Guillon back problem doesn't seem serious

Alabama followers are understandably wary when they hear about an injury to the starting quarterback. Bama's Marc Guillon wasn't injured in Thursday's Crimson Tide practice, but when Guillon had a back problem, the Bama staff didn't hesitate to take precautions.

Marc Guillon took over as Alabama's number one quarterback when Brodie Croyle was lost for the season with a knee injury in the third game this year. Last year Spencer Pennington took over for Croyle, then himself was injured.

Pennington is now the back-up quarterback and in need of as many repetitions as he can possibly get. When Guillon's back "tightened up" Thursday, Pennington got extra work.

Alabama Coach Mike Shula said, "We didn't want to take any chances. His back tightened up a little bit and Spencer got more snaps. We'll look at it tomorrow, but we anticipate Marc being the guy. It was good for Spencer."

Thursday is normally a "clean up" practice, tying together things from the heavy Tuesday and Wednesday work days, making any adjustments or corrections. But with Pennington able to take more snaps, Shula said the practice became something more than a routine "clean up Thursday."

Shula said that Thursday's work was "a pretty good practice."

Shula and his staff will check out Guillon and the rest of the 70-man travelling squad when Bama goes to Lexington Friday. The team will have its walk-through at Commonwealth Stadium, where the Tide will meet Kentucky in a Southeastern Conference game Saturday. Alabama is 3-2 overall and 1-2 in SEC play and coming off consecutive SEC losses. Kentucky is 1-3 overall and 0-1 in league play and coming off a loss to Ohio.

Saturday's game will be regionally telecast by Jefferson Pilot, meaning an early kickoff time (12:30 p.m. EDT, 11:30 a.m. central). "The first time we played early last year, we didn't play well," Shula said. "We have made them aware of the early time. The main thing is to make sure they are ready to go…ready to hit…get off on the snap count…do all those things early."

Following Wednesday's practice, Shula said that Guillon "has been more comfortable with what we are doing. The biggest thing is the decisions he is making. They have to be sound. If he's not sure, he has to throw the ball away. We preach to him in practice, ‘Play it just like a game.' Sometimes you get to the end of a play in practice, and the quarterback won't throw it away or he'll try to fit one in there. But in a game you need to throw it away, and so even though it's practice, in his mind the penalty must be just as high as if he's in the game."

Shula said that Pennington had also received additional repetitions in Wednsday's practice. The travel squad will also include quarterbacks Adam Thrash and A.J. Milwee.

On Wednesday, Shula said, "Practice started slow, but I think it got better at the end. We made some mistakes early but it really got better later and that was good."

He said freshman cornerback Simeon Castille "is practicing and getting closer to 100 per cent." But he said freshman wide receiver Keith Brown did not practice Thursday and so would not play Saturday. Earlier he had said that Brown would not start even if available; that he would be used as a back-up or in an emergency situation. He also said junior linebacker Juke King would not play this week and that sophomore defensive tackle Dominic Lee has a back strain and is "doubtful."

Shula said that Marcel Stamps, a freshman wide receiver who has been used primarily on special teams, has now been moved to safety "and will probably stay on the defensive side."

He said that while Tyrone Prothro gets practice time as a punt return man that he has decided that Brandon Brooks will continue in that role. Alabama ranks 11th in the SEC and 108th in the nation in punt returns, averaging 4.1 yards per return. And that mark is inflated by Stamps' blocked punt that resulted in a 29-yard return. Brooks averages 2.5 yards per return. Shula said, "We need to do better in general on the punt team? give Brandon a chance to have some room to make a play."


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