University of Alabama

Alabama football notes: Will the Crimson Tide throw out of the wildcat formation?

By Michael Casagrande

sports@ledger-enquirer.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Early struggles have given way to recent success for Alabama running the “Wildcat” offense. Defenses know the plays, but have had trouble stopping Mark Ingram’s straight ahead runs in the past two games.

But will the throw in a Tide passing play out of the Wildcat?

“We’ve got a few of them, but I don’t know if they’re going to call them,” Ingram said. “Got some plays that are there that we’ve got on paper, but it’s just a matter if they’re going to call them or not.”

The only Wildcat pass thrown thus far came against Arkansas when a series of laterals got the ball back to McElroy who hit a wide-open Julio Jones for a 50-yard touchdown.

In a few of the Wildcat plays against Tennessee, McElroy split out wide unlike in several previous editions of the formation. His presence seemingly would keep safeties honest because the threat of a surprise pass is greater with a quarterback on the field, but Tennessee pulled its deepest safety at least once with McElroy on the field.

Whether or not he throws the ball from the Wildcat, Ingram said there certainly advantages to taking the direct snap as opposed to getting a handoff.

“You can just kind of see everything a little more — like your peripheral and everything, you see everything happening a little more,” Ingram said. “Like I remember a particular play on Tennessee I saw the cornerback come, I just kind of like paused back in the backfield, just like an extra step. Whereas we’re running a handoff you couldn’t really do that because you have to take your track or it’s going to be a miscommunication on the handoff.”

SHYING AWAY

As he closes in on NCAA punt return records, Javier Arenas isn’t getting many opportunities as of late. Punters have shied away from kicking directly at the senior who has six return touchdowns in his Tide career.

One of the scores came in Bryant-Denny Stadium two years ago against LSU.

And unlike some of the previous opposing punters, Arenas expects the Tigers to challenge him instead of punting out of bounds.

“Yeah, they always do,” Arenas said. “That’s what I’m kind of looking forward to. Even after I ran that kick back on them two years ago, they kicked me the ball. They’re a good football team and they’ve got a lot of confidence in what they do so why not.”

INJURY UPDATE

Running back Terry Grant joined the injured players in the strength and conditioning corner of the practice facility Tuesday. The junior running back was with the running backs Monday while wearing a back non-contact jersey.

Coach Nick Saban listed Grant along with freshman cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick as players dealing with pulled muscles. Kirkpatrick was also on the exercise bikes Tuesday afternoon along with Dont’a Hightower, Eddie Lacy and Demetrius Goode.

DANIEL MOORE CASE UPDATE

The legal wrangling isn’t over, but Daniel Moore scored a win in his longstanding battle with the University of Alabama in Federal Court on Monday. A judge ruled Moore’s paintings of legendary football moments did not violate trademark laws just as he was working on his latest piece.

Moore is in the early stages of crafting “Maximum Block” to commemorate the blocked field goal that preserved Alabama’s 12-10 win over Tennessee on Oct. 24. The painting’s title is based on the Tide’s “max block” formation used in the play that dedicated all 11 players to deflecting what would have been the game-winning kick.

According to Moore’s Web site, early versions of “Maximum Block” is set for an early December with prices ranging from $40 for the pencil edition to $600 for the museum edition lithograph.

The artwork continues as the legal battle that began in 2005 takes its next step. The university plans to appeal Monday’s district court ruling to the circuit court level.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

ALABAMA BASKETBALL

The game time for Alabama’s season opener with Cornell was finalized Monday. The Anthony Grant era will officially begin at 1 p.m. CST Nov. 14 in Coleman Coliseum.

The decision was delayed until the Tide football team’s kickoff time was set for 6 p.m. that same day when Alabama travels to Mississippi State.

Alabama opens its exhibition schedule at 7:30 p.m. CST Wednesday when it plays host to Division II Montevallo. The Tide won the only other exhibition contest with the school located just south of Birmingham 81-72 in 2006.

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