Franchione Takes A Chance

Alabama Head Football Coach Dennis Franchione took a little risk Saturday afternoon when a lightning storm erupted during the Crimson Tide's practice at Bryant-Denny Stadium. No, Franchione didn't keep practicing through the storm. He sent his troops to the dressing room to wait it out for 32 minutes. The risk he took was in bringing the team back out on the field after the weather delay.

"I was concerned because of the health of the players," Franchione said. "I knew they were tired and we had already had a good half of practice. You worry about going back out and someone pulling a muscle or something. But we decided to finish the practice and it turned out okay. I liked the way our guys came back out. They responded well even though they had to be fatigued. And their coaches did a good job getting them ready to go back out."

The workout was the Tide's second of the day at the stadium. Earlier Bama had gone through a kicking scrimmage.

Following Saturday afternoon's practice in full gear, Franchione said, "The offense looked better. We were more physical and we executed better. We've taken some steps. I thought we threw and caught better and we ran better and I was encouraged by that."

The team will go to church and have lunch together Sunday and will have meetings Sunday afternoon and evening. "That will be a time for them to get their legs back," Franchione said. "It';s hard to focus when you're fatigued."

The team will return to Bryant-Denny Stadium Monday morning for the second and final scrimmage of the pre-season. After a Monday afternoon practice, the Tide will have two practices on Tuesday. Classes begin Wednesday, which will be the beginning of just one practice per day.

Alabama is two weeks away from the September 1 opener when Bama will host UCLA at 6:45 p.m. CDT, a nationally-telecast game by ESPN.

Although Franchione considers Monday's scrimmage to be important, he is not depicting it as the last chance for players to earn a spot on the depth chart. "One day doesn't make a player," he said. "They are evaluated every day. A scrimmage carries a little more weight, but I'm interested in what a guy does day in and day out, not what he does occasionally. The scrimmage won't be a final thing. We're still learning about the players every day."

Franchione said the game plan for UCLA was not yet complete, but said "We're starting to condense things."

Next weekend Alabama's players will get a dress rehearsal for game weekend. Starting Friday the team will go through the same sequence of events that will occur on opening weekend, beginning with Friday practice. The team will go through a normal Saturday of meetings and the team meal and then Saturday night will have a "mock game" in shorts. The squad will go through a script that includes every game eventuality. "By the time we play UCLA, everything that can happen will have happened," Franchione said.

And does Alabama win that scripted game? "You bet," the coach said.


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