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Tuesday, December 27, 2011
No stopping for Crimson Tide

By Edward Aschoff

Alabama players really didn’t have the layoff they expected.

With the SEC championship game out of reach, the Crimson Tide didn’t expect to hit the grind so early.

But that’s exactly what happened. The Tide started conditioning and training immediately after the Auburn game, senior center William Vlachos said.

William Vlachos
How has Alabama's practice routine changed since the end of the season? "We haven't really stopped," center William Vlachos said.
“We haven’t really stopped,” Vlachos said. “Usually, we take a week off and we run a little bit, and then a little bit more, but we jumped right into it. We’re all in good shape right now.”

With the extra-long break before the Allstate BCS National Championship Game against No. 1 LSU (13-0, 8-0), Vlachos said conditioning has been turned up. There hasn’t been much down time for this team, and he thinks it’s a good thing because it should have this team more than ready for the Tigers in a couple of weeks.

But Vlachos said coach Nick Saban won’t make things too monotonous. He doesn’t want to over train and he won’t let this team get bored. In the past Vlachos said Saban would use every last ounce of the allotted practices and practice time leading up to the bowl game to pound the game plan into each and every player.

While that system has kept the Tide winning in the postseason, including a national championship in 2009, Saban doesn’t want to go overboard this time. He doesn’t want to wear out his team before what should be the most physical game of the year.

With LSU playing in the SEC championship game, the Tide has had a week more to train and stay out of game mode. But even with practice contact not quite being game contact, like the Tigers endured, Vlachos said that shouldn’t be much of an advantage. Both teams are too evenly matched for that, Vlachos said.

Vlachos does expect the more game-specific practices to be different from years past because Alabama really knows its opponent. This isn’t Texas or Michigan State, two teams the Crimson Tide had to meticulously watch every single regular-season game on just to gauge what type of teams they were. This is a conference foe.

It’s a team Alabama is more than familiar with and more than upset with. The Tigers ended Alabama’s hopes at an undefeated season. This is a team that won in Tuscaloosa and was better by a field goal.

While Vlachos has immense respect for the Tigers, he also believes the Tide did not execute at times that November loss.

“We moved the ball well between the 30 and the 30, but that’s not going to put points on the board,” Vlachos said. “The bottom line with that LSU defense is it’s great. There’s really not a weakness on that defense. But when you watch that game, it was about what we did in particular -- finishing blocks here, getting a couple of inches here, coming down with the pass near the end zone and not letting it get taken away from you. Just the little tiny stuff and that game’s a different ball game.”