Croyle, Avalos Split Practice

Alabama is no closer to answering its quarterback question, but that is no surprise to Crimson Tide Head Football Coach Mike Shula. He doesn't expect a decision until late in the week. Both sophomore Brodie Croyle, who has been out for most of the last two weeks, and redshirt freshman Brandon Avalos worked with the offense Wednesday.

Alabama will play at Mississippi Saturday with kickoff at 11:30 a.m. CDT and regional television coverage by Jefferson-Pilot. Alabama is trying to even its record after the Tide has started 3-4 overall and 1-2 in Southeastern Conference play. The Rebels are 4-2 overall and 2-0 in SEC play and trying to become the first Mississippi team since 1970 when Archie Manning was quarterback to win its first three conference games. Manning's son, Eli, is the highly-regarded quarterback of this year's Mississippi team.

Shula said that Croyle and Avalos have split quarterback work in Alabama's first two days of practice. He said "Brodie had about the same amount (of repetitions)–maybe not quite as many–as he had Tuesday. We don't want to give him too much. And we want to make sure Brandon is ready to go, too."

Shula said he doesn't see Croyle having any problems with his throwing motion despite wearing a heavy shoulder brace on his left (non-throwing) shoulder. The coach said Croyle "will always say, ‘I'm great! Ready to go!' But when a player misses work, he's got to get back into it. And we've got to be smart about how much we give him. If he's going to play, he's got to feel good. We will probably do the same thing (as last week) just wait until after practice tomorrow and see how they do and make a decision. We will see how Brodie is feeling on Friday and make the decision then."

Alabama worked for two hours in helmets and shoulder pads Wednesday. Some of the work was in the indoor practice facility, which has the same artificial turf, AstroPlay, that was installed in Mississippi's Vaught-Hemingway Stadium this year.

"It was a good practice," Shula said. "I think the cool weather helped us. It seemed that everyone was a little more livelier, so that was good. The last two days we have had some really good work."

The Tide coach said that last week's win over Southern Miss, breaking a three-game losing streak, was good for the team. "Now we have to go out and get a win on the road and get a win against a well-coached SEC opponent and get our first back-to-back wins," he said. He added that the players have had a "great attitude" through the first half of the season.

Also on the quarterback front, sophomore Spencer Pennington, who started the Georgia game two weeks ago but suffered a serious shoulder injury that has him sidelined for a few more weeks, said following the practice that he had received "Good news. No surgery." His injury was to his right (throwing) shoulder.

Shula said that tight end David Cavan, who has played all season with a cast on his hand, had missed the last two days of practice. This staff appears to have a policy of not playing those who miss practice time.

Shula said that linebacker Derrick Pope, fullback Le'Ron McClain, and defensive tackle Kyle Tatum, all of who have missed playing time with injuries, are back practicing and expected to play.

Sophomore defensive tackle Taylor Britt, who was suspended a few weeks ago after being involved in an altercation with a police officer. was reinstated Sunday and is back working with the team.

On a light note, Shula was reminded of his one appearance as a player against Mississippi. It came in the second game of his freshman year and he played 19 snaps–the extent of his playing time that season. Shula was one-for-four passing in mop-up duty in that 40-0 win over the Rebels. "But one other pass was caught," he said. And, he said, "I remember the defense looked pretty upset about having to go back out there after I threw that intereception."

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