Both teams are 1-1 on the year and both, along with all other major college teams, were idle last week because of the terrorist attacks in America
Franchione said that Wednesday's practice in helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts was "a good workout. We got a lot done." He also said that Tuesday's practice, ordinarily the most physical of the week, was also "not bad. It served the purpose."
Franchione added that because of the extra days of work and the ability to get started on the Arkansas game plan on Sunday that practices this week have been "a little shorter. I think that will help keep the guys fresher."
The coach doesn't want to elevate the Arkansas game in importance. "It's too early to talk about ramifications," Franchione said. "Going on the road to Vandy and getting a win was good. Now we've got to protect our home turf in a conference game. But they all count one."
Alabama has not yet played a true freshman and there was thought that Franchione might attempt to redshirt all of the freshmen. However, the coach said there is "a good chance" that defensive end Todd Bates (6-4, 230) will play this weekend. Franchione called him a "hard worker. His motor runs fast. I'd like to have about 20 more Todd Bates. He's going to be a fine player." One Alabama defensive end, Antwan Odom, has had shoulder problems which could account for the plan to have Bates ready.
Franchione said he thinks the offense has progressed in the seven practice since the win over Vanderbilt on September 8. He particularly noted the improvement of the offensive line. "This is going to be a good line one day," he said. "It's not bad now." He said that as the linemen get more confident in their assignments they can be more physical and, thus, more effective.
That confidence in assignments extends to other positions and Franchione said that redshirt freshman tailback Ray Hudson, who converted from defensive back this fall, is an example. "Without the foundation of having gone through spring training on offense, every day is on the job training for him," Franchione said. "When he runs plays he is confident about you can tell a difference than when he runs plays on which he's still a little hesitant."
Hudson is the back-up to starter Ahmaad Galloway. Santonio Beard has moved up to third team with the defection of Brandon Miree. Franchione said that Beard "has taken steps. He's gaining confidence and doing things more technically sound."
The University issued a statement from Athletics Director Mal Moore saying that efforts were on-going to arrange an 11th game following the cancellation of last Saturday's game against Southern Mississippi. The statement said different options were being explored and that a resolution was expected early Thursday. The indication is that if Southern Miss cannot shuffle its schedule to have an opening to play Alabama on either November 24 or December 1 that Alabama will play its 11th game against another school on that date.
Franchione, who has said that scheduling negotiations are in the hands of Moore, said, "We had 10 bowl teams scheduled in our 11 games and we've already played the one (Vanderbilt) that wasn't a bowl team, so it can't get much harder." He said he felt confident that despite the difficulties that Alabama would have an 11th game.
Alabama's next opponent, South Carolina, will be playing Mississippi State Thursday night. Franchione said he considers that an advantage for the Gamecocks. "They get to play a game quicker and then they have a couple of extra days to prepare for us," he said. Alabama plays at South Carolina September 29.