Alabama returned to practice with a 90-minute Wednesday evening workout in helmets and shoulder pads in the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility, and then had a two-hour full gear practice Thursday afternoon, also indoors.
Alabama, 12-1 and ranked second in the nation, is preparing for the BCS National Championship Game against top-ranked Notre Dame (12-0) on Jan. 7 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Bama will practice in Tuscaloosa Friday, Saturday, Monday, and early Tuesday before departing for South Florida.
Following Thursday’s practice, Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, “We were happy to get everybody back here last night. We had a couple of guys that had some weather delays, but everybody eventually got back in here. A couple of guys were late, through no fault of their own, relative to weather situations, especially in the East and especially in Dallas.
“We had a good practice last night. Everybody was ready to go. The key to it is to sustain it and get really four good days of work.
“The quality of practice is more important now than it is during the season, because you haven't played for a long time.
“Finishing, practicing the right way, thudding runners, finishing blocks, finishing runs _ not having got hit that many times. Ball security.. All those things are really important to be able to get done in practice because you don't have a game every week to sort of get used to playing your way into what it takes to be able to be competitive and do all those things correctly in a game.
“We started to do some game prep this week, which is important. We are going try to give the players the best tools we can to help them be successful in the game, but when the game comes they will have had to prepare correctly so that they can go out and execute the things they need to do to use those tools to their advantage.”
“When you have this much time you really accumulate a lot of information on the other team, so you have a lot more things to cover.
“Notre Dame is a team especially on offense that they do a lot of stuff. There's a lot of adjustments that you have to make, a lot of personnel groups, utilize their personnel well, move guys around that can create mismatch problems for you. Some of those adjustments are things that are a little different than what we've had to face throughout the season, so it's probably good that we have a little bit more time.
“Their defense has a really good front seven. They've played very effectively all year long, especially in the red zone and on the goal line.
“Having the additional prep time is probably a good thing. We're going through every situation right now and taking it one step at a time. It does allow you to evaluate some of your stuff that you might want to do in the game and see which things might work a little bit better. And make sure that you rep what you want to do the next time so that the players can execute it properly in the game.”
Although Saban said there was nothing new to report on the injury front, it was somewhat newsworthy that All-America center Barrett Jones, who suffered an injured foot in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Georgia, and Freshman All-SEC linebacker Denzel Devall, who suffered a sprained knee in practice, continued to be held out of work.
Saban said, “Both spend a little time on a treadmill. Depending on how that goes this week, then they'll probably be able to practice maybe next week. That's kind of the plan, but it's day to day because they both need to continue to make progress to be able to come back and play. We're hopeful that they get at least five practices in before the game and are able to do that and sustain that.”