Tide Not All Pleasing

Football coaches like to have their teams in full gear going full speed when practicing. Alabama's football team was back in full gear Wednesday, but it wasn't all pleasing to Head Coach Dennis Franchione. While Bama's coach said, "It wasn't a bad practice," he said he was "disappointed in that we seemed a little soft during the scrimmage part of practice."

The workout was Alabama's 10th of 15 allowed in spring practice, but was the Tide's first contact work since returning from spring break. Franchione said, "Part of the blame can be put on me" because of the emphasis put on the passing game. He also said it could be a product of the long break between contact work. He said, "You have to have a change in your mindset when you get to that physical work, and I'm a little disappointed how we handled that aspect. But I wasn't disappointed in the practice."

Franchione said the lack of physical play was everywhere. "There comes a time when a running back has to go over somebody and a linebacker has to knock somebody back. I don't think that's lost where we can't get it back, and I think we will."

He said, "There is a time when you can't be physical. I wish we could always be physical, but you can't do that for two hours every day. You have to pick your time. And when that time comes, we need to be physical."

Earlier Franchione had said he did not know if Thursday's practice would be in full gear or if it would be in helmets and shoulder pads. After Wednesday's practice he said, "I think it will be in full gear Thursday. I want a message sent."

Bama will have its second game-type scrimmage of the spring at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Franchione said, "You only get three scrimmages in the spring. We don't go to the stadium often. When we scrimmage and when we go to the stadium we need to bring a game-like intensity."

Franchione said that Bama has basically all of its offense and defense in for Saturday's scrimmage and he'll want to see how much confidence the team has in executing it. He will also be looking for a scrimmage relatively free of penalties and turnovers, as was the first scrimmage of the spring three weeks earlier, and how the team communicates and handles substitutions. In short, he said, this is the next step in a team showing improvement.

The Crimson Tide's final trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium this spring will come with the conclusion of practice, the annual A-Day Game at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday, April 13.

Wednesday's practice included about 25 plays of scrimmage work. The highlight of the work may have been an unusual touchdown run by A-back Ray Hudson. Hudson fumbled the ball midway through the run, but the ball bounced right back into his hands and he sailed into the end zone. Franchione said, "I told him -- emphatically -- that if he fumbles it, he'd better recover it."

Thurman Ward, who moved from cornerback to wide receiver following spring break, was missing from practice with a slight groin pull Wednesday. Franchione said he's expected back "in a day or two." Two others who have switched positions, Atlas Herrion moving from offensive tackle to defensive tackle and Marquez Dupree moving from tailback to "W," the hybrid fullback-tight end position, both had encouraging moments, Franchione said.

Franchione said that with the exception of "a wrinkle or two" that everything has been put in this spring. He said the spring offers a time for experimentation that isn't available in fall practices when a team is constantly preparing for the next game. And even in the spring, he said, there isn't enough practice time for a team that is multiple on both offense and defense.

Franchione said that in the spring the defense is working almost entirely against what the offense is implementing. As a result, he said, "If the defense isn't ahead of the offense, you're concerned about the defense."


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