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October 14, 2009The University of Alabama was one of only two schools to have two players listed among the 12 semifinalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, which is awarded to the lineman of the year, with senior nose guard Terrence Cody and junior linebacker Rolando McClain.
"It's great to see," Coach Nick Saban said. "Both those guys have worked hard and done a great job for our team. I think it's interesting that teams that have success seem to have more guys that have more opportunities for positive self-gratification though these kinds of awards.
"We're always happy to see players, coaches and people in our organization that get recognized for all the good work that they do for our team and our university and representing it in a first-class way."
McClain was named the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week after the Kentucky game, when he had 12 tackles and contributed to three turnovers.
"It is a tremendous honor to be named a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award," McClain said in a statement. "I have to give credit to my coaches, my defensive line and the rest of my defensive teammates. The coaches put me in position to be successful and our defensive line does such a great job up front. It was also good to see Terrence Cody selected as a semifinalist as well because he is one of those players up front that makes our job easier as linebackers."
"I'm just a part of this defense, but I appreciate being named a semifinalist for the Lombardi," Cody said. "I think something like this is really an award that recognizes the defensive team as a group, not really one guy. The big thing with our defense is everyone doing their job and our priority is being the best defense we can be."
Florida also had two semifinalists with junior defensive end Carols Dunlap and senior linebacker Brandon Spikes. The Gators and Crimson Tide are ranked 1-2 in many Southeastern Conference defensive categories.
The other semifinalists were: Georgia junior linebacker Rennie Curran, TCU senior defensive end Jerry Hughes, Oklahoma junior defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, South Carolina senior linebacker Eric Norwood, Oklahoma State senior tackle Russell Okung, South Florida senior defensive end George Selvie, Nebraska senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and Missouri senior linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
The four finalists will be announced Nov. 10.
Weakside linebacker update
Saban is again keeping it close to the vest regarding who might be at weakside linebacker in the base defense between sophomore Jerrell Harris, who is eligible for the first time this season, and true freshman Nico Johnson.
"Both guys are doing a good job, both guys are working hard," he said. "I think the fact that Nico has been in that position for two or three weeks now and Jerrell Harris is getting back into it, he's certainly doing a good job but there's a little bit of rust there in terms of assignments.
"Both guys have a role on the team and we haven't made a decision about who's going to do what in this game yet."
The team practiced again outside Wednesday. The forecast for Saturday evening is clear and near-50 degrees at kickoff.
Senior linebacker Cory Reamer continued to work at weakside linebacker in nickel coverage. Redshirt freshman tight end Undra Billingsley was back at his usual spot after wearing black (no contact) Tuesday. Riding an exercise bike was freshman safety Rod Woodson (patella tendon),
Senior guard Mike Johnson on South Carolina's defense: "They like to do a little different looks to kind of disguise what they're doing. But a lot of times they have a six-man box and hopefully we'll be able to have some successful runs against that. They're good in what they do."
Leigh Tiffin didn't call his father Van about passing him on some of the Alabama career kicking lists. "Actually, I talked to him a couple of times but we haven't talked about that," he said. "I'm sure he knows." With five field goals and 16 points against Ole Miss, he passed his father for third on the Tide's career list (317), and is second in field goals with 67. The mark the senior is aiming for is Michael Proctor's record 78 field goals and 326 points. "It'd be nice," he said.
Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin isn't quite ready to say the rivalries in the SEC are more intense than the Pac-10, but praised Saban during the SEC's weekly conference call Wednesday. "They've done an unbelievable job with back-to-back national recruiting titles," he said about Alabama. "They're playing unbelievable. They're so well coached. I would think they're the best-coached team in the conference."
Tennessee next week will be Alabama's fifth straight conference game. "That's just the SEC," senior defensive end Lorenzo Washington said. "Everyone across the country has to do that, it's conference schedule. We know we have to go out and play our best ball every week no matter who we play."
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has updated his draft rankings, with Cody at No. 13 overall. Among position rankings he has Cody, Johnson second at their positions, with Tiffin was fourth among kickers and Javier Arenas fifth at cornerback. As for juniors, McClain is No. 1 at inside linebacker and Kareem Jackson the No. 3 cornerback.
Senior tight end Colin Peek has a couple of ties with South Carolina. Not only are his dad and Steve Spurrier friends, but redshirt freshman tight end Mike Triglia was his backup at Jacksonville Bolles High School.
Saban was taken aback when asked about an Alabama couple who named their child after him. "It's certainly an honor to have anyone named after you, but I can think of a whole lot, probably maybe people who they could have chose who may be a little bit more, kind of what you say, a positive image for their child growing up. But I guess if they've never seen me at practice, never seen me get angry and never seen some of the not-so good things, I guess it's okay. If we ever lose a game, they're not disappointed." Peek's reaction also brought laughs, with, "He's a boy, right?"