Alabama hopes to get three of the five linebackers they were without last Saturday back for this Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt.
Senior Rashaan Evans, sophomore Anfernee Jennings and freshman Dylan Moses all practice the first three days of the week, and UA coach Nick Saban said he hopes to have those guys back as soon as possible.
“All three of those guys are practicing,” Saban said Wednesday on the SEC coaches teleconference. “Anfernee seems to be doing fairly well. Dylan Moses seems to be doing fairly well. Rashaan Evans is making progress every day. Hopefully he’ll continue to progress. We’ll see how he comes along as the week goes on but all three of those guys have been back practicing and we’re pleased with the progress that they’re making.”
Evans suffered a groin injury in the season-opening game against Florida State and Jennings injured his ankle in the same game. Neither have played since.
Of course, Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis were also both injured in that game and are out for the season.
During fall practice, field goal kicking was especially concerning. Those worries have eased some with the start to the season Andy Pappanastos has had.
After a shaky start to the season that saw him miss two of his first four inside the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Pappanastos has made his last five field goals in succession. He made a career-long 46-yarder against Colorado State that had room to spare.
“I think he’s done a really good job for us all year,” Saban said. “The kicks he missed (in Atlanta) were a little longer kicks. But I’ve noticed other people having a little trouble kicking over there, too, with their footing. New field and all that, maybe not quite settled in. He’s been really consistent the last couple of games.”
Much was made of the “come-to-meeting-Jesus” meeting senior linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton referenced in a postgame interview Saturday.
As far as the players have let on that meeting never took place and perhaps it doesn’t need to.
The leaders of the defense — guys like Hamilton, defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne — are not the most boisterous players. Some of them prefer to let their play do the talking.
“I tried to fly around, make all the calls and stuff like that. Shaun Dion (Hamilton) was doing the same thing, just leading by example. And pretty much everybody followed, everybody did what they were supposed to do. Just leading with actions, I feel like, is a whole lot more beneficial than talking to people,”Fitzpatrick said.
“Yeah, when issues are getting out of hand or somebody’s not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, multiple people will approach them and then get on them. But I don’t think that yelling at people and doing stuff like that as a teammate — as a coach it works because he’s a coach and he can’t really lead by example. As a player, I think it’s more beneficial for somebody who is doing what they’re supposed to be doing on and off the field and just letting people follow because, like I said, if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing and you’re just yelling at people, telling them what to do or what they’re doing wrong, ain’t nobody going to listen to you. But there have been times where either myself or Shaun Dion have talked to the defense and said stuff to the defense. We had moments during camp where we had to say stuff and make sure everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing, keeping their mind right and people listen because we do what we’re supposed to do.”