Tide getting ready for SEC opener against Ole Miss


TUSCALOOSA – The University of Alabama football team put in a 90-minute session in shells on Monday afternoon outdoors on the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields in preparation for this weekend’s Southeastern Conference opener against No. 19/17 Ole Miss.

The Crimson Tide’s first practice of the new week focused on planning and preparation for an Ole Miss passing game that ranks among the best in the conference. The Rebels are led by head coach Hugh Freeze, who is in his fifth season in Oxford. Alabama and Ole Miss are scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. CT kickoff at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on CBS. Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Allie LaForce will have the call for the Tide’s first contest on CBS this season.

Practice will continue for the next three days before Alabama uses Friday to travel to its first true road contest of the 2016 season. The Crimson Tide owns the all-time advantage, 47-11-2 (51-10-2 actual), in a series that dates back to 1894. Alabama is 7-4 all-time in Oxford and has won four of its last five games at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, falling 23-17 in its last trip in 2014.

Nick Saban met with the media prior to practice on Monday afternoon. Following is his opening statement:

“I think the focus for us needs to be on better execution; I talked about this after the game and after viewing the film. When we have issues; when we give up plays on defense; when we have negative plays on offense; it really comes from the fact that our fundamental execution is not really what it needs to be. I think that we have to spend the time in practice to get the fundamental execution that we need. I think this helps everyone play better, it benefits everybody, and I think it benefits the unit that you play on. Playing in the SEC, playing against better teams, playing on the road; all these things are definitely things we need to emphasize and improve on.

“I know you all are going to ask me about the quarterbacks, but we are going to continue to work with both of the quarterbacks. We have and try to get them better. Jalen (Hurts), obviously, played the most in the game and there are things he could do better and there are things he did very well. The emphasis, no matter who is playing, is getting better at getting things more consistent. Let’s try to eliminate some of the other things through better knowledge and experience so that we can again go back to the same thing, which is better execution. I think that is something important to the entire offensive team. If we all do what we are supposed to do better, that is going to take a lot of pressure off whoever is playing quarterback. I think that is the more significant issue for us right now in terms of how we improve on offense. We don’t have any significant injuries. Cam Sims should be back. We’ll have some guys be in black jerseys today, but I don’t think it will be an issue for the game.

“Ole Miss – we are certainly looking forward to starting the SEC season. It’s a great challenge for us early in the season against a very, very good team. Playing on the road early on has its own challenges, but this is a team that has been a really prolific offensive football team. They have a really good quarterback, a really good tight end in (Evan) Engram and a lot of other really good players, young players that are really good players. When we have struggled in the past, we have given up explosive plays, which is something that their offense is constantly trying to create. It is going to be important for us to really play well on the back-end, control the line of scrimmage so they can’t run the ball effectively against us. Defensively, these guys are very aggressive and very quick; a very quick, aggressive front and they have a lot of movement, they always have against us. It’s going to be a challenge for our offensive line and our up-front people. That is where it is going to start in terms of better execution on the offensive side of it. They are very well coached. Hugh Freeze has done a fabulous job there. I think this guy is one of the best coaches in our league, and he certainly does a great job with the players that he has. The fastball pace that they use offensively is challenging and it is something our defensive players are going to have to do a good job with. We played against it a lot more, and hopefully our players are more adapted to it, because we’ll be able to play a little better (if we are prepared).”

Source: Alabama Athletics Department

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