August 11, 2006

Practice Report: Defense dominates on Day 4

A passing storm kept the Tide indoors for the first hour of its fourth practice session on Friday. After some warm ups and individual drills inside, the Tide took practice back out the fields which were still wet from the rain. The slippery conditions provided the coaches a chance to get the players used to playing on a wet field.

"We needed that work and we weren't very good at it," Mike Shula said. "The ball was on the ground an awful lot and we dropped some passes."

The wet conditions meant plenty of dropped passes and that meant another day of dominance for the Tide defensive backfield. Lionel Mitchell's interception of a John Parker Wilson pass set the tone for the rest of the DB's including Ramzee Robinson and Simeon Castille who have emerged as the leaders of the unit.

"Simeon is having a really good camp on defense. Our defense is fun to watch because you're starting to see guys emerge and play with a little confidence. We were moving around in the secondary extremely well."

The second day of shoulder pads left the Tide still healthy and relatively injury free with the only blip on the injury radar coming from BJ Stabler whose left knee flared up during 1-on-1 drills. Stabler said he should return to action tomorrow.

Practice Takes
Wilson is Mr. Popularity:
No one has received more praise from his teammates than John Parker Wilson so far. Jimmy Johns chimed in today. "He has really impressed me out here. Just being poised and showing he can step up. He's gotten better with the playbooks and his play calling and he's just becoming a better quarterback. In a few years, we may forget about any other quarterback before him."
Stover starting to cook: Wide out Nikita Stover was off to a slow start but has quickly improved his conditioning. "Nikita has worked hard and got himself in shape," Shula said. "His weight is down and he's moving around a lot better. He struggled the first couple of days but he's really gotten himself in shape."
No news on absent players: Trent Davidson and Marlon Davis were again absent from practice. Shula called their absences excused and did not comment any further. This is the second missed practice for Davis while Davidson has yet to appear at fall camp.
Good day for Guillon: Backup Marc Guillon made an impression on Shula in Friday's otherwise weak offensive practice. Shula called it Guillon's best day in practice all year.

Tide ready for scrimmage

As the first week of fall camp comes to a close, the Tide are already looking forward to Monday's scrimmage.

"We've got to put the ball down and let them go scrimmage," Shula said. "We've got a lot of young guys who can use all the experience they can get. As far as execution, we've shown that we have the ability to be a physical football team. We're coming together as a team."

Players too are anxious to get out on the field and see what they're capable of in a game situation.

"We want to come out here and get better on every play," said John Parker Wilson. "We need to come out and have a good scrimmage and get a good taste in our mouths."

"We'll be looking for execution of course but also the organizational stuff of guys knowing the situations, eliminating pre-snap penalties, eliminating any 15-yard penalties from getting too heated up. And we'll be looking for some guys, particularly our starters, to show us that we can count on them," Shula said.

Running backs meshing well

Fears that too many talented running backs would create a difficult situation in the unit are starting to melt away as the various talented and young backs are learning that their strengths compliment one another.

"I'm not worried," said Jimmy Johns. "We're all different backs. Ken is a shifty back, I'm a power back, Glen's a speed back and Roy's a little of everything."

Johns and fellow backup Glenn Coffee have received fewer reps than redshirt freshman Roy Upchurch but have all looked very solid during inside drills as well as individual drills.

"Glenn had one of his best days," said Shula. "He looks faster than he's been yet with us. He's really sharp on his assignments."

Kicks away

Practice ended with placekicking drills in which Jamie Christensen was flawless, ending the session with a 53-yard line drive that sent cheers into the air from the rest of the roster, happy they would not be subject to extra conditioning.

"That's the first time so far we haven't had to condition because we made all four kicks," Shula said. "The freshmen offensive lineman that they ought to be thanking Jamie more than anybody. We'll take care of that though."

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