"We had four or five who had to get to a test," Croom said. "So we wanted to get practice in before they left. And we cut the (pre-practice) meeting times." Some of those sessions were completed after the on-field work. And the early schedule did not excuse any players due penalty conditioning work. Those Dogs still had to push the wooden plank along the turf, with both hands, from one goal line to the other and back.
It might be punishment but some players did their best to entertain themselves, such as Corey Spells. The freshman defensive back, who only Wednesday had his first full practice of the year after a summer ankle injury, ended his plank-push by diving into the end zone with a full rollout.
In fact, there was a degree of merriment from a lot of players after the day's work, which the coach noted. "The attitude has been good this week, I think we've gotten better," he said. "We've practiced and concentrated well, now we just have to play well."
Croom is himself encouraged by a couple of players who appear back to health in time for UAB. Offensive guard Brian Anderson has bounced back from a severe ankle sprain at Vanderbilt and was in regular gear Thursday. "Brian, I tell you, that's a lot of character," Croom said. "If he doesn't fall down the steps between now and then he'll be ready to start Saturday." At the same time Croom thinks four-game starter Johnny Wadley will be able to alternate at left guard with Anderson. Wadley has been protected all week, his left ankle heavily wrapped. Right guard Will Rogers was working normally.
Croom also said wide receiver McKinley Scott is likely to play after missing two games with a re-pulled hamstring. "He looked better today. So we've got some positive things happening this week."
At the same time there was a negative development, as offensive guard Devrick Hampton has left the team. The redshirt freshman was moved from defensive tackle in August, as Croom hoped Hampton could offer some help this fall at the shaky guard position. "And it would benefit him down the line if he wanted to go to the next level," Croom said. Hampton was not happy with the move and Croom said the two had agreed that Hampton could move back to defense in spring if he wished.
But after Hampton missed practice he was placed on indefinite suspension, and told if he did not report Wednesday he would be dismissed. He did not show. "So he's not going to be here any more," Croom said. "He talked to Coach (Jim) Tompkins, he hasn't talked to me. I hate to see him leave but as we go through this process anybody that does not want to be here is free to go."
The Bulldogs will have a brief Friday practice to brush up on some game planning, then have their evening meal on campus before leaving for the overnight stay in Columbus. Gametime Saturday with the Blazers is 1:30, and the ‘Dog walk' will be at 11:15 am.