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November 23, 2009TUSCALOOSA | Although University of Alabama senior cornerback Javier Arenas was named the Southeastern Conference's special teams player of the week, he had other things on his mind Monday.
"We just have to do what we've been doing all year, just staying consistent, disciplined, knowing our assignments and taking the initiative to study excessive film knowing we have a short week," he said about facing rival Auburn on Friday.
Arenas became the conference's all-time leader in punt returns for touchdowns Saturday when his 66-yard streak down the home-team sideline at Bryant-Denny Stadium helped lead Alabama to a 45-0 victory against Chattanooga.
Arenas has 1,658 career punt-return yards on 119 returns. He's 38 yards shy of breaking Lee Nalley's longstanding SEC record (1,695, 1947-49), and 104 of Wes Walker's NCAA record of 1,761 set in 2003.
He's the eighth Alabama player to win an SEC weekly honor this season, joining Mark Ingram (Virginia Tech and South Carolina), Trent Richardson (Florida International and Arkansas), Rolando McClain (Kentucky), William Vlachos (Mississippi), Leigh Tiffin (Tennessee), Terrence Cody (Tennessee) and Mike Johnson (Mississippi State). Alabama has had at least one SEC Player of the Week winner in 10 of its 11 games.
Richardson received honorable mention for SEC freshman of the week after gaining 60 rushing yards and scoring a touchdown against the Mocs.
The running back shared offensive player of the week honors from the coaching staff along with Drew Davis and Julio Jones, while McClain and Arenas split the defensive award, and Tiffin and freshman Leigh Tiffin on special teams.
Expect a lot to be made the next two weeks about common opponents.
Here's how Alabama and Auburn have fared against the same teams (Alabama result first):
Arkansas: Won 35-7; Loss 44-23
Kentucky: Won 38-20; Loss 21-14
LSU: Won 24-15; Loss 31-10
Ole Miss: Won 22-3; Won 33-20
Mississippi State: Won 31-3; Won 49-24
Tennessee: Won 12-10; Won 26-22
Total: Alabama 6-0, 162-58; Auburn 3-3, 155-162
Also, here's the same with Florida.
Arkansas: Won 35-7; Won 23-20
Florida International Won 40-14; Won 62-3
Kentucky: Won 38-20; Won 41-7
LSU: Won 24-15; Won 13-3
Mississippi State: Won 31-3; Won 29-19
South Carolina: Won 20-6; Won 24-14
Tennessee: Won 12-10; Won 23-13
Totals: Alabama 7-0 200-75; Florida 7-0 215-79.
Of course, Nick Saban says to go ahead and ignore those numbers.
"This is one of the best rivalry games in football, two great schools in a state that have had the opportunity to play for 100 years now," he said. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for their team and what they have done. They have made a tremendous amount of improvement this year. There is nothing really outside of this game that really matters this week. You can throw out the records, rankings, awards, nothing else really matters. This is kind of a state championship game, so to speak. I think it's always a great football game. As I've said before we have a tremendous amount of respect for their team and what they've accomplished."
Senior tight end Colin Peek's latest injury setback was a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament sustained while warming up for Tennessee.
"Nothing's going to be 100 percent when you get back, especially in that situation," Peek said. "I don't know if a lot of people know, but I actually tore my MCL. It's a tough situation. At the same point, I had a couple weeks, I tried to look at the bright side, to rest, I guess, and help the banged up body sort of heal a little bit so now it's just getting the knee back to where it's 100 percent."
A knee sprain is consistent with a partial MCL tear. He's also had a foot (hairline fracture) and finger injury this past year.
"The knee is so unstable from side to side, it opens up. It's almost like it filets open if you get hit from the side or something like that. That's what you try to avoid, because if you keep tweaking it, it'll never be able to scar back down."
Peek sustained a similar tear as a freshman at Georgia Tech and was out a couple of weeks. He's not expected to have offseason surgery, but added that he's just now beginning to feel pretty good on it and had one catch for 8 yards against Chattanooga.
"We feel like he is back to the Colin Peek of old," Saban said.
The team worked out inside and treated it as a Tuesday practice with one less day to prepare for Friday's game.
Junior running back Terry Grant is out (abdominal strain).
It appeared that Johnson and senior linebacker Cory Reamer were getting a little extra rest. Both were watching drills alongside teammates when reporters were allowed to observe. John Michael Boswell was filling in with the first unit with Brian Motley playing with the second unit at left guard. Meanwhile, Jerrell Harris was taking snaps with the first-unit defense.
Junior quarterback Greg McElroy on his outlook: "The real season starts after Thanksgiving. It really does if you think about it, because of all the success we had last year, the pains and good feelings we had through 11 games and the 12th game was a great one as well, but we didn't accomplish anything after that so this team is hungry. The time after Thanksgiving is when champions are made. Good teams come to the forefront and average kind of fall back a little bit."
Strange, but true, Saban is 0-4 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. "What's happened in the past really doesn't matter, it's what happens this week and what this team does," he said. "You know, they've had some good teams and we had some good teams and we played some great games there. Hopefully our team will be ready to play a great game this year and I'm sure there's will as well."
Alabama is expected to have to deal with its loudest crowd noise of the season after playing at smaller venues. "I'm sure it will be," Saban said. "We've played on the road before. They had cowbells at Mississippi State. You always have to deal with that when you play on the road. We address that on, I guess Wednesday's practice this week, and practice and do the things that we have to do if we need to go in silent or whatever it is. You can't let it affect you."
Arenas may have inadvertently given Auburn some bulletin-board material when trying to make the point that growing up in Florida he didn't know anything about Alabama or Auburn. "When I heard Carnell Williams went to Auburn, I thought it was a Division III school," he said.
Auburn is calling Friday's game an "All Orange" event and is encouraging its fans to wear the color. Meanwhile, Tigers coach Gene Chizik will hold his weekly press conference Tuesday.