Coffee Keeps Close To The Football

A generation or two of Alabama football fans grew up knowing certain principles of football. Each Sunday afternoon for an hour those fans were schooled in the game by former Crimson Tide Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant on his television show. "He's got the ball under the wrong arm," the coach would drawl as a Tide player ran.

Alabama football players gathered each Sunday afternoon to watch the show. They were not always entertained. If Bryant said, "We'll get that fixed," the players knew the repair would come in practice beginning Monday, and the guilty party would be the one getting "fixed."

There's a myth that a Bama player who fumbled would have to keep a football with him at all times, including going to class and in the dining hall.

Alabama junior tailback Glen Coffee was watching television last Saturday afternoon when something bad happened. Coffee was racing downfield late in the fourth quarrter, headed for a big gain, perhaps even his second long rushing touchdown of the day. He said he looked up at the JumboTron "to see if anyone was close behind me. Just as I looked back down a guy hit the ball and knocked it out."

Alabama got the ball back because it went out of bounds and a few minutes later Leigh Tiffin kicked a field goal that would be the difference in a 17-14 win over Kentucky.

It is likely that many older Alabama fans had noticed that Coffee had the ball under the "wrong" arm.

Not so, said Coffee. "A running back has to hold it high and tight," he said. "That has to be second nature to a running back. It doesn't matter what arm the ball is under as long as you hold on to it."

He said that Bama Assistant Coach Burton Burns is in agreement with Coffee. "He doesn't want me trying to switch arms," Coffee said. "I'm really working on it."

Coffee is also getting a constant reminder of his two fumbles against the Wildcats. (The first came inside the five-yard line when it looked like Bama might be about to break the game open in the first half.)

"I'm carrying a ball all through practice," Coffee said. "I think it's something he (Head Coach Nick Saban) made up. If he thinks it will help the team, I'm going to do it. He's the head coach. If he says ‘Do it,' I do it."

Alabama is 6-0 this year and ranked second in the nation. Bama has an open date this week and will return to action hosting Ole Miss on October 18. The Tide returned to the practice field Tuesday and will also practice Wednesday and Thursday.

"I think it was a good practice," he said.

Coffee said he will spend his off weekend getting some rest. "Six straight games has been a grind," he said. "The SEC is tough." He may also speak at a church, he said. And he'll watch some football games on Saturday. He'll watch SEC games, watching teams and players he knows. He'll watch Wisconsin because a friend plays for Wisconsin.

It was suggested he might watch Texas-Oklahoma because if Oklahoma loses, Alabama could move up to number one. "No," he said. "I won't watch that. It doesn't affect us now. That's at the end of the season."

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