There Have Been A Few Changes

Although Head Coach Dennis Franchione said that the first scrimmage of the pre-season for his Alabama football team on Wednesday didn't result in significant changes in the depth chart, he did acknowledge some changes Thursday.

Franchione said that Justin Smiley (6-3, 295, redshirt freshman) had been moved up to number one at quickside guard, with Marico Portis (6-2, 300, junior), who had been first at quick, moving ahead of Dennis Alexander at strongside guard.Franchione said that Evan Mathis (6-5, 281, redshirt freshman) continues as the back-up center to Alonzo Ephraim (6-4, 288, junior), but that Mathis is also working behind Dante Ellington (6-6, 354, junior) at strongside tackle. Wesley Britt (6-8, 305, redshirt freshman) continues as number one at weakside tackle.

The Tide head coach also said that Marvin Brown is "no doubt" the number two fullback behind Donnie Lowe. Brown missed all of last season and most of spring practice with academic problems. The 6-0, 252-pound junior had perhaps the most imspired individual play of Wednesday's scrimmage, a churning 11-yard gain with defenders draped all over him. The coach said Brown has made "giant improvement. He's learning. He's in better shape. He's running well. He's not the same guy I saw in the spring."

Franchione said that sometimes a scheme will cal for personnel groupings that change the depth chart in some areas, such as the defensive line.

He said the depth chart at tailback would have Ahmaad Galloway number one. He said Galloway is the most well-rounded of the tailbacks. He said Brandon Miree is number two, followed by Santonio Beard and Ray Hudson with Beard and Hudson "closing." He noted that Hudson "has a speed burst that is the best by far." He said Miree was "very consistent. He doesn't make mistakes. He's smart and he's strong." The coach said he hoped to get to the point where all four tailbacks could be used.

He was also asked about the depth chart at cornerback and said "It's difficult to say." The coach said that left cornerback Gerald Dixon was playing "pretty well and with the most confidence," but also expressed satisfaction in the play of right cornerback Hirchel Bolden and back-ups Roberto McBride and Carlos Andrews. He notd that McBride is being used as a nickel back. He said the cornerbacks have done a good job of "keeping the ball in front of them. All-in-all I feel pretty good about where we're going."

Meeting with the media prior to Thursday afternoon's practice, Franchione said he had been pleased with the way the players came back after Wednesday morning's scrimmage to have good practices Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

Franchione said the team needs "to improve consistency. Sometimes we're trying too hard to make the big play and we have a bad play. If we'll concentrate on making the right play consistently, the big plays will come.

"We need to be better in assignment and alignment and a lot better in technique. We're a little behind in technique, which is not surprising."

said, "For a coach, it can't come fast enough, but I'm very pleased with what they've done. The weather has helped some, but we've gone at a good pace and they are not rubber-legged. There's no doubt the good off-season program is having an effect."


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