JV athletes anxious to play

Thursday's junior varsity game between Alabama and Georgia Military College is seen by the coaches as an opportunity to evaluate athletes in a game situation. And the players themselves are anxious to show what they can do.

"It's a big opportunity for everyone out here," said quarterback Spencer Pennington. "The coaches have given us a chance to play. To see what we can do, give us some game experience. They'll use this to make some evaluations and see if we're ready to play on Saturdays.

"It's a big deal to all of us."

The Crimson Tide plays host to Georgia Military College on Thursday, Oct. 10 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 pm and admission is free.

Guard Danny Martz redshirted his first year on campus and didn't see any action last season. So it's been more than two years since he's been involved in live game action. "It's been awhile, so it's exciting," he said. "It's a chance to play a full game and see what you can do. You want to show the coaches what you can do. It'll be fun."

Thurman Ward will work at wide receiver.

Alongside Martz on the offensive line, redshirt freshman Von Ewing will be playing Thursday. After sitting out last season, he's eager to hit somebody in a different colored jersey. "I'm trying to prove that I'm a good football player," he said. "I want to show the coaches on film that I can play. It's a chance to get out there and get some reps."

The game represents a departure from the squad's regular routine, but sophomore wideout Tarry Givens doesn't think it'll be a problem. "It's not difficult at all getting ready," he said. "We just take the game as an opportunity to get better. Hopefully we'll make plays out there and hopefully the coaches will see it. Then maybe we can contribute to the team."

Redshirt freshman center J.B. Closner agreed. "It'll be just another game. I'm looking forward to getting in some good reps against some good athletes. This is a chance to work on my technique and get some experience."

The game will mainly feature third- and fourth-stringers, athletes that are not likely to get playing time on Saturdays. So as not to jeopardize their year on just one game, no athletes slated for a redshirt this season will participate.

With the recent injury to Tyler Watts, some fans worry about risking Pennington in a JV game. But he doesn't agree. "You can't worry about injuries," Pennington said. "You've just got to go out there and give it all you've got. Nobody is worried about getting hurt. We just want to win the game."

Winning the game won't be easy. Having defeated Auburn decisively last season, GMC shares something in common with the Tide. And their team has not lost a game since the 2000 season. "They're 17-0, and they only gave up 76 rushing yards all of last year," Ewing related. "We've got four days of practice and then the game. We want to make sure we're prepared, so we can give our best."

Linebacker/Rover Juke King (#45) will play Thursday.

NCAA rules allow schools to schedule up to five junior varsity games per year, but there are very few schools that do. Thursday's contest will be the first time in 21 years that Alabama has played a JV game.

Scouting Georgia Military has been a problem. Junior offensive tackle Matt Lomax explained, "We're preparing with what we can. Their film looks like a high school film. You can't see anything outside the tackles at all. On offense we'll be mainly basic stuff. Run between the tackles. Keep it simple."

Redshirt freshman guard Mark Sanders is taking the game seriously. "They should expect just about anything," he said. "Anything we do on Saturdays, we're going to do. You've got to just prepare to go out there and whip somebody's butt."

"We're using the standard offense," Givens added. "There aren't any new plays to learn. We're just going to run our Alabama offense."

With only four practice days to prepare, the Tide will face a tough test this Thursday. But the Bama roster will feature five scholarshipped players on the offensive line, which could give the home team an edge. "I think we'll be able to put together a pretty stout offense," Martz said. "We've got some veterans working on the offensive line. We should be all right."


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