Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
NEW ORLEANS -- Utah coach Kyle Whittingham reiterated during Wednesday's press conference that his team would not change its defensive gameplan with Alabama All-American offensive lineman Andre Smith out of the lineup.
"Andre's absence does not change anything for us, we won't make any schematic changes," Whittingham said. "We are pretty confident it won't change any of [Alabama's] schematics either. It was a situation where that was never one of the battles. It's Alabama. We are sure they have several blue-chip guys right behind him. We understand they have very capable players that can replace him. We don't anticipate Alabama doing anything differently."
Earlier in the week, Whittingham expressed disappointment that Smith wasn't playing because he wanted his team to go against the best the Crimson Tide has to offer. Smith, the Outland Trophy winner and a projected top draft pick, is Alabama's biggest offensive lineman by about 25 pounds and he protects the back side of quarterback John Parker Wilson. Defensive end Paul Kruger, who was eager for the matchup, also was disappointed.
"It would have been a good matchup and I was really confident going in," Kruger said. "It would have been a great experience. We'll see who they throw in there. I'm sure they've got some awesome players to back him up."
Although nothing has formally been announced, Alabama likely will slide left guard Mike Johnson to tackle and allow second string left guard David Ross to start. It's the same formation the Crimson Tide used against Tulane when Smith was out with a leg injury earlier in the year. During that game, Alabama managed just 172 total yards in a 20-6 win. Two of its scores came off punt return touchdowns.