Following Wednesday's two-hour practice in full gear, Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said, "It looked like Marc (quarterback Marc Guillon) and the receivers are getting a better feel for timing. Hopefully they'll do it more tomorrow.""
Guillon, a sophomore who made his first start last week, will "just gradually get better," Shula said. "I wish I could put a timetable on it. We can help it by calling the plays he does well."
The flip side of that, though, is that practice has to simulate game conditions to some extent. "I think he's gotten better with each practice," Shula said. "But today he was getting a lot of work on things he hasn't had reps in. Maybe it wasn't new, but it was different. And that's what happens in a game. You draw it up one way, and then you get in a game and it's a little bit different. So you have to make adjustments. That's why we practice that way."
Shula said that the starter continues to get 75-80 per cent of the repetitions with the first unit. "And today Marc got more reps because of the way practice was structured. We had more situational work, which meant there was only one rep on many things. There will be more work for Spencer tomorrow."
Spencer Pennington, the back-up quarterback now that Guillon has moved up to first team, has been in only a handful of game plays this year.
There has been another quarterback on the field this week as Brodie Croyle, who was lost for the year with a knee injury two Saturdays ago, has been visiting practice. Croyle is on crutches. "Everyone is glad to have Brodie back," Shula said. "He's part of our family. He's going to be starting rehabilitation. That's what he has to concentrate on how, rehab and school."
Alabama will attempt to get back on the winning track in Southeastern Conference play Saturday. After dropping a 27-10 decision at Arkansas last week, Bama has fallen to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in SEC play. Bama will host South Carolina, also 3-1 overall and 1-1 in conference play, in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 5 p.m. CDT Saturday. ESPN2 will televise the game.
Shula seemed pleased with the practice. "We had a pretty good practice today," he said. "There was good energy. We've got to clean up a few things tomorrow in certain situations."
On the injury front, Shula said that freshman cornerback/nickel back Simeon Castille "was better today than yesterday, but he's still not 100 per cent." Castille injured a knee in practice last week and missed the Arkansas game.
Shula said it would be good to be home this week. "Anytime you play at home you want to play well," he said. "You want to defend your turf. And we want the crowd in it, but we have to give them something to cheer about. We need to have a great start."
In answer to a question, Shula said that fullback Le'Ron McClain "is doing very well. But he's got room for improvement. This will be a big week for him because South Carolina has big linebackers."
For the second consecutive week, Alabama will be facing a big, mobile quarterback who can run well. Shula said that South Carolina's quarterbacks (Dondrial Pinkins and Syvelle Newton, who was a receiver last year) are dangerous running, but that South Carolina's schemes are not the same as those of Arkansas, which featured quarterback Matt Jones as a running threat last week. "But mentally, there's some carryover for us in containment," Shula said.
He said that freshman center Antoine Caldwell, who has been out all season after suffering a broken foot in August practices, continues to improve. But Shula said he wasn't sure if Caldwell would make it into a game this week. And even though this will be Bama's fifth game, Shula didn't rule out the possibility of playing Caldwell later in the season. He pointed out that wide receiver Tyrone Prothro and linebacker Terrance Jones both played beginning the middle of last season and that both are much further along than the freshmen who were redshirted. But Shula said he would guard against playing Caldwell if he was not going to be a real contributor so as not to waste a year of Caldwell's eligibility.
Following practice, Shula had a few moments to visit with his family, including daughter Brooke, who celebrated her first birthday Tuesday. Shula said he didn't get home from work in time for the party. "But they saved me a piece of cake," he said.