Practice Going Well

For the second consecutive week, Alabama Head Football Coach Dennis Franchione has been very pleased with the Crimson Tide's early preparation. "We've had a pretty good two days, real comparable to our Tuesday and Wednesday practices last week," Franchione said. "Hopefully we can come back with a better Thursday practice than we had last week, and Thursday last week wasn't bad. But I'd like to have three good days."

Franchione had said earlier that Bama's good practices last week showed up on the scoreboard Saturday when the Crimson Tide defeated Texas-El Paso, 56-7.

Alabama, 3-2 overall and 2-1 in Southeastern Conference play, gets back into league action Saturday against Ole Miss in Oxford. Mississippi is 3-1 overall, 1-1 in the SEC. The game will be regionally telecast by Jefferson Pilot with kickoff shortly after 11:30 a.m. CDT.

Franchione said his players were "alert, working hard, and paying attention to detail. If they made a mistake, they made it full speed. The last two weeks the players have come with a purpose to get the game plan down on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday's practice is more mental.

"They need to learn the game plan, the adjustments, and the new things, and I think their approach to that purpose has paralleled some of our improvement."

Franchione said that another reason for the improvement in Alabama's offense in recent weeks is that the staff is "getting a better feel for what we do well" insofar as personnel. He said he also thinks Alabama's multiple offense has been helpful. For instance, he said, "Everyone talks about the option. We ran one option play against Vanderbilt and two against Arkansas. We've run it more the last two weeks. But whether it's a part of the game plan or not, the other side has to prepare for it, which is an advantage for us." He added, "I like the way we've stayed balanced."

He did say that he expects Ole Miss "to be concerned" about Alabama's running game. Bama ranks first in the SEC in rushing offense and the Rebels are 10th in the league in rushing defense. Franchione added, "I think we're at our best when we have both, run and pass. If we can get those guys (Bama's runners) going, we have a chance to have a nice day. If we're stymied in the running game, it will have an affect on our chances."

Franchione said that Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning, though just a third year sophomore in eligibility, is "like a senior. He's like a cross between (Vanderbilt's) Greg Zolman and (South Carolina's) Phil Petty. He won't let you sack him, he throws the ball away when he needs to, and he throws with authority and accuracy."

Bama's coach said everything leads him to believe "There could be some points scored. But," he reminded reporters, "I thought the South Carolina game would be 17-16." (South Carolina took a 37-36 win over Alabama in a game between two teams that had been strong defensively.

Two members of the Alabama football family underwent surgery Tuesday. One was expected. Defensive end Antwan Odom, who has had a chronic shoulder problem, has his shoulder repaired by Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Les Fowler. He will be redshirted and have three years of eligibility beginning next fall. It was not expected that Assistant Head Coach Kenith Pope would have emergency knee surgery. Pope was out checking on the construction of his house, had a misstep, and injured his knee. Dr. Fowler repaired that injury.

Franchione isn't sure if Pope will be able to participate in Saturday's game. Pope, who coaches wide receivers, would ordinarily be on the sidelines, where he has great responsibility in substitutions and in the kicking game and "is a great motivator," Franchione said. Franchione said it is possible that Pope could be in the press box and Lee Fobbs (who missed much of last week's preparation to be with his ailing father) would move to the sidelines.

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