Woodall Expects Better Tackling

Justin Woodall plays both safety spots

There's a ficticious memorandum, pretty humorous, along the lines of "Beatings will continue until morale improves." There are no beatings going on at Alabama football practice, but members of the defensive unit got the message that last Saturday's performance was not acceptable.

On Tuesday Alabama Coach Nick Saban said "We're not disappointed in where we are right now. We just have to keep working on it."

But Alabama players were disappointed in that scrimmage in which the offense racked up over 300 yards and had several long scoring plays.

Junior safety Justin Woodall said Wednesday that practices have had players working hard this week. He said there was nothing special about the practices, other than the defensive players being more intense.

Woodall said it could have been that tackling in the first scrimmage suffered from Alabama having been using "thud" drills up until the scrimmage. It is Bama's plan to practice smart and avoid injuries, including keeping players off the ground. Tackling is supposed to be full speed until the moment of takedown, at which time the tackle stops.

Woodall said steps have been taken this week to get past that problem.

"We've been in pads all week working on tackling," he said. "There's been a lot of emphasis on tackling.

"It will be better this week," he promised.

Alabama had its final "two-a-day" practice scheduled Wednesday. After Thursday and Friday practices at the Thomas Field facility, the Tide will go to Bryant-Denny Stadium for a Saturday scrimmage. (Practices are closed to the public.)

Alabama opens the season and the Saban Era at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday, September 1, hosting Western Carolina at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"Everyone is starting to pick up the defensive schemes better since spring," he said. "When we came back to camp this fall it seemed to click. I didn't really know what was going on in the spring, but began to get it this fall."

He said that Alabama has an extensive defensive "playbook." He said, "There's a lot in it and they add to it all the time."

As a safety he said "We're sort of alike a quarterback of the defense back there in that we make all the calls."

He said he plays both safety spots. "In our defense they are interchangeable," he said.

Woodall was an outstanding baseball pitcher who turned down bonus money from the Major League Baseball draft to attend Alabama. He said he intends to return to the baseball field in the spring.

"I'll have to get my arm back in shape," he said. "I haven't thrown in a while."

He said he had missed playing baseball. "I've played since I was little, longer than I've been playing football," he said.

But he said he had made the right choice to go to college and play football.

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