A Noisy Practice

It was noisy at Alabama's football practice Wednesday. And it will be noisy again Thursday. That's part of the preparation for what could be a noisy Saturday afternoon. And unlike previous years where the team had to go into the indoor facility to get the full noise treatment, the outdoor fields are ringed with speakers spewing near-deafening racket.

Alabama, 3-0 and 1-0 in Southeastern Conference play, will play its first road game of the year Saturday. Bama will be in Fayetteville to take on Arkansas in an SEC game at 2:30 p.m. CDT, a game that will be telecast by CBS. Arkansas is 2-1. This will be the Razorbacks' first SEC game. The Hogs have played all their games at home.

Alabama Coach Mike Shula said, "We had crowd noise today and we'll do it again tomorrow. We need it. Everyone on offense needs it. Practice is different with the noise, but it was a good reaction. It was better than I thought it would be."

Bama went without the piped-in football crowd and band noise Tuesday, and some offensive players thought they had a better practice than after the noise factor was added Wednesday. Shula said, "Overall we've had two good days, and we need another good day tomorrow. I think everyone is getting himself ready."

Bama's fine freshman cornerback, Simeon Castille, suffered a slight knee injury near the end of practice and went to the training room for treatment before the close of the two-hour practice. "He's a little nicked, but I think he's going to be okay," Shula said.

Also on the injury front, Shula said that starting tailback Ray Hudson, who suffered a head injury in last week's 52-0 win over Western Carolina, had practiced and would "do more" on Thursday in anticipation of playing Saturday. The coach said that freshman wide receiver Keith Brown, who was held out last week with a slight knee injury, "did more than we expected today."

The Tide coach said that freshman center Antoine Caldwell, who suffered a broken foot in pre-season work, is back practicing more and is getting close to being ready to play. But Shula said he did not anticipate Caldwell playing this weekend.

Also back practicing is tight end Greg McLain, who had elbow surgery in the spring. "I would say he has been cleared for moderate practice," Shula said. "I don't anticipate him playing this week."

The big question is about a man replacing an injured player. With Brodie Croyle out for the year, third-year sophomore quarterback Marc Guillon will see his first meaningful playing time since he was a high school senior. Guillon was not available to reporters, but Shula said, "He did better on the things we had given him. We gave him some more stuff today and he was okay and I would anticipate him being better tomorrow."

Shula said that Guillon had received about 85 per cent of the practice repetitions with the first team in Tuesday's and Wednesday's practices. "That's the way we do it," he said. He said that on Thursday Spencer Pennington, the back-up quarterback, would get a few more repetitions than he has had.

Curtis Dawson, the oversized middle linebacker who found himself playing for the first time last week–at noseguard, not linebacker–graded out well in his first game, Shula said. He said Dawson had been getting some time with the scout team, where he was learning techniques, and some time with the second defense, where he can learn schemes.

Shula said he was not aware of Alabama's high standing in the SEC statistics. "It's so early," he said. "I don't even look at them this early. But we are doing pretty well on our goals." He added he is sure the players are aware of the statistics. "We're so young, that might help some of them with their confidence," he said. "But this week we'll find out more about where we are."

The Tide will have one final practice on Thursday before flying out on Friday to Fayetteville where the team will have a walk through at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

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