Antoine Caldwell strode to the middle of the field as his teammates began stretching exercises on Thursday afternoon.

Alabama's senior center cocked his fists and bellowed at the top of his lungs: "It's Tiger Week!"
Thus began preparation for the Crimson Tide's first opponent, No. 9 Clemson on Aug. 30 in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta (7 p.m., ABC). Caldwell said there was a different air about things on Thursday than there had been in the previous 20 days of fall camp.

"You're so tired of hitting your own teammates," Caldwell said. "You kind of fall into the same pattern every day, going over the same blitzes and stuff like that. It felt like today was a little more refreshing, starting over with Clemson. I think everybody was on pace today, everybody was ready to go."

The Crimson Tide made corrections from last Saturday's scrimmage on Tuesday and Wednesday, but jumped with both feet into the game plan for Clemson on Thursday. Several walk-ons and young players were dressed in scout-team jerseys to mimic the Tigers' top players, such as quarterback Cullen Harper (portrayed Thursday by Nick Fanuzzi), running back C.J. Spiller (portrayed by Jonathan Lowe) and nose tackle Dorell Scott (portrayed by Damion Square and Luther Davis).

Coach Nick Saban said he was pleased overall with the first day of game preparation.

"I think the big thing that we're trying to get our players to do is, how do you prepare for a game?," Saban said. "Everybody on the team has a role in how you prepare for a game, not only what you do on the field, but how you prepare off the field — what's your understanding and knowledge of the game, how the other team is trying to attack you, what they're trying to do on defense, what you've got to do to exploit what they try to do one way or the other. ... But I think it was a good start. I was pleased with the players' intensity and attitude toward trying to learn.

"You always make mistakes, but that's why we practice. If we could do everything, if we got it all right today, we wouldn't need to practice any more for the game."

The Crimson Tide will practice again Friday and Saturday, then take Sunday off before beginning regular game-week activities on Monday.

WASHINGTON AT END: Saban disclosed for the first time Thursday that Lorenzo Washington is now working primarily at defensive end after starting 12 of 13 games last season at nose guard.

Saban said the 6-foot-4, 283-pound junior is a better fit physically at end, where his abilities as a pass-rusher will be put to better use. The move was also facilitated by how well junior-college transfer Terrence Cody and redshirt freshman Josh Chapman had performed at the nose throughout camp.

"It's one of those get-the-best-players-on-the-field deals," Saban said. "I think with him at end, we have three guys that have some experience playing end, we have a couple of young guys that will be coming on as ends, so with Cody and Josh Chapman playing nose, we felt like we could afford to do that. So that's how it ended up."

Saban said the idea to move Washington came to him as so many of his personnel decisions do, in the middle of the night.

"I couldn't sleep one night and my wife got mad at me," Saban said, "So I just got up, went out and sat in my chair and got a piece of paper out and just listed all of our players as to which were the best players.

"Same thing at linebacker. I said, 'This is how it's got to be — (Cory) Reamer's got to go play SAM, (Don'ta) Hightower's got to play WILL, Lorenzo should be an end, let these two nose guards battle it out and let's go play.'"

TAKING IT SLOW: Sophomore linebacker Charlie Higgenbotham (groin) was once again the only player to miss practice Thursday due to injury.

Saban said Higgenbotham has been running and doing some light cutting, but probably won't return to full speed before Monday. Higgenbotham had been working with the second unit at both inside linebacker positions before suffering the injury on Monday.

"I'd say we're probably trying to be a little conservative with him. We practice two more times, take Sunday off, so we probably don't even have him targeted to be back until Monday. And we're hopeful that he'll be able to come back then. That's more precautionary than anything else."

Higgenbotham is also one of the Crimson Tide's top performers on kick-cover units.

CELEBRITY SIGHTING: Saban said it was "delightful" to see actor/comedian Tom Arnold and his family at practice on Thursday.

"We were happy that they were interested enough to come to practice," Saban said. "I think the players enjoy seeing people out there like that, that they know have interest in the program. We were happy to have them."

Arnold, best known as the ex-husband of television star Roseanne Barr and as host of "The Best Damn Sports Show Period," shares a mutual friend with Crimson Tide athletics director Mal Moore.

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