Tide Still Has Work To Do

Fullback is a position where Alabama's football team has been hit hard by the injury bug, but there could be good news Saturday. Although the final decision will not be made until near gametime, . following Thursday's practiceCrimson Tide Head Coach Mike Shula indicated freshman Tim Castille might be ready to play.

Alabama, 2-1 and ranked 21st in the nation, hosts Northern Illinois (2-0) of the Mid-American Conference at 6 p.m. Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The Huskies have won nine of their last 10 games and upset number 15 Maryland (20-13, in overtime) in DeKalb on August 28. Northern Illinois had an open date last Saturday.

Shula said, "Tim Castille continues to do more. It will be a gametime decision (on whether he plays Saturday), but he has had good practices." Castille, a true freshman, started Bama's first two games, then missed last week's win over Kentucky after suffering a strained knee against Oklahoma. Castille has not had a rush, but has caught four passes for 45 yards.

Another true freshman, LeRon McClain, started last week's game at fullback, but suffered a sprained toe and is questionable for this week. A handful of Tide players are questionable for Saturday. Offensive guard Justin Smiley and back-up defensive tackle Jeremy Clark are also in the group that may or may not see action.

If neither freshman is able to play, tight end types Clint Johnston and Greg McLain (last year's starting fullback who has been limited by injuries this fall) will take over.

The physical work for this week was completed Thursday. However, there is still work to be done. While Shula has said all practices this week were good, he said, "There are still some things we need to get corrected. The players will need to spend a little more time with their playbooks." He said "a little of both" when asked if the areas were on offense or defense.

"As coaches we are anxious to see how we play each week, Shula said. "The focus has been good and the players are excited about trying for that third win of the season. We have thrown a lot at them in the last three weeks. Our preparation has been good. They have been very attentive in meetings. We know we are going to make mistakes, we just don't want to make the same mistakes twice."

He pointed out that coaches have limited time to be with the players andsaid, "We have talked to the seniors about keeping the team focused. Our seniors have shown good leadership and they are around the players more than we are."

The Tide coach announced senior offensive lineman Atlas Herrion, senior defensive end Nautyn McKay-Loescher, and sophomore middle linebacker Freddie Roach (special teams) as game captains.


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