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March 31, 2010

Notebook: Tide makes final scrimmage preparations

TUSCALOOSA _ Although University of Alabama right guard Barrett Jones probably thought he had experienced nearly everything that goes with his position, he had also never lined up next to massive D.J. Fluker before.

"D.J. is a very, very big guy," Jones said Wednesday. "I tell you what, if that shoe gets a hold of you, and it's gotten a hold of my right foot a few times, it's a big shoe."

Size 22 was what Fluker wore out of Foley High School and this week they've been put to the test with he and Chance Warmack lining up with the first unit at right tackle and left guard, respectively.

They'll likely be in those same spots when the Crimson Tide holds its first spring scrimmage Friday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and no one has a coached looking over their shoulder on each snap.

"It'll be interesting to see sort of who reverts back to their old habits and who continues to make progress in terms of their ability to play disciplined football, whether it's eye control, looking at the right things, carrying out their assignment, doing it the right way," Coach Nick Saban said. "I think if we can get 11 guys doing that on both sides of the ball we can have a good football team."

Most of the moves made for Monday's practice remained in place Wednesday, including offensive linemen Fluker and Warmack. The second unit remained, from left to right, Tyler Love, Anthony Steen, Brian Motley, John Michael Boswell and Alfred McCullough. The third grouping had Taylor Pharr, Aaron Joiner, Chad Lindsay, Kellen Williams and Austin Shepherd.

"We want to see what guys can do," Saban said. "One of the things that really mature coaches can do, really good coaches, is they can put guys in different situations and teach them, knowing that the guy may not have the (immediate) success that another guy with more experience might have, but knows that in the long term, the big picture, it's going to make us a better team because we're going to have guys with more knowledge, more experience and more flexibility to play different places, even though that particular player that day may not be as successful.

"We do a lot of that, Joe (Pendry) has always done a lot of that."

Defensively, Jerrell Harris again went through individual drills with the interior linebackers, was paired with Dont'a Hightower, and worked in the money position. Chris Jordan was again with the strongside linebackers (Sam).

Brandon Gibson continued to work at safety and Kendell Kelly practiced with the wide receivers. Both receivers have been learning safety as a precautionary measure due to depth concerns.

"At some point in time it's important to get some continuity, but I don't think we're there yet," Saban said.

Jackson returned
Reserve quarterback Star Jackson returned to the practice field after missing three workouts due to academic reasons.

"He fulfilled all the academic obligations that he had to," Saban said. "Hopefully he'll continue to do those things and continue to be able to participate with the team."

Jackson appeared in five games last season and completed 13 of 18 passes for 116 yards for a passer-efficiency rating of 126.4. A.J. McCarron was second on the depth chart at the end of last season, but redshirted.

Texas Tech rumors
Although Alabama is interested in opening the 2012 season with a neutral-site game in Arlington, Texas, Saban denied that there's already a deal to play Texas Tech and new coach Tommy Tuberville.

"It's not something that we've agreed on," he said. "We have a lot of different options for 2012 and we're in the process of considering them right now. That's one of them, but we're going to weigh all the other options and see what's most beneficial to the program and our future."

Reports out of Texas were that a verbal agreement had been reached to play at Cowboys Stadium.

"We've agreed to do it," Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in Wednesday's editions. "I think Alabama's agreed to do it. But, we haven't gotten down to signing a contract or anything like that."

Injury report
No one has been ruled out for the scrimmage except for center William Vlachos, who is still recovering from foot surgery.

Among those questionable are wide receiver Earl Alexander (abdominal strain), running back Trent Richardson (hamstring) and Hightower (calf), although they've all been practicing.

"He doesn't really have a problem with his knee," Saban said about Hightower.

Meanwhile, linebacker Milton Talbert was back on an exercise bike.

Tide-bits
Wednesday was the Tide's seventh of 15 spring practices. After four straight workouts in full pads the team was in shells. Friday's scrimmage will be closed to the public.

Wide receiver Julio Jones hasn't been approached about learning safety and told reporters that Saban may be "pulling your chain." Saban, in turn, said that if Jones' strength was an issue after his injury-laden freshman year, he wasn't aware of it "He's doing extremely well, I think he's doing great. He's having a great spring. I don't see any deficiency and didn't see any deficiency in him the second half of the season last year."

Saban on playing the top person at each position: "I don't think there's any such thing as seniority."


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