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November 1, 2011

Notebook: Alabama prepares for trickery

TUSCALOOSA | The trickery hasn't been forgotten. And as the University of Alabama prepares for LSU's come-right-at-you approach this week, it must also prepare for the Tigers' occasional deviance from that philosophy with trick plays.

LSU coach Les Miles has worked some to perfection over the years, often choosing some of the most bold and crucial moments of a game to spring the trick-play trap.

"These guys have made lots of plays with fakes, the punter running the ball. They did it to us last year once," said UA coach Nick Saban. "They've done it to some other folks. They did it to Florida for a controversial non-touchdown. They've faked field goals before. I think a critical thing in special teams in this particular game is not only to try to create opportunities in terms of what you do on special teams, but make sure you're sound in how you're playing so that you don't compromise your ability to defend anything that they might do in terms of fakes."

The special teams fake Saban referred to in last year's Alabama-LSU game was a 29-yard run by LSU punter Josh Jasper on a fourth-and-1 call near midfield. And to put the Crimson Tide defense in more of a predicament, Miles switched from Jordan Jefferson to Jarrett Lee at quarterback after the fake punt.

UA linebacker Dont'a Hightower said his team must be alert for trickery from the LSU offense as well, referring to another fourth-and-1 call last year on which LSU ran a reverse to DeAngelo Peterson for a big gain that set up a touchdown.

"We have our eye on them, particularly on defense. You can't put anything past Les Miles. A lot of people call him the Mad Hatter. He does crazy things," said Hightower. "Who runs an end around on a fourth-and-1 play? You don't see that much. We're definitely going to be aware of that, especially in special teams because they have a lot of athletes out there."

Hightower and nose guard Josh Chapman both indicated that successful trick plays are often the result of the defense being caught out of position and in a state of overaggression. Aggressiveness is important, Hightower said, but discipline is more important.

"It's more about discipline than it is aggression," Hightower added. "We kind of feel like early in the game, especially, they're going to try to keep us on our heels."

Quotable
"I tore an abdominal muscle and I had a slightly torn MCL. This game means a lot to me because I didn't get to play in it last year except for about one quarter. So I really can't wait to showcase what a healthy Trent can do in this game." - Trent Richardson on his limited playing time against LSU last year.

Did you know?
The 16 combined wins of Alabama (8-0) and LSU (8-0) this season have all come by double-digit margins.

Tidebits
The UA SGA (Student Government Association) has organized the Turn It Up Tide pep rally for Friday at 8 p.m. at the Walk of Champions outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Former UA players and broadcaster Chris Stewart will be in attendance, along with the Million Dollar Band. ... Offensive lineman Alfred McCullough practiced at a guard position during individual drills Tuesday. After a season-ending injury to tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, UA coach Nick Saban said last week that it would be important for McCullough, one of the team's most versatile offensive linemen, to get practice time at both tackle and guard. ... Center William Vlachos revealed that he received a Heisman Trophy vote last year from former UA running back Mark Ingram, who had a ballot as a former winner.

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase.goodbread@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0196.

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