Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Hightower faces old nemesis


A year ago The Crimson Tide saw linebacker Dont’a Hightower on the ground wincing in pain. Tide fans remember all too well the play against Arkansas last season, when Hightower tore both his ACL and MCL ligaments in his left knee, injuries that kept him out for the remainder of the season. Needless to say, this week is special for Hightower.

“It means a lot, especially with the injury last year and them taking me out for the season,” Hightower said. “It means even more to me that it is our first SEC game this year. It’s pretty much the opening statement to the SEC as well as the country.”

Despite the fact that Arkansas was the team who knocked Hightower out for the season, he said he holds no grudge towards the Razorbacks.

“It wasn’t really a dirty block. I just didn’t play it as well as I should have,” Hightower said.

The injury changed Hightower, perhaps, for the better. Hightower said that since the injury, he has focused a lot more on his technique as a linebacker in order to prevent further injuries.

“Obviously, I didn’t want to get hurt again so I emphasized on [fundamentals] more than anything else,” Hightower said. “Playing lower and playing a little faster and playing more with technique than just athleticism.”

Hightower said that playing with technique is vital for everyone on the team and is a staple of success for the team.

“You can’t really be a football team without having good fundamentals,” he said. “That is one of the good things about our defense as well as our offense is that we try to emphasize on fundamentals rather than playing on pure athleticism.”

Defending the airways

The Alabama defense will be up against its toughest test of the season as they face Heisman candidate Ryan Mallett and the third ranked passing offense in the nation. Though the Tide shut down Mallett last year, head coach Nick Saban said he expects a totally different challenge Saturday.

“I think [Mallett] is more comfortable in what he’s doing and what he’s expected to do,” Saban said. “Not that he wasn’t a very good player last year; he certainly was. I think Bobby [Petrino] does a great job with him in terms of game plan, schemes and getting him in the right things so this will be a real challenge for this team this year but also an opportunity for them to learn, grow, develop and try to get better.”

Arkansas’ heavy passing attack should provide Hightower and the rest of the defense with plenty of opportunities to get to the quarterback, something that the sack-less linebacker said he is excited for.

“I’ve yet to get a sack, but I’m itching for one this week,” Hightower said. “It would be the perfect week to get one, against a great quarterback and a team who wants to air the ball out.”

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