It Was Not A Good Day

Alabama did not have a good practice Tuesday, and the result of an MRI test on the knee of star defensive tackle Jarret Johnson could make it even worse. Johnson was to undergo testing Tuesday evening to determine the extent of a knee injury suffered late in Bama's two-and-a-half hour practice. The senior tackle was chasing a quarterback towards the sidelines when he collapsed.

Head Football Coach Dennis Franchione was not pleased with his team's practice, the seventh of the spring. He said it was "inconsistent, not at the level others have been. I don't know if it is because we were coming off a scrimmage, but we need to come back Thursday with a sharper practice."

The workout was the first since a good scrimmage last Saturday. The next practice, Thursday, will be Bama's last before The University's spring break. Although Thursday's practice will not be a scrimmage, it will be in full gear and include some fullspeed tackling. Alabama is at about the halfway point of the 15 spring practices. Spring training will resume with a non-contact workout on April 2 and conclude with the annual Crimson-White Game on April 13.

While Franchione was disappointed with Tuesday's work, he said an examination of the tapes of Saturday's scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium revealed a number of good performances.

On defense, he said that outside linebackers Brooks Daniels and Cornelius Wortham, returning starters, had both done well. He said the play of the secondary "all-in-all was solid." At middle linebacker he said redshirt freshman Freddie Roach had a satisfactory day and that converted fullback Marvin Brown was "not bad until he got tired."

Middle linebacker is a key area this spring since Saleem Rasheed, a three-year starter, elected to pass up his final year of eligibility to make himself available for the NFL draft. Roach was expected to move into the job, but suffered a slight concussion on the first day of drills and missed three full practice days. Franchione said that Roach will catch up quickly. "He knows the defense. He knows what he's doing. He's comfortable. He'll be fine." The coach said that Brown "is a physical player, but not a polished linebacker yet. But I think he can help us."

On offense, Franchione was pleased that in 140 scrimmage plays "there were not a lot of penalties and we didn't turn it over. We were solid throwing and we ran fairly well. Triandos Luke had a couple of excellent catches, and Dre Fulgham, Antonio Carter and Theo Sanders caught it well. I thought out young quarterbacks (redshirt freshmen back-ups Brodie Croyle and Spencer Pennington) took some steps."

Two positions are of particular interest this spring. While Franchione has insisted he is not reinventing football, the Crimson Tide offense is making good use of the "A-Back" and the "W." The two candidates at "A-Back" are former tailbacks, both speedy and both good receivers, Shaud Williams and Ray Hudson. The "A-Back" can be a tailback, a wide receiver, or a slotback, taking handoffs, pitchouts, or passes, and also expected to block. Franchione said, "Both did well running and receiving. We're not as far along as we need them to be because it's going to take time, but both are capable."

The "W" is a combination of tight end and fullback and candidates for the jobs are learning new alignments more than new assignments. An exception, Franchione noted, is that a tight end like Theo Sanders wouldn't have had a 12-yard run for a touchdown last year like he did in Saturday's scrimmage.

Generally speaking, an "A-Back" and a "W" would not be in the game at the same time. The use of both, Franchione said, disguises the alignment and gives the offense different personnel groupings.

Still, the coach said, "Mostly it's the same offense we had last year with just a few new wrinkles. And we think it gives us the opportunity to make better use of our personnel."

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