Tide completes spring practices

Dressed out in shorts, helmets and jerseys, The University of Alabama football team completed its 14th practice day of spring. The Tide worked out for two hours at the Thomas-Drew practice fields in preparation for Saturday's A-Day scrimmage.

"Other than the A-Day scrimmage Saturday, today wound up spring football," Bama Head Coach Mike Shula said afterwards. "We were out here in shorts and helmets, which was a little different. As a team we've got to continue to learn how to practice in shorts.

The sqaud's last football action of the spring will be the A-Day scrimmage on Saturday scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Admission is free to the public.

Shula decided to back off a bit on the physical work, but the squad got in plenty of much-needed practice time.

"We did a little more situational work, plus territory (red zone offense), two-minute drill and we got some blitz work in," Shula said. "We'll talk with the team about how we'll do the A-Day game, but things will happen fast with our guys between now and 2:30 and the kickoff."

Last season was Shula's first as a head coach. But since he was brought on board late, this was his first chance to conduct a spring practice.

Before spring workouts began, he and the Tide staff set some goals. "We talked about having our starters and the guys we think are going to play feel comfortable with what we're doing. I think we've made strides that way."

The players will continue to work in the strength and conditioning program under the guidance of Coach Kent Johnston, but Saturday's scrimmage will be the last time Shula and his staff can work directly with the athletes on football skills until next August.

"As a coach you always like to have more time with these guys," Shula acknowledged, "but we've got a lot to build on and film to study from. As coaches we've got a long time after Saturday to get ourselves ready for fall before we work with these players again on the field."

Every day of spring practice was carefully recorded on videotape, and it will be added to the library of film that Bama's coaches have to study over the next two months.

Shula commented, "We're going to continue to self-evaluate from last year. Having spring football so early, we didn't finish all our self-evaluation. We'll do some other studies and look at some other teams and find a way to get better and best utilize our personnel."

Asked about the official status of walk-on quarterback Mike Machen, Shula did confirm that the former Minor League Baseball pitcher had left the squad. However, he declined to go into further detail. "He won't be back with us," was all Shula would say. It's believed that Machen is looking to transfer to a team where he has a better chance of playing. When Machen left, he was no better than fourth string on the Tide depth chart.


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