Crimson Tide Notes: Sugar Bowl Tuesday

Players: ‘You can’t replace Andre’
Wilson declared the loss of All-American left tackle Andre Smith “bad news,” but vowed the team would rebound from the adversity. He said the team had gone through two games without Smith during the season and losing a player is one of the key reasons second team players get a significant amount of work during practice.

“We get enough reps with the two’s during the week and throughout the year that we’ll just slide a guy in and it will be like, well it won’t be like Andre because he was the Outland Trophy winner, but I am confident in all the rest of the guys we’ve got,” Wilson said.

Fellow All-American lineman Antoine Caldwell said the experience playing without Smith during the Tulane game helped the younger players realize how close they are to playing.

“The good thing is we have a lot of depth. We have a lot of guys who can play a lot of positions,” Caldwell said.

The biggest question is how the change disrupts the chemistry of the offensive line.

“No doubt about it, you can’t replace anybody like Andre,” Caldwell said. “In that point it kind of sets us back a little bit, but each guy on this team takes a lot of pride in what they’ve got to do to get ready to play in a football game…I think we all will be ready to play.”

While it remains uncertain what the shuffling on the line will do to the Tide, the players said little would change in the Tide’s offensive identity; Wilson also said the team would continue doing what brought the Tide to New Orleans with its smash mouth style of football.

While the teammates weren’t happy at the loss of Smith, they stopped short of judging his decision that led to the suspension. They cited lack of knowledge. But the lack of knowledge didn’t stop Smith’s teammates from sharing kind words for their friend.

“Still love him to death. He’s a great guy,” Wilson said.

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Tide practices inside Superdome
The Sugar Bowl takes place inside the Superdome where the Alabama Crimson Tide owns a 6-1 record. On Monday Alabama headed inside for its first practice session in the Superdome.

“It was great to get inside the Superdome and start to get a feel for where we will be playing on Friday,” Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson said. “This is an opportunity for our team to finish the season in a way Coach Saban has been stressing to us all year, but for that to happen we are going to have to play at a high level. Utah is an outstanding team and we are going to have to play at our best.”

Steele on the way to Clemson?
Reports are that Clemson plans to make a major push to hire Kevin Steele. Steele is a superb recruiter and defensive mind. If Steele bolts from the Crimson Tide, it is thought the transition would be smooth on the defensive side of the ball with the likes of Kirby Smart already highly regarded and said to have a firm grasp of Nick Saban’s defensive system.

Utah’s coach gets new contract
AP: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham signed a five-year contract extension worth $6 million on Monday, a reward for leading the Utes to a perfect regular season and BCS bid. Here is the entire AP report on the contract embedded below: