Notes: Hubbard, Dickson complimentary at OLB

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The two linebackers set up on different sides of the defense, so it's only right that they would have differing styles.

Adrian Hubbard, the tall, lean athlete on the strong side at Sam. Xzavier Dickson, the stockier, bullish pass-rusher on the weak side at Jack.

Hubbard is the speedier of the two, and the more vocal, too. When the outside linebackers practice, it's the redshirt sophomore who is usually in charge.

"Hard work is what I pride my guys on," Hubbard said. "Those outside linebackers, those are my guys."

"I kind of mentored [Dickson] when he first got here, just tried to show him the ropes. ... He was a highly talented freshman, and high profile, and just kind of humbled him. This is football in the SEC, you have to work hard and you have to do everything by the rules because around here. Alabama is assignment football and you have to do your best at all times because there’s someone waiting behind you to take your spot."

Dickson hasn't had any problem sticking to his assignment so far. The true sophomore is one of the guys, his laid-back attitude not doing much to set him apart like Hubbard. His play, on the other hand, is anything but quiet. When he hits the quarterback, the thud is just as loud as his counterpart.

His sack for a fumble against Western Kentucky was close to perfect, but Dickson said he'd rather catch them off guard.

"Catch him from the blind side while he's standing the pocket," he said, laying out his ideal scenario with a smile.

Hubbard has been there, too. He registered a sack against Arkansas on Saturday, pulling down the quarterback for a 8-yard loss.

"Two different linebackers with the same mindset," Hubbard said simply.

Starting left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio goes against either Hubbard or Dickson during practice, depending on the alignment of the defense. He said he's seen improvement from all of the pass rushers. Like the two starting outside linebackers, all of the edge rushers are different, and it could be their strength, he said.

"Yeah, it could be," Kouandjio said. "By the end of the day, they're still working as one team."

Helmet to helmet issues

Alabama coach Nick Saban said he understood the new emphasis on helmet-to-helmet hits when asked about the SEC suspending a player in consecutive weeks for illegal hits.

"Hitting someone in the head or leading with your head, either way, no matter what you hit him with, are going to be things that we just can't tolerate," Saban said. "That's in the interest of player safety. And I think that when you have these issues everybody needs to be aware that there is going to be an emphasis on things that can protect the players in that regard. So it's not a surprise to me."

Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson had a penalty for roughing the passer against Michigan in the season opener. He wasn't suspended, but the flag was enough to have Saban question where the line is drawn at protecting the player versus simply playing the game.

"We had one in the first game that I thought was just a good old football hit," Saban said. "The guy didn't really hit the guy in the head, but he almost hit him in the head, so they called a foul. They didn't suspend him, it wasn't flagrant or anything, but players understand."

Arie 'Jason' Kouandjio

Arie Kouandjio has battled back from knee injuries to become a key reserve on the offensive line. He's come back so many times, in fact, that the trainers have developed a nickname for him.

"They call him Jason from 'Freddie vs. Jason', because he just keeps on coming," brother Cyrus explained. "They cut up both of his knees, they chopped him up real good but he just keeps on coming.

"You know, he's out there, he's playing and he's doing really good."

Quick hitters

Saban reported no new injuries heading into Saturday's game against FAU...The mentality of the team is different this week from when Alabama hosted Western Kentucky two weeks ago. Cyrus Kouandjio said that Saban called the 35-0 win a "I told you so game."...Saban said of FAU, "I'm sure all those guys grew up wanting to play at a place like this. This is a great opportunity for them. We need to be ready to do the things we need to do."