Shula Likes Bama Effort

Having to prepare for Kentucky's offense means having to prepare for the Wildcats' mammoth quarterback, Jared Lorenzen. While Alabama coaches are aware of Lorenzen's size (6-4, 260), his talent is even greater. No one is claiming that Bama has a scout team quarterback the equivalent of Lorenzen, who owns a sackful of national, Southeastern Conference, and Kentucky records. But Crimson Tide defensive coaches have been pleased with the work of Alabama's scout team quarterback this week.

Mike Machen, a freshman walk-on who stands 6-6 and weighs 230, is playing the role of Lorenzen this week. Machen is a right-hander while Lorenzen is a lefty.

Bama Head Coach Mike Shula said, "Mike has done a nice job. Now, obviously you can't totally imitate Jared, but you can do it with effort and you can do it with some of the little things that we are asking him to do this week that are different and unique from other teams. He has done a nice job with all of that. The defensive coaches have been very pleased."

Alabama will host Kentucky at 6:45 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium with national television coverage by ESPN. It will be the SEC opener for both teams.

Shula said he has also been pleased with the way Bama appears to be rebounding from last weekend's loss to number one ranked Oklahoma. The Tide was out for two hours in helmets and shoulder pads Wednesday and Shula said, "We had a nice practice. The guys are really into it and are doing a nice job. They look like they are hungry. They want to bounce back with a win. They've had a good attitude the last couple of days, and that is good."

Shula said the attitude has been "better than expected, and we expected a lot from these guys. The concentration has been good."

The first-year coach pointed out that, "For me and for our staff, this is another step for us, going into a game for the first time after a loss. We think we know what these kids are about; hopefully we will react in a good way and find a way to come up with a win."

Shula is aware that the press and public have given Alabama's team high marks for playing the nation's number one team down to the wire, but for the coaches and players, Shula said, "It was a loss. Now our guys have to respond to a loss. It's another week and we have to focus on ourselves and every player has to get better."

Shula said it is still "day-to-day" on whether linebacker Cornelius Wortham and fullback Tim Castille will be able to play Saturday. He said both are making progress. Wortham, a senior and last year's starter at strongside linebacker, has not played this season after dislocating an elbow in pre-season practice. Castille, a true freshman who started Bama's first two games, suffered a knee injury against Oklahoma.

Shula said the coaching staff selected players of the game against Oklahoma. They were linebacker Derrick Pope (14 tackles) on defense, halfback Shaud Williams (17 carries for 91 yards) on offense, and Thurman Ward on special teams. Shula noted that Ward had four tackles and two of them were on kickoffs when he stopped the Oklahoma return man inside the 20.


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