Shula Will Turn to Guillon at Quarterback

With Brodie Croyle out for the season with a torn ACL sophomore transfer Marc Guillon (pronounced "GIL-un") will get the first start of his collegiate career against Arkansas in Alabama's road-opener in Fayetteville on Saturday. Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula talked about Guillon's strengths today.

"He's got a quick release, he plays efficiently and plays within himself," Shula said about Guillon Sunday afternoon. "He's not going to for the ball and those are all good things to have from your quarterback.

"The Main thing for Marc is he's got to be himself. That goes for all our guys, other thing go along with that we have more leaders emerge on football team on both sides of ball and that's going to help us, too."

Shula indicated that Guillon would get more work this week in practice in order to "give Marc the best chance to succeed," but he also stressed the importance for Pennington the be ready. Shula also said that the game plan for Guillon might be altered slightly to suit Guillon's strengths.

"We want to focus on the things he does well to start with," he said. "The big thing for us as coaches to do that and for Marc and receivers to get feel for each other with timing and routes."

On sending Croyle out to start the second half with a 31-0 lead, Shula said that he wanted to go one more drive with Croyle in the game.

"I hadn't had much experience with that kind lead," Shula said. "It's a tough call to make. It's unfortunate but hopefully everything goes well with his surgery."

Shula said that true freshman Keith Brown, Alabama's leading pass receiver going into Saturday's game was held out due to a slight knee injury. Shula said that Brown "could have played if we thought we really needed him, but he wasn't quite 100 per cent."

Clint Johnston caught his fourth pass of the season Saturday night, and his team-leading second touchdown of the season. Shula said Johnston has surpassed expectations from the beginning of the fall.

"Clint has done real nice job of executing, not only in the pass game, but in the run game," Shula said. "When you can utilize the tight end in any area of field it helps things out with the rest of your passing game."

One of the surprises of the night on the Crimson tide defense was the appearance of true freshman Curtis Dawson. Dawson, who worked the entire fall camp at middle linebacker, entered the game in the fourth quarter at defensive tackle for his first action of the year.

"That kind of happened over course of last 10 days or two weeks," Shula said. He looks natural at and he was excited. It was good to get him in game and get experience."

Dawson was the 11th freshman to take of the redshirt this year, and he might not be the last, according to Shula. Offensive linemen B.J. Stabler and Antoine Caldwell, who both had surgery during fall camp, were dressed on the sideline in full gear Saturday night.

"The door is still open, especially with Antoine, he is closer to playing," Shula said. "There was some talk (Saturday) night about playing him but he wasn't quite 100 per cent so we didn't want to do it. He's going to get more work in practice this week."

One area where Shula saw room for improvement Saturday night was in the punt return game. Although he had a stellar 87-yard kick return against Western Carolina Saturday night, Brandon Brooks has averaged three yards per punt return in nine attempts on the season.

"We've faced some punters that kicked well a couple of weeks ago, and the first week we saw that tough rugby-style punt," Shula said, "but Brandon's got to do a better job fielding the ball.

"We've also got to do a better job on the edges with our hawks. Simeon Castille needs to have a little more production in blocking and keeping their flyers from coming down the field."

Shula noted Sunday that Matt Miller, Matt Ragland and Alex Fox were all added as scholarship players last week. Fox has been the Tide's holder since late last season, and Miller and Ragland have been standouts on special teams. Miller got into the receiving action for the first time on Saturday night, with one catch for no gain. He also had a near-miss, where the official ruled Miller was out of bounds on a fully extended layout reception attempt.

The Tide faces Arkansas on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in the Hogs SEC-opener. The game will be televised nationally by CBS. Arkansas improved to 2-1 on the year by beating Lousiana-Monroe 42-20, and Razorback quarterback Matt Jones threw for 272 yards and four touchdowns in the win.

"Matt Jones concerns us," Shula said. "Matt Jones is a tremendous playmaker for them. He's very dangerous running and making plays for them.

"We're going to have to have a great week of practice. We'll probably bring in some crown noise and things like that, but it's hard to simulate playing on the road in a loud stadium. Defensively they got a real good scheme and give lot different looks and move a lot people around. Communication is going to be the most important thing."

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