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October 6, 2010

Notebook: Another week, another national defensive honor

TUSCALOOSA _ The University of Alabama's young secondary received another award Tuesday when junior safety Mark Barron was named the Lott Trophy Impact Player of the Week.

Alabama will receive $1,000 for its general scholarship fund and a new HP laptop for the athletic department's academic services.

Barron had a team-high 11 tackles against Florida on Saturday, to go with two pass breakups. He leads the Tide with 31 tackles and two sacks in five games.

Last week sophomore Robert Lester was named both the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski national defensive player of the week and the Southeastern Conference's corresponding award after he had two interceptions and seven tackles at Arkansas.

Despite having to replace seven of the top eight players on the two-deep secondary, with two sophomores and a true freshman starting and a junior-college transfer as the nickel back, Alabama has recorded 11 interceptions which trails only Florida by one for the SEC and national lead.

Lester leads the league individually with four picks, while cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is right behind him with three. Alabama also has four players, although one is freshman linebacker C.J. Mosley with a 1.4 average, in the top 12 for passes defended (Kirkpatrick, Lester and Barron, 1.0).

However, the Tide is still only seventh in pass defense heading into Saturday's game at South Carolina.

"I think that we've still given up too many big plays, some intermediate passes, some over routes in this last game that we didn't match up correctly," Coach Nick Saban said "We still need to be more disciplined in how we play to eliminate some of those plays, but I think in this game we'll be challenged because they have great size at receiver, they have vertical receivers and they will throw the ball down the field. They did it last year, they tried last year to throw several passes down the field against us and I'm sure we're going to be challenged, as much or more, as we've been challenged all year in terms of the vertical passing game."

Injury report

There didn't appear to be any changes in the status of junior wide receiver Julio Jones (bruised knee) or junior linebacker Chris Jordan (hamstring), whom are both considered day-to-day.

Similar to Monday, Jordan went through individual drills when reporters were allowed to observe but Jones didn't run any routes with the receiving corps. The team worked outside for two hours in pads.

Spurrier still can't bite tongue

During a press conference Tuesday, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was asked about coaching against Saban, not just at Alabama but when he beat him twice at LSU.

"Those were two of the real good offenses we had down there at Florida," he said. "We looked like we were a lot smarter than he was the first two games, but recently he was a lot smarter than I was last year. Let's put it that way. Who knows who's going to be the smartest this year? Who knows who's going to be the smartest?

"I read something interesting in the paper the other day about the Ryder Cup golf matches. One writer said, 'Whoever wins the Ryder Cup, that captain will be considered somewhere between John Wooden and Vince Lombardi,' and he said: 'The loser will be considered like an SEC football coach after a loss.' He'll be the dummy, and that's just the way it is, and we all know that. As coaches we all know that."

He then couldn't help himself.

"Of course, sometimes you can win and still be a dummy. We've learned that recently, too."

Tide-bits

Spurrier isn't counting on Alabama having a letdown after Florida: "We hope so but we doubt it. You don't sneak up on a team like Alabama with the tradition of that school, that coach and the success he's had in the past. That coaching staff is a veteran bunch of guys. They have the ability to go one game at a time and to not get full of themselves after wins. They have a track record that a big win does not affect them the next week."

Senior Greg McElroy, who has taken some unnecessary hits, isn't the only quarterback being asked about sliding this week as South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has all three of his team's lost fumbles. "In my 30 years of coaching quarterbacks, I never taught one to slide feet first," Spurrier said. "We taught our guys to protect themselves, get what you can and get down. We tell our receivers to get down after you've caught the ball and are hemmed up. We never ask the guys to (stand) up and get out. Hopefully Stephen can do that. I don't know if he can or not to be honest because he hasn't changed yet. Maybe we've done a poor job coaching him not to go in with his head down and eyes closed. We've emphasized it as much as we can. Hopefully he'll protect the ball when he runs.

Sophomore guard Barrett Jones had some interesting things to say about his fellow linemen, including redshirt freshman right tackle D.J. Fluker: "D.J.'s getting a ton better. He continues to work. He's had a few eager games and is starting to get more comfortable. He's really just kind of settling in, just like everyone else. There was a bit of panic, sometimes, when things were happening really fast, he's starting to settle in and understand everything that's happening." As for sophomore left guard Chance Warmack, the SEC offensive lineman of the week, "He weighs 320 pounds and has a six-pack, it's not right for a guy to be like that. His body fat is really low, it's freakish, and for how big that he is he can move extremely well in space."


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