It's Game Week For Bama

Now it is game week, and Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula anticipates having butterflies. The Crimson Tide began its regular routine Sunday with a two-hour practice in which the first phase of the game plan was installed. Alabama will host South Florida at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday at Legion Field in Birmingham. ESPN will televise the game.

The Alabama-South Florida game will be the first in which Shula is a head coach. He can't yet know how he will be affected as kickoff draws closer, but said, "If you don't get butterflies, you ought to be doing something else."

Since Shula has been in the NFL for the past 15 years, since his days as a Crimson Tide quarterback, he was asked how preparation for this game differs from preparation for a professional game. "It's still Xs and Os," Shula said. He said the idea is to have his team prepared to play a sound game, to attack the opponent, and to execute on reaction. Obviously, a professional team has much more time to prepare than college students.

"Are we there yet?" Shula said. "No. But our plan wasn't to be there today. It's to be there Saturday." He said part of the game plan was installed Sunday, another segment would be installed Tuesday, and it would be completed Wednesday. "That's pretty much the way everyone does it," he said.

Alabama's normal week will be starting on Sunday, having Monday off, then practice Tuesday-Thursday, a walk-through on Friday, and, of course, the game on Saturday. College athletes must be given one day off from any meetings or practice or competition.

Shula said the Tide would probably have some depth chart announcements by Tuesday, including announcing the place-kicker (Brian Bostick is the favorite), punter (Bo Freelend is thought to be number one), holder (Gabe Giardina), punt return men (Shaud Williams and Triandos Luke are leaders), and kickoff return men.

Alabama held a mock game at Bryant-Denny Stadium Friday and Shula said every situation imaginable, including heavy emphasis on special teams, was rehearsed. (Contrary to rumor, the practice did not include an imaginary serious injury and airlift.) "It went very quickly and kept the guys on their toes," Shula said of the practice, which lasted "a little over an hour." He said that while it was thorough, it was done quickly enough to give the players some leg-rest time.

He said he wants Bama players to not let one play affect the next. "If you have a good play, you've got to forget it and play the next one," he said. "Same with a bad play. You've got to forget it and go on." He described a season as "opportunities. We have 13 games this year, so we have 13 opportunities." But, he said, the opportunities don't come just on Saturdays. The opportunity has to include the preparation throughout the week.

Although there are limitations on what can be said about injuries, Shula said that linebacker Juke King, who underwent serious knee surgery last year, "has practiced well. He just has to continue to get rep(etition)s. He's have responsibilities at both inside and outside linebacker."

The Tide head coach said there are no Bama players he expects to miss the South Florida game because of injuries.

Back-up quarterback Spencer Pennington, who suffered a fracture in his hand last week, was dressed out and throwing the football Sunday. However, four men who have missed several practices were held out again Sunday. They are linebacker Cornelius Wortham, defensive tackles Ahmad Childress and Kyle Tatum, and offensive lineman Travis West. Redshirt freshman Jeremy Clark has been working in Childress' spot in the number one defensive line.

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