Obviously Toledo won't face the same Bama team that lost last season in the Rose Bowl 35-24, and the question about which quarterback new Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione will start on Saturday is but one example. "I don't really worry about that," Toledo said. "They've got two good quarterbacks, and we've prepared for both of them."
Alabama opens the season at 6:45 pm Central Time tomorrow, hosting UCLA in Bryant-Denny Stadium in a game that will be nationally telecast by ESPN. The Bruins enter the contest ranked 17th in the nation by the Associated Press, while Alabama is rated 25th. The game will finish up a two game series between the two schools, providing football fans a relatively rare chance to compare teams from the PAC-10 and SEC.
Last season Alabama traveled cross-country to California, and many Tide fans believe the long trip and accompanying hoopla contributed to the loss. But Toledo dismisses the notion that anything similar will happen to his squad. "I think they will be prepared," he said. "We've got a veteran football team. We've got 23 seniors on this team. We've got eight seniors that play defense and seven on offense, so we have experience. It's not like I'm bringing a young football team in here."
UCLA flew into Birmingham Thursday night and bused over to Tuscaloosa for the afternoon walk-through. "It really wasn't a bad trip," Toledo said. "It didn't take long to get (to Birmingham) last night, and we got here quickly today. It's not like we're going to acclimate to the weather, because you're never going to get used to that. But at least it gives us a chance to kind of rest up before we have to play tomorrow."
Of course Tide partisans had been counting on August Alabama weather to give their team an edge, hoping for scorching temperatures accompanied by smothering humidity. But at this point it doesn't look like the weatherman will cooperate--at least not completely. The current forecast calls for more moderate temperatures by game time, though the probability of rain during the day should keep humidity levels high.
Obviously concerned about the playing conditions his California team will face, Toledo has been checking out the forecasts as well. "There's no question the weather is a lot different," he acknowledged. "We don't have this weather right now to work in. It was only in the high seventies with a breeze coming in from Malibu Beach back home, so it was really comfortable. This is different. But we can't prepare for this, so we can't worry about it.
"It's going to be hot. It's going to be humid. It's going to rain. We'll just prepare for it, and let's go play."
Toledo brought in a new defensive coordinator last winter to shore up that side of the football, but the Bruins have had plenty of time to install Coach Phil Snow's new schemes. "We've gotten everything put in on defense that we wanted," Toledo said. "There will be some things game-plan wise as we go through the year that we'll put in, but right now we've got enough in to get through a game.
"You only need one defensive set and one coverage, right?"
But since last season Alabama has made a complete changeover of its coaching staff, making UCLA's defensive preparations problematic at best. "We're just going to have to get into the flow of the game and see exactly what they're doing," Toledo said. "We looked at a lot of film of them from TCU (Franchione's previous school), and we just hope that's what they're doing now. Then we'll have to adjust from there.
"Our biggest thing right now is we don't know that much about them. So we have to worry about ourselves."
And the game Saturday, coach? "It's going to be wild and crazy. And that's what makes it fun and exciting."