Because Alabama is playing at LSU on Saturday, the veteran Crimson Tide players have a big lesson to pass along to their younger teammates this week.
Watch out for the tiger.
LSU has had a live tiger as a mascot since 1936, beginning with “Mike I.” The current tiger is “Mike VI” and has remained on duty since 2007.
LSU parks his cage in a special place for home football game days: by the opposing team’s locker room.
“We pretty much let everybody know now,” said Alabama’s Damion Square, a fifth-year senior defensive end.
“Anybody that’s been through it before, we kind of let the younger guys know that as soon as you come out of the locker room, to your left will be a live tiger. Be ready for that. They’re pretty much ready for it.”
n No ‘Up the middle on one’: Count Alabama center Barrett Jones as a firm believer in running the ball up the middle.
Head coach Nick Saban related Monday his wife, Terry Saban, grumbles about that strategy. Apparently, Jones hears grumbles from others, too.
“Fans always say, ‘They keep running the ball up the middle.’ And I want to tell them, ‘Well, first of all there’s about 20 different plays that go up the middle. It’s not just the same play.’ They don’t call, ‘Hey guys, up the middle on one,’ “ Jones said.
“It may not be exciting but it’s worked well for us. I think most really good teams in Alabama history could run the ball pretty well between the tackles.”
What are some of those plays? Well, Jones isn’t willing to break out the playbook.
He hesitated in answering before saying, “I’d have to get a greaseboard and draw them up for you.”
When told it’s fine to have second-and-six, Jones replied, “That’s right, nothing wrong with second-and-six. Second-and-six is better than second-and-16.”
n Vinnie Sunseri, recovering LSU fan: Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri said he used to be a fan of LSU when his father, Sal Sunseri, was a Bengal Tigers assistant coach under Nick Saban.
That was in 2000 when Vinnie was in second grade.
“Back in the day, I liked LSU, but it’s Roll Tide now,” he said, laughing.