"With 36 hours to go, I suppose we'll find out Saturday," Franchione said. "But I think up to this point we're in good shape. I don't know if we'll walk into Saturday's game in some ways the same as last Saturday's, but I think you walk out with the same edge in approaching the game--the same mental focus and anticipation."
Bama will go to Nashville to meet Vandy in a game that kicks off at 1 p.m. CST Saturday. The game will be telecast on a Pay-Per-View basis on most cable systems in Alabama and through satellite systems.
Alabama is now 6-2 overall and 3-1 in Southeastern Conference play, tied with LSU for the best record in the SEC Western Division, and ranked 12th in the nation. Vanderbilt is 2-6. The Commodores are winless in four previous SEC games this year.
For the twelfth-ranked Tide, the motivation remains the same. Win out the rest of the season and prove conclusively that they are one of the best teams in the nation. "We had a good day today and a good three days of work this week," Franchione said. "I hope our play reflects it, and I think it will. We had good focus all week and good preparation. I was pleased with our three days of work."
Franchione is too experienced a head coach to take anything for granted, but recent history suggests Alabama will have no problem playing on the road. "We've won our last three road games in the SEC," Franchione pointed out. "We've done a lot of good things in preparing to play all three of those games. Every situation is similar in a lot of ways and different in a lot of ways.
"I think we'll handle Saturday all right. Our players respect Vanderbilt and their ability, and they know they'll have to play."
Heading into the ninth game of the season, Franchione said the depth chart remains pretty much the same. Junior college transfer Kyle Robinson, who was 2-of-3 on field goal attempts versus the Volunteers, will handle placekicking duties Saturday.
Like Alabama, the Commodores utilize the option as an important part of their offensive attack. In fact Vandy quarterback Jay Cutler is his team's third-leading rusher. So the Tide scout team offense had an easy job this week of mimicking Saturday's opponent.
"It's a good thing in some ways," Franchione commented. "Our ability to duplicate the Vanderbilt offense for our defense is maybe a little easier this week than in some weeks. But by the same token I'm sure it is for them, too. A lot of the plays that they run all we had to do was say our numbers and the kids knew what to do. They could easily run the play very similar to the way that Vanderbilt would do it.
"There are some advantages in that regard, but those advantages are offset by Vandy's ability to do just about the same thing as well."
Franchione has a policy against discussing specific player injuries during the season, but he did acknowledge that the Tide came out of Saturday's hard-fought game in reasonably good shape. "We had a couple of guys with some problems that have taken all week to heal," he said, "but they should be okay. Everyone is on course to play Saturday. We really got out of the Tennessee game about as well as you could expect."
Franchione did confirm that tailback Ahmaad Galloway would be at Saturday's game and would serve as a game captain. Galloway's season was cut short by an ACL injury. But the Leadership Council member has stayed close to the team, and Franchione has praised his continued leadership.
Saturday's game will be played at Vanderbilt's Dudley Field, one of the smaller SEC stadiums with less than 42,000 seats. Traditionally Tide fans have made the three-hour drive up the interstate in droves to support their team, and Franchione wants that trend to continue. "Hopefully we'll have a good crowd there Saturday to almost make it a home site for us," he said.
The Alabama squad will have a walk-through session in Tuscaloosa on Friday morning, before boarding a plane to fly to Nashville at 1:30.