Wrapped Up

Alabama completed its practice for Mississippi Thursday, the third consecutive day the Tide had worked with crowd noise in preparation for a road game at Mississippi Saturday. Coach Mike Shula has emphasized all week that Bama must get off to a good start in order not to repeat the disaster of 2003.

Two years ago in Oxford, Alabama fell behind by 24-0 in the first quarter and was thrashed, 43-28.

Alabama (5-0 overall and 3-0 in Southeastern Conference play) will be at Ole Miss (2-3, 0-2) Saturday. Kickoff in the CBS nationally-televised game will be at 11 a.m. CDT. Bama is ranked sixth in the nation.

Alabama will have a brief walk-through in Tuscaloosa, then fly to Memphis and stay in Olive Branch, Mississippi. The team will not go to the Ole Miss stadium until Saturday. Alabama Coach Mike Shula said, "We're moving everything up so that we'll get to the hotel at the normal time, then have our meetings. Saturday morning we'll get up early, have our pre-game meal, and then get ready to go to the stadium."

Alabama worked for just over an hour in helmets and shorts Thursday. "We finished up our move the ball stuff." Shula said. "We also got three pretty good days of work against crowd noise, trying to simulate what it will be like on Saturday. It will be important for us to get off to a good start. We have to make sure we are ready to go for an early kickoff. We have some guys that will get more playing time with (Tyrone) Prothro being out." He noted that D.J. Hall, who is expected to take much of Prothro's kick return duties, has had a good week.

Shula said the Crimson Tide has put more emphasis on special teams the last two weeks and feels that it will play a big factor in Saturday's game.

"(The) special teams are going to be such a big part of this game for field position," Shula added. "We still have not played anywhere close to what we think we are capable of playing special teams wise. We got some more work last week in the bye week and need to get all of our teams going and playing better there."

Shula said that captains for the game would be tackle Rudy Griffin on defense, tackle Kyle Tatum on offense, and defensive back Jeffrey Dukes (who is from Oxford) on special teams.

There has been no change in the Tyrone Prothro situation, who remains hospitalized at DCH Regional Medical Center following his surgery October 1 to repair a season-ending broken leg.

Shula said that defensive back Lionel Mitchell, who also plays on special teams, would miss Saturday's game. The coach said Mitchell had been suffering with headaches.

Each Thursday the team gets a motivational address. This week the speaker was Kyle Maynard, who was born a quadruple-amputee (meaning his arms end just above his elbows and his legs end just above his knees). Despite his limitations, Maynard was a successful high school wrestler. He is now a student at Georgia. He is an effective motivational speaker whose story has been chronicled nationwide.

Following the Mississippi game, Alabama returns home to face Tennessee in Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 22. That game, too, will be nationally televised by CBS with kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CDT. Tennessee has an open date this week.

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