Thursday afternoon the Alabama Crimson Tide officially began game preparation for next week’s Top 10 matchup with Texas A&M.
Wearing the scout team jersey of Heisman winner Johnny Manziel’s No. 2 were backup quarterbacks Luke Del Rio and Cooper Bateman. In an interesting observation another Tide quarterback, Parker McLeod, was wearing a No. 16 jersey. Backup Texas A&M quarterback Matt Joeckel wears that number. That is likely a case of Nick Saban always preparing for all possibilities.
According to a BamaOnline report, defensive end LaMichael Fanning was not at practice yesterday, but he was back today.
During quarterback drills an assistant coach dipped footballs in a bucket of water preparing Alabama for a potentially wet day next Saturday. There is currently a 51 percent chance of rain in College Station, TX next Saturday, but there is obviously a lot of time between now and then for that to change.
Last week tailback Kenyan Drake was wearing a scout team jersey but this week he was wearing his usual jersey. Yesterday Saban did say Drake would be playing against A&M. Freshman Altee Tenpenny on the other hand, who played in the opener, was wearing a scout team jersey. He wore #21 which is the number of Texas A&M tailback Tra Carson who had 76 yards and 2 TDs in the Aggies opening win over Rice. He shares carries with starter Ben Malena.
Former Alabama athletics director Hootie Ingram was a guest at practice today. Ingram was the Crimson Tide AD from 1989 until 1995 and was responsible for the hiring of the great Gene Stallings. Ingram also played for Alabama in the years before Bear Bryant returned to Alabama in the 50’s.
During Coach Saban’s press conference he said that backup defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson injured his knee in practice yesterday which will require surgery to fix. He said that they won’t have a timetable for Tomlinson’s return until the surgery is completed. Tomlinson made four tackles in the season opener and his loss will cause a big dent in Alabama’s depth at DT.
Saban said this week has been a tough, but good week of practice and the team needed a hard week. He said that A&M will challenge the mental toughness of this team.
Saturday and Sunday will be days off for Alabama.
He said that the players responded well to game preparation today and that Blake Sims will simulate Manziel’s scrambling and running abilities in practice. He said that it’s all about discipline when defending Manziel and the play breaks down. He said that Alabama always uses extra crowd noise for at least one day of practice when there is a road game. He feels that the team improved and that the players invested in improving this week.
Before leaving the podium today Saban sent his thoughts to his college coach, Don James, who is in the hospital.
Alabama returns to practice tomorrow for the final time this week.