Franchione: They have worked hard

After three tough conference losses in a row, Alabama stands at 3-4 overall and is faced with the task of winning at least three of its last four games just to achieve a winning record. But if the team is supposed to be discouraged, somebody obviously forgot to tell the players. "I couldn't have asked the kids to work any harder," Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione said, following Wednesday's practice.

"We've had two good days."

Like Tide fans, Franchione wondered how the team would bounce back from the Tennessee loss. "I was concerned going into Tuesday how they'd practice," he admitted. "But they have worked hard. I have been very pleased with their work the last two days. I couldn't have asked anything more."

Alabama's next game will be Saturday, November 3rd, when the LSU Tigers visit Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium. That weekend will be Homecoming at Alabama, with the game scheduled for a 2:30 pm (CT) broadcast by CBS. The team will practice again Thursday before taking Friday and Saturday off. Alabama will return to its normal game-week schedule with a full-contact workout this Sunday afternoon.

For much of practice two new faces, Dante Ellington (a former starter) and Atlas Herrion, were working with the No. 1 unit at offensive tackle. But Franchione said the practice reps did not signal a change in the Tide depth chart. "We're shuffling things a bit at offensive tackle," he explained. "But we're mixing a lot of things up. We've mixed that position up a bit this week to give Dante and Atlas a little time with the first group.

"That's the beauty of an off week in that you can use different combinations and look at things. Those guys deserve to be looked at in there."

There has been speculation that the tailback position could have a new starter this week. Following his excellent 141-yard performance versus Tennessee, many expected Santonio Beard to take overtake Ahmaad Galloway at first team.

But Franchione ended those rumors. "Ahmaad will be the starter; I can tell you that," he stated. "It happened again today. Santonio just has to play better when he doesn't have the ball. He's trying to do that, and he's working at it. It's just that he's got a lot of things to work at. He'll play a lot versus LSU, but I think it'll continue to be probably like it was the last game."

We reported earlier that the decision to redshirt every true freshman except Todd Bates was firm, and Franchione talked about his reasoning. "Redshirting most of the players certainly gives us a chance to build a program with a solid foundation. We could have more new players next year, but we don't know how many of next year's freshmen will redshirt. But it does give you a chance to build and perpetuate."

Defensive Coordinator Carl Torbush also explained what they were hoping to accomplish defensively during the off week. "The main thing is we're trying to correct some mistakes. We set some goals this week that we're trying to get done.

"Number one, we want to make sure that we work hard on communication. Linebackers, the secondary, up front and our substitutions; the areas that we didn't feel like we did a good job with the last couple of games. We're seeing what we can do to get to where we need to be. We're working on fundamentals and techniques. Alignments, assignments and stances."

And the couple of days off will also benefit the players physically. "We're trying to get their legs back under them," Torbush said. "We had a hard practice today, but I think it was quick and snappy. We got a lot of things accomplished."

The team has been working mainly on improving itself, but Torbush has already started preparations for the Bengal Tigers. "We've got to start focusing on LSU now," he said. "We've had some LSU work the last two days as well. We've been installing some of the game plan as we go. We're watching film on LSU this week as well. We've got a pretty good head start on them. They are a very talented football team."

Starting defensive end Kindal Moorehead has been sitting out the last two days, resting and rehabbing a strained MCL ligament in his knee. And in his absence senior Darius Gilbert has been doing double duty, working at both middle linebacker and defensive end. "If Darius had three years left, I feel like he could truly be great at (defensive end)," Torbush said. "But because it's so late in his career what he's had to do is fill in and plug some gaps.

"He's a very unselfish young man. He just wants to help our football team. For a senior that started much of last year and as a sophomore, I think that says a lot about him."

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