Crimson Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione, meeting with the press prior to the Monday evening workout, said, "This week will be a challenge with six days of two-a-day practices with a scrimmage. It's a critical week for our players, one in which they will have to push through the fatigue. By Wednesday or Thursday we'll probably have some pretty tired guys."
Franchione and his staff aren't going to give the team too much. "We have to have some balance," he said. "For instance, we'll have them out in full gear Tuesday morning, then the Tuesday evening practice will be in shorts and helmets, a ‘recovery practice.' "
The coach noted that the pace of practice has resulted in a handful of minor ailments, including slightly pulled muscles by the likes of defensive end Aries Monroe and wide receiver Freddie Milons. "Those are typical third-day of two-a-day pulls," Franchione said. "We have eight or 10, probably, but none of consequence."
Franchione said, "We're starting to move a little more towards one vs. one (first team offense vs. first team defense) and two vs. two. These first three days have been for teaching, getting our offense, defense and kicking game installed."
He pointed out that the move to full gear work on Tuesday is not as dramatic as once was the case. Up until a few years ago a team worked its first three days in shorts and helmets. In recent years the players have been able to add shoulder pads and hip pads. As a result, Francione said, "About the only difference is we'll be putting on kneepads."
Franchione said a team doesn't scrimmage as much in the fall as it will in spring practice because the focus is on getting the players ready for the first game. He pointed out that it is something of a balancing act to give the players enough work to be ready without unduly risking injury.
Just about anytime the press meets with Franchione he is going to be asked for a quarterback update. Monday he said, "The quarterbacks are improving. Andrew (Zow) is throwing the ball with a lot of velocity. Tyler (Watts) is looking better. All of the quarterbacks are showing flashes of good things. They are learning to not force the ball . We want them to understand when to pass and when not to pass. They will have many opportunities to win a game, but we want to be sure they don't do things that could lose a game."
He said they are getting better at achieving the vision of the coaching staff. And, he said, both appear to be quicker after having lost a few pounds.
He also said it is too early to determine whether Albama will be a one-quarterback team or whether Zow and Watts will be rotated. "When we make the decision, we will be confortable with it," Franchione said.
In answer to a question, Franchione said that freshman quarterback Brodie Croyle is "better mentally" and "showing improvement." The coach said, "He has a good arm and good quickness. It was evident to the coaches that he did what he needed to do in the summer in terms of film study, weight training, and throwing."
The coach pointed out that all players will continue to get work, but said the emphasis is on getting those ready who will be playing against UCLA. That means, primarily, the first two groups.
There was some excitement in the kicking game Monday as the players and coaches put extra noise and motion around place-kicker Neal Thomas as Thomas lined up for a series of 40-yard field goal tries. Thomas wasn't fazed, knocking all three through the uprights. Also on the kicking game, Franchione noted that not much had been done on finding a kickoff man as the emphasis had been on coverage thus far. But, he said, the guy who can consistently put it in the end zone will get the job. And he thinks Lane Bearden may be able to do that.
As for the freshmen, Franchione said that linebacker Freddie Roach and defensive end Todd Bates (who was moved from linebacker) continue to "keep pace."
The Wednesday morning scrimmage work, expected to be 75-90 plays, will be at the Thomas-Drew Practice Field.