"I ain't tellin'...

After spending time in the training room following Tuesday's practice, Tide starting quarterback Tyler Watts met briefly with waiting reporters, anxious for some word of his condition. <br><br>The inevitable question was asked. <br><br>And not surprisingly, Watts gave a predictable answer.

"So, are you going to play Saturday or not?" the reporter asked.

Watts immediately shot back, "I ain't tellin' you."

The response was met by laughter. And indeed, during his long career the fifth-year senior quarterback has developed an easy rapport with the press--so he probably had the line rehearsed in advanced.

No one doubts his physical toughness. In fact, Watts is famous for his hard-nosed running style. But the fifth-year senior has battled injuries his entire college career.

But though everyone was laughing, Watts' message was clear. Adhering closely to his head coach's dictum, there will be no valuable injury information provided to the media.

Or Arkansas.

Earlier Watts did provide some information--just nothing that interested coaches would find useful. "It's day to day right now," was his assessment of his injured left foot.

"Right now I'm just icing. Icing and I'm starting to walk on it and put some weight on it. I've noticed a tremendous amount of improvement from just yesterday. I'm very optimistic about this week and the future. I feel like good things are going to happen."

All that is nice. But if you get the feeling nobody is going to actually come out and say one way or another whether or not Watts will play Saturday, you'd be correct.

Watts provided one last pronouncement, intended as much to confuse the Razorback defensive staff as to reassure worried Tide fans. "I'm going to get it well as quick as I possibly can," Watts stated.

Watts was injured on Bama's seventh offensive play from scrimmage. Officially the play went into the record books as a one-yard loss, but Watts is still fuzzy on what actually happened.

A warrior on the field and one of the hardest workers in the weight room, Watts is widely respected by his teammates and looked to as a team leader.

"Even watching it on film it's hard to tell," he related. "I made a cutback, and my foot kind of got caught and twisted a little bit. When it first happened I thought a Southern Miss player had fallen on it. I heard a little pop. It wasn't real loud.

"I got up and knew I'd better make sure it was all right. I stood on it and bounced on it, and it moved around in a way it shouldn't. Then I knew I had to get off the field."

As Watts made his way shakily to the sidelines, he was motioned to sit down by the Tide coaches, thereby saving a timeout. But after being examined carefully by the Alabama doctors, Watts finished the game in street clothes on the sideline with his foot heavily iced.

"It's a mid-foot sprain," Watts said. "It's just the middle part all the way across. I don't know exactly how to explain it. You've got ligaments and tendons running all through there. It just hurts all the way across."

Backup quarterback Brodie Croyle immediately came into the game, taking all the snaps for the rest of the night. Even with conservative play calling that emphasized running the football, Croyle's first extensive college action could kindly be called "uneven."

But Watts used a bottom-line tack in assessing his backup's performance. "We won, so he obviously did something right. Brodie took them right down (the field) on that drive that we started at the beginning of the game and scored."

Croyle finished the game 4-of-15 passing for only 15 yards. But of even more concern were two interceptions, one of which was returned for 54 yards for the Golden Eagles' only touchdown of the night.

Taking his leadership role seriously, Watts has become a friend and mentor to Bama's younger quarterbacks. In his absence Saturday, Brodie Croyle (right) came on to lead the Tide offense.

"You're always going to make some good plays and have some things go wrong," Watts said of the miscues. "But it's how you react to the bad things--and Brodie bounced back. When he had to have a drive (in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach), he led the team down the field and got points."

Again hoping to gain some information about what might happen Saturday, a reporter asked if Croyle's extensive playing time versus Southern Miss might come into play next Saturday versus Arkansas. Watts coolly dodged the question. "It's big for him for his future," he said. "(A young player) has got to start somewhere, and I think he's ahead of the game already.

"He's going to do nothing but improve."

Croyle took 73 snaps last Saturday, by far his most extensive college action so far. After the game Watts checked on his redshirt freshman friend--and Alabama's heir apparent at quarterback--to see how Croyle was holding up. "I called him later and he was like, ‘Man, I'm sore. My head hurts. My nose hurts. My chin hurts. My back hurts.'

"I told him, ‘Yeah, ain't it great?'"

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