Tide Preparing As It Has All Season

Mike Johnson

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Dance with who brung you. Don't switch horses in mid-stream. The country boys have a lot of sensible sayings. No, not those country boys. Alabama is preparing to host Auburn Saturday, and the Crimson Tide doesn't plan changes.



Perhaps the biggest changes in college football this year occurred at Auburn, where the Tigers fired their new offensive coordinator in mid-season, ditched the highly publicized spread offense he had installed, and switched quarterbacks.

The offense gets most of the blame from those criticizing Auburn's disappointing season. The Tigers are 5-6 overall, 2-5 in Southeastern Conference play after having been predicted to win the SEC Western Division and be a national top ten team.

Meanwhile, Alabama has sailed along with relatively few problems. The Crimson Tide has rolled to an 11-0 record and number one national ranking. Bama clinched the SEC Western Division title a few weeks ago and will play Florida for the league championship at the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta on December 6.

Everyone associated with Alabama football offers assurances that Bama is not looking ahead to that SEC Championship Game, and certainly not to the possibility of playing in the BCS National Championship Game on January 8 in Miami.

The first order of business is a successful conclusion to regular season play, i.e. a win over Auburn.

Alabama will host Auburn at 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. CBS will televise the game.

Mike Johnson, Bama's starting left guard, said following Tuesday's practice that preparation has been "pretty intense. The open week allowed us to get some rest and get our legs back under us. Everyone has come back fresh and playing fast, playing physical.

"We all know what's at stake," said the 6-6, 295-pound junior.

Johnson said, "We're trying to do what we've been doing all year. It has been successful.

"The coaches aren't trying to change anything. We have a formula for success, so we've pretty much kept things the same."

He said there had been no temptation to look beyond Auburn. "We've never had a problem with that," Johnson said. "If there had been a time when it would have been easy to look ahead it would have been when we were playing Mississippi State and knowing we had Auburn next. That didn't happen."

Johnson expects a tough battle in the trenches. He said Auburn has a defensive line of "good size and strength and they really move well. Their edge players are what we call ‘slippery.'"

Johnson was asked about young Alabama defensive linemen who have impressed him in practice. He said 6-5, 285-pound freshman Marcel Dareus, who has moved into a passing down inside line spot, is "so strong." And on the scout team, he said 6-3, 275-pound freshman Damion Square, who is being redshirted, "is going to be a real good player."

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