Photo report: Team-building continues

As everyone with practical experience involving football knows, fall two-a-days present a tough challenge for every athlete and coach. But quite beyond the goal of getting better physically, an equally important benefit cited by coaches is the opportunity for the individual players to bond together as a team. Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione uses mutual trust and accountability as watchwords, and this group of Crimson athletes is responding.

One of the minor changes in routine instituted by Dennis Franchione and the new staff involves the warmup prior to practice. Before, the players would line up along yardlines with offense on one side and the defense facing on the other. Starters were in the first row, followed on successive rows by seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen. Franchione prefers the players to stretch together with their position mates. Here, Andrew Zow (#5) and Brodie Croyle (#12) listen to morning instructions.

Only a few yards away, Tyler Watts (#14) prepares for the day. Watts has said that he spent a great deal of time over the summer adjusting his throwing motion, tinkering with his mechanics to develop a quicker and more efficient release. And observers report that he has been throwing better.

One of the more interesting aspects of Franchione's settling in period has been the good working relationship that has apparently developed between Athletics Director Mal Moore and Franchione's staff. Coach Fran is noted for usually only hiring experienced assistants with a high degree of professionalism. And all of them (including Franchione) speak often of how important it is to have in Mal Moore a man who knows the ins and outs of coaching from hard experience.

In full stride, junior receiver Antonio 'AC' Carter catches the football over his shoulder. Franchione has identified Carter and several other receivers as 'playmakers,' athletes that he plans to feature as much as possible in the Tide offense.

Junior defensive tackle Jarret Johnson gets some private instruction from position coach Stan Eggen. If Alabama is to be successful in 2000, then Johnson and his fellow tackles' performance on the interior of the Tide D-Line will be critical.

When Monday's practice session began, one of the 'double-take' moments for practice visitors involved the jersey colors. In the past the Alabama offense always wore white to the Crimson of their defensive counterparts. But as senior linebacker Victor Ellis illustrates, Franchione will change that up from week to week based on what the squad will wear in the upcoming game (he likes to match the offensive jersey up so the QBs can get accustomed to throwing to the given color). Ellis joked afterwards that he "maybe" could contribute on offense, but "don't write my name down."

One of the first things Franchione said after being hired was that the 'adoption' process from player to coach and coach to player would have to be accelerated. All indications are that the process has gone smoothly, with the Tide athletes eager for direction on how to improve from last season. Here, Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Les Koenning shares a laugh with the players. (Don't ask about the joke, this is a G-rated website)

Junior wideout Sam Collins looks back toward the quarterback. If there is one position where Alabama has plenty of talent, it's definitely receiver. Coming out of spring Collins was listed first string along with Carter, Freddie Milons and Jason McAddley. And their 'backups' include such talented players as Triandos Luke, Brandon Greer, Tarry Givens, Michael James, Joel Babb and Dre Fulgham.

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