Placekicker Update

When Alabama lost a double overtime football game to Arkansas in Fayetteville Saturday, there was natural interest in the status of the Crimson Tide placekicking job. It's not fair to ascribe an overtime loss to one player. In an overtime game, there will have been numerous opportunities for any number of players to have made the play that made a difference.

Alabama lost 24-23 to Arkansas to fall to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in Southeastern Conference games.

Because Alabama placekicker Leigh Tiffin had critical misses, it was natural that the situation was discussed by Coach Mike Shula in his regular Sunday teleconference with sportswriters.

Tiffin missed a field goal late in the fourth quarter that might have won the game in regulation, then missed a field goal at the end of the first overtime that would have won the game, then missed an extra point in the second overtime that proved to be the margin of loss.

This week Alabama will be at Florida. The Gators are 4-0 overall and 2-0 in SEC play and ranked fifth in the nation. Kickoff Saturday will be at 2:30 p.m. CDT with television coverage by CBS.

With Tiffin having missed three short field goal attempts and an extra point kick, it was a given that Shula would have words with the freshman walk-on, the son of former Tide star kicker Van Tiffin, who had been a Shula teammate.

"I told him it was a tough day, but that he had to keep his head up, learn from it, get things corrected," Shula said. "I told him we believe in him, and he has to believe in himself, which he does. When something like that happens you have to get better because of it and then move on."

Tiffin, who had a 46-yard field goal Saturday and who won the Vanderbilt game a few weeks ago with a 47-yard field goal, has the kicking job because last year's kicker, Jamie Christensen, suffered a pre-season groin injury.

On Sunday Shula said Christensen might be ready to come back this week.

"Jamie has been coming back and getting healthier," Shula said. "We made the decision last week and we'll make it again this week. He's had just a few kicks live in scrimmages. He feels more comfortable with his leg. We've always said when he comes back he's going to be our guy.

"We're thinking he's real, real close to 100 per cent. We'll see how he is Tuesday. The big thing with him is his timing with the snapper, doing it live, and getting in the groove. He started to get back in the groove last week, but we thought he wasn't quite ready. You'd think he'd be ready this week, but we'll have to see."

Christensen, a junior, is known to his teammates as "Money" because his clutch kicks have been like money in the bank. Last year in Bama's 10-2 season he had three game-winning field goals, two on the final play of the game, including the Cotton Bowl win over Texas Tech.

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