Shula Likes The Signs

Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula encourages his football players to have fun. "We want them smiling and laughing," he said. "But at the same time you have to get the work done." He is seeing signs this week of a Crimson Tide that is more attentive in meetings and more serious on the practice field. He sees those as good sign s and said, "I hope it will translate into a good Saturday."

Alabama is on the practice field this week attempting to bounce back from a 19-16 loss to Northern Illinois. The task is not easy because the rebound will have to come against the ninth-ranked and undefeated (3-0) Arkansas Razorbacks. Alabama is now 2-2 and only 1-2 in Bryant-Denny Stadium, where the Crimson Tide will host Arkansas. Kickoff will be at 2:30 p.m. CDT with television coverage by CBS. Alabama is 1-0 in Southeastern Conference games while this is the SEC opener for the Razorbacks.

Following Wednesday's two-hour workout in shoulder pads and helmets, Shula said, "It was a good practice. We've had two really good practices and the guys have really been positive and done what we have asked them to do." But, he cautioned, "We prepared well last week, too."

Shula is hopeful that Alabama will have a few players back from injury this week. He said he wasn't sure if pre-season All-America guard Justin Smiley or freshman fullback Le'Ron McClain would play this week, or it they did if they would be 100 per cent. But, he said, "It's good to see them out practicing."

Outside linebacker Cornelius Wortham, who has not played this year because of a dislocated elbow suffered in pre-season practice, was also working today. Shula said he worked part of the time with the scout team. The Tide coach said it is still "week to week" for Wortham.

The Tide head coach said it was possible that "some guys may play for the first time this week." Although he didn't share names, he said the staff would discuss some possibilities. "We're not going to do it at the4 expense of putting ourselves in a hole by not having the best guys out there when we need them," he said.

Shula has nothing but good things to say about Arkansas. "They have everything," the Tide coach said. "They have size. They have speed. They have good schemes. They do a lot of things of things on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they move guys around. Offensively, they can beat you a lot of different ways, with (tailback Cedric) Cobbs and (quarterback) Matt Jones doing just about anything he wants to do. So, we have to be zeroed in."

One area where Alabama needs improvement is in special teams play. Last week Alabama lost over 100 yards in field position in the kicking game. "It starts with the kickers," Shula said. "We have to have them kicking well, long and high. And then it's every little detail. And a little bit more effort. Even when you think you're giving all you have, you have to give a little more."

Alabama will practice again on Thursday and hold a brief walk through on Friday.

NOTE: A little correction on Baby Shula. While we had been told that if the daughter of Mike and Shari Shula, which is expected any time, did not arrive by Wednesday that the birth would be induced Thursday, that was amended today to say that those plans are for next week.

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