Tide Shows Improvement

Just as the coaches' adage has it that a football team makes its most progress between its first game and second game, by late in the season it is difficult for a team to make a great deal of progress. "You are what you are," said Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione.

Nevertheless, he said, in the two weeks since Alabama last played, he thinks that his Crimson Tide "has made some improvement. Our goal on October first was to be a better football team on November first. I'd like to think we are and I hope it shows Saturday."

Alabama, 3-4 overall and 2-3 in Southeastern Conference games, returns to action Saturday in a Homecoming game against LSU (4-3, 2-3 in SEC). Kickoff will be shortly after 2:30 p.m. CST with television coverage by CBS.

Franchione said that practices would indicate that the team has made progress. "If someone had told me after the Tennessee game (on October 20) that we'd be where we are, I would have said, 'Great!' You always want more, but I'm pleased with the way the players have pushed themselves."

Alabama wrapped up physical preparation for LSU with a spirited two-hour practice in shorts and helmets Thursday. The team will have a short walk-through on Friday, but after the Thursday practice the task is more mental than physical, Franchione has said.

The coach said, "We had a good Thursday. They worked good and it was pretty clean. I would consider it a good week of getting our legs back."

One of the primary topics has been whether starting quarterback Tyler Watts or back-up senior Andrew Zow, who has played almost not at all this year, will run Alabama's two-minute offense, "Mayday" in Bama terminology. While Franchione wouldn't give any specifics, he said, "I think we've settled on what we'll do. There are two situations, one before the half and one before the end of the game. And they could be different."

The Tide coach also elected not to discuss any personnel changes, due to injury or otherwise. Earlier he had announced that starting defensive end Kindal Moorehead had been slowed by a strained knee and said that if Moorehead can't start that freshman Todd Bates would get the call. Linebacker Darius Gilbert has also been getting some practice time at defensive end.

Franchione recognizes that in the bigger scheme that both Alabama and LSU are playing something of a "must win" game for bowl consideration. Still, he said, for the players it should be like any other week, that a football team should do the same things to get ready to play. "As you get towards the end of the season, a game may take on more importance," he said. "But they still all count one. We're just trying to win a game right now and then we'll worry about trying to win another game."

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