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August 10, 2010

Notebook: Tide goes through another round at camp

TUSCALOOSA _ The University of Alabama football team went through the sixth and seventh practices of fall camp Tuesday during the first full-squad two-a-day, which were basically a repeat of the initial two workouts.

"The first five days is a lot of installation," Coach Nick Saban said between practices. "We've probably reached overload especially with some of the young players.

"Today we went back with an emphasis of the things we did on day one and day two, so that the players could relearn it."

Assuming that continues, the team will have gone through everything twice by the end of Thursday's two-a-day, then practice Friday to prepare for Saturday's scrimmage.

One place of note where the competition is beginning to intensify is the secondary, where numerous roles have to be determined. Still in the thick of things on Fan Day was walk-on sophomore safety Will Lowery, who played at Hoover High School.

"Very competitive guy who did a good job in the spring by taking advantages of opportunity, he's been here a couple of years and understands what's going on," Saban said Lowery. "He's quick, he's tough and he's probably going to help us on specials teams and probably in some ways in the secondary."

On the cover again

Alabama is one of four teams on the cover of the college football preview edition of Sports Illustrated, with safety Mark Barron, defensive end Marcell Dareus and linebacker Dont'a Hightower. It's the eighth time the Tide has been on an SI cover since Saban was hired in 2007.

The other three regional covers feature Ohio State, Boise State and Texas, which are also the top four teams in the magazine's preseason rankings with the Tide at No. 1.

Alabama was the preseason No. 1 selection in two more rankings announced this week, with each top five raising some eyebrows.

College Football News had: 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Georgia, 4. Florida, 5. Oklahoma.

The Sporting News went with: 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Boise State, 4. Miami, 5. Florida.

The Sporting News had Georgia at No. 27 and CFN ranked Miami 11th. Incidentally, the Weekly World News reported that the real coaches' poll was 1. Notre Dame, 2. Alabama, 3. Boise State. 4. Ohio State, 5. Texas.

Biletnikoff watch list

As expected, Julio Jones was named to the watch list for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the nation's top wide receiver. He was one of six SEC players to make the list of 51, along with Auburn's Darvin Adams, Arkansas' Greg Childs, Kentucky's Randall Cobb, Georgia's A.J. Green and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery.

Alabama has never won the award, but a Saban-coached player has with LSU's Josh Reed in 2001.

Here's the watch list rundown, so far:

Bednarik Award (defensive player): Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower named to watch list. Semifinalists named Nov. 8.
Fred Biletnikoff Award (wide receiver): Julio Jones named to watch list. Semifinalists announced Nov. 15.
Butkus Award (linebacker): Watch list announced Aug. 16 (Rolando McClain reigning winner).
Walter Camp Award (Player of the year): Mark Ingram named to watch list. Semifinalists announced Nov. 16.
William Campbell Trophy (scholar-athlete, formerly known as the Draddy Trophy): Semifinalists announced Sept. 30.
Lou Groza Award (kicker): Watch list announced Aug. 20.
Ray Guy Award (punter): Watch list announced Aug. 11.
Heisman Trophy: Finalists announced Dec. 6 (Mark Ingram reigning winner).
Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end): Watch list TBA.
Rotary Lombardi Award (lineman): Watch list announced Aug. 20.
Lott Trophy (defensive impact player): Mark Barron on watch list.
John Mackey Award (tight end): Watch list announced Aug. 16.
Maxwell Award (outstanding player): Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Greg McElroy named to watch list. Semifinalists named Nov. 8.
Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player): Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower on watch list. Finalists announced Nov. 18.
Davey O'Brien Award (quarterback): Greg McElroy on watch list. Semifinalists announced Oct. 25.
Outland Trophy (interior lineman): James Carpenter and Barrett Jones on watch list. Finalists announced Nov. 21.
Rimington Trophy (center): Watch list announced Aug. 27.
Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back): Mark Barron named to watch list. Semifinalists announced November.
Unitas Golden Arm (senior quarterback): Greg McElroy on watch list.
Doak Walker Award (running back): Watch list announced Aug. 23.

