Alabama Coach Mike Shula said that Glen Coffee, who suffered a concussion against Southern Miss, and Jimmy Johns, who injured a shoulder against the Golden Eagles, were back practicing Wednesday. Although they will continue to be evaluated, their return to practice has to be considered good news.
The Crimson Tide (2-0) will play its first Southeastern Conference game and its first road game at South Carolina (1-1 overall, 0-1 SEC) Saturday. Kickoff will be at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central) with national television coverage by CBS.
Alabama was out in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets for its Wednesday practice. Shula said, "We've had two good practices (Tuesday and Wednesday). Today was a little hotter and the guys fought through it. We had some situattional work and had the crowd noise to some degree."
The head coach said he could sense a difference in the team as it prepares to go on the road for a conference game. And he said he is anxious to see how young players perform in that environment. "As loud as it has been at Bryant-Denny Stadium the first two games, it will be like that for the other side Saturday," he said.
The big news of the day was that "Glen Coffee was cleared to go and got some good reps today," Shula said. He then added, "Jimmy Johns, too. We'll evaluate them and see where they are."
Much of the interest in Bama's football team is on the offensive line. Part of the reason for that is the injury situation at right guard, where Redshirt freshman B.J. Stabler is expected to start this week. Stabler was injured earlier in the year, but moved into the spot last week when freshman Marlon Davis injured an ankle. Davis had taken over for senior Mark Sanders, who missed last week as he is recovering from a sprained ankle and sprained knee. Shula said both Davis and Sanders are still being evaluated.
Shula noted that Stabler "is getting better every day."
Shula said the offensive line had a good day Tuesday. He said that Wednesday's practice involved "a lot of third down stuff," and that the offensive line was good. The head coach complimented Assistant Coach Bob Connelly for the job he is doing with the offensive line.
Although Shula indicated that some of those who have been on the injured list are on their way back, he stressed that all remain "day to day." He also added a name. Defensive tackle Dominic Lee missed Tuesday and Wednesday practices with a leg infection. Shula said he expected Lee to be back at practice Thursday and available this weekend.
SEC rules limit the visiting team to only 70 players, and Shula said that special teams participation would have an affect on who makes the trip.
Also in the area of special teams, Shula indicated there could be an announcement as early as Tuesday regarding the duties of punter and/or placekicker. Neither has been particularly good this year. In the first two games Bama used Ryan Saxby and Jamie Christensen as placekickers and Jeff Aul and Jeremy Schatz as punters. Shula said he would take two placekickers and two punters, but did not specify it would be those four.
He also said he would take three quarterbacks–starter Brodie Croyle and back-ups John Parker Wilson and Marc Guillon. "It will be different to have our first team quarterback for our first SEC road game," Shula said. Croyle was injured for those events in both 2003 and last year.