No Big News

No news was simply no news Tuesday at the Southern Methodist University practice facilities, where the Alabama football team practiced at the bowl site for the first time before the AT&T Cotton Bowl next week. Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said all those expected to play arrived safely Monday night and all players appeared to be practicing Tuesday morning.

While conjecture about the status of some players, namely DJ Hall, has been bandied around the Alabama football team both in Dallas and back in Tuscaloosa, there was no indication from Shula on a change Hall's status for the game. Hall had his normal number 22 jersey on at the Tide's practice.

Hall has been the subject of rumors about his status, and a Birmingham television station reported that Hall and Chris Keys were ineligible for the game, in addition to Simeon Castille.

Shula announced last week that Castille was academically ineligible, and that little used halfback Aaron Johns had been dismissed from the team. He made no such announcement about any other player.

Shula has not been unequivocal about Hall's status, however. Asked if he expected Hall to play, Shua said, "As of right now, yeah. If there's any announcement on any of our guys, I'll make them." Asked if Hall would start Shula said, "I don't how we're going to work all that out. We'll see how we get it going." He declined to expound on Hall's situation.

The loss of Castille is a difficult one in this particular game because Alabama will need all the defensive backs it can round up against pass-happy Texas Tech.

"Will it be tough without him? Sure," Shula said. "He's a very good player. We'll lose a guy that has a real good feel for playing defense and being around the football, covering and tackling. But we feel like we've got some other guys we can come win with. Jeffrey Dukes, Eric Gray, those kind of guys who were going to play anyway will just be playing more snaps."

Gray has seen very little significant action at cornerback in his college career, while Dukes has had a limited role as a safety and nickelback for the Tide.

"We probably play a minimum of 5-7 defensive backs in a normal course of a game, so we'll have to do that with one less," Shula said. "We can still rotate 7 guys, we obviously have enough guys to do that, it's just going to be a little bit different seven, and more guys potentially staying on the field longer."

There is a concentration on curing scoring woes on the other side of the ball for Alabama. Despite sporadic outbreaks of offensive after Tyrone Prothro went down in game five of the season, Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle led just five touchdowns in the Tide's last five Southeastern Conference games.

"You can do everything you want to do in practice, but it's all a matter of translating on the field," Croyle said. "We need to have a good showing because we know they're going to put up some points… We need a touchdown. We definitely have to improve on that."

"We're trying to get everybody comfortable," Croyle said. "We're trying to get a new center comfortable and still trying to get a couple more guys out wide comfortable. It's just a matter of if we're going to be on Saturday. Not Saturday. Monday."


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