Bama offense bounces back

Alabama's offense, which had disappointed Head Football Coach Dennis Franchione Wednesday, "bounced back" with a good practice Thursday. The Crimson Tide practiced for a little under two hours in helmets and shoulder pads. Friday the Tide will have its normal workout at the Thomas Field practice facility, then make a short walk through at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Alabama will host Mississippi State at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama is 7-2 overall and 4-1 in Southeastern Conference games and ranked 11th in the nation. The Bulldogs of Coach Jackie Sherrill have struggled to a 3-5 mark and State is winless in its four SEC games. There will be no telecast of any type.

On Wednesday, Franchione had complained that the offense had not been sharp as it worked against the many alignments and schemes it can expect to face from Mississippi State Saturday. Thursday, the Tide coach said, "It was much better today. They were sharp. I was pleased. We did well on both sides of the ball. The offensive guys took it upon themselves to bounce back."

Franchione announced one lineup change. Brian Bostick, who is one of three men who have held the field goal and extra point job this year, will be the third Tider to be the kickoff man on Saturday. Michael Ziifle, who was the original placekicker before losing his job to Bostick, has been slowed a little (presumably by a minor injury), Franchione said, and "Brian has done well for the past 10 days." Lane Bearden, who suffered a knee injury, was the original kickoff man. Bearden continues to punt. Kyle Robinson has taken over field goal and extra point duties.

The Tide coach admitted that as Alabama goes into its 10th game of the season that Bama is in "pretty good shape" from an injury standpoint. He said, "We've had our share; I don't want to minimize it. But most of the dings have been on offense. Our defense has stayed pretty healthy, which has enabled them to progress. On offense, we have had so many guys who, when called upon, stepped up and got the job done."

Franchione said he is not concerned about his team being ready to play Mississippi State, even though the Bulldogs are not having a good season. "Our players have respect for Mississippi State," Franchione said. "If you look back, Mississippi State defeated Alabama four times in five years. They have talented athletes. Our players look at the tapes and they watch the guys they will be having to block or go up against and they see a collection of athletes."

The Tide coach said he also expects Bama to be ready to play "because we have only two more games at Bryant-Denny Stadium this year. It's important to our seniors and our other players know it is important to them."

He pointed out that Alabama came back against a Vanderbilt team that does not have a good record the week after an emotional win over Tennessee in Knoxville and that Bama played well against Vandy. "I don't expect anything less this week," he said. "I know we are going to have to play well."

Although Franchione said he has not yet seen the new turf at Bryant-Denny Stadium­he'll see it Friday in the team's walk-around­he said all reports are that it is in good shape and that a period of no rain that is expected to extend through Saturday should help the new sod.

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