University of Alabama sophomore defensive lineman Marcell Dareus has decided to adopt the same goal he had in high school, to get two sacks in every game.
Don't laugh. His had 117 tackles and 20 sacks as a senior at Huffman High School and also returned a fumble for a touchdown. Through two games this season, he had 3½ sacks, which is remarkable considering Bobby Greenwood led the Crimson Tide with five last season.
"I have to make up for the half," he said Tuesday afternoon.
Article Continues Below
However, what remains to be seen is how the coaching staff is going to use him and the other defensive ends. Senior Brandon Deaderick, who was shot two weeks ago and didn't play against Florida International after missing practices to attend his grandmother's funeral, is getting back into the swing of things and might be close to reclaiming his starting job.
"Deaderick, he's getting better, getting stronger," Dareus said.
So how might the coaches split time between them and Lorenzo Washington, who is also off to a good start?
"I really don't know," Dareus said. "I'm just going to have fun like I can."
Dareus began the season as Washington's backup, but switched over to start in Deaderick's spot, and like the other ends has slid into the middle during obvious passing situations.
With redshirt freshman Damion Square out for the season with a knee injury, Saban indicated that junior Milton Talbert and true freshman Darrington Sentimore would get a chance to fill his role as a backup pass-rushing end, in part because he doesn't want to keep moving Dareus around. That was one of the things that hindered his development as a freshman.
"I like moving around, playing nose, left end and right end, but if he prefers I play one position that's ok with me," Dareus said. "I can concentrate at one thing and get better at that."
Either way, having three quality ends classifies as a good problem, and eased Deaderick's absence.
"Marcell has always been a hard worker and he plays with a lot of effort and intensity in the game," Saban said. "I think he is getting more confident in assignments and knowledge of what is expected of him at his position. I think it's starting to show dividends in terms of his production as a player. He is a good pass-rusher, but he is also physical and can play the run. He can run and finish on the quarterback. He gets to the ball and can finish and plays with a lot of intensity and a lot of effort. As long as we can keep channeling those things in the right direction, so he is playing his responsibility, I think you will continue to see production from him."
Sophomore wide receiver Julio Jones (knee), senior running back Roy Upchurch (ankle) and true freshman wide receiver Kenny Bell (shin splints) were all in black signaling no contact and working out by themselves while the team went through drills outside Tuesday.
James Carpenter was late to practice. During his absence, sophomore Alfred McCullough worked with the first unit at left tackle.
Junior Terry Grant was again at running back after practicing at wide receiver last week. True freshmen Kevin Norwood and Michael Bowman were both working with the top group of wide receivers. Sophomore B.J. Scott is still working with the second unit at cornerback, but behind senior Chris Rogers.
Alabama is apparently using up some midnight oil on the kick-return problems after yielding a touchdown in both games. "Oh yeah, we working on that right now, trying to shift guys around, maybe add guys who want to be out there who's hungry," sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower said. "You see Trent Richardson out there on kickoff team now, he's doing a real good job, he's one of the freshmen who's hungry. Hopefully we'll get this straightened out."
Senior wide receiver Mike McCoy was asked earlier this week who's the fastest player on the team: "It's between Terry (Grant) and (Marquis) Maze, but Terry is a different type of fast." So where does McCoy rank? "I'm up there. I'm in about probably the top five. But Terry has got some wheels on him."
The board of trustees will be meeting later this week and is expected to approve the budget for renovating Foster Auditorium, which will become the home of women's basketball and volleyball, and a scholarship fund in the name of former football player Victor Ellis.
CBS College Sports Network's "SEC Tailgate" show will debut Saturday from Gainesville, where Florida will host Tennessee. The show will originate from wherever the CBS game will be played, so next week will be based in Tuscaloosa prior to the Arkansas game.