Tide Prepares For A-Day

Tuesday afternoon, Alabama's football team had its final day in full gear prior to Saturday's A-Day Game–which will be not quite a game. It was the 13th of 15 spring practice days. Spring training will conclude Sunday when the offense goes against the defense in a controlled scrimmage at 2:30 p.m. CST at Bryant-Denny Stadium. There will be a pre-A-Day workout Thursday in shorts.

As had previously been announced, the A-Day Game will be offense against defense (first team against first team and second team against second team) with no kicking. There will be some "exhibition" punting and there will also be some special work for two quarterbacks who are not expected to participate in the scrimmage. Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said there was a possibility of seven-on-seven drills (quarterbacks working with backs and receivers against defensive backs and linebackers) before, during, and after the scrimmage.

Returning starting quarterback, Brodie Croyle, and returning back-up, Spencer Pennington, both had off-season shoulder surgery and have been held out of all team work this spring. On Thursday they will be involved in some team work as the squad will have no contact. And Shula said he would not absolutely rule out the possibility of Pennington seeing playing time in Saturday's A-Day Game.

The reason Pennington might play is because of an unexpected absence Tuesday. Mike Machen, the former pitcher in the organizations of the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles who had walked on as a quarterback candidate a year ago, was not at practice. Although Shula said he did not have an announcement regarding Machen, the coach acknowledged that Machen was absent and said, "We might have an announcement."

Machen had been listed as fourth team. But with Croyle and Pennington held out of scrimmage work, Machen was used almost not at all. Third team quarterback Marc Guillon, a transfer from Miami, was given far more repetitions than Machen. Machen, a native of Mobile, had been out of football for three years before joining the squad last spring. He was redshirted last fall and had four years of eligibility remaining. The 6-6, 230-pounder had recently been spending some time as a deep snapper.

The fifth quarterback this spring, walk-on Zach Golson, a 6-2, 190-pound freshman left-hander from Prattville, has had virtually no team work.

In addition to the A-Day Game, there will be Fan Day autograph and photograph opportunities with the players and coaches at Coleman Coliseum from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. Saturday. At 1:30 p.m., last year's captains, Shaud Williams and Derrick Pope, will put their hand- and foot-prints in the Walk of Champions at Denny Chimes. (Both Williams and Pope were at Tuesday's practice.) There is no admission charge for any of the events.

Following Tuesday's work, Shula said, "It was our last day in pads before Saturday, and it was a good day; not great."

He said an review of last Saturday's scrimmage showed that a number of players did well. "The main thing I noticed is that the offense started slow, but then made some plays. Sometimes if you can just stay on the field, make the plays to pick up a first down, then good things will happen. That was the case. We got a couple of passes to Tyrone Prothro and he turned them into touchdown plays. It showed that you don't always have to throw downfield go make plays."

Shula said, "Going into spring practice we wanted the guys to feel better about what they are doing and we made strides in that area. We wanted them to have a mindset that there is an urgency to do things right all the time. We have made strides. Now, after Saturday, we'll get into the off-season and we have to keep building on this. We don't stay the same. We want to get better."

He said, "We are light years ahead of where we were from a mental standpoint."

Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines said, "The most important thing about A-Day is that we don't waste the day. We will have had 15 practices and we haven't wasted one yet. We just need to improve a little bit Saturday and it will be a good day."

Kines said there was a disappointment Tuesday in that he thought the second team defense "was just going through the motions."


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