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September 28, 2009
Notebook: Tide aims to improve run blocking
TUSCALOOSA | If there was one point of concern offensively after the University of Alabama's 35-7 home victory against Arkansas on Saturday, it was the running game.
The Tide had a season-low 134 rushing yards on 41 carries (3.27 average), which would have looked a lot worse without true freshman Trent Richardson's 52-yard touchdown.
"After the game it almost felt like we lost because we didn't run the ball like we should," sophomore center William Vlachos said.
Although Arkansas was clearly playing to stop the run, with the Crimson Tide electing not to attack the single-man coverage and kept running the ball after taking a commanding lead, Alabama felt it should have performed better on the ground.
In addition to going over technique and execution this week, coaches plan on having the linemen watch game film with the tight ends to improve the cohesion.
"There were times we had hat-on-hat, we just didn't finish the blocks," Coach Nick Saban said. "There were other times there were mental errors about who we were supposed to block. There were times we didn't play with enough power.
"When people choose to play us that way, that's when we need to be aggressive and trust in the players."
Ole Miss kickoff time on hold
Next week's kickoff times may not be announced until next Monday, but Alabama at Ole Miss will be an afternoon game no matter what. With Florida at LSU set for 7 p.m. on CBS, ESPN can't show any SEC night games that would conflict.
Consequently, there are four slots to be filled: Alabama at Ole Miss, Auburn at Arkansas, Georgia at Tennessee, and Houston at Mississippi State to be split between among the 2:30 CBS game, noon ESPN, 11:30 a.m. ESPNU, and 11:21 a.m. SEC Network.
Kentucky at South Carolina has already been tabbed for FSN at 11:30 a.m., and Vanderbilt at Army at 11 a.m. will be on CBS College Sports (which is not part of the SEC television package).
Richardson was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season after gaining 65 yards on nine carries and one touchdown, and had two catches for 16 yards. For the season, the true freshman has 280 rushing yards on 38 attempts and is tied for the team lead with four rushing touchdowns.
He also won the award after his breakout performance against Florida International.
Senior cornerback Javier Arenas was an honorable mention choice for SEC defensive player of the week, which instead went to South Carolina linebacker Eric Norwood. Arenas recorded five tackles, three for losses, including two sacks.
The Tide coaching staff recognized seven players of the week, including Richardson and sophomore wide receiver Marquis Maze as offensive players of the week, junior linebacker Rolando McClain and Arenas on defense, and senior Chris Rogers, senior Tyrone King Jr. and senior Lorenzo Washington on special teams.
In addition to his 80-yard touchdown reception, tied for the sixth longest in Alabama history, Maze had the key block on sophomore running back Mark Ingram's 14-yard touchdown reception.
"Without Marquis' block where he takes out two guys, Mark gets tackled at the eight-yard line," junior quarterback Greg McElroy said.
Alabama closed practice completely to reporters Monday, the first time it's done so this season. The reason given was that the team was skipping the individual drills that the media was usually allowed to observe. Also, the Tide did not release a depth chart in its weekly notes.
Alabama is already trying to deflect the inevitable comparisons to No. 1 Florida, which defeated Kentucky on Saturday, 41-7. "We're not Florida, Florida's not us," McClain said. "There's really no comparison in my mind." Added Vlachos: "I saw that lick they put on (Tim) Tebow, I can't let that happen to Greg."
McElroy had high praise for the students who stayed in the stands during the downpour before Saturday's game: "It was pouring rain in the pregame, it was disgusting. No one wanted to be out there, and the entire student section was completely full on the left side. That was real encouraging."
Washington on television broadcasters repeatedly calling him "Lionel" Saturday: "I've had a few people call me that. It's just a name. People know the last name and the number. I think it's pretty much. Saying it on TV, maybe people will remember me a little bit."