Following a two-hour practice in helmets and shoulder pads, Shula said, "Brodie took a lot of throws in individual period and actually threw the ball pretty well. He didn't take any snaps other than that. He's feeling good. He's feeling probably better than he was at any point last week. So we'll treat him tonight and treat him tomorrow and then see how he does tomorrow out there at practice."
Alabama will have its Homecoming festivities this weekend, highlighted by Bama's football game against Southern Mississippi. The Crimson Tide hosts the Golden Eagles at 2 p.m. CDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The only television coverage is through pay-per-view outlets.
While Croyle may figure into Saturday's plans, early indications are redshirt freshman Brandon Avalos, who had his first college playing time last week in going the final quarter and a half against Georgia, will be Bama's starting quarterback against Southern Miss. Shula said that Avalos had a good day. "He's had two pretty good days," the coach said. "I think the biggest thing for him now is to go over stuff and not take anything for granted. He needs to make sure he's calling the plays right and getting the team in the right formations."
Mike Machen, a freshman who has been expected to be redshirted this year after having spent the last three years as a professional baseball player, also got some work at quarterback, perhaps 15-20 per cent of the snaps, Shula said. And, the coach said, Machen might get even more work Thursday depending on whether Croyle gets some practice time.
One reason Croyle did not start last week's game is because he had so little practice time during the week. "Brodie has been through all the reps throwing the ball, but now he needs to get some work with the team," Shula said. "He threw the ball more today than he did last Wednesday. But a player is always better when he's practiced."
In a light moment, Shula noted that professional football teams carry three quarterbacks. "They used to carry just two," he said. "That's what ended my pro (playing) career. They told me I was the third quarterback on a two-quarterback team."
The Tide coach said Alabama will have a plan to have at least three quarterbacks ready to play Saturday, although he is not revealing all the contingencies.
While most of the attention is on the quarterback situation, Shula said, "The whoe team has got to do better. We've got to go win a football game. Not everyone is healthy. We've challenged the ones who are."
He did say that offensive lineman Atlas Herrion, who suffered a head injury against Georgia, appeared to be on the road to recovery and likely to play Saturday. Herrion is the number one back-up at most offensive line positions.
Shula said the emphasis needs to be on everyone doing his job better, including a better job of executing the fundamentals–blocking, tackling, running, throwing, catching. "And we have to know our assignments."