Alabama continues bowl preps

Mike Johnson

The Alabama Crimson Tide football team practiced twice on Friday as preparations for the Allstate Sugar Bowl continued. The Tide began their Friday with a full pads practice inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility in the morning, and the second practice moved outside in shells for the evening workout.



In between workouts, junior guard Mike Johnson hinted things have been a little chippy after the layoff for final exams.

"It's been pretty intense. You can tell everybody's fresh, and ready to get back in the swing of things," he said. "I think everybody's coming out with the right mind set, so far."

Johnson, as can be expected, said he'll miss playing between All-Americans Andre Smith and Antoine Caldwell, the Tide's left tackle and center.

"Playing next to a guy that won the Outland Trophy is something that's not only special for him (Smith), but it's special for me," Johnson said, adding that playing in New Orleans with Smith and Caldwell for the final time "might be sad afterwards."

"As far as how things go during the game, hopefully it will be the same as it has all year, and we'll continue to move the ball, like we have."

Johnson has now had time to get acquainted with defense of the Tide's opponent, No. 6 Utah.

"They're a speedy defense, a lot like Florida," he said, "but they don't mind hitting you, either. They've got some great athletes on their defense, and that's something you can't take lightly."

As everyone who has scouted the Utes knows, Bama is much bigger on its offensive line than Utah is on its defensive front.

"It presents different challenges, when you face speed as opposed to size," Johnson said. "You've got to have good foot work, and make sure everybody is in the right place at the right time, or else they'll ruin you."

As for facing a smaller front, Johnson had a somewhat surprising assessment: "It's not really something you look forward to, but it's something that presents another challenge."

If last year's bowl trip to the Bayou State is any indication, the locale of the game itself could also present a challenge. The Tide players expect some places in the "Big Easy" to be off limits, because New Orleans is a place where it is easy to get in trouble.

Junior linebacker Cory Reamer told reporters Friday the older players will be more aware of what will happen during Sugar Bowl week after last year's trip to Shreveport, La. and the Independence Bowl.

"You can get in just as much trouble in Shreveport, and we found that out last year," Reamer said. "There's just as much to do there with the casinos and everything. We had some issues last year, so I'm sure (coach Nick Saban) is going to make the point that we have parts that are off-limits, so that we'll stay out of trouble."

Practice observers have noticed a pair of position changes, but a third appears on hold until spring practice. True freshmen Chris Jackson and Michael Williams are working at different slots so far in bowl workouts.

Jackson is at safety instead of receiver, and Williams has moved from 'Jack' linebacker to tight end, a position where he excelled for Pickens County High School the past few seasons.

One other strongly-rumored position change has not happened yet. Freshman B.J. Scott is still working as a receiver, though multiple reports from Tuscaloosa and Mobile say the speedster is likely to try the secondary come spring ball.

The Crimson Tide resumed workouts on Thursday and will practice seven times in six days before breaking for Christmas following a workout on Tuesday, Dec. 23.

The Tide will then reconvene in New Orleans on Saturday, Dec. 27 to finish work for Utah in the 75th Allstate Sugar Bowl played on Friday, January 2 in the Louisiana Superdome at 7 p.m. on Fox.

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