Pennington Will Play

It wasn't quite as dramatic as quarterback Joe Namath's 1969 guarantee that his New York Jets would defeat Coach Don Shula's Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl, but Spencer Pennington proclaimed Wednesday that he would play against Auburn Saturday.

Alabama Coach Mike Shula said Spencer Pennington, Bama's junior quarterback who suffered severe shoulder and rib bruising in last week's 26-10 loss to LSU, had good days of practice Tuesday and Wednesday. "He had a real good day today," Shula said following Wednesday's workout. "I don't know if he's 100 per cent or not, but he's moving around pretty well."

Pennington will quarterback Alabama against nationally second-ranked Auburn at 2:30 p.m. Saturday from Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The game will be nationally telecast by CBS. Auburn is 10-0 overall and 7-0 in Southeastern Conference play and will represent the Western Division in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama is 6-4 overall and 3-4 in SEC games.

"Definitely. I will be playing Saturday," Pennington said after Wednesday's workout. "Everybody on this team has had to play with pain at some point in time and now it's my turn."

"I've been working pretty hard in the training room in the past couple of days with Rodney Brown and those guys and we've been doing some therapy," he said. "It feels a lot better and I'm about 100 percent now."

Pennington said he expects any lingering pain to be "gone completely" by Saturday.

Shula said, "I think we've had two pretty good days of practice. The guys are moving around pretty good. I think our players have a good idea of what Auburn is trying to do. Auburn has good schemes and good players operating those schemes."

Pennington isn't the only Tider nursing injuries, and there was other good news in the Tide camp. Shula said that quarterback Marc Guillon, who was the original back-up quarterback to Brodie Croyle and who moved up to first team for games against Arkansas and South Carolina after Croyle was lost to season-ending knee injury, looked better Wednesday. Guillon got most of the repetitions in Tuesday's practice and about 30 per cent in Wednesday's work, Shula said. He has been sidelined with a back injury.

Fullback Le'Ron McClain, who moved up to starter when Tim Castille was lost to a knee injury, suffered a badly sprained ankle at LSU, but has made a good recovery, Shula said. "We rested him a little today, but he probably got more work Tuesday than we expected. He should be ready to go. I'll be surprised if he isn't."

Tight end continues to be a bit of a problem area with starter Clint Johnston, who played the entire game against LSU after having missed the week before against Mississippi State, being questionable. Shula said he was being monitored. With David Cavan out with a back injury, Shula said that freshman Trent Davidson and junior Greg McLain would be ready to go. Shula said that McLain has also gotten some work at fullback, a position he played (and started for Bama most of the season) in 2002. "He's a versatile player for us," Shula said.

Shula said it has not yet been decided who will return kickoffs alongside Tyrone Prothro Saturday. Last week Brandon Brooks muffed two returns, leaving Bama inside its own 10-yard line. Matt Caddell took the final kickoff of the game, and he, too, had a fumble, leaving Alabama at the 10 to start on offense. Shula said that freshmen wide receivers Keith Brown and D.J. Hall were getting work along with Caddell and Brooks.


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