Alabama football: replacing Hightower & news

The Alabama Crimson Tide held meetings and a a walk-through Monday as preparation for Kentucky began.

“This is going to be a challenging game for us in all phases of the game,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said at his weekly press conference Monday. “This is probably the best team we have played so far in terms of just running the ball, two back runs, regular runs, fullback lead plays, power plays, that kind, we expected some from Virginia Tech, but we didn’t get a lot of it, but I am sure we’ll get it in this game and that’ll be a challenge for our players as well.”

Alabama must replace star linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and it won’t be easy.

“I don’t know that you can replace a guy that does all the things that he did,” Saban said. “I think we need different roles created by different people to do different things to make up for some of the things Dont’a did and how our players respond to that will certainly go a long way in how we continue to be able to play the kind of defense that will give us a chance to have success.”

The players are bracing for the challenge.

“It’s going to be a process,” linebacker Rolando McClain said. “We’ve got guys that were backing him up that were doing a good job in practice. They’re ready, I think. I’ve just got to tell them what to get prepared for. I don’t mind mentoring them, but at the same time I would like to have Dont’a there even though he’s not. We’ve just got to get past it and try to get ready for Kentucky.”

Saban also updated the status of Crimson Tide football player Jerrell Harris.

“We got the information late last week, I think Friday night actually, that Jerrell Harris will be reinstated after six games,” Saban said.

One area of particular concern for some Alabama fans was the running game against Arkansas.

“I think there were times where we had a hat on a hat and just didn’t finish the blocks,” Saban said. “There were some other times we made some mental errors as to who we were supposed to block. There were times when we didn’t play with enough power. They certainly had enough guys in there to stop the run all the time and that put a lot of pressure on their secondary and we took advantage of that on a few occasions. When people choose to play that way, that’s when we need to be aggressive, trust the players and not people to play us that way. But, we are certainly capable of playing better than what we played, finishing blocks better, making less mental errors and getting a little better execution, regardless of what they did.”
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