Offense prepares for challenge

With LSU and its top-rated defense in the nation scheduled this week, Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione has challenged the Bama offensive unit to step up. <br><br>"I think our offense is preparing well," he said following practice Wednesday. "They understand what we're up against.

Saturday's game will feature two of the best stop units in college football. Statistically the Bayou Bengals rank first with the Tide third. "LSU has a quality defense," Franchione said. "Our offense respects that and remembers them from last year. We'll have to be on our ‘A' game, be prepared to fight for everything and be patient. We've had two good days of practice."

The Crimson Tide worked for two hours in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts on Wednesday in preparation for Saturday's nationally televised game. The Alabama Crimson Tide (8-2, 5-1 SEC) football team hits the road again this weekend, this time meeting the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. Kickoff is set for 8:10 p.m. in a game that will be televised by ESPN.

The Crimson Tide football team worked inside the Hank Crisp Indoor facility for the second consecutive day on Wednesday in preparation for Saturday night's Southeastern Conference showdown.

"We anticipate that we need to be prepared to communicate in a loud stadium," Franchione explained, "so we worked with the noise inside today and probably will tomorrow a little bit as well. We've worked inside this year a number of times, but it never hurts to revisit it the week that you're playing."

Nicknamed "Death Valley," LSU's stadium has a reputation for noise equal to what Bama faced on the road in Knoxville. "We were affected a little bit at Tennessee," Franchione revealed. "We had a couple of penalties."

LSU has endured its share of injuries this season, losing both their starting quarterback and tailback. "It reminds me of someone else I know," Franchione said, referring to Alabama's own injury luck this year. "They've had their share of injuries, as most of us have. Good teams have people that step up and keep the rhythm going. They've had those things."

"LSU has a lot of good athletes," Franchione continued. "Their receivers are excellent, and their offensive line is good. They had more than one good tailback. Both those guys are fine running backs."

Two quality tailbacks have stepped up for LSU, but their reserve quarterback, Marcus Randall, has struggled at times. "I would think their quarterbacks have had to learn on the go a little bit," Franchione said. "They didn't get to play a lot last year. The guy that did get to play (Matt Mauck) got hurt. But the LSU coaches have done a good job of giving their quarterbacks game plans to give their players success.

A familiar face returned to Bama's practice this week. As reported earlier today, senior Antonio Carter is back working with the scout team offense. "It was good to get AC back just from the standpoint that I hadn't seen him do anything in so long," Franchione said. "I really was hoping that before we finished the fall he could get out here and run around. His carryover is very good. He knows what he's doing. I just wanted him to get out and do some things, maybe help on the scout team a little bit. Get back in the flow of full-speed practice and get back in the flow before we got to the off season."

Carter has been sidelined by a slow-healing stress fracture in his leg that required surgery this past summer. "I think he did pretty well," Franchione said. "I don't think he's pain free completely, but judging from what I saw yesterday and what the trainer told me I think he felt pretty good."

Twice in last week's game the Bama punt team was victimized by Mississippi State's punt rush. "I hope we've solved (those problems)," Franchione said. "We've worked on them and made some changes, but we won't know until we're tested again. It should not have been a problem last Saturday. Some people didn't do as well as they should technically. We've just got to stay on them as coaches to make sure they do those things right."

Despite being barred from post-season play, if Alabama wins its final two conference games, the squad will at worst finish tied for the best league record. Asked about the possibility of rewarding the players with rings, Franchione was noncommittal. "There has been a statement or two or a question about that, but in all honesty we haven't taken that issue very far. We're just now getting ourselves into a position where we can worry about that."

Each season before the final conference game, Franchione's squad elects permanent captains. "We will vote Sunday," Franchione reported. "They will represent us in the last two games. There isn't a set number. Normally it's a pretty vivid line that gets drawn (by the voting). But I've learned not to ever say it'll be two or three or five. The vote will tell you that."

NOTE: The University of Hawai'i announced today that 1,800 tickets remain for the Alabama-UH game on Saturday, Nov. 30 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. ESPN will televise that game and the kickoff has been moved up 15 minutes to 6:45 p.m. (CST). That is a 2:45 p.m. (HST) kickoff in Hawai'i.

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