TUSCALOOSA | The Univesity of Alabama and LSU are plenty busy this week entering the idle date in the season for both teams. But incessant media references to the nation's No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams spending two weeks preparing for each other are, as LSU coach Les Miles might say, "left of center."
Fact is, both teams aren't fully focusing on one another this week, but rather are spending more time in the way of refining fundamentals, self-scouting, and treatment for the accumulation of aches and pains that follow eight consecutive weeks of play in the Southeastern Conference.
"We make a quality control list of everything we want to try to work on at every position and also with individual players," UA coach Nick Saban said of the idle week. "Things that they need to improve on, and things that we need to work on collectively as a unit, whether it's a special teams group or offense, defense, whatever it might be."
Saban said game-specific preparation would not begin until later this week. Miles indicated his staff, as well, has other things on its mind this week.
"We do recruiting, we look at our team and insist they get some rehabilitation, some rest, to regain some freshness," Miles said. "We review our own statistics, our self-scouts, and recognize things we've done that we might need to change. ... It's like we play against LSU in this open week more than we play against Alabama."
Miles said the Tigers are "moving slowly into game plan," while still practicing the first offense and first defense against each other this week.
UA offensive lineman Barrett Jones said the idle week comes with good timing.
"We've got a lot of guys getting healed up from little nicks here and there," Jones said. "But I think right now we're getting back to fundamentals and really focusing on the things that got us here.
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LSU has won its first eight games for the first time since 1973. That year, it improved to 9-0 against Mississippi State before losing its first game of the season to eventual national champion Alabama, 21-7.
"I talked to Cyrus, and he's in good spirits. He knows he's going to come back and work hard and be fine. The way our doctors and medical staff are these days, they do great things. I've had three shoulder surgeries, and my shoulders feel great. I think he's going to be just fine." - lineman Barrett Jones on injured freshman Cyrus Kouandjio.
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