Bad Memory

Alabama Coach Mike Shula has a clear and unpleasant memory of Alabama's trip to Oxford, Mississippi, in 2003. Bama fell behind by three touchdowns in the early going and never recovered as Ole Miss trounced the Tide, 43-28. Bama may be using that memory to prepare for Saturday's game.

Alabama returns to Oxford Saturday for a game that will be nationally televised by CBS. Bama is the primary draw as the Crimson Tide is 5-0 and ranked sixth in the nation. Ole Miss has struggled to a 2-3 record, including a 0-2 mark in Southeastern Conference games. Kickoff will be at 11 a.m. CDT.

Although Alabama has a commanding lead in its series with the Rebels (42-8-2), the teams have split the last four games with the home team winning in each contest. In Oxford, the record is 3-3.

The Tide worked on the field turf, the outdoor artificial surface field that is similar to Mississippi's field, for about an hour and a half in helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts.

Coach Mike Shula called Wednesday's work a "good practice." He said Bama would have a normal Thursday practice "on move the ball stuff."

There have been reports that Shula was quite vocal in his halftime address to his players and staff in Oxford in 2003. Shula said following Wednesday's practice, "That was not what Alabama football is about." He said that he expected the coaches to do a better job this year and that he expected the senior leadership of this year's team to be a positive factor.

Shula sees some dangers in preparing for the Rebels. "They have spirited coaches and you can tell they have a lot of spirit on their team," Shula said. "You can also see they have a lot of speed."

Shula said he has told his players it will be important to get a lot of rest for the next few nights. "We have an early game and we have a long bus ride," he said. Shula said he thought the team would be on the bus for "about an hour" getting to the stadium. He noted, "That's about what most teams who play us have." Visiting teams to Tuscaloosa usually stay in Birmingham and bus to Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"It's important that we are mentally ready to go when we kick off," Shula said.

Shula said his team appears to be focused. "We realize what this football team (Mississippi) is about," he said.

The Tide coach noted that after an open date, the team has to "get back in the groove," back to the speed of the game.

Alabama will be sporting a new look in uniforms against Ole Miss. Nothing has changed, but this will be Bama's first game in visiting white jerseys. In Bama's previous road game at South Carolina, the Gamecocks were in white and Alabama wore its normal home crimson jerseys.

There is no update on Tyrone Prothro. The junior wide receiver who broke his leg in Bama's win over Florida and is out for the season is not yet out of the hospital. He remains in DCH Regional Medical Center. Shula said he had stayed in touch with Dr. Les Fowler, who performed the surgery 11 days earlier. "They are keeping him in until he is ready to get out," Shula said. "The doctors say they are just making sure and are monitoring his condition." Shula said that perhaps the most serious situation is Prothro being able to keep up with his classes during the recuperation.

Shula said that it is important that three little-used wide receivers–Marcus McKnight, Will Oakley, and Brandon Brooks–have had good practices since the injury to Prothro. "They have practiced well and are mixing in more, which is important since we are one receiver short and don't want them getting tired," Shula said. He said that Oakley, who has had a history of injuries, is ready to play.


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