Noise Is Not The Issue

When big name football teams play games in a big stadium, there is a tendency to dwell on surrounding issues. For instance, Alabama practiced this week with loudspeakers blaring crowd noise and the occastional blast of the country song, "Rocky Top," (the University of Tennessee's theme song), and noise was a topic of post-practice questions. But noise is not the issue.

It is going to be loud, Alabama Coach Mike Shula said. "But the focus has to be on our 11 versus their 11," Shula said. "The defense called, the play called. That has to be the focus. It comes with maturity and it comes with leadership. We need 11 guys playing together."

Bama takes on Tennessee at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville at 2:30 p.m. CDT (3:30 eastern) Saturday in a game that will be televised by CBS. The Vols, 5-1 overall and 3-1 in Southeastern Conference play, have championship aspirations. Alabama, 5-2 overall and 2-2 in SEC games, is trying to get back to championship contention. And a win by the Crimson Tide will make Alabama bowl eligible after a two-year absence from post-season play because of NCAA sanctions.

Alabama will leave Tuscaloosa at noon Friday and have a "light" walk-through at Neyland Stadium Friday afternoon.

Shula said the Tide had a good practice Thursday after a slow start, and that all three practices were good. As he does every week, Shula noted that while the physical work is over, "The players on their own still have some things to get done before they play their best game."

Shula added that the week felt a little different due to the tradition of the match up between the Tide and the Vols. "I think anytime you play an SEC team and the tradition of this game and these two schools, it feels different, not just today but the whole week," said Shula.

The piped-in practice noise is not for some psychological motivation. The practical aspect is that Bama will have to deal with the noise Saturday while trying to call signals.

Shula said that quarterback Marc Guillon, who missed practice Wednesday after being diagnosed with some disc problems in his back, was back at work and would be available Saturday "if needed." He also said that offensive tackle Kyle Tatum, who had "tweaked" an ankle in practice Wednesday, was "fine."

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