Xavier McKinney, Trevon Diggs and the other veteran defenders on the University of Alabama’s football team have noted the team’s use of more simple concepts this season, a reaction to the widespread youth starting for the unit.
Those players will soon experience their first SEC West game, 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Ole Miss, and UA coach Nick Saban thinks their preparation process can improve.
“We’ve got sort of a situation on our team where we’ve got a lot of mature players who really work hard every day, know how to prepare for a game,” Saban said, “and then we’ve got some other guys that are a little younger that, you know, need to keep making progress toward what you have to do to really prepare get ready for a game know what to do, how to do it, why it’s important to do it that way and and do it in practice. So that, when the game comes, you’re not thinking.
“It always amazes me that I read these articles about people who make great comebacks, and they get behind by, you know when Buffalo got behind Houston like 35-3 or whatever, and then they came back and won the game. The players always say, ‘Well, I just forgot about the scoreboard and I really got focused on the next play and I was in the moment and I started playing better.’ I always wonder to myself, ‘Why does something bad have to happen, to get behind by 35 points, before you ever, why didn’t you just start out that way? Why didn’t you prepare that way?’”
Rebel QB undecided
Ole Miss coach Matt Luke addressed his quarterback situation on Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. The redshirt freshman starter Matt Corral suffered a rib injury in the final minutes of the 28-20 loss to Cal; true freshman backup John Rhys Plumlee completed all seven of his passes for 82 yards and ran three times for 53 yards. He was inches short of throwing a potentially game-tying touchdown in the game’s final seconds.
“We’re trying to get (Corral) back healthy,” Luke said. “He was very limited (Tuesday). He was able to go out there for the team portion of practice, but we’re trying to get him ready to go. John Rhys Plumlee and Grant Tisdale took all the reps yesterday, but they are very different, so we’d love to have both ready and have to have (Alabama) prepare for both.”
Thus far, the strategy has worked.
“Both guys are really good athletes, both guys can really run. Both guys are very capable passers,” Saban said. “We don’t really know. We know what they’ve done with Matt when he’s playing, we don’t really know exactly what their plan would be with the No. 2 guy if he has to play. He’s a very good athlete, very fast, he can make great plays with his feet. We don’t know if they’ll be more into the quarterback runs if that’s the case.”
Randolph in new role
In 2014, Brandon Greene took on a hybrid offensive lineman/tight end role, one that allowed him to line up in either position when UA wanted a more physical presence in the game. Kendall Randolph is taking on that role this season, changing his number to 85 to fit it.
“When we want to run the ball, he’s a big physical guy,” Saban said. “He gives us something we don’t have, I think, with some of our other guys. Sometimes you just want to be able to have a guy who can put his hand in the dirt, get some movement and block big people. He gives us that and he’s done a really good job.”
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Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or email@example.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson