Alabama Football: Practice Notebook, Oct. 29


September 29, 2012; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban during pre-game warm-ups against the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

Whenever schools from neighboring or close-by states clash, there is always a little more at stake than the game or potential rivalry being played out on the field. The future of both programs is watching, either in the stadium or in their televisions, as recruits could be basing their decisions on how the teams look in that game.

Despite LSU getting the best of Alabama in two of their last three meetings and seven of the last nine, the Crimson Tide has had great success recruiting the state of Louisiana. Alabama’s second possession began with a handoff to Eddie Lacy, from Geismar, La., and ended with a touchdown pass to Kenny Bell, from Rayville, La.

Later in the game, Alabama got a 61- and a 59-yard punt from Cody Mandell of Lafayette, La.

While Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s time in LSU and remaining connections in the state may be one explanation for the phenomenon, Saban maintains that the players currently on the team and those being recruited from Louisiana would have been recruited had they been from elsewhere.

“We recruit players and give them opportunities everywhere we feel like there is a good player, whether it’s Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, especially Alabama, Tennessee, it doesn’t matter where they’re from,” Saban said. “Hopefully the program we have, and the opportunity that those players have to be successful in the program, personally, academically, athletically, is something that makes them interested in coming to the University of Alabama. I think it’s bigger picture than anything about me.”

Those that do come to Alabama from the rival state sometimes catch some heat for their decision, but that is not always the case.

“I wasn’t into football a lot anyway, so I just went where I wanted to go,” Lacy said. “There wasn’t too much stress on my part.”

That holds true for Lacy even after the recent events with the Tigers, such as the 9-6 overtime loss in the regular season and Alabama’s 21-0 revenge in the BCS National Championship game.

“It was normal,” Lacy said of his trip home after the 21-0 win. “Nobody said nothing to me and I didn’t say anything to nobody. It was normal.”

The Louisianan linebacking sensation

Alabama’s recent success can be attributed to some Louisiana prospects, as can the future. True freshman linebacker Denzell Devall was named a Player of the Week by the coaching staff after accumulating two tackles for a loss, one sack and a quarterback hurry against Mississippi State.

“Denzell Devall has been a guy that we’ve played a little more,” Saban said. “Now that he has a little more confidence, knowledge, experience, whatever you want to call it, in what to do, we can play him some in nickel situations. He does have some pass rush ability.

“He helped us in the last game and he was active in the last game. We want to continue to use him in a role that he feels comfortable with.”

Those that play alongside Devall see him as a younger, smaller version of a much-revered Alabama linebacker.

“Upshaw, a little bit,” C.J. Mosley said. “He’s a great pass rusher.

“He’s got a long ways to go. He’s getting in the groove of things.  He’s getting more playing time week in and week out. It’s great watching him mature and I’m going to do my best to help him. If he needs help on plays or anything like that, we all got his back.”

Far and away

Mosley may be seeing some Upshaw in Devall, but everyone else is seeing a lot more than Upshaw in Mosley. Mosley is leading the team in tackles with 65, crushing the rest of the team, as Vinnie Sunseri comes in second place 36. Mosley has more solo tackles, 39, than any other teammate has overall tackles. Mosley is also third on the team in both tackles for loss, with 3.5, and sacks, with 2.5.

Mosley is not trying to stretch himself out too far to make that many tackles, but simply capitalizing on every opportunity given to him.

“Just try to play fast, just try to make the plays I can make,” Mosley said. “I can’t make a play every time, but when I do, I just do my best to make it.”