TUSCALOOSA _ How's this for a recruiting plug: After making his first start at the University of Alabama, sophomore running back Trent Richardson is on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated.
With a headline of "Opening Statements," he's one of the breakout players profiled in the magazine after tallying 114 yards of total offense (68 rushing, 46 receiving) and two touchdowns against San Jose State.
"It really doesn't mean anything, just the cover of a magazine," Richardson said. "I'm sure my mom is real happy, the people back home and in Tuscaloosa are happy about it, but as long as we won. We still have this game coming up. I can go and get shut down and there isn't going to be a Sports Illustrated, it's still just going to be a picture."
However, he did admit with a smile that his mother will probably buy numberous copies.
It's the ninth time the Crimson Tide has been on the cover since Nick Saban arrived in January 2007, and second time this season after being one of four regional covers for SI's college football preview.
Richardson started in place of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, who is considered day-to-day after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last week.
Ingram wasn't working with teammates during the observation part of Tuesday's practice, but Richardson isn't giving up on his playing Saturday against Penn State.
"I don't know when he'll be back, but hopefully it'll be for Saturday," Richardson said. "We're better with them in there."
Other injury news
Junior linebacker Courtney Upshaw was on the practice field, but appeared to be limited and not doing much during drills.
Freshman D.J. Fluker was back in his usual spot at right tackle.
Hardie Buck, who took a nasty hit Saturday against San Jose State, has participated in both practices this week.
Still No. 1
Both polls were released later than usual due to Monday's Boise State vs. Virginia Tech game, but there were no changes at the top with Alabama still No. 1.
The Tide received 55 first-place votes on the coaches' poll, with Ohio State getting the other four. The Associated Press vote was a little more spread out with Alabama having 47 first-place votes, 2. Ohio State with four, 3. Boise State had eight and 5. Texas got one.
Penn State (1-0) stayed No. 14 in the coaches' poll and moved up a spot to No 18 in the AP poll.
Great and just good
Penn State coach Joe Paterno thinks Alabama might be the best team he's faced since Miami in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl.
"They've got great speed," he said during Tuesday's press conference. "They have wonderful skill people, and they have a quarterback. I don't know whether he's ever lost a college game. They play with enthusiasm. Now, I know they're breaking in a new kicker, but other than that, they're fairly experienced. I know they've lost some people, but they've got some people who have played. They may not have been starters. And, they're extremely well coached. Nick has done a heckuva job with them. They come at you all day. They have talent, they're well coached, and they love to play. I think that combination is tough."
However, he later was asked to compare Greg McElroy to his national championship quarterback John Shaffer, who was 66-1 as a starter dating back to seventh grade, and might have given the Alabama senior some extra motivation.
"I think Shaffer was not a great high school quarterback," he said. "In fact, his high school coach, Jerry Foust, the year John got out of high school, Jerry took the Notre Dame job, and he didn't recruit John Shaffer for Notre Dame. I called Jerry because I had looked at John on tape and I liked John. He was smart, I liked his poise, I liked his family. I thought he could eventually become a good quarterback. Jerry said to me that he can't throw well enough. I said, 'Well, we don't throw the ball that much.' We went after him and then we had a tough fight with a couple of other Big Ten schools, even though the Big Ten was not a problem for us that way. He lost one game in two years. He lost the Orange Bowl with Oklahoma when we had another shot at the national championship. He was quite a guy so I don't compare him with anybody. The guy you're talking about was okay, but Shaffer was a producer. Very productive."
Alabama has issued a warning to fans regarding counterfeit tickets. Those interested in verifying their tickets may do so at the UA Athletic Ticket Office at Coleman Coliseum during business hours, or on Saturday at gates 3 or 32 after 2 p.m.
Paterno said his team is "outmanned" against Alabama and isn't sure how the players will deal with the environment. "I don't know how we're going to handle it," he said. "I hope we go down there and we realize it's one of those opportunities, you only get so many in a college career, because most of these kids will not be pro players. Go down and enjoy it. Understand you're playing against one of the best college teams we've ever played against, but just go out and do what you can do. Do it as well as you can do it and try to learn, and I think we will learn from it."
Chris Jordan called his hit on the San Jose State running back Saturday the biggest of his career, "besides running down on kickoff and hitting a wedge. It's a little more fund hitting one guy instead of hitting three." He added that hearing the crowd go "oooh," sent chills down his back, and was glad the NCAA banned three-man wedges after he had a "couple of concussions" last year.
As was the case Monday, redshirt freshman Brandon Moore was lined up at nose tackle with the third unit with junior Nick Gentry backing up senior Luther Davis at right defensive end. Damion Square has been lining up with the starters and is expected to start for suspended end Marcell Dareus against Penn State.
It was 95 degrees during practice with a 98 heat index, hotter than what's forecasted for Saturday's game (high 93, low 73). Alabama will continue its installation Wednesday. All practices are closed to the public.