The forgotten man in the fallout of the Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillon injuries: Pete Golding.
When those two inside linebackers suffered their knee injuries, forcing freshmen Shane Lee and Christian Harris into their spots, the focus was on how those freshmen would perform and how the veterans around them would help their acclimation process. But Golding, the University of Alabama’s defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach, was not mentioned.
Golding was praised by both UA head coach Nick Saban and Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt before the two hold another meeting of the Third Saturday in October rivalry on Saturday.
“I think he’s been put in a really, really difficult situation,” Saban said. “What’s happened here in the past, on both sides of the ball, is that the older players always help the younger players tremendously. Dylan Moses was really, really good at that. He was really good for the younger players.
“Once Dylan got hurt, we don’t really have an experienced player at that position, an older guy or a younger guy. We don’t really have that guy that can be a mentor to the young guys to help them develop, and Pete has had to do that from scratch, kind of on his own. I think he’s done a really good job of that. Has much more patience than maybe I do, relative to how he teaches.”
When Pruitt threw praise Golding’s way, he did so when struck by the narrative forming around Alabama.
“When you look at Alabama, it seems like everybody I talk about, we end up talking offensively about Alabama,” Pruitt said on the SEC teleconference. “And then you see at inside linebacker, and some other guys on the defensive front, where they’ve played a lot of really young guys. I think these guys, as a coaching staff, have done an outstanding job. They’re one of — I guess they’re the No. 1 team in the SEC in turnover margin — sixth in the nation. Playing really good football.
“I think it says a whole lot about Pete Golding and the job that he’s done. That’s not easy to do, to take freshmen and to go run that defense and run it effectively and efficiently, as they’ve been able to. It says a lot about those two young men that they have the maturity to be the signal-callers.”
Reichard on the mend
Saban said starting placekicker Will Reichard has been more active in practice lately, punting on Tuesday and kicking on Wednesday, but the nature of his injury (pulled hip flexor) requires caution.
“We have to manage it based on the symptoms,” Saban said. “You know, it’s kind of like doctor told me when I was coming off my hip surgery. He said, ‘It’s great to do the rehab, your work. I know all your life you’ve been taught to push, push, push, push, keep working when it hurts, you work through it.’ But he said, ‘For one time in your life, when you’re hurt, when it hurts, you gotta stop.’ And that’s kind of how we got to manage this injury with him.
“We got to make sure that he continues to make progress and we don’t have a setback, and I think so far we’ve been able to do that. So we’ll just see how it progresses day to day.”
Tennessee QB game-time decision
Tennessee was 1-3 and coming off a 34-3 loss to Florida — in which it tallied all of 256 yards of offense — when it made a change at quarterback, benching returning starter Jarrett Guarantano for freshman Brian Maurer.
Maurer showed flashes in the ensuing game against Georgia, throwing for 9.25 yards per attempt and two touchdowns. The next week, Maurer suffered a concussion against Mississippi State; Guarantano finished a 20-10 win over the Bulldogs.
UT is trying to get Maurer ready to play.
“He’s went through the protocol here and he’s taken some reps, but it will be a game-time decision on that,” Pruitt said.
The latest from practice is in the Wednesday practice report.
Edwin Stanton contributed to this report