Practice Is Sloppier

A part of football practice is conditioning, and a normal routine is post-practice running. Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said following Wednesday's two-and-a-half spring workout that he had decided to cut back a bit on the conditioning. But he made it competitive. Placekickers were given the opportunity to kick six field goals of about 35 yards. For each one they made, the team would have one less "gasser" (sprints back and forth across the width of the field) to run.

So how are the kickers doing. "Ask the guys who aren't kickers," said Mike Shula. "They had to run a little more than they expected."

Jamie Christensen and C.J. Rhody, who are battling to replace the departed All-Southeastern Conference placekicker, Brian Bostick, managed to make only two-of-six. Alabama is also breaking in a new holder, punter Jeremy Schatz doing the duties for the graduated Michael Fox on Wednesday, but holds did not seem to be a factor in the missed kicks.

All-in-all, Shula said, it was a "sloppier practice." The practice was the sixth of 15 permitted in the spring. Bama will practice again Friday, then is expected to scrimmage Saturday morning at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Spring training concludes with the A-Day Game on March 19.

Shula said that practice was marred by "pre-snap penalties and having to stop for substitutions." The substitution problem is partly because coaches "are trying to look at a lot of guys."

Offensive Coordinator David Rader said, "We were hitting on eight cylinders. Unfortunately, there are 11 cylinders." But, he said, "We're moving forward."

Both Shula and Rader saw progress at the quarterback position.

Freshman John Parker Wilson is getting much of the work. "We're installing a lot and he's getting a lot of reps and making progress," Shula said. "He makes mistakes, which is expected, but he doesn't get rattled."

Shula said that junior quarterback Marc Guillon "had a pretty good day Friday, a good day Saturday, and threw it better today." Guillon, who was Bama's back-up at the start of last season and started two games after Brodie Croyle was injured, is making a comeback from a back injury. "He's not 100 per cent yet," Shula said. "That was a serious injury and we're just going to ease him in. We don't want him to try to do too much."

Rader said that Guillon "looked stronger. It was his best day. We gave him more snaps than he's had all spring, and he responded well. It was good to see." Rader said that returning Croyle, who is limited after having undergone knee surgery last fall, is "up and down. He shows a little rust."

On the injury front, Shula said that sophomore defensive lineman Justin Britt "is getting closer to team work." and He said redshirt freshman offensive lineman B.J. Stabler "is getting a lot of individual work and a few snaps against the defense. We hope he'll be back next week, but we don't want to do anything to set him back."

Stabler is expected to battle for a job at right guard, where Justin Moon and Mark Sanders were practicing Wednesday. Shula said that is a key position that may not be decided until pre-season camp in August.

He said that sophomore defensive end Wallace Gilberry had returned to practice.

Junior halfback Kenneth Darby, who underwent successful surgery for a sports hernia tear in Philadelphia earlier this week, was to return to Tuscaloosa Wednesday evening. "We talked to him and he seems to be doing fine," Shula said.

Added to the injury rolls Wednesday were wide receiver Will Oakley (hamstring) and defensive back Aaron McDaniel (hip flexor). Both are redshirt freshmen.

Shula said, "Defensively we're doing a lot of things well."

It was announced Wednesday that the Southeastern Conference would implement the use of instant reply on an experimental basis beginning with the 2005 football season. Shula said, "From everything we've talked about, it's a good idea. We've talked to officials from the Big Ten. Anything we can to to make our game better, we need to do." He said one concern of a replay system is that it can sometimes take awhile to review a situation.

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