Post-Pro Offense

Not a day has gone by since Tyrone Prothro was injured in the fourth quarter of Alabama's win over Florida that someone hasn't asked an Alabama coach or player how the loss of the outstanding junior wide receiver will affect Alabama's offense. No one doubts the importance of the loss of Prothro, but coaches insist the Tide will roll on.

Alabama Coach Mike Shula said, "We're going to miss him. His productivity has been tremendous."

Tyrone Prothro remained in DCH Medical Center Tuesday, some nine days after undergoing surgery on his broken leg. Shula said there are no unexpected complications, and that Prothro is being kept in the hospital until it is determined that it is the right time for him to be released. "He's going to be fine," Shula said, saying the longer-than-expected hospital stay is merely precautionary. Shula said he expected Prothro to be released this week.

Shula said, "There might be some things he did that other guys can't do, but there might be some things that the other guys can do that Tyrone didn't. He could play a lot of positions. We don't have anyone who can do that, but we might have a group of guys who can do all of the things Tyrone did. So we may not do the things we did with Prothro or we may do them with different guys."

In any event, Shula said, "The offense stays the same."

The Tide coach said he would be comfortable with a four-man rotation in the receiving corps, consisting of D.J. Hall, Keith Brown, Zeke Knight, and Matt Caddell. All know all of the positions, Shula said.

He said that Will Oakley, Marcus McKnight and Brandon Brooks could also be used, but that none of them would know all of the receiving positions.

Shula noted that the "special package" plays are tailored for each opponent on a weekly basis.

The Tide coach said it would not be a surprise to see defenses react differently to an Alabama offense that does not include Prothro.

Shula said the off week had been beneficial. "We got some rest," he said. "Now we need to be focused on Ole Miss. We will be on the road in a loud stadium for an early game. We know how hard it's going to be, and it's important that we put our best foot forward."

He noted that Bama will use crowd noise in all practices this week. He also said that curfews for the team would be earlier on Thursday and Friday. "We'll have a 7 a.m. pre-game meal, then a long bus ride to the stadium," he said. "We'll do a little more hitting in pre-game warm-ups."

Alabama, 5-0 and ranked sixth in the nation, returns to action this week in a Southeastern Conference game at Ole Miss. Kickoff in Oxford will be at 11 a.m. with national television coverage by CBS.

Shula said he had a "bad memory" of Alabama's last trip to Oxford two years ago. "We got off to a bad start," Shula said. Mississippi took a 43-28 win that was not as close as the final score.

Shula said that among those having good practices during Alabama's off week were the receivers. He specifically mentioned wide receiver Ezekial Knight and tight end Nick Walker.

Shula noted that sophomore tight end Trent Davidson, who had summer surgery on a broken foot, almost certainly now would be redshirted this year. "It would have to be an emergency for him to play now," the coach said.

Shula said that halfback Kenneth Darby might get more work with the loss of Prothro. "He could take five more carries a game," Shula said. "He's durable and he gets stronger in the fourth quarter. I think he can take more reps, but I also think (freshmen back-up tailbacks) Jimmy Johns and Glen Coffee are getting better each week."

D.J. Hall is expected to replace Prothro as punt return man and continue as one of the kickoff return men. Shula indicated Brandon Brooks could be the other kickoff return man.

Shula said he had been happy for the team to get the accolades that had come in following Bama's surprising 31-3 win over previously fifth-ranked Florida. But, he said, "I've heard words like ‘Turnaround' and ‘Bama's back.' We won a football game and we are 5-0. But there's a lot of football left. We've turned the page from the Florida game. Hopefully at the end of the year we'll feel good about what we've done."

Shula said "It's a little bit of both" when assessing whether a team that is hot would rather keep playing or get an open week after an emotional victory as the one Bama had against Florida in its last outing. "When you are playing well, you want to stay on a roll. But coming off a big win it's nice to have a little extra time to regroup for the second half of the season."


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