Tide fine-tuning broader defensive plan

NEW ORLEANS – Alabama is still finalizing its defensive plan for Monday night’s Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

Junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who makes all of the calls on the field, said Friday he can’t ever remember this many checks in a game plan since coming to Alabama.

“I think since I’ve been here, this may be as many checks as we have for certain formations,” Hightower said. “I don’t know any other game that it’s been this many.”

But, then, that’s part of playing in this Alabama defense. Hightower said he’s continually amazed at the adjustments and tweaks coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart come up with in preparing for games.

“There’s no way I could sit in a room for four and five hours a day and come up with some of the stuff they do,” Hightower said.

Smart confirmed that the Crimson Tide have a broader defensive plan for Monday’s rematch with LSU, which rushed for 148 yards against Alabama in their first meeting Nov. 5.

“Maybe you take some more chances and do some extra things,” Smart said. “You hope with a broader game plan that you don’t have to use it. But if you do, you better have it ready.”

Hightower, responsible for getting everybody lined up on the field, said the mental stress of playing inside linebacker in Saban’s 3-4 scheme can be daunting.

“You definitely have to grow as you go in this defense,” Hightower said. “It’s not something you can learn in just one year. I’ve been here for four years, and there are things I still don’t know about the defense. I’m learning each and every day.

“I feel like I have a good grasp on it now, but this is definitely one of the bigger games with all the checks. Each and every day, it kind of changes or varies a little bit. We’re getting close now, so we know what kind of checks we’re going to have.”