Franchione on the state of the Tide

During his Sunday teleconference with the press, Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione touched on a variety of topics, including his team's level of preparation for Saturday's game. <br><br>"We were prepared to play and emotionally ready," he said. "It was just one of those days that we didn't hit on all cylinders."

Averaging 258 yards rushing per game before Saturday, against Georgia the Tide managed only 109 yards on the ground. "Georgia changed some things up that might have surprised our guys some," Franchione explained. "We busted some assignments that were unusual for us in the offensive line. Problems that we hadn't had as much of in previous games, or we had been able to overcome with other good plays."

Alonzo Ephraim (58) and Marico Portis (71) talk to reporters. Overall, the Tide offensive line had its toughest game of the season.

The Bulldogs played well along the line of scrimmage, two areas where Alabama had excelled. Franchione talked about the problem. "With our team if we're able to run the ball successfully, then we're going to be able to keep the opponent off balance. When we get in a position where we struggle running the football, then we have a more difficult time."

Georgia Saturday and Oklahoma earlier in the season matched the Tide athlete for athlete up front. "We've had some great days rushing the football," Franchione related. "Our two losses have been our two toughest days, but we faced two very good teams. We got the running game going pretty good in the second half versus Oklahoma. We went over 100 yards against Georgia. We just did not come up with consistency in our play up front that have helped us be an offensive team that can keep people guessing."

Franchione continued his discussion of Bama's line play. "In the games that we've won, the O-Line and D-Line have been very demonstrative in their effort. In the Oklahoma game they were very demonstrative eventually. The Georgia game was probably our worst performance in those areas."

The Bulldog D-Line was not as highly touted coming into the game as their offensive counterparts, but they played very well against the Tide. Afterwards the Bama players talked about being frustrated by Georgia's lack of aggressiveness---waiting on the play to develop instead of moving immediately across the line of scrimmage. But after watching the film Franchione had his own assessment.

Kenny King talks in the weight room. The Bama defensive line played better in the second half, but they were unable to generate consistent pressure on the Georgia quarterback.

"I'd agree to a certain degree, but not completely. The Georgia defensive line was very aggressive. We had a play or two in our offense that takes advantage of penetration, whether it's the trap or the draw. Georgia was aggressive, but they had a good plan. We ran one trap play and they had a nose tackle twist and they twisted right into the trap. It was a perfect call at the right time. Sometimes you'll have those. It was an aggressive play on their part, but it may have appeared to our guys that it wasn't an upfield kind of play."

On offense, Georgia started five seniors. And they certainly played like veterans, leading the way for 161 yards on the ground. "They did a good job of staying on their blocks," Franchione related. "They took advantage of our up-field movement. They caught us soft on the corner with the toss sweep a time or two. It was not any one thing, just a combination of things. Their backs made some hard runs for them."

After playing six straight games, this week will be off for the Tide. The squad's next contest will be Ole Miss, with the Rebels coming to Tuscaloosa October 19th for Homecoming. This Thursday Alabama will play Georgia Military in a junior varsity game, but the players' weekly schedule will be changed somewhat. "Tuesday and Wednesday will be normal practice days," Franchione said. "Thursday will be the game, and our veterans will lift and run. Friday they'll get a lift in before having the rest of Friday and Saturday off. Then we'll practice sometime on Sunday, after five o'clock. The following week will be our normal routine."

In mentioning the JV game, Franchione noted that third-string quarterback Spencer Pennington would participate. A reporter then asked if that signaled good news regarding the recovery of Tyler Watts. "Yes it does," was Franchione's reply. "Good guess."

Brian Bostick talks with last year's placekicker Neal Thomas. So far Alabama has not settled on a consistent placekicker to handle the crucial job.

Special teams were again a problem for Alabama Saturday. But no one play was bigger than Georgia's block of a second quarter field goal. The attempt was from 28 yards out, easily within Brian Bostick's range. But Georgia's David Pollack ran through his blocker to smother the ball. "A combination of a good play by Pollack and our kicker being a bit slow led to the block," Franchione noted. "We've just got to improve our special teams overall."

Once again, poor coverage on kickoffs also plagued the Tide. Franchione talked about the problem. "Coverage problems have been different things at different times. We must have kicked off five or six times and on all but a couple of them we played very well. But a couple we played poorly. We got out of our lanes, we missed a tackle, there were breakdowns. It's not the same individual all the time."

Franchione said that Alabama's offense garnered 86 knockdown blocks versus the Bulldogs, "which was down a bit for us." He then listed the individual Players of the Week, pointedly noting that there was no honoree for the offensive line:

Working on a story about the college overtime rule, a Tennessee reporter asked Franchione for his opinion.

"If we did change to the NFL format, I would like to see both teams guaranteed at least one possession," was Franchione's response. "Right now it's an equal format. Both teams have their opportunities. We know what we have to deal with. It's an exciting aspect of the game."

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