First Half Looks Good in Retrospect

Trent Davidson is a likely redshirt, and freshman running back Roy Upchurch's status won't be any clearer until at least December, Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said Tuesday as the Tide wrapped up its shorts and shoulder pads off-week practice.

Shula classified tight end Trent Davidson, who missed the first half of the season after pre-season foot surgery, as a "lean" towards being redshirted. "We've got a bit of a luxury with him right now. We could redshirt him and get him ready for next year. We're leaning towards that unless there is an emergency."

Nick Walker has started at the position, and true freshmen Charles Hoke and Travis McCall have both played. Senior tight end Greg McLain got his first action of the year against Florida last week.

Roy Upchurch was pronounced out for the season before the Tide's second game against Southern Miss, and Shula said Tuesday that he would not know more about his status until December.

Upchurch has a bone defect in his ankle similar to that of Garrison Hearst, who missed two seasons. The exact timeframe for Upchurch's is speculative.

In all practicality, an off week could be more appropriately termed an off day for the football team. The squad will have Saturday off, but Tuesday was a 25-period shorts-and-shoulder pads practice in 85-plus degree weather and Thomas-Drew practice fields.

There was some easing up from a normal game week, however.

"Practice went well today. We worked a lot of the younger guys," Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said. "We cut down practice and just worked against ourselves. We'll do that tomorrow as well, and Thursday maybe get a little work in against Ole Miss."

The team has been reviewing its first five games in meetings before practice in addition to getting a sneak preview of Ole Miss. Shula isolated offensive penalties, especially the Tide's two or so pre-snap penalties per game, as a focus for improvement on Wednesday and Thursday as well as a higher third-down conversion percentage in opponents' territory.

"We attack those by execution. We'll work on those tomorrow and Thursday," Shula said.

Shula has been pleased with the defense, with the small exception of a few big plays allowed. "We've had some young guys in there, but we can't have any lapses and give up big plays. It can hurt you against a good football team. We did that as well as have all year last week, so that was good to see."

Shula said the special teams units had improved in their coverage over the first five games, but kick returns are another area where the Tide must eliminate penalties.

"The penalty on that return was good effort by Cory Reamer, but they called a penalty. We can't have penalties on our return teams," he said.


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