TUSCALOOSA — Alabama gets a break this weekend, so what big plans do the Crimson Tide football players have for when they’re off Saturday?
Football, of course.
“I’ll do some scouting,” Alabama center Barrett Jones said, smiling.
There will be plenty of chances for that Saturday. Many of the players plan to return home or remain in their Tuscaloosa apartments and watch college football.
Plenty of future SEC opponents are playing, along with possible foes the Tide might meet if it makes the league championship game. Auburn plays Arkansas in the morning. LSU and Florida face off in the afternoon. In the evening, Alabama plays can flip back and forth between Georgia-South Carolina and Missouri-Vanderbilt.
And if the players for No. 1-ranked Alabama are inclined to look even further ahead, No. 2-ranked Oregon plays at 9:30 p.m. against Washington on ESPN.
“It’ll be the first time when we really get to sit back and watch somebody else besides ourself,” Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson said. “We’re so busy on Friday with meetings, and we play on Saturday. ... I think we will sit back and relax and try to watch some of our opponents, like South Carolina-LSU and just try to enjoy our time off.”
As the timing of the schedule would have it, this is more than a normal weekend break for Alabama’s players. The university also is on fall break. Wednesday marked the last day of classes until Monday.
No practice is scheduled for Friday, Saturday or Sunday, and Alabama coach Nick Saban even moved up today’s practice an hour so the players can get away from campus a little sooner. They’ll finish up and leave by about 5 p.m. instead of 6.
Some players plan to return to their old high schools to watch Friday night games. Tight end Michael Williams said his alma mater, Pickens County High, is hosting homecoming, and for Jones, this marks only the third time he has seen his brother, high school senior Walker Jones, play football.
But Saturday is reserved for spending time in front of the television.
Still, even though Jones jokes about scouting, this won’t be the same scouting players can do with the game film the Tide staff provides them.
“It’s a big difference between game film and TV,” Johnson said. “Our view is more up close, more in there than the TV version. The TV version, sometimes they get up close, but it’s far off. You really can’t tell certain things that we look at.
“Just watching film, that why you can tell if the guard is leaning this way or that way. So just watching film, it makes a big difference.”
As for Williams, he said he won’t spend all of his day watching other teams.
“I’m pretty sure I will watch some but maybe sleep most of the time, to be honest,” he said. “I’m trying to rest. I know it’s a seven-week grind when I get back.”