Alabama football notes: Crimson Tide experimenting with All-SEC guard Barrett Jones at tackle

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerApril 14, 2011 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Just one practice remains before Saturday afternoon’s A-Day Game and the experimentation is hitting another level.

The most notable plot-twist Tuesday came on the offensive line.

All-conference right guard Barrett Jones took turns as the first-team left tackle -- the only spot on the line without a returning starter. Athens (Ala.) High School graduate Alfred McCullough and junior college transfer Aaron Douglas were the top two names competing for the job vacated by the graduated James Carpenter.

“I don’t know if its temporary or a long-term deal, but (Tuesday) Barrett took all snaps at left tackle with the ones, and he did a very good job,” senior center William Vlachos said. “Obviously, Barrett’s a smart guy, and we feel confident putting him anywhere. He snapped the ball some today. Anthony Steen snapped the ball today. A lot of just ‘Let’s see who can do it, who can’t.’”

Last week, Jones said he had played tackle before but not recently. There aren’t many similarities between the interior and exterior spots on the offensive line.

“There’s a big difference, especially pass-protection-wise,” Jones said. “Dealing with the edge rushers out in space is a lot different from blocking a defensive tackle. You have someone on each side, whereas at tackle you’re out in space all by yourself on an island a lot of times.”

The tinkering on the offensive line isn’t out of the ordinary, Vlachos said.

“I guess it’s my experience since I’ve been involved in spring practice here, that last week is kind of a time when you experiment with some things and get a feel of some people doing different stuff at different spots,” Vlachos said. “I don’t think it’s relative to performance. Alfred’s done a great job at left tackle. Anthony Steen was at right tackle today, and he did a great job. Barrett’s done a great job at right guard.

“So, really, it’s just kind of one of those deals that you want to see and get a little taste of what somebody can do in some spots so you’re not having to scratch and get something together for the middle of LSU week or something like that.”

Alabama practices at 4:30 p.m. today for the final tune-up before the 3 p.m. Saturday spring game in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Ouch

Tight end Brad Smelley said he has done the drill a million times. Just once, though, it broke his wrist.

The senior from Tuscaloosa has been limited all spring by the broken bone suffered in the winter off-season conditioning. Smelley just “hit it wrong” to fracture the bone.

It didn’t keep him out of contact drills, and he still is catching passes.

“I have a white, pretty big brace on it, but I mean it makes it tougher than not having anything on it, but I’ve been catching pretty good with it,” he said. “So it’s not that big of an issue.”

Next in line

Josh Chapman is excited about completing his final spring practice schedule. So who fills his place at nose guard after next season?

The senior from Hoover likes redshirt freshman Brandon Ivory, who wears No. 62, same as Chapman’s predecessor, Terrence Cody.

“Brandon Ivory impresses me,” Chapman said. He’s one of my guys that I try to take in because, when I leave here, I feel he’s going to be the next nose guard. He has a lot of potential. He does some things I haven’t seen him do in a long time. He kind of shocked me, and I’m proud of him.”

Ivory is listed as 3 inches taller than Chapman but about the same weight.

“Oh, yes. He’s probably about 310, 315, something like that,” Chapman said. “He has a goal to be 3-0-something. When he’s 3-0-something, it’s hard to move him.”

First pitches

The festivities of A-Day week start this evening, when a former football player takes the mound before Alabama’s baseball game against Tennessee.

Quarterback Greg McElroy will throw out the first pitch before the 7:35 p.m. series opener. Current running back Trent Richardson will have the same honor before the 7:30 p.m. Friday softball game against Mississippi State.

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