Rest And Work This Week

Alabama's football team has an open date this week, but that doesn't mean practice isn't being held. It does mean there has been an adjustment. "The goals for this week are to get some rest for the guys who have played hard and are beat up, and get work for the others," Coach Mike Shula said.

Mike Shula put his Alabama team through about a 90-minute workout Tuesday. He said, "Our offensive linemen, linebackers and secondary are going to get rest. We have others, too, but those are the groups who have played the most. We'll get work for our redshirts and for some second line guys who haven't played much."

One who is getting rest is back-up sophomore quarterback Marc Guillon, who has not played since the fifth game of the season after starting against Arkansas and South Carolina. He has a back problem. "He's throwing decently, but he is in pain," Shula said. "He's going to get rest and treatment this week, then start getting reps Sunday. He could have played if necessary. But if he doesn't pick up a ball this week, that will be good for him."

(Walk-on freshmen quarterbacks) "Adam Thrash and A.J. Milwee got more work today than the rest of the year combined," Shula said. "It's important for them to get used to taking a snap, to get a feel for getting a team in and out of a huddle, everything. And it gives the coaches a feel for what we can expect of them."

The coach said, "Wednesday or Thursday we'll put in some Mississippi State stuff, then really get started Sunday."

Shula said that sophomore fullback Tim Castille had surgery in Birmingham Tuesday, but the surgery had not been completed at the end of practice, so The University did not have a statement on it. Castille, who was injured late in Saturday's 17-13 loss at Tennessee, suffered tears to his anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligaments. He is out for the season, the third member of Alabama's starting backfield at the beginning of the season to be lost with knee injuries. Previously quarterback Brodie Croyle and halfback Ray Hudson were injured.

Shula said that there had been "reports on the internet that were inaccurate about (tight end) Trent Davidson. He does not have any ligament damage. He has a bad bruise on his knee. Hopefully, he'll be ready for Mississippi State. He's not ready now." (NOTE: There were no reports on Davdison from writers because we were never able to confirm the rumor of him suffering a torn ligament in Sunday's practice.)

He said that every starting offensive lineman except left tackle Wesley Britt has some sort of injury. He said that both left guard Evan Mathis and right guard Danny Martz had to leave the game at Tennessee, Mathis with a strained knee and Martz with a strained ankle, "tough injuries, but they went back in."

Shula said that a year ago the loss of Castille would have affected the passing game more than it does now. "LéRon (McClain) is doing a good job catching the ball and a good job of running routes," Shula said.

He said that with the injury to Castille that the roles of McClain and back-up halfback Aaron Johns (Castille was also Bama's prime back-up at halfback) would increase, as would the role of walk-on fullback Josh Smith.

He said that McClain and halfback Kenneth Darby are both in good shape and capable of playing a lot of snaps.

"And," Shula said, "we'll probably use some other personnel groupings, two tight ends or three wide receivers."

Another Castille, freshman defensive back Simeon Castille, had missed work earlier this year with a sprained knee. "We're going to have to rotate Simeon back in at cornerback," Shula said. "He looks good. He had a good practice today. He played a lot of nickel at Tennessee."

Shula said this week is also a time for the coaches to "self-scout" the Tide. he said the coaches will evaluate "everything–production, tendencies, all those things to formulate a plan on how to do things better. We have to know where we go from here with the personnel we have."

And how does he plan for the loss of more personnel in this year of key injuries? "You always have to stay one step ahead in this business," he said. "I'm fortunate to have been around a lot of coaches who knew how to do that."

And he said there is an examination of where the team has been. "We're 5-3 and think we should be better," he said. "We've had some turnovers and missed opportunities."

Shula is pleased with the defense being ranked among the nation's best. He said it was partly because the players had been in the Joe Kines system for a full year plus. "The guys are taking ownership," Shula said. "It means a lot to them. They are starting to realize they are doing a decent job and they are getting better because of that. They want to prove themselves to their coaches. But you are only as good as your last game and have to get better. We have room to improve."

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