Shula on Sunday

With the sting of Alabama's 28-18 loss to Auburn, the Crimson Tide has some six weeks before a chance at redemption and the opportunity to end its season on a high note returns. Alabama will practice every day through Wednesday before breaking for Thanksgiving break. Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula talked about the plan for the coming weeks during his regular teleconference on Sunday.

"We're still finalizing this week," Shula said. "It being Thanksgiving week, we're going to try to give these kids a well-deserved rest to get home and spend time with their families. When we get back next week, the coaches will be on the road, but we'll probably hit the weights and conditioning part and then maybe mix in some things outside – throwing and catching. Exams are coming up. We'll have to make sure we really look at our schedule there to make sure our kids really do well on their exams and finish strong in the classroom."

Shula said the staff will approach this year's bowl game, whether it's the Cotton Bowl in Dallas or the Outback Bowl in Tampa, with a different outlook.

"We for sure want to address the problems from yesterday. Our No. 1 goal is to go and win the game. Having 10 wins sounds pretty good for the season," he said. "Last year, we did a lot of things for the younger guys the first part of the first week of practice and then we got into Minnesota.

"I think, from day 1, we're going to get into our opponent and then, if we need to keep the younger guys out there a little bit later – kind of like we do on Sunday nights – that will be our approach. Once you get to the bowl site – everything that I've heard and I found it true last year – you want to have all your stuff done, because there are a lot of things that happen during the course of that week that really can kind of, if you don't have everything lined up, can make it tough to do that."

Alabama's slow start on both sides of the ball Saturday gave Auburn an insurmountable first quarter lead.

"We knew we were going to have start fast, and we'd done that quite a few times this year," Shula said. "We did the exact opposite. They were the ones that started fast and we played catch-up the rest of the game and weren't good enough to catch up."

Alabama went without pads in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, which are usually heavy contact days. It was noted, however, that the linemen donned pads for certain drills during the week.

"We talked about that after, too. Our guys were fresh – I think our defense definitely benefited from it. Our offensive line actually went out in pads for the first part of practice and that made me feel a little bit better," Shula said. "But who knows? Obviously, we didn't play very well, so that's something we'll look at for next year. A lot of teams take pads off six weeks into the season. That's something I haven't done as much as some teams."

With Croyle getting sacked an amazing 11 times in the game and Kenneth Darby having the only offensive movement for Alabama, Shula was asked about not running the ball more.

"We've had good mix all year," Shula said. "There were a couple of runs that we ran early in the game that we weren't successful in and got us in long-yardage situations. The things that hurt us were negative yards. We had some penalties – we had the sack on the first play of the game. But we also had some other things that got us into long-yardage situations. You look at the stats and KD's running for four yards, but if it's second-and-15 and he gets four yards, it's still third-and-10. There was one series in the third quarter where we were going to run the ball and try to get it down with three runs and we didn't come close to making a first down."

With many assistants hitting the road for recruiting beginning this week until a quiet period on Dec. 18 and a dead period on contact Dec. 19-Jan. 1, practice and game planning for the bowl opponent will be handled by staff not on the road.

"We're going to rely on the guys that aren't going to be on the road, and usually that's our coordinators and our graduate assistants, to once we find out where we're going and who we're playing, to get all that homework done on those guys and formulate a plan," Shula said. "Obviously, I'll be available and the coaches on the road will stay in tune. As soon as we get off the road, we'll have a plan in place."


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