Two-a-day sessions end

Today marks the final two-a-day practice for Alabama's football team. The squad will work out again at 7:45 in an evening session. <br><br>Following the morning workout, Alabama head coach Mike Shula talked about his squad's progress.

"It was a good, tough practice," Shula said. "We did some good short yardage work. We scheduled the second session later so it will be at night. The players are looking forward to that."

Alabama held a full scrimmage last Saturday, while Sunday was taken up by group meetings and a quick walk-through session. "After the scrimmage on Saturday we had a jog-through last night and some meeting time," Shula said. "We used the time to put in a few new things on offense."

The Tide will go to Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuesday for another scrimmage. Saturday's work was scheduled at the stadium, but heavy rain forced a change of plans. Shula said that situation work similar to Saturday would take up much of the time, but the number of plays would be cut back.

Starters will get some work tomorrow, but not nearly as much. "Don't tell Shaud (Williams), but players like him won't get as many reps," Shula said. "We'll (look at) the positions where there is a close competition. And we'll get to look at guys on the second team that are pushing for playing time. We'll put them in with the first unit to see how they do."

Asked about the number of players he would include on his travel roster, Shula joked that it was "new to me. I know I have a lot more players to add this year than what I'm used to if I need them. In the NFL right now we'd be worrying about getting down to 46." (With the start fall semester, the Tide squad is expected to grow to 125 players. SEC rules allow teams to take 70 players on the road and dress out 80 for home conference games.)

Shula said that virtually all the initial offensive playbook had been installed. "We've just got some very minor stuff left," he said. "We put a couple of more things in (Sunday) night. But it was extra stuff that we weren't going to add unless we were confident the players could handle it."

Asked about his reaction to the 2-1-2 fall schedule, requiring schools to never practice twice on consecutive days, Shula indicated he would probably have used that format anyway. He was familiar with the pattern from his time in the NFL. "It lets us keep the players fresh, and it lets them know exactly what's expected of them in advance," he said.

Shula said he felt "pretty good" about the situation at defensive tackle. He listed Anthony Bryant, Ahmad Childress and Jeremy Clark as the top three athletes at the position, followed by Taylor Britt and Kyle Tatum. He went on to add that he "really liked" Alabama's safeties.

The Tide coaches don't expect to make a decision on any of the kicking game specialists until the latter part of this week at the earliest. Shula said that Tuesday's scrimmage work would focus on special teams. Punting and punt returns would both be "live." "We want to put some pressure on those guys and see how they do," Shula said.

At defensive end Shula noted that Antwan Odom and Nautyn McKay-Loescher were the solid starters, with Mark Anderson and Leslie Williams as the principal backups. "Mark is going to be in on a lot of action," Shula said. "Leslie needs to keep getting better, but he's doing some nice things. We'll play both."

Often during fall camp Shula has praised senior tailback Shaud Williams. "He's such a good person," Shula said. "He communicates well and isn't afraid to ask questions. Shaud is well respected by his teammates, and if you watch him you can see why.

"Like with Brodie Croyle, I knew Shaud was a good athlete but I've been even more impressed since I've seen him in person. He's instinctive and shows good patience. He makes very few mistakes decision-wise. Shaud understands what we're trying to get done. Carrying the football he makes people miss and breaks tackles more than I expected."

The Tide will conclude two-a-days with a practice this evening. Following Tuesday's scrimmage, the Tide will have single practice sessions the rest of the week. Saturday's mock game at Bryant-Denny will be completely closed, without comment to the media afterwards. The players will have Sunday off.

Alabama will begin the 2003 season on Aug. 30 against South Florida at Birmingham's Legion Field. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN, with kickoff scheduled at 2 p.m. (CDT).

Practice Notes

  • A depth chart will probably be released game week, but not before.
  • Shula noted that Kyle Robinson had a good day placekicking. He and Brian Bostick are the main contenders for the placekicking job.
  • According to Shula, Jeff Aul looked good kicking the ball off. Jamie Christensen and Brian Bostick are also competing for that job. Shula only expects to include three or four kickers on the team's travel roster.
  • Several players were held out of Monday's morning practice, including Travis West, Antonio Carter, Cornelius Wortham, Kyle Tatum and Greg McLain.
  • Fullback Le'Ron McClain was limited today. The squad worked out in full gear, but today was McClain's final mandated day in shorts, jersey and helmet.
  • Shula again praised senior guard Dennis Alexander, saying he had a good scrimmage and continues to improve.
  • Curious fans should note that there are no plans for a junior varsity game this season.

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