Tide looks no further than Kent State

Laura Owens

As the Alabama Crimson Tide practiced inside Tuesday afternoon to take a break from the sun, the team is solely focused on Saturday’s opponent Kent State, refusing to look ahead to bigger games in the near future.

Not only is Saturday the Tide’s first meeting with Kent State, but the Golden Flashes also have a new head coach in Darrell Hazell. However, junior linebacker Nico Johnson said the new addition hasn’t made preparation too much more difficult.

“We’ve got Coach [Nick] Saban, so we pretty much study places their coach used to be and try to put stuff together,” Johnson said. “Coach [Kirby] Smart and Coach Saban do a good job of doing that. So we just do what they tell us and go from there.”

Senior linebacker Jerrell Harris said it doesn’t matter who the team plays because in this league, they can’t take anyone for granted.

“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, everybody’s going to show up and treat us like it’s a championship game, so we’ve got to come out and play,” he said.

 

Duron Carter continues to work

In his second day at practice, wide receiver Duron Carter is still in shorts due to the rule that he can’t wear full pads at practice until after his fourth practice.

His teammates say despite his late arrival, he’s been working hard.

“Everybody noticed today that he’s going a little extra hard,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to respect the fact that he’s doing what he’s doing, and he’s just working. He wants to get on the field, you can tell.”

Senior center William Vlachos said he saw some of what Carter can do this summer and that he is really talented.

“We look forward to him getting up to speed with the offense,” he said. “Hopefully he’ll keep progressing and contribute this year.

 

New tricks from new coaches

Defensive line coach Chris Rumph has been adding his own set of skills to the defense’s game, according to Vlachos.

“Every coach is going to have certain things in their bag of tricks that they’re going to pass on to their players,” he said. “Since he’s a defensive end kind of guy, he’s good with hand stuff and pass-rush stuff. Our guys have been pretty savvy with their pass-rushes and their interior game.”

Vlachos said new offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is similar to last year’s coach Joe Pendry in that they expect their players to work hard all the time.

“They’re really kind of similar,” Vlachos said. “ [Stoutland]’s a younger guy, so he’s going to yell more than Pendry yelled, but as far as their understanding of X’s and O’s and how to coach a player, they’re very similar.”

 

Avoiding the tackle

With all the quarterbacks wearing black, the defense won’t touch them. Johnson said it can be hard to pull off a tackle when he’s got a quarterback in a good position.

“We tag off and run on by,” Johnson said. “It is hard because you work so hard to get there, but I’ve been here three years, so I’m kind of used to it.”

 

Saban’s Alma mater

Though Saban graduated from Kent State, Harris said the team doesn’t talk about that in preparation for the season opener.

“He hasn’t ever said anything about it,” Harris said. “We haven’t joked with him at all about it.”