In his regular Tuesday briefing with sportswriters, Alabama Coach Mike Shula talked about the facilities, the condition of the field, and the new rules regarding the play clock.
Alabama opened remodeled and expanded (by some 9,000 seats to 92,138) Bryant-Denny Stadium with a 25-17 win over Hawaii Saturday night. On Tuesday Shula said he was looking forward to the second game in the stadium this week, against Vanderbilt with kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CDT. It will be the Southeastern Conference opener. While Bama is 1-0, the Commodores are coming off a road trip to Michigan and a 27-7 loss in the Vandy opener.
The stadium is the final football jewel in Alabama's capital improvements campaign. Earlier the Tide had completed work on the football building, adding a large strength and conditioning facility and coaches offices and expanding the medical facilities and lockerroom; renovated Bryant Hall, the former athletics dormitory, into a magnificent academics center for all athletes; opened up the new dormitory near Bryant Hall for freshmen and sophomore football players; and the new sports theme dining hall between the dorm and Bryant Hall for all athletes (and the public).
Shula said, "It's going to make a big difference, obviously, to the recruits, but also to the parents, particularly regarding academics. These facilities send the message that those who support our university want only the very best. That message helps in recruiting."
There was some question that perhaps the playing field was not in good shape because of sand being visible in a few areas, and sand being kicked up by players.
This was not just a courtesy to the players visiting from the Islands.
"It has a sand base, like most of the fields we're on now," Shula said. "The field is in good shape."
Shula was asked how his players had responded to changes in the rules regarding starting the play clock after a change of possession and on a kickoff. It is estimated that the changes, which can reduce the number of plays in a game, will shorten the games. Alabama's games last year were generally close to three and a half hours. Saturday night's game against Hawaii, even with 73 passes thrown, lasted 3:03.
Shula said, "The game went by faster. I think for sure the first half went by real fast. You've just got to be aware. I think the officials did a nice job. That was probably one of the better crews we had. They did a really nice job communicating all that stuff, letting us know, reminding us that the clock is going to be starting. Obviously, the most important thing is right before the end of the half and also right before the end of the game to understand the rules there. Things change at the end of the game, if you've got the ball and you are trying to figure out what it's going to take to run the clock out, all those numbers change from years past and the same thing if you are behind and you need to stop the clock, when to use your timeouts, all that kind of stuff. So that, plus you want to do a good job of saving timeouts, so you can have them for the end of the game in that situation plus for the ability to challenge."