Motivation not a problem at Alabama

Alabama may be facing some serious problems getting ready for the 2003 season, but finding something to play for is not one of them. <br><br>Coaching the storied Crimson Tide program, Head Coach Mike Shula can use past success to remind his players what they're working toward.

(Above left) Brandon Brooks looks to catch the punt during special teams work. To increase hand-eye coordination, the return men take reps holding one football in their left hand, aiming to catch the punt with the right.

Quarterback Mike Machen prepares to pass. A former minor-league pitcher, Machen joined the squad last winter as a walk-on. His baseball contract pays for his tuition, giving Alabama a quality athlete who doesn't count against its scholarship numbers. Right now Machen would be the fourth-string QB.

Under the watchful eye of Defensive Tackles Coach Buddy Wyatt, Bama's D-Linemen practice with the sled. The athletes work on their explosive punch at the snap, then immediately disengage to get off the block and run to the football.

A somewhat smaller "Bear" jogs off the practice field. After losing 12 pounds over the summer, Anthony Bryant is better conditioned for football. So far in fall camp he has been Alabama's most effective defensive tackle.

The Tide's defenisve line braintrust confer during practice. Buddy Wyatt (far right) and Paul Randolph (left) share responsibilities for the D-Line unit, handling tackles and ends respectively. During special teams practice when Randolph is otherwise occupied, Wyatt coaches the entire group in drill work.

With the metal frame forcing them to stay low, Bama offensive linemen explode off the ball at the snap. Quick, instantaneous power is the key. Get to your man before he gets to you; get your hands on him; maintain a lower center of gravity than your opponent, establishing leverage; and then finish off the block.

Right tackle Evan Mathis talks with reporters following practice. It's not uncommon for players to lose five pounds or more a day through sweating during August practices, so it's crucial that the athletes continually replenish lost fluids.

As Head Coach Mike Shula has repeatedly reminded his team, he has unfinished business at Alabama. The goal is simple: a championship.
Pictured are rings from Alabama's most recent seven national championships, which Shula has posted on the lockerroom wall and in team meeting rooms, to remind the players of why they're working so hard.

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