"We were a little bit soft, which is understandable. We got a lot done. We worked on blitz pickup in the 11-on-11 work."
After practicing Friday and Saturday, the squad gets a break tomorrow. Except for some meetings and a walk-through session, there will be no practice on Sunday. The team will attend church services together in the morning. Two-a-days resume on Monday with early morning and late evening workouts.
This morning's session was held under cloudy skies, holding down the temperatures. And the 5:30 late afternoon start helped as well. "The weather has been pretty good to us," Franchione said. "I have been satisfied with our conditioning so far. Like Ben (Pollard, Strength and Conditioning coach) says, there is no way to ever condition yourself to bang into each other at full speed and do all the things that we do, to get as many reps as we get in practice. But I feel like we've held up pretty well."
So far, with the exception of Ahmad Childress yesterday, who had fluids administered after he overheated, the Tide athletes have held up well. "When guys get cramps, that's not a sign of poor conditioning," Franchione said. "That's other things more than conditioning. Your low body fat guys are going to have that trouble from time to time. That's just the heat and humidity and replacing fluids during two-a-days. I don't feel bad about where we are physically."
Childress, a junior college transfer who's working at defensive tackle, returned to practice this afternoon. "Health-wise we've held up pretty well," Franchione said. "Ahmad got back out there and got some work in. With the day off tomorrow, we hope that Monday he'll come back in pretty good shape."
Franchione was asked to comment on Alabama's non-ranking in the two major polls. The ESPN Coaches' Poll does not rank teams on probation, and AP's poll came out recently with Alabama missing from the Top 25. "I don't give the polls much thought," Franchione said. "I'm not surprised. We've got to go earn our respect. I'm sure part of everybody's thinking is trying to figure out how Alabama is going to respond (to probation). I understand that, and we'll have plenty of chances to show them that we deserve to be ranked."
Senior receiver Antonio Carter has been limited with soreness resulting from off-season surgery in which a rod was inserted in his leg to mend a broken bone. "The trainers and doctors seem to think it's just soreness," Franchione said. "When you go through this, there's going to be some soreness. To a receiver, his legs are a pivotal part of his game. We hope it's something he works through during two-a-days."
Junior college transfer Derrick Pope is being counted on at middle linebacker. He sprained an ankle this morning, but Franchione doesn't think it's serious. "We're very encouraged about him," Franchione said. "It's early and there are a lot of adjustments on offense and defense. We're purposely not using Derrick on a lot of kicking teams, because we don't want to overload him mentally to where he can't play physically. We want him to be comfortable as a linebacker before we start throwing him into practice too much in the kicking game.
"But Derrick is a football savvy guy. He picks things up well. Right now we all feel good about him. Is he game ready today? Probably not. But he's on a nice learning curve."
Sophomore defensive end Todd Bates is still recovering from off-season surgery to repair a groin problem. At this point a redshirt year is a possibility. "If physically he's not ready, then that's what it'll become," Franchione said. "Fortunately we have the cushion with him to be able to do that, because he played last year. Right now I don't think the trainers are surprised by his soreness in light of his surgery. They expected it. We hope he'll push through and the pain will start to relieve itself. It is a concern, but the good side of it is that we do have the ability to redshirt him if he is not ready."
Senior punter Lane Bearden has punted well early on. "After two days we'll say he's more consistent," Franchione said. "Lane has prepared well and had a good summer. He's heard me preach consistency to him for a good bit of time. We'll hope that survives the test of time."
"We are much farther along in our kicking game than this time last year," Franchione continued. "We understand our schemes. That's comforting. (Deep snapper) Nick Ridings is back and doing such a good job. The solidness of the team around him is probably helping Lane's consistency."
Redshirt freshmen cornerbacks Anthony Madison and Charlie Peprah have been praised by the defensive coaches. "I see evidence of Anthony and Charlie pushing the starters every day and in every period," Franchione said. "Those guys are very competitive. They're mission-oriented guys. They want a position and they want to play. They're very competitive in every drill.
"We're searching for that mix in the secondary, looking for our two-deep and who our players are going to be. Our competition level in the secondary is better by far this year than it was last year."
Responding to a question about why one academically ineligible player (Dante Ellington) would remain on the team while another (Gerard Clark) has left, Franchione explained the difference in the two situations. "Sometimes the player is not left in school. Dante's GPA was good enough (to stay in school). In Dante's case he's not eligible according to (SEC requirements), but he's eligible to be in school."
Franchione also announced that sophomore linebacker Brandon Dean of Mobile's UMS Wright High School had been added to the 105 roster. Dean replaces Greg McLain at linebacker, who in turn replaced Donnie Lowe at fullback when Lowe was forced to give up football for medical reasons.