Who Will Snap?

Quarterback Brodie Croyle nor Tide Coach Mike Shula elucidated on who would be the starting center, but Antoine Caldwell has been working primarily at center since the Auburn game, and a likely Alabama offensive line would feature Caldwell at center and senior Mark Sanders at left guard in the starting lineup.

Antoine Caldwell says he is doing what the coaches tell him, which is preparing to play both center and guard. Mark Sanders said he is the number one left guard entering the week, and that "We've got Antoine playing center now and I've switched over to [left] guard. I think everything's looking good. By bowl time we're going to be just where we need to be.

"It doesn't matter to me," Croyle said. "As soon as I start worrying about who my center is I'm worrying about the wrong thing."

True freshman Roy Upchurch is not a factor in Cotton Bowl preparation, but Upchurch is planning a full recovery from the bone defect that caused him to miss the 2005 campaign.

Roy Upchurch worked with a trainer while his teammates had a regular practice.

Upchurch is at the bowl site and has been off crutches for weeks.

"It's going great," Upchurch said. "Everything is going good for me. I'm doing a little light sprinting and working hard trying to get back on the field. They say I probably have like three more months. I'm probably about 65 percent right now."

That timeframe would put Upchurch out of the equation at halfback for the spring, but should allow him time to be in shape for fall camp next year. Upchurch said he cannot make sharp cuts just yet, but that he was close to being able to.

"I thought I had a sore ankle and they said I had a bone defect in my ankle. They filled a hole in it and put two screws in it. Once they took care of it they said it will be all right," he said.

Upchuch had surgery in late August and said he expects no necessary follow-up procedures to be required.

Plano, Texas native Charlie Peprah was barraged with interview requests from the Dallas media on Tuesday. Peprah said he has enjoyed coming home, but the search for tickets continues with his teammates. Peprah said he has acquired about 25-30 tickets for family and friends who want to see him play.

Gerald J. Ford, not Gerald R. Ford

Alabama has graciously been granted full use of SMU's facilities for the week, and the Tide had part of its practice Tuesday inside Gerald J. Ford field, where the Mustangs play their home games. The stadium is named after an SMU grad and booster, however, and not the former US President Gerald R. Ford. President Ford played college football at Michigan in the 1930s.

Brodie Croyle will play his final football game in the same place where his father, John, played in the 1973 Cotton bowl. The Tide came out on the wrong end in '73, losing 17-13 to Texas, something the younger Croyle wants to correct.

It was funny to hear Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach talking Alabama high school football, but there it was on Tuesday. Leach, talking about his offense, said, "What we're running isn't specifically invented. In the state of Alabama, some of the more prominent high schools run offenses similar to ours - Hoover and Russellville."

There are to be some early mornings this week for the Tide players. Practice starts at 10:30 local time, but players have to get taped, dressed, fed and in meetings prior to that time.

"They'll have a little bit of time on their own afterwards," Shula said. "We get up pretty early in the morning and watch film, the coaches and then the players follow. We try to get most of our (film) work done before practice, maybe a little after."

Shula also said that Tuesday's practice was "a little sluggish, actually. I don't know if that was an indication of being off for a few days or just being in a new setting. But practice, as we got going, got a little bit better."

BamaMag Top Stories