Preparations Winding Down for PetroSun Independence Bowl
SHREVEPORT, La. The University of Alabama football team worked for two hours in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts under sunny skies and in cool temperatures, in what was similar to a game-week Thursday practice, on Friday afternoon at Independence Bowl Stadium.
“Practice has gone well all week and finished up strong today,” Alabama senior linebacker Keith Saunders said. “We fine-tuned everything today and it’s time to go. We have looked good this week and we are ready. It’s time to rest up and get mentally ready for Colorado.”
The Crimson Tide will hold its final practice on Saturday afternoon, a walk-thru at Independence Bowl Stadium. The practice is closed to the media and general public. Alabama will face Colorado on Sunday, December 30, at 7 p.m. (CST) in a game televised by ESPN.
The 2007 PetroSun Independence Bowl held its annual Minuteman Luncheon at the Shreveport Convention Center on Friday. Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins addressed the crowd. Minnesota Twins right-hander and Shreveport native Scott Baker was the winner of the 2007 Carl Mikovich Sportsperson of the Year award. CBS Sports anchors Tim Brando (a native of Shreveport) and Spencer Tillman served as co-emcees for the event. Alabama redshirt freshman running back Terry Grant and Colorado Byron Ellis were the 2007 PetroSun Independence Bowl Scholar-Athletes.
Coach Saban, senior defensive end Wallace Gilberry and senior wide receiver DJ Hall will represent the Crimson Tide at the Independence Bowl Media Day Saturday morning at Independence Bowl Stadium.
Below are comments from Coach Saban about this weekend's matchup:
Thoughts on the matchup between Alabama and Colorado:
“They have a good football team and they have done a great job with their offense, in terms of how they out-flank people with their formations and motions. They have a good runner. The quarterback has done a real good job for them, so it will be a real challenge for us to stop this team that scored 65 points against Nebraska; that is an accomplishment in itself. We will have our work cut out for us, there is no doubt about that. I think the key to any game is to have balance in your offense, don’t turn the ball over, when you get it in the red area you score with it and you do a good job on third down to keep it and I think that will be the key to this game as well.”
On bowl games helping your program in future:
“There are a lot of positives in going to a bowl game. I think they are great for team unity. I think our team has gotten to spend a lot of time here and do things together. The (Christmas) party was fun the other night. We had a hula hoop contest. The players participated and they sang. We danced together. You don’t get to do those things during the season, so it’s good for team unity. We get to practice a lot more. It’s almost the equivalent of another spring practice. This year we are going to have 12 practices total in this preparation. There are a lot of positives to it. It’s great experience for the players and a lot of positive self-gratification for them, but you want to be successful at what you’re doing as well and I think that is a part of the culture, that we need to think here in terms of what we do and how we do it, and what our pride is in trying to do that. That is the most important thing and that is what we want to try and get done.”
On the role of seniors in bowl game:
“What I expect of our seniors is to provide the kind of leadership and example. A positive character is contagious. What I tell them it to make sure they have one that is worth catching. That’s what we expect from them and to set a good example and try to affect other people in a positive way with your positive energy about what you want to do. For the seniors, they can go out with a win. They can go out with a winning season. It’s an opportunity for all of those guys, in their last performance, to enhance their career in the future. From a selfish standpoint, they have a lot to play for as well.”
On style of play from conference to conference:
“I think that every conference tries to have its own style. I think every team in that conference is a little bit different. (Colorado’s) coach came from Boise State and they had tremendous success there, so their style more reflects what Boise State probably did. Each team has its own style. Our conference is known for speed and athleticism, but I think the most important factor we are going to have to have in this bowl game is to play with great toughness, because that’s going to be the key to our success.”
On carrying the SEC banner:
“I think you represent your league when you play in a bowl game. You’re not only representing the University of Alabama, but you represent the SEC and all the other schools. I know I feel that way and I tell the players that as well.”