Injury Bug Hits Bama Practice

The injury bug hit Alabama football practice Wednesday. Fullback Donnie Lowe suffered a concussion and will be out for a few days. Nose tackle Anthony Bryant over-heated. Both were taken to DCH Medical Center for treatment. Both linebacker Victor Ellis and cornerback Hirchel Bolden suffered shoulder injuries that are not considered serious.

However, Bama Head Coach Dennis Franchione said defensive end Antwan Odom, who suffered a separated shoulder Monday, is expected back by Sunday's practice.

"You hate to see injuries," Franchione said, "but we know they are a part of the game. They are an unpleasant part, but you have to be prepared for them. The next man has to step up, you close ranks, and you march on."

Wednesday was the first day of classes at The University of Alabama, which meant there were changes in Crimson Tide football. Most notable to the players, in addition to having to hit the classrooms, was that there was just one practice after 10 days of two-a-day practices. Additionally, the squad is in the process of being expanded. A team can have only 105 players in camp until the start of classes. Some 46 players applied to join the team as walk-ons and 30 of those are being selected to take the squad size to 135. (Those not selected to join the team this fall are encouraged to participate in weight room work and try again in the spring.)

Franchione had said earlier this week that practice on the first day of classes is sometimes not good, that players have a hard time focusing on football with so much other activity. But, he said following Wednesday's two-hour workout in full gear, "It wasn't too bad. We challenged them for two days that a mature team and a good team will have a good first day. They did a good job. I was not displeased."

He said having just one practice seemed to give the players "a little more bounce in their step." But, he said, "They won't really get their legs back until next Tuesday. They should get a little fresher as the week goes on. We'll have a walk-through Saturday, a light practice Sunday, and then they'll have Monday off and should be rested Tuesday."

Franchione said there was some work on the UCLA game plan Wednesday, but said "We're still doing a lot of fall camp work." He said the real preparation for UCLA would begin Sunday. Alabama hosts UCLA a week from Saturday, at 6:45 p.m. CDT September 1, with television coverage by ESPN.

Franchione said he has known UCLA Coach Bob Toledo for a number of years, since Toledo was offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. He said he wouldn't describe the two as close friends, but acquaintances. Franchione said he has very high regard for Toledo as an offensive coach.

He said Alabama's preparation for UCLA includes the Toledo offense. However, on defense UCLA has changed coordinators, Phil Snow (No, not THAT Phil Snow) coming from Arizona State to replace Bob Field, and Tide coaches will pay more attention to what Arizona State did on defense last year than on what UCLA did. Still, Franchione said, the first game is different in preparation. He said the game plan has to be somewhat generic because you have to be prepared to adjust to everything and you have to have something that will work.

Alabama's coaching staff prepared the game plan in the summer. Franchione noted, "You have a lot of time to prepare for that first game, but you're not sure you're preparing for the right thing. It makes for some anxious moments."

He also said he had not yet begun to discuss the game with his players. He said he doesn't want them to peak too early, that he wants them to be ready to play UCLA when the game kicks off.

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