Shula Expects Improvement

As was expected, Alabama Football Coach Mike Shula said Tuesday that Marc Guillon will be the starting quarterback when the Tide takes on Kentucky Saturday. "Marc is our guy," Shula said at his weekly media gathering. "He's going to be our starter this week. I have confidence that he's going to win the football game – otherwise he wouldn't be our starter – and our team has that confidence, too."

The coach said that Guillon has a complete understanding of the offense and that Shula "didn't think there was anything in the game plan he couldn't execute. It's a matter of making good decisions."

Shula said that his decision to name Guillon the starter early in the week was "based on us feeling that he gives us the best chance to win." Shula also said that Guillon would take most of the practice repetitions this week, but that, with the nature of the quarterback position, Spencer Pennington would have to get himself ready to play.

"He's got to look and make sure he understands the game plan and make sure he knows everything we're asking him to do, which is tough because he won't get all the physical reps," Shula said.

"I think he's does a good job preparing. One of the ways that I can tell that is communicating with him on the sidelines. He sees things. He's good at seeing how corners are playing and what safeties are doing. He's called a couple of plays this year. That tells me he's into it."

Shula said he anticipated things going well for Guillon this week.

"We've got to do a better job, the other guys around him, too," he said, "and as coaches of giving ourselves the best chance to execute–which is not going to be easy going there to play."

Shula said that the back-ups at quarterback hadn't been give a lot of practice time due to the lingering effects of Croyle being hurt in the spring and having to get him ready in the fall.

After further film review, Shula was impressed with several of Guillon's throws, saying that the sophomore is "real, real close" to being where he would like to be.

"The deep post to Keith (Brown) early in the game; the one that we completed but were out of bounds to (Matt) Caddell; and the (other) one to Keith (in the end zone at the end of the second quarter). Those are things that eventually you hope you get," Shula said. "You just keep working on the timing and he keeps working on his accuracy. The main thing is ‘Don't force the ball if you're not sure,' and that's what happened on a couple of those things."

Brown, who collided with a fence at Bryant-Denny Stadium on that pass play toward the end of the first half, missed practice on Tuesday. But he hasn't been ruled out for Saturday, Shula said.

Elsewhere on the injury front, Shula said that Juwan Garth was out this week, and probably next week, although he felt that Garth's injury might be less severe than first thought. Shula said that Demarcus Waldrop, who replaced Garth last week, would start if the game where to be played today.

"He's making tackles that you need to make, that usually it takes a guy that's a lot bigger than him to make," Shula said of Waldrop, "and yet he's covering a lot of ground in pass coverage, too."

Shula said that Terrence Jones and Freddie Roach will work some at the weakside linebacker position this week as well.

The Tide coach said, "We've got to have a good week of preparation. We look back at last week and see why things went the way they did. Of course, turnovers were a big part ot it. Our practices will include avoiding those things. We have to do better, coaches and players."

Alabama will again leave early Friday morning for Lexington instead of practicing in Tuscaloosa, something the squad did for most games last year. The early kickoff Saturday after four evening games in the first five is also a factor in getting to Lexington earlier.

"I think I realized a year ago that with a lot of young guys, it's important to stress those things, too," he said. He said Tuesday's practice is "going to be an important day for us, and (we need to) just go one day at a time."

Shula said that Kentucky uses multiple formations on offense and defense, and is a well-coached team.

"We look at all their tapes," he said. "Indiana was a big play game for them where they had touchdowns in a lot of different ways. Defensively, they like to blitz you. It's a three-man line but they'll mix in some four-man line this year which they didn't do much of last year. They do a good job of tying the corners and safeties into the scheme. They've got a real good blitz package where they blitz not just linebackers but safeties.

"Offensively, they use a lot of formations. The quarterback is a big part of their offense as far as running the football," he said. "They'll throw screens. They'll have misdirection things. They do a good job in the running game, but they've had a lot of turnovers, too.

"Special teams, I think that's where it shows up probably more so than maybe some other teams that have good special teams. But these guys, they do more stuff on special teams. They have more different kinds of returns, different schemes."

Shula also wants to see improvement from his own special teams, especially in punt returns where Alabama is 108th in the NCAA and 11th in the Southeastern Conference.

"We've got to do a better job overall in our returns. We did a better job in the kickoff returns last week, but the punt returns have to be more consistent," he said. "Brandon Brooks had that one drop that was a little scary. If we've got to make a fair catch because there are guys too close to the ball then you've got to do that."


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