Standing Guard

Freshman offensive guard B.J. Stabler could return to practice this week to help the Alabama football team shore up a spot that was further depleted by an injury to Mark Sanders in Saturday night's 26-7 win over Middle Tennessee.

"We think Tuesday he's got a chance to come back and start getting back into practice, Tide Head Coach Mike Shula said of Stabler, who had arthroscopic surgery on August 17. "I don't know if that will be the whole practice, but he has a chance to get into some individual work. He is on or ahead of schedule."

"We can't force B.J. to come back too soon," Shula said.

Sanders favored his right leg as he limped off the field Saturday after spraining his knee and ankle on the same play. Shula did not know how serious the injury was after Saturday's game or during his Sunday afternoon teleconference.

True freshman Marlon Davis was alternating series with Sanders before the senior's injury, and went to right guard full-time afterwards.

"I think we had a good plan with getting him in there early," Shula said. "I think we'll continue to do that now. We don't know the status any more than what I told you last night. That's one of the reasons we try to get him in there. One, to get him experience, and probably more importantly we think he can do the job."

The staff must also prepare for the loss of middle linebacker Freddie Roach, who was injured on the first Alabama punt of the game, before the Tide defense took the field for the first time. His status for this week's game against Southern Miss was uncertain at the time of the teleconference.

Saturday night, Shula said Roach had, "a ligament in his elbow we're going to have to look at."

"I don't think we're going to have to do surgery on it, but hopefully he'll be back; we can get him where he can play in a brace or what have you. I don't know what his status is for this week but hopefully that's what the early prognosis is, hopefully that's what it will be."

Senior DeMeco Ryans moved over to middle linebacker to fill Roach's spot and Terrence Jones started at strong-side linebacker. Jones turned his ankle late in the game and had ice on his foot at the end of the game. He said he was fine after the game, and is expected to be unaffected by the injury.

Shula said Matt Collins could also play at middle linebacker, but that he was "not sure now if there's any freshmen that will be ready to" at linebacker.

Shula was ambiguous about the status this week of the four players who were suspended for Saturday's game: Aaron Johns, Marc Guillon, Marcus Carter and Jamie Christensen.

"As of right now, everyone should be ready to go," he said. "If I have any other announcements I will make those later on or when we're ready to make them."

Christensen was the favorite to win all placekicking duties in the preseason and Carter is key special teams player and back-up at safety. Guillon is third-team quarterback and Johns is buried at the bottom of the depth chart at halfback.

Shula announced the suspensions in a statement distributed in the press box before the game. Specific reasons for the suspensions were not given, and the statement said the they were for "a violation of team policy."

Alabama hosts Southern Miss at 6:45 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night, with the game schedule to be broadcast on espn2.

The game will be Southern Miss's season opener because their scheduled opener with Tulane was cancelled due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Because of the storm damage in Hattiesburg, Miss., Southern Miss has been practicing and staying in Memphis. Classes at Southern Miss have been cancelled until at least September 12th.

"We may anticipate a few changes from them as well," Shula said. "And we don't know. They've had a whole off-season to make some changes. Our players have to follow their rules and if they if we have to, make some adjustments during the game."

"We'll look at the film from last year, combine our game (Alabama vs. Southern Miss last season) with games they played after we played them, and then what we looked at last year."

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