Tide prepares for Mean Green offense

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Defensive line coach Chris Rumph leads players through drills during Monday afternoon’s practice. /CW | Margo Smith

Laura Owens

After a 27-11 win over Penn State this past weekend, Alabama began its work for this Saturday’s matchup against North Texas. Head coach Nick Saban said North Texas has an explosive offense that the defense will have to be wary of.

“North Texas is a team, in my opinion, that has some very good players, that’s very capable of making explosive plays,” Saban said. “They have probably one of the best running backs as good as anybody we’ll play against. The guy gained almost 1,600 yards last year.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Crimson Tide are working to improve on goal-line defense. In the previous two games the Tide has needed a stop at the goal line, but the opponent scored each time.

Defensive lineman Josh Chapman said he has not looked at the film from the Penn State game yet, but he thought people just weren’t in the right spots.

Saban said the best goal-line defenses are the ones that don’t get in those situations in the first place.

“What concerns me is not when they get the ball first-and-1 on the one, whether we stop them or not,” he said. “It’s how did they get down there.”

Turnovers always key

The Tide did not commit any turnovers in Saturday’s game, while the Nittany Lions threw two interceptions and a fumble. Saban said those three turnovers made the difference in the game.

“Two fumble recoveries were great,” he said. “We did a good job of getting to the ball. We have really emphasized trying to create fumbles and get turnovers. As long as we get turnovers, I don’t care how they come. Last year we had lots of interceptions and not very many fumbles. Hopefully we can do both this year.”

A few other positives that Saban noted were that the offensive line didn’t allow any sacks in the game, and there was only one offensive penalty, which Saban said meant they handled the crowd noise.

Hanks returns in game three

Wide receiver Darius Hanks missed the first two games this season to regain a season of eligibility. However, with the Mean Green coming into town, Hanks will be back in the game with the wide receiver core.

Saban said as a veteran player, Hanks shouldn’t have any trouble transitioning back into the game.

“It’ll be good to have Darius Hanks back, give us an explosive receiver on offense with experience,” he said.

In the 2010 season, Hanks had 58 receptions for 822 yards and six touchdowns.

Saban also said there is still no word on Duron Carter’s status.

Continue to work quarterbacks

Quarterback AJ McCarron had a standout performance against Penn State, going 19-for-31 with 163 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. But Saban said they want to continue to develop Phillip Sims.

“We’d like to play Phillip if we get opportunities to play him because I do still feel both guys are good quarterbacks, and I think there’s good competition there, and I think there’s room for improvement with both guys, and we’d like to continue to do that,” he said.