Game Week is Officially Underway

As promised, Alabama football Head Coach Mike Shula led his post-practice comments to the media with an announcement on Alabama's back-up quarterback situation, naming sophomore Marc Guillon as the man who will be thrown into the fire should Brodie Croyle be forced out of a game.

"Marc Guillon will be our back-up quarterback," Shula said following Sunday's practice. "We made the decision today. I think the main thing is we feel good about both guys. We can win with both Marc and Spencer."

"It was a close decision. The bottom line is we felt Marc made fewer mistakes during the course of the fall. It was a decision that was a tough one. Probably one of the tougher ones I have made. They both did a lot of good things and they both did some things they need to work on better. It came down to the guy that made fewer mistakes and that is why we are going with Marc."

For that announcement be one of the most highly anticipated events of the fall is a good sign for the Crimson Tide. And while the announcement is not earth-shattering news, it will mean a world of difference for the two men involved over the course of the fall.

"The number two guy doesn't get many reps," Shula said, "so the number three guy will hardly get any. We still have to get Brodie a lot of reps."

Shula said that DeMeco Ryans availability for Saturday's opener "is going to be real close. He's actually better than we thought." The coach said he hoped to make a decision on Ryans by mid-week. On other injury-related matters, Shula said that linebacker Terrence Jones was in the same predicament as Ryans in regards to his availability, and that Travis Robinson was "a little further away than DeMeco" from playing Saturday.

Shula has already ruled Antonio Carter (leg), B.J. Stabler (finger) and Antoine Caldwell (foot) out for Saturday's tilt. Alabama is now on game-week schedule. Bama opens the 2004 season hosting Utah State in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday.

"We will give them another day off tomorrow and come Tuesday, with another practice similar to today's practice. Then we will have Wednesday and Thursday left and combine both days and introduce other situations in the game such as plus territory, short-yardage and goal line."

Shula said he didn't know which receivers would start Saturday's game, but that "All of those guys are going to play, probably equally. Guys like (Matt) Caddell, (Tyrone) Prothro, DJ Hall and Keith Brown"

Shula said that Zeke Knight was another true freshman who will play Saturday, but perhaps not as much as the others.

Sunday's workout was not the normally light, 45-minute, no contact practice that will become more familiar as the season moves along. The squad dressed in full pads and toiled in the heat for about two hours.

"It was good early and then sloppy at the end," Shula said. "We have to get some guys to push themselves. It was a hot day and a long practice. We have to push ourselves and play well at the end of games. We found last year what happens when you don't."

The team will take Monday off before finalizing game preparations on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday the squad will have a walk-through.

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