Don't Expect Quarterback Announcement Soon

Don't expect to hear an announcement of the starting Alabama quarterback anytime soon. Although Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione doesn't plan to close practices, he does intend to keep the identity of the starting quarterback secret until gametime next week.

Don't expect to hear an announcement of the starting Alabama quarterback anytime soon. Although Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione doesn't plan to close practices, he does intend to keep the identity of the starting quarterback secret until gametime next week.

Alabama next plays against Southern Mississippi in a game that was postponed until Thursday, November 29, by the terrorist events of September 11. Bama and Southern Miss will kick off from Legion Field in Birmingham at 6 p.m. in a game that will be telecast by ESPN2. Southern Miss has a game against East Carolina this Friday, while Alabama's team had the only practice it will have this week on Tuesday.

Franchione said he thought that it probably helped Alabama last week that Auburn did not know whether Tyler Watts or Andrew Zow would start the game at quarterback and, if Zow started, whether Watts would play. "I knew on Sunday [prior to the game] that Tyler wouldn't be able to play," Franchione said. "But I also knew if they didn't know, they'd have to prepare for both. The more you have to prepare for, the more it limits your preparation. I thought it would be an advantage for us. They had to make sure they were option-sound, particularly after the problems they had against Arkansas. Of course, we still had to make it happen, and Andrew did."

Zow, who had not started a game for Bama this year, led Alabama to a 31-7 victory over Auburn in Auburn Saturday. Zow was named Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his performance, which included completing 22 of 29 passes for 221 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Watts did not play against Auburn and was limited in Alabama's brief practice Tuesday.

Alabama's ruse actually continued right up until kickoff at Auburn. Watts went through pre-game warm-ups despite a very painful groin pull. Franchione said that at one point he asked Tyler if he was going to be able to make it and Watts admitted, "It hurts like hell." But he continued through pre-game warm-ups.

The Alabama team was out for a little over an hour and a half Tuesday after having been in the weight room on Monday. Players were in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts. The team was addressed after practice by Crimson Tide all-time great linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, who congratulated the players on their win over Auburn.

Franchione said, "It was not a great workout. There wasn't a lot of purpose. But, the game plan hasn't been given to them. We just wanted them to stay sharp, stay in rhythm. I'm not disappointed, because it's what I knew it was going to be like. Practice was relaxed, a lot of kidding around."

The head coach added, "I would have been upset if this had been a Sunday practice. And I told them they have to come back Sunday ready for a Tuesday-type preparation."

Because next week's game is on a Thursday, the practice schedule changes. Sunday will be equivalent to a Tuesday practice, which is ordinarily the toughest of the week. Bama usually has Mondays off, but will practice next Monday. It will be an unusual late night practice, probably beginning about the time Alabama's basketball game against Utah ends. That's because so many Tide players have labs on Mondays.

Franchione has been on the speaking circuit this week, including going from Tuesday's practice to Selma. He said that aspect of his job has "probably gone easier than what if would have been like if the game had gone differently."

He said Alabama fans have been appreciative, noting, "They don't say, ‘Good game.' They say, ‘Thank you.' It has been great to see how the fans have enjoyed it."

In answer to a question, Franchione said that while tailback Santonio Beard has had "big plays that have over-shadowed the solid work" of Ahmaad Galloway, that Galloway has continued to give steady play both when running the football and when he has other assignments on a play. "The coaches appreciate him," Franchione said. "He's one of the guys you can always count on." Galloway has started most games this year, but Beard started last week and rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns against Auburn. Galloway had a good game, too, rushing for 127 yards.

Also in answer to a question, Franchione said, "You don't have days like that without the people up front doing great things. One question is whether it would be better to have a great running back or a great offensive line. I think you need both. I think our offensive line has gotten some publicity this year because it's so young (three redshirt freshmen in guard Justin Smiley and tackles Wesley Britt and Evan Mathis and two juniors in center Alonzo Ephraim and guard Marico Portis), but they played like older, more experienced players Saturday. They made some mistakes, but they have enough experience now to overcome things, including adjustments made by the defense. It was probably their most complete game. They knew what they had to do."


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