Top-ranked Alabama held its first Southern California workout Saturday. And the players were happy to get back outdoors under clear skies after bad weather and poor field conditions forced them to hold their final two Alabama workouts under cover at the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.
"The weather was gorgeous," tight end Colin Peek said. "You couldn't expect anything better. Being here in California has really turned this process into a reality."
That showed in the intensity on the fields at Orange Coast College, where the Crimson Tide will prepare for Thursday's BCS national championship game against No. 2 Texas.
"We had a good practice," junior defensive back Kareem Jackson said. "The intensity out there was good. Obviously we have things to work on. We just have to go out there and keep getting better."
Senior defensive back Marquis Johnson tested his broken hand in practice and was without the black jersey he had been wearing in Alabama, meaning he has been cleared for contact, said Coach Nick Saban. But Saban said he was unsure how much action Johnson would see on Thursday.
"He's using his hand again," Saban said of Johnson, who broke a bone two weeks ago. "Now whether he can catch the ball with a cast on his hand or not, he has caught some. But it could affect his ability to catch."
Players are like a box of chocolates
Sophomore Mark Ingram covered more ground this year than any Alabama football player since Forrest Gump ran to the Santa Monica Pier. But the single-season-record 1,542 yards he rushed for en route to the Heisman Trophy wasn't necessarily the biggest contribution he made to the Crimson Tide's success. "I would give him a trophy for being one of the best guys on our team in terms of the kind of team guy he is, the kind of practice player he is, the kind of character he has as a person," Saban said. "He's been a marvelous, marvelous ambassador for the University of Alabama and our football program and our football team.
"From a character standpoint, I think he has great leadership in the example that he sets, but he's also a very talented guy. You know, as a coach, when you have some of the best players on your team are those kind of people, those are the easiest teams to coach because they affect other people, and that's what makes it a lot of fun."
The business at hand
While his team toured Disneyland on Saturday afternoon, Saban met with the media at Downtown Disney and talked at length about the need for his players to ignore the distractions swirling around them and concentrate on preparing for Texas.
And at least one player got the message.
"I've never been to Disneyland and I'm looking forward to having a little fun," senior offensive lineman Mike Johnson said. "But this is a business trip and everything we do is pointed toward playing our best possible game."