Coaching awards
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award: Watch list TBA.
Broyles Award (assistant coach): Finalists announced Nov. 28 (Kirby Smart reigning winner).
Bobby Bowden Coach of the Year Award: Finalists TBA (Nick Saban reigning winner).
George Munger Award: Semifinalists announced Nov. 8.
Home Depot Coach of the Year: Finalists TBA.
Joe Paterno Award: Semifinalists announced Sept. 30
Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year: Finalists TBA.
Eddie Robinson Award: Finalists announced Nov. 24.
Amos Alonzo Stagg Coach of the Year Award: Finalists TBA (Nick Saban reigning winner).
Walter Camp Coach of the Year: TBA.
AFCA Coach of the Year: TBA.
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year: TBA.

Injury report

Freshman safety Kendall Kelly remained out due to a heat-related issue.

Junior running back Demetrius Goode has tweaked a hamstring injury and will be limited the next few days.

With Mark Ingram being excused for two days, he worked in shorts to complete his acclamation to pads, but wasn't able to participate in a two-a-day yet to so missed the night practice. Consequently, redshirt freshman Eddie Lacy has been getting more reps.

"He has to continue to make progress in terms of knowing what to do and doing it on a consistent basis, and playing with the toughness that you need play with to do those types of things," Saban said about Lacy. "There's a lot more to playing running back than carrying the ball, but he's done a nice job. Cory Grant has done a nice job as a freshman."

Follow the bouncing helmet

True freshman Blake Sims was at his third position of camp Tuesday. After working at safety his first day and then quarterback, he was taking handoffs at running back.

Coaches are finding out exactly what he's capable of and may keep moving him around for a while.

"We have only three quarterbacks on scholarship, Blake can play quarterback," Saban said. "He's one of those guys who's very open to playing something besides quarterback. Since he wasn't here for the summer he really didn't have the opportunity to learn as a quarterback. But as a guy who can play quarterback on scout team, as a guy who can run Wildcat for the defense and quarterback runs, he's a talented guy who has natural running skills. When we talked to him in recruiting we talked to him maybe being a quarterback, maybe being a running back, maybe being a receiver, maybe even safety."

Special auditions continue

Although Trent Richardson and Jones appear to be the frontrunners to return kicks and punts, Alabama has numerous options.

"We've got more guys right now than the law allows," Saban said. "We feel really good about Trent, who's really a good kickoff-return guy. We feel really good about Julio being sort of the off-returner, because he's a really good blocker, which is what he played all last year."

The coach also mentioned Grant, Darius Hanks, Ingram, Keiwone Malone, Marquis Maze, DeMarcus Milliner and DeAndrew White as possibilities.

Tide-bits

Freshman Jalston Fowler appears to be vying for playing time and was working on the second unit with the interior linebackers when reporters were allowed to observe. His partner for most of the drills was Nico Johnson.

ProFootballTalk.com reported that multiple NFL sources indicated that Saban has advised some pro teams that scouts are no longer welcome at Alabama practices until further notice. The coach previously stated that he might do such a move it he league and NFL Players Association didn't step up and help with problematic agents and their runners.

Saban on defensive lineman Brandon Lewis: "(He's) made a lot improvement from the spring and has a better idea of what we want. He's gained a little weight, he's changed his body a little bit, he's gotten stronger. He's having a little more success as a player. He has pretty good athleticism. He probably needs to get a little bigger and stronger, but I think he's a guy who can add depth to our defensive line this year."

The online gambling site sportsbook.com lists Alabama with 4-to-1 odds to win the BCS Championship, 1-to-1 to win the SEC and 2-to-3 for the SEC West.

Former safety Rod Woodson has completed his transfer to North Alabama.

Coaches were cracking the verbal whips Tuesday morning to start the first full-squad two-a-day sessions. By mid-practice the temperature was 94 degrees during practice with a heat index of 104. Even after the sun set it was still 92 degrees with a 101 heat index when the evening session started. The team was in full pads for the morning and shorts for the evening. Alabama will practice at 2:30 Wednesday. All practices are closed to the public.


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