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Tide linebacker Darren Mustin (57) pressures Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge in Saturdayís 41-17 rout in Tuscaloosa. Mustin says the team will enjoy not playing Saturday before preparing for LSUís visit to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 3.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Tide linebacker Darren Mustin (57) pressures Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge in Saturdayís 41-17 rout in Tuscaloosa. Mustin says the team will enjoy not playing Saturday before preparing for LSUís visit to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 3.

Video games, prep football to fill Alabama's down time

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com ∑ 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Rashad Johnson pictures himself sitting on a couch Saturday, playing video games.

As a safety for Alabama, he, of course, will be playing a college football video game and using himself as the main player.

For Tide linebacker Darren Mustin, it will be much of the same.

Starting quarterback John Parker Wilson? He will watch his younger sister cheer on the Hoover Bucs as they face Oak Mountain on Friday.

Even Tide head coach Nick Saban could leave his office earlier than normal — gasp! — during this off-week, as No. 22 Alabama doesn't have a game until its Nov. 3 showdown against No. 3 LSU.

"I don't feel like I'm letting up any. I feel like it's good for the staff, though. We don't have to work quite as much," Saban said Tuesday.

"We may get home an hour earlier. So it's more about trying to recover a little bit than it is about being relieved."

Alabama did not practice Monday. It ran through basic drills Tuesday and will do the same Wednesday and Thursday. As for the weekend, several players said they will travel home for some much-needed rest.

How will Alabama (6-2, 4-1 SEC) react after the off-week when it enters Bryant-Denny Stadium to face LSU (7-1, 4-1)?

"I don't think anyone knows. ... I really don't," Saban said. "Sometimes you have a big win and things are going well for you, and you just as well keep playing. If things aren't going so good, it gives you time to get re-centered. So nobody really knows how it is going to affect us."

The players? They're welcoming the extra time to themselves.

"Sometimes it feels good to get a break in the middle of the season," Johnson said.

"Especially in the tough conference that we play ... guys nicked up, bruised up. This gives us a chance to heal back up and be ready to go in a big game like this and as close to 100 percent healthy as we can."

Along with the reduced practice schedule, the off-week gives Saban and his staff a chance to catch up on recruiting. They hit the road to see prospects Monday and will do the same Friday.

According to Saban, coaches can recruit six days during the season, and it's better to see players when there is less to do football-wise during the week.

"You have so many days you can go out," Saban said, "So you figure the management of those days.

The off-week likely will increase the hype level for the Crimson Tide's matchup with Saban's old team.

The Bengal Tigers also are off this week and with first place in the SEC Western Division on the line, an already important game will mean that much more.

"They were talking about this game before the year even started. This is one of those games where you come to these schools for," Mustin said.

"It's going to be one of those type of games where you better buckle your chinstrap or you're going to get your butt whooped."

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