Lacy returns to practice, Tide prepares for Ole Miss

Offensive lineman work on open fi eld blocking in yesterday’s practice. / CW | John Michael Simpson

Running back Eddie Lacy, who hurt his foot during the Arkansas game, practiced Tuesday along with the other running backs. Head coach Nick Saban hasn’t said whether he’s playing for sure on Saturday, but center William Vlachos said he looked good at practice.

“He’s a guy we want to get back into the lineup because he’s a great guy to have come in when Trent [Richardson] needs a blow, and obviously our training staff’s done a great job with him, so we’re looking forward to getting him back soon,” Vlachos said.

Lacy didn’t play this past Saturday against Vanderbilt but did play against Florida two weekends ago. In the Swamp, he had five carries for 32 yards with one touchdown. For the season, Lacy has rushed for 397 yards, averaging more than eight yards per carry, and has five touchdowns.

 

Bye weeks

Last weekend, Ole Miss had a bye week, much like Vanderbilt had in its schedule before playing Alabama. Linebacker Jerrell Harris said he could tell a difference when a team had the off-week before.

“When they have an extra week to prepare for you, we know that they’re going to come out with something different, or they’re going to do stuff better than they usually would,” he said. “So you have to be ready for anything.”

Vlachos said halftime adjustments really help in situations when a team has had a bye week before playing the Crimson Tide.

“Especially last year, with teams coming off the off-week, they were able to install and hit us with things we had never seen before and we weren’t prepared for, so we take advantage of our time at halftime to adjust to what we need to do against that and make sure everyone’s on the same page,” he said.

Alabama has two more games before its own weekend off. The Tide will face Ole Miss on the road and then Tennessee at home before the bye week. The game following that weekend is the showdown against LSU in Tuscaloosa.

 

Third down conversions

So far in 2011, the Tide’s offense has had more success with third down conversions. At the end of 2010, the conversion rate was 44 percent, and it has improved to 49 percent this season. Comparing it to this time last year, though, it’s improved even more dramatically. In October of 2010, the offense only converted 42 percent of its third downs, and in the two games this month, it has converted 63 percent.

Offensive lineman Barrett Jones said third downs were something else the offense focused on this summer in camp.

“That’s a direct result from spending a lot of time on third downs in camp and a lot of time on the run game, just kind of getting back to being physical,” he said.

Jones and Vlachos both said another reason was due to having third-and-manageable situations, trying to limit negative plays on the first two downs.

“The play-calling has been very good on third down, and I think the execution has been good for the most part,” Vlachos said.