Notebook: Is Alabama's OL tipping plays?

RT D.J. Fluker

Alabama head coach Nick Saban was caught off guard when asked if his offensive line was tipping run and pass plays against Western Kentucky.

Are Alabama's offensive linemen tipping run and pass plays?

If so, Nick Saban is unaware.

After the top-ranked Tide shut out Western Kentucky 35-0 last week, SB Nation writer Steven Godfrey published an article titled, "How to beat Alabama: An all access look at preparing for the Tide." In it, he interviewed Hilltoppers defensive line coach Eric Mathies who points out that Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker is "tipping off which plays are run and which are pass by his posture, with an accuracy of over 90 percent."

Saban discarded the notion saying he had not heard this.

"We actually asked some of the coaches on the [WKU] staff if they had any clues on us and they said they didn't," Saban said. "I don't know, I haven't heard that."

However, when Saban was informed Fluker may incidentally be giving off hints, he paused and said, "Good to know."

Center Barrett Jones said that the coaching staff puts a lot of time and effort into making sure that the offensive line doesn't give off these types of signals.

"It goes far beyond whether we're tipping," he said. "Say we have a certain formation we only pass out of or only run out of, we'll run the opposite play out of that just to make sure we're not tipping off or anything. That's a big part of what we do."

A two-man race

When A.J. McCarron was relieved of his duties towards the end of the Western Kentucky game last Saturday, it was presumed that Phillip Ely would replace him like he did against Michigan. But it was Blake Sims that finished out the day at quarterback.

Saban said Wednesday that there is an ongoing competition between Ely and Sims for the No. 2 quarterback spot.

"We're trying to bring both of those guys along, equally, to see who kind of comes to the top," Saban said. "Both have a completely different skill set and really kind of complement each other."

Saban said that true freshman Alec Morris is coming along, but the battle is between the older players because of their knowledge, experience and maturity.

"We're really pleased and satisfied with Alec's progress," Saban said. "He's probably just not quite ready and the other two guys are a little further ahead."

Injury Report

All previously injured players are healthy and ready to roll on Saturday in Arkansas, with the exception of running back/fullback/H-back Jalston Fowler, who is having knee surgery Thursday.

Linebacker Adrian Hubbard, who hyperextended his left elbow in a scrimmage during camp, has been wearing a massive protective contraption on his arm during practice and games. He said his elbow doesn't hurt, but he's still not back to 100 percent yet.

"I'm probably about 98.3 percent right now," he said. "When it's 100 percent, [the brace] will come off."


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