Preliminaries Are Over

Alabama had its final pre-season practice of fall camp in the mandated five days of restricted contact Friday. On Saturday the Crimson Tide will be in full gear. On Sunday Bama will have the first of its five two-a-day practices. And already everyone is talking about Monday, when Alabama will have its first scrimamge.

Alabama had its first extended football practice time in the indoor facility Friday when a thunderstorm came through. "We started inside because of the lightning, then afterwards came outside," said Coach Mike Shula. "We needed that kind of work on a wet field because we haven't ever had much of it. We didn't do real good with it. We had a couple of dropped balls. We did not throw it well. The ball was on the ground some too."

Bama was inside for about 40 minutes of the two-and-a-half hour workout.

The practice ended a little earlier than usual thanks to placekicker Jamie Christensen. One of the games within a game of football practice is Shula's proposition that if the field goal kicker can make four consecutive field goals under rush at the end of practice that the team gets a respite from post-practice conditioning work. On Friday, Christensen nailed them all and got a reception from his teammates similar to that after one of his three game-winning kicks last season. The last one was good from 53 yards.

Shula said it was the first time a kicker had ever made them all with the pressure of conditioning on the line. Asked if he was concerned that Christensen might keep the team from getting into good shape, he said, "If that begins to happen, we'll think of something else."

Shula said, "After practice, I told the freshmen offensive linemen they should be thanking Jamie more than anyone because they have struggled with the conditioning more than the others."

Shula said the practice "wasn't as consistent as we would have liked."

And, he said, the first five days "probably haven't been quite as coulld as we would have liked because of execution. We're a physical football team. And we're coming together. Four months is a long time to be apart. We need to be like we were at the end of spring practice and at the end of last season."

He said the defense "has been fun to watch because they are starting to have a little confidence." And, he said, some on offense–halfback Kenneth Darby, fullbacks Le'Ron McClain and Tim Castille–have that confidence. But, he said, the offense has further to go.

He said when the team gets into full gear Saturday "we'll learn more."

Practices promise to be tough. "We can't do it all the time," Shula said, "but as much as we can we're going to put the ball down and scrimmage because we have so many young guys who need that."

Monday's practice will be an open-to-the-public scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium beginning at 2 p.m. CDT. Shula said he will be looking for a lot of things. He listed "execution, organizational stuff, personnel stuff, knowing the down and distance, eliminating pre-snap mistakes, not having penalties. We need to have the guys who are going to play begin to come together."

Shula said that back-up quarterback Marc Guillon probably had his best day Friday. "He did a good job getting the ball out and he made some good throws," the coach said. "We added some of our third down stuff today, too."

He said that in Thursday's practice that wide receiver Nikita Stover had been "really good. He's gotten himself in shape. He had struggled with his conditioning." Stover has asthma which gives him problems in conditioning. Shula also said that a couple of dropped passes by Stover Friday were uncharacteristic.

Also in Thursday's practice, Shula said, running back Glen Coffee had his best day. "He looks faster and he's really smart on his assignments."

Shula noted that offensive guard B.J. Stabler was held out of some work with a sore knee.

He said there was no update on offensive linemen Trent Davidson, who has been absent for three days, or Marlon Davis, who missed his second day of practice.

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