A staple of pre-season analysis is that a team, say Michigan, has had all summer or nine months or whatever to get ready for another team, say Alabama. Of course, Alabama has had approximately the same amount of time to get ready for Michigan. We don’t know what Michigan has been doing since the end of last season, but we know that Bama has not spent all that time getting ready for the Wolverines.
In fact, Alabama fall camp has ended and the Crimson Tide still is not getting ready for Michigan. Bama, ranked second in the nation in pre-season polls, will take on the Wolverines, ranked eighth, in the nation’s premier opener on Sept. 1 in the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas. That’s a week from Saturday.
Last Saturday the Tide finished fall camp and so Coach Nick Saban’s team got right to work this week on...not Michigan. At least not entirely.
Saban said the Tide would be working on “our first three opponents, in no certain order, and then sometime later in the week we’ll start working more on our first opponent.”
That is not a case of overconfidence
“This is the way we’ve done it for a long time,” Saban said. “I think you can practice too long for one particular game.” He pointed out that even when Alabama had several weeks to prepare for BCS National Championship Games against Texas in 2009 and LSU last season, Bama did not spend all that time working on the opponent, spending considerable time instead on fundamentals and conditioning.
Hard to find fault with the plan.
Thus, in mid-August, Saban is doing something he considers “critical – and I think this has helped us in the past – that we spend time working on other opponents now.” When the Tide reaches the week of the game against those other opponents, Saban said, “We’re not starting from square one. We’ve got a little background in what we’re doing. The players kind of know what to expect. They’ve got a little history of what we’re going to do against them.”
Junior Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner has been a part of the Saban process and knows what to expect. He called fall camp “a good, hard two weeks of work. We’ve over it now and preparing for the season, preparing for the first game, doing some fundamental things.”
Demarcus Milliner, 6-1, 199, from Millbrook, is not listed as a returning starter, but in his two-year Crimson Tide career he has started 17 times – six last year – and seen action in every Bama game. Last year, though, he was primarily playing in nickel situations. This year he is expected to be the starting left cornerback.
Last year he had three interceptions which he returned for a total of 72 yards. The last of those came late in the game at Auburn and he returned it 35 yards for a game-clinching touchdown in the 42-14 rout of the Tigers. He has also turned in 82 tackles and broken up 16 passes.
Milliner admitted that it is difficult to be working on three different offenses in short order. On the other hand, as classes started Wednesday at The University, Milliner said it is easy to get back into that routine.
He did say he and his teammates are “very anxious” to begin preparing for Michigan. He said, “We want to show the identity of this year’s team.”
If Milliner has been concentrating on Michigan, he’s done a nice job of disguising it.
“We really haven’t been watching film on Michigan yet,” he said. “The time will come soon enough. We’ll be on that when the time comes.”
Pressed, Milliner admits that, “Oh, yeah, we know about Denard Robinson and all the athletes around him. We just have to be ready for that game when the time comes.
“We look forward to any challenge and we know Michigan will be a big test. They are a great team. I think last year they lost two games and ended last season on a great note against Virginia Tech. We’re looking forward to it.”