Bama dons pads for first time

After practicing last time in a soaking rain, Tide Head Coach Mike Price and his Alabama squad enjoyed near-perfect conditions for their Friday workout. <br><br>"It was a good day," Price said. "I definitely love this weather."

With significantly more pass routes to run this year in Price's new offense, fatigue became a factor as the day wore along. "About halfway through we got leg weary," Price acknowledged. "We squatted yesterday in the weight room, and it was the first day in pads. So we took a nose dive about halfway through the practice. But that's not unusual. That's to be expected."

The players--especially quarterbacks and receivers--have enjoyed the emphasis on passing, but so far the execution has not caught up with the effort. "I said it wasn't going to be pretty for awhile yet," Mike Price said. "We're throwing the offense at them fast and furious. They're really giving great effort and trying hard."

As weariness set in, the percentage of dropped passes went up. Price explained, "When you get tired, your focus goes down. Your execution and concentration isn't quite as good as you'd like it to be."

Friday's practice was the third session of spring. The Tide will return to the Drew-Thomas Practice Fields tomorrow morning at 10 am for a workout that will include Bama's first unlimited hitting. "We'll get a little scrimmage work done tomorrow," Price said. "We'll probably only hit for a little less than half the practice, so it won't be a full scrimmage."

"I'm sure they look forward to tomorrow. They'll need to get some sleep tonight, so we'll be ready."

There had been talk of a second Saturday session in the afternoon, but Price nixed that idea. "They're a little leg weary and tired," he explained.

Asked if the squad was as far along as he expected after three days, Price responded with his characteristic humor. "I have no idea where I thought we'd be," he said laughing. "I'm still trying to find out where we are."

Price did spot a definite bright spot on Friday, complimenting Coach Kines, his defensive staff and especially the Tide defenders. "I think our defense is going to be okay," Price said. "We're doing some things differently on defense as well, so they're making some mistakes. But they'll hit you."

The Tide players on both sides of the ball are having to get used to new schemes and terminology, and Price has been impressed with the squad's learning ability. "They're a much smarter football team than I had assumed that they would be," he noted. "I knew that they were tough, but I didn't know how smart they would be.

"They're pretty smart."

Once again hundreds of spectators lined the sidewalk, watching Alabama practice. Numerous high school athletes were on hand, including Tuscaloosa County High teammates and Bama signees Terrance Jones and LeRon McClain. Markus Manson of Hillcrest High School, projected to be possibly the top tailback in the state next year, was also on hand to watch.

Spring practice concludes on March 29 with the annual A-Day game scheduled for 1 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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