 24.
*The Crimson Tide will practice again on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. The Tide will practice daily through Saturday, Dec. 22 before the two-day holiday break. The team will arrive in Shreveport on Christmas Day and hold its first workout that night at Independence Bowl Stadium.