It Feels Like Football

Although it is deep into the football season, it took until the first week in November to have some football weather in Tuscaloosa. And the forecast is for more of the same–cool and perhaps a little damp–for Saturday's Alabama-Mississippi State game. And that seemed to suit some Crimson Tide players just fine.

Alabama's football team went through a normal Thursday "clean up" practice and Head Coach Mike Shula noted the cool weather had some players moving a little better. "Most of the players had sweatpants on, but the offensive linemen were in shorts," he said. "They liked this cool weather."

He noted that the preview was good since Saturday's game will likely be in similar conditions. "We have to understand that and be ready for it," he said.

Early in the week it was believed Saturday night's game at Bryant-Denny Stadium would be played in mild temperatures. Now the forecast calls for a temperature in the 50s when Bama and Mississippi State kickoff at 5:30 p.m. and the mercury dipping as low as the 40s by the end of the game. The game will be telecast by ESPN2 and among Thursday's practice visitors was former Alabama Coach Bill Curry, who is color analyst. Curry and members of his 1989 Southeastern Conference championship team will have a reunion Friday night.

Alabama is 5-3 overall and 2-3 in SEC games. Bama hopes for a win Saturday to become bowl eligible. The Peach Bowl and the Music City Bowl are expected to have representatives at the game. The Bulldogs of Coach Sylvester Croom are 3-5 overall and 2-3 in SEC games, but not eligible for a bowl game this year owing to NCAA sanctions.

Shula had not been pleased with Alabama's Wednesday practice, much of which was conducted in the rain, but said Thursday's work was "much better."

The Tide coach said some relative newcomers would likely figure prominently in Saturday's game. He specifically mentioned back-up halfback Aaron Johns as likely to get more work because of injuries in the offensive backfield. And cornerback Simeon Castille, who has had only a handfiul of plays as a nickel back, has been getting more practice time at cornerback.

Shula said that back-up quarterback Marc Guillon had a good day Thurdsay, traditionally the day when the number two quarterback gets the most work. "Marc has had more work this week than in the previous month," Shula said. "He'll b e ready to go if needed." Guillon was elevated to number one quarterback when Brodie Croyle was lost for the year in the third game of the season, but then Guillon suffered a back injury and has not played in the last three games as Spencer Pennington has taken over at quarterback.

Shula said that the secondary had needed the rest it got last week during Alabama's open date week and "hopefully they will be ready to go."

"We have to play sound football for 60 minutes," he said.

Bama will have a final walk-through Friday.

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