Nicked Up

Alabama's injury situation is a little worse today than it has been, although there are still not serious injuries to players. Some 15 Crimson Tide players were in orange non-participation jerseys in Thursday afternoon's practice, but most are expected back for Saturday's scrimmage.

Alabama will have its 14th practice of fall camp Friday, then work twice on Saturday. Coach Mike Shula said that Friday's practice would be "lighter" in order to have players fresh for Saturday. The second Saturday work will be an open-to-the-public scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium beginning at 3:30 p.m.

One casualty of Thursday practice wasn't a player. Assistant Charlie Harbison, who coaches wide receivers, appeared to suffer a knee injury. He was taken by medical cart to the training room. There was no report on his condition at the end of practice.

Shula thought that Thursday's work was good. "It's not that the execution was the best, but I thought it was a really good day today because we had two really hot practices. To me, a day like this one shows what mental toughness is all about. I thought the guys responded pretty well. We needed that. The players had to push through it. That's what we need for the season. They didn't all push through it, and we need all of them to."

Shula acknowledged that "we're beat up now," but said other than halfback Glen Coffee, who strained knee ligaments and bruised his knee in Monday's scrimmage, that he didn't count anyone out of being able to play the opening game. Alabama is preparing for the season-opener in just over two weeks. The Crimson Tide will host Hawaii at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday, September 2, at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Shula said he didn't know for sure how many would be available for Saturday. He hopes that those not able to go Saturday will be able to participate in the final pre-season scrimmage next Tuesday. (Like most practices, that Tuesday scrimmage at the Thomas Field practice facility will be closed to the public.)

The Tide coach said that the staff had discussed the possibility of not having a tackling scrimmage Saturday because of health concerns. But, he said, "We need the work on tackling and we need work on making guys miss. We may cut down on the number of snaps depending on the situation, but there are things we have to accomplish."

He noted that practices have been tough both mentallly and physically.

The Thursday morning practice was in full gear. "We put them in situations," Shula said. For example, at one point the offense was backed up deep in its own territory and had to work out against the defense. Later the offense had the ball at midfield and the situation was late in the game with the offense trying to make first downs and keep the ball (and the clock moving) and the defense trying to get the offense stopped.

Shula said, "Leigh Tiffin screwed up my plans for conditioning." Tiffin, a walk-on freshman placekicker, hit four field goals at the end of practice, the last one from 47 yards. That earned the team a respite from much (though not all) of its post-practice conditioning work. "Leigh did a nice job; showed poise and confidence," Shula said. "It was a nice spark for practice."

The coach said he thought that regular placekicker Jamie Christensen, who is out with a groin injury, could be back by Saturday, or at least by Tuesday.

The afternoon practice was in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts.

Shula noted that middle linebacker Prince Hall "is continuing to improve. Mentally he is starting to get it, which is a good sign."

Shula said quarterback John Parker Wilson "is doing some good things. He needs the scrimmage work as much as anybody."

The Tide coach went over the competition at offensive tackle, mentioning Kyle Tatum, Chris Capps, and Andre Smith. He noted that "Andre is mentally further behind, but he's learning the adjustments and he is doing some things well."

Although Shula didn't go down the laundry list of players in orange jerseys, he mentioned a few in answer to questions. He said safety Justin Woodall had an ankle sprain, halfback Jimmy Johns a head injury, Offensive linemen Kyle Tatum (shoulder) and Justin Britt ("generally beat up") were among a number of big men given the afternoon off

Shula said, "Most of them are just minor injuries and they've been trying to work through it. We felt some of them needed the rest."

Star halfback Kenneth Darby missed Thursday's practices for a personal family matter.

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