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October 6, 2009TUSCALOOSA _ When the University of Alabama football team lined up for individual drills Tuesday afternoon, the only part of practice that reporters were allowed to observe, senior linebacker Cory Reamer was back in his familiar spot with the outside linebackers.
So he's gone back to being the strongside linebacker (Sam), right?
"We're just going to be doing this for the rest of the season," Reamer said. "It's going to be back-and-forth, back-and-forth. Who knows where I'll end up, who knows where I'll play Saturday. Just (working) at both positions so I don't lose the mental reps I need to be getting at both positions."
After sophomore Dont'a Hightower was lost for the season late in the first quarter at Arkansas, Reamer slid over to take his place, with senior Eryk Anders moving from Jack (the hybrid end/linebacker spot) to Will, and sophomore Courtney Upshaw inserted at Jack.
They stayed in those roles against Kentucky on Saturday, when the Tide yielded a season-high 133 rushing yards, but also created four turnovers.
"They were definitely trying to take advantage of us, running a lot of stretch runs at us, a lot of power at me and Eryk, and some at Courtney too," Reamer said.
Coach Nick Saban hinted Monday that he might shake things up and go with a more physical lineup against Ole Miss. Backup weakside linebacker Jerrell Harris is ineligible for one more game, leaving true freshmen Nico Johnson and Tana Patrick the top options at Will.
A bonus to playing one, or both of them in different situations is that Reamer and Anders could go back to their regular roles.
"They're a lot similar," Anders said. "The only thing that's different is that at Sam there's more pass coverage. I felt pretty comfortable there Saturday. They need me back over there in the future I can step in and do it again."
Reamer will likely stay on the field when Alabama plays nickel defense, while Upshaw figures to continue filling Hightower's pass-rushing responsibilities.
"We really only had one game in which we really got to see exactly the situation, we only played with one set of guys the last game," Reamer said. "Right now we're kind of shifting things around, it's still uncertain with what we're going to be doing this weekend. Who knows? To be honest with you I wish I could give you a more definite answer. Right now I've practiced at both of them and I know what's going on at both of them, it might change Friday, it might change Saturday morning."
A little gamesmanship?
While it's obviously not in Alabama's best interest to let Ole Miss know who will be the starting weakside linebacker, or anything else that might help the Rebels prepare, Houston Nutt has completely closed practices to reporters this week.
Both coaches are known for their unpredictability during games, sort of like in other sports.
"The thing that makes (Saban) different is his blitz packages," Nutt told RebelSports.net earlier this week. "I think he's ahead of the game with things that he does with nickels, dimes, the extra (defensive backs). He gets you behind the count and he's really good. Most of the teams in the SEC are, but what he has is he'll bring a safety, he'll bring a corner. It doesn't matter. He'll bring a linebacker and he'll keep you off-balance with the different types of blitzes.
"He'd be a really good basketball coach as well because he knows how to match things up. What I mean by that is he's going to try to take away the things you do the best, whether it be run, pass or play-action. He's going to study you on first down, second down and third down. He's going to know what you do and he's going to try to take it away from you and really discourage you from doing it. Then he's got some real players that play the way he wants them to play."
While this is the third time Alabama has started a season by scoring 30-or-more points in the first five games of a season, the 200 points is the fewest of the three. The 1920 Tide scored 243 points in the first five games and went on to finish 10-1, outscoring opponents 377-35, but did not win the Southern Conference Title. The 1979 team scored 219 points, finished 12-0 and won the SEC and national championship. Incidentally, the team record for most consecutive 30-point games is seven (1971).
Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead told reporters that while at the Manning Passing Academy this summer somehow Greg McElroy somehow ended up with one of his shirts. "I need to get that back. It made its way into his bag somehow. I put my stuff down by his bag and I guess he wanted an Ole Miss shirt for some reason."
Nutt announced Tuesday that freshman defensive lineman Craig Drummond, a four-star recruit last year from Chicago who played in two games this season, has left the team due to personal reasons. "Craig Drummond is a fine young man," Nutt said. "What makes it tough is when a guy graduates early and misses out on a lot of high school experience. Between workouts and classes, it's a tough transition. Hopefully he'll work through a lot of these things and maybe come back to us someday. This is the best thing for him, and we wish him nothing but the best."
Alabama players have heard that their Ole Miss counterparts consider this their most important game of the season. "If they want to stay in national contention, they're going to have to come out and play their best," Reamer said. "(They're) the best team we've played so far."
Upshaw and Alabama student Kendall Lynn Grzyb are scheduled to appear in Tuscaloosa District Court on Wednesday morning to face misdemeanor domestic violence/harassment charges.
Sophomore center William Vlachos said the offensive line showed improvement in run-blocking against Kentucky, but knows it can be better. "Obviously SEC defenses are a lot better, the little mistakes show up a lot more. We've gotten better every week."
Redshirt freshman David Williams has been working at right guard on the third-unit. ... Senior running back Roy Upchurch appears to be almost fully recovered from the high-ankle sprain and ready to handle more carries. ... The third-unit defensive line was, from left to right, Nick Gentry, Kerry Murphy and Darrington Sentimore. ... Defensive lineman Damion Square and running back Jeramie Griffin again rode exercise bikes during practice. Both are out for the season with knee injuries.