TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama football team, ranked eighth in the initial BCS ratings, returned to practice Monday afternoon for a 90-minute session at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility to begin preparations for Saturday's game at SEC rival Tennessee.
After last week's 23-10 home victory over Mississippi, head coach Nick Saban is expecting his players to continue to improve from an execution standpoint heading into this weekend's game with one of the Crimson Tide's biggest rivals.
"I think, offensively, we probably need to execute a little bit better, and I think everybody has got to take responsibility for that, from a coaching standpoint, from me to everything that we need to do," Saban said. "Every player on offense can't have a couple of plays where they don't do it exactly like it's supposed to be done.
"I know on many occasions it's always the quarterback's fault, but quarterback is a hard position to play when the people around you aren't doing exactly what they're supposed to do. I'm sure that every guy on our offensive team would certainly say that they could play better, probably including the quarterback, but the biggest thing is we need to focus on is improvement, and we need to focus on making the corrections that we need to make to improve. The way you do that is to go practice with the expectation that we can be better and work on getting better together as a group with everyone supporting each other so that we can make the progress that we need to make in all parts of the game - talking about offense, defense, and special teams."
Saban knows that despite the Vols' struggles this season, they will come ready to play on Saturday in Knoxville.
"I think you can kind of throw out everything, from record, what happened last week, in the first game of the year and all that stuff," Saban added. "This is a big game for both teams, and they certainly have a very capable team. I think Derek (Dooley) has done a fantastic job with the team that he has. They're well-coached, they play sound and they put themselves in a position to have a chance to win games against good competition. The quarterback has done a nice job for them. The tailback has done a nice job for them. They've had balance on offense. They're defense plays very aggressively and plays with a lot of spirit. This is going to be a difficult game for us and we need to focus on playing our best football of the year."
Three players were recognized on Monday for their efforts in Saturday's win against the Rebels. Junior Marquis Maze was named the SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Week along with Kentucky place-kicker Ryan Tydlacka for racking up 125 yards in punt returns, the third most in school history for a punt returner in a single game. Junior defensive back Mark Barron earned honorable mention recognition from the SEC as well, recording seven total tackles (five solo) and an interception in the game.
Sophomore running back Trent Richardson was one of six players across the nation named as "Paul Hornung's Most Versatile Performances of the Week" announced by Paul Hornung and the Louisville Sports Commission. Richardson gained 45 yards rushing on 11 carries and had three kick returns for 74 yards. He also caught five passes for 101 yards and one touchdown, putting Alabama ahead by two scores in the second half. Richardson finished with 220 all-purpose yards.
Saturday's game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. (CT) kickoff and will be televised nationally by ESPN.