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October 4, 2010

Notebook: Tide approaches open weeks as a non-issue

TUSCALOOSA _ University of Alabama coach Nick Saban made a preemptive statement during his press conference Monday afternoon before anyone could ask him about bye weeks.

"Everybody out there assumes that having a bye week is an advantage," he said. "I've always answered that question by saying, 'I don't know if it's an advantage or disadvantage.'

"Just so everybody knows we did research on the last five years of all other 11 teams in the SEC and how they did when they had a bye week, and their record is 29-29. I'm not saying I'm right and you're wrong, but the statistics kind of prove that it's not an advantage or disadvantage to have a bye week, it probably depends a lot on the circumstances."

Florida was the last team the Crimson Tide will face during the regular season not coming off an open Saturday.

Saban's record coming off byes illustrates the point. At Michigan State his teams were just 2-6 after being off, but with LSU and Alabama in the Southeastern Conference he's 9-4, including 3-1 with the Crimson Tide.

"I think it's totally overblown," senior quarterback Greg McElroy said. "It can be a blessing or a curse.

"A lot of times if you're playing well going into the bye week it can just kill your momentum, ruin everything you've done up to that point. When you're not playing so well and struggling, don't really have an identity, I think it can be an absolute blessing because you can re-evaluate things, sort of what we did after Tennessee last year."

Injury report

Saban announced that junior wide receiver Julio Jones sustained a bruised knee against Florida on Saturday while junior linebacker Chris Jordan pulled a hamstring. Both are considered day-to-day for now, although Jones had a precautionary MRI that came back negative.

Both players were at practice, but while Jordan went through individual drills when reporters were allowed to observe Jones didn't run any routes with the receiving corps.

Sophomore guard Barrett Jones was no longer wearing the elbow brace on his left arm.
Meanwhile, look for McElroy to try and stop taking unnecessary hits.

"It's not that I don't understand the concept of sliding and staying healthy, it's just when I'm out there I have a hard time going down," he said. "Sliding to me just seems like a sign of weakness. I guess that's just my ego. I probably need to do it for my sake and the team's sake."

Weekly awards

Alabama earned a pair of accolades from the SEC when junior linebacker Courtney Upshaw was named the defensive player of the week and sophomore guard Chance Warmack the offensive lineman of the week.

"When I get that award, everyone gets that award," Warmack said. "The whole offensive line."

Warmack and junior wide receiver Darius Hanks shared the offensive honors for the coaching staff, with Upshaw and junior safety Mark Barron on defense and freshman John Fulton and sophomore Trent Richardson on special teams.

Richardson has been named a player of the week after all five games. He had 121 all-purpose yards against Florida, with 58 coming on three kickoff returns to go with two tackles on kickoff coverage.

Upshaw had seven tackles, including four for a loss, a fumble recovery and two pass deflections, while Warmack graded out the best on the offensive line and had key blocks on both of Ingram's rushing touchdowns and Richardson's 30-yard carry.

"He's a man out there," Ingram said. "I love running behind him, especially when he pulls.

"He's going to be a real special player for us."

Dareus' name in headlines

According to an ESPN report, junior defensive end Marcell Dareus told investigators that former North Carolina assistant coach John Blake tried to lobby him to consider eventually hiring agent Gary Wichard, which would be a violation of numerous NCAA rules.

Monday, Blake's attorney William Beaver admitted that there was contact between the two, but claimed that Dareus called Blake because they had developed a relationship during recruiting and the assistant coach counseled Dareus during his mother's illness.

Dareus was suspended for the first two games of the season and had to donate to charity the equivalent of when he received for two trips to Florida, $1,787, while North Carolina coach Butch Davis apologized to Tar Heels fans again Monday for trusting Blake.

"It's water that's been under the bridge for several months now," Saban said. "It's somewhere down in the Gulf of Mexico now. I really don't have much care about talking about that."

The coach took exception when a reporter tried to press the issue.

"I guess I must stutter," he responded. "Did I stutter? I'm not very clear on how I articulate. Maybe I need to go back to West Virginia and get some more hillbilly slang and maybe everybody can understand me a little better."

Ole Miss an evening kickoff

Although the exact time has yet to be set, next week's homecoming game against Ole Miss will be an evening affair.

With CBS exercising its six-day option to chose between Arkansas at Auburn, Mississippi State at Florida and South Carolina at Kentucky for the 2:30 p.m. slot the Crimson Tide will definitely be on an ESPN network.

The options are 5 p.m. on ESPN 2; 6 p.m. on ESPNU; or 8 p.m. on ESPN2, and set either Sunday or Monday.

Tide-bits

Before Florida, Ingram had been teasing junior wide receiver Marquis Maze that he had a better arm between them. "He proved me wrong," Ingram said of the 19-yard touchdown pass out of the bobcat. "He can really put that ball on the money."

The hand-slap/salute gestures that Ingram and Richardson do after each score was devised by Richardson. "We had to do something different," Ingram said.

McElroy submitted his application to be a Rhodes Scholar on Sunday night. "It's a weight off my shoulders, that's for sure," he said, adding that his resume mentioned last year's 14-0 record, but not this season's 5-0 start. "I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch." His interview will be the weekend before playing Auburn.

Sophomore safety Robert Lester not answering questions about getting a turnover has become a rare thing. "I started getting used to them," he said, but still leads Barron in their friendly interception competition, four to one. "Me and Mark go at it every day."


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