Alabama football: Julio and Upchurch will practice today

Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban said star receiver Julio Jones and running back Roy Upchurch will practice today (Monday). Saban said both players will be evaluated day-to-day this week. Demetrius Goode is expected back later this week as he rehabs a hyper-extended knee.

One item that could cause Alabama fans concern this week is Arkansas’ return game. Saban said the Razorbacks have one of the better kick return teams in the country. According to the SEC, “Arkansas’ Dennis Johnson is third in the SEC and 10th in the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 35.6 yards per return. He had a 91-yarder for a score against Missouri State.” With Alabama’s kickoff coverage problems, this could loom large as the Crimson Tide opens SEC play.

Saban also talked about Bobby Petrino’s offense. The Alabama football coach said, Arkansas’ offense is “very very dangerous in making big plays through the passing game.” He described the offense as a sophisticated pro-style offense that is balanced by running the ball enough to keep defenses honest.

To combat an offense with a good quarterback that makes big plays, a defense usually must disguise its coverages and pressures, Saban said. He compared this to a pitcher who has different pitches in his arsenal.

Another important thing will be pressure.

“It is most critical to be able to rush three and four guys and get some pressure,” Saban said. This was something the coach said the Tide did not do a very good job of in the past. “I think it is going to be really important that we do that in this game.”