Now It's Mental

Alabama has completed physical preparation for its final non-conference football game of the year. Bama went through a workout of nearly two hours Thursday and will have a brief walk-through Friday, but from now until kickoff the mental becomes more important than the physical.

Alabama hosts 24th ranked Southern Mississippi at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The only telecast is on a Pay-Per-View basis. Conference/USA powerhouse Southern Miss is 4-0, while Alabama is 4-2, including a 2-2 record in Southeastern Conference games. This is the final non-conference game of the year for Bama.

The weather forecast is excellent, sunny with a high of 73. Homecoming activities include the parade, with Basketball Coach Mark Gottfried as grand marshall, begins at 9 a.m. CDT.

Alabama Coach Mike Shula said the Tide had another good practice Thursday. Players were in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts.

Shula said, "The main thing now is we have to have good focus for the rest of the week. We have a big job at hand with Southern Miss coming in and it's a big weekend for our fans with homecoming. We have to be on top of our assignments. We can get a lot done mentally between now and kickoff. Our players have to think about how they can best give our team a chance to win."

The primary topic of conversation regarding Alabama football this year is injuries. Beyond those lost for the season, Shula indicated the Tide is in reasonably good shape for Saturday.

The Bama coach said that linebacker Juwan Garth, who injured a shoulder against South Carolina, would miss his second game. And defensive tackle Justin Britt, who turned an ankle against Kentucky last week, is considered doubtful. But otherwise those who have been nicked up this week appear to be ready to go.

The walking wounded includes quarterback Marc Guillon. Guillon, who moved into the starting job for two games after Brodie Croyle was injured September 18, did not play last week and may not play this week as Spencer Pennington will start. But Shula said that Guillon could have played if necessary last week at Kentucky, "and he's better this week." Still, Shula said, Guillon has been taking it slow as he recovers from a back problem.

The Tide coach said that wide receiver Keith Brown, who suffered a concussion and shoulder injury when he slammed into a fence post while trying to make a catch in the end zone against South Carolina, and tight end Clint Johnston, who suffered a mild concussion against Kentucky, both looked "good."

He said that defensive tackle Dominic Lee, who missed the Kentucky game with a sprain, has practiced all three days this week and is ready to go. Shula also said that freshman Curtis Dawson "is getting there" and could see early duty at defensive tackle with Britt unlikely to play.

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