November 1, 2006

Practice Report: Tide gears up for Bulldogs

The Tide held Wednesday's shorts and shoulderpads practice session inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility to avoid some heavy afternoon rain in Tuscaloosa. Head coach Mike Shula was pleased with the effort his banged up and bruised players have been giving this week.

"We really have had two good days of practice this week," Shula said. "We got off the field a little bit earlier on both days. All the guys coming off injuries have all practiced and that's a good sign. We'll see how the rest of the week goes. This time of year, everybody is beat up. You just have to push through it and everybody has to step up."

Shula and his staff have been taking some extra measures to give their players all the rest and recovery time they can possibly get to head into a brutal final three weeks.

"We just practiced in shorts and shoulderpads rather than full pads yesterday and we've been trying to get our guys off the field a little earlier to keep our guys as fresh as possible both physically and mentally. We do that by cutting a few reps here and there in different portions of practice, but we try to keep all the 11-on-11 drills about the same."

The Tide staff have also stressed to their team this week that Mississippi State is not a team the Tide can afford to overlook simply because of their lack of wins this season.

"They are averaging 33 points a game offensively over the last three games," Shula said. "They are very good defensively. They've given up some big plays, but they are working on a short field in a lot of those situations. They are very physical and they make big plays. They are very athletic and their front seven are the strength of their defense. Their defense has seven or eight returning starters from last year. It's always a very physical game between us and Mississippi State."

"Their defense always does a good job versus our offense. Now they have some receivers who are making some big plays and a quarterback in Michael Henig who is much, much better than he was last year when we saw him."

Injury Report

* John Parker Wilson's quick recovery from an ankle injury was a pleasant surprise for the Tide and Shula said Wilson's ankle today was the strongest it's been since before it first began bothering him weeks ago.

"He was better yesterday than he was last Tuesday," Shula said. "It turns out when he got hit in the game, it wasn't as bad as we initially thought. He's a tough guy and a quick healer."

* B.J. Stabler also practiced today. Shula said he will likely split time with Marlon Davis this weekend.

* Justin Woodall sat out practice with the flu.


Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom has placed a high level of importance on the Alabama game throughout his tenure at MSU and is doing his best this week to sell his players on the just how big the Alabama game is.

"Alabama is a typical Alabama team," Croom said. "They've lost some close games, but they've won some close games as well. The names and the faces may change, but the jerseys are the same. The traditions are still there. The expectations are still there. And that's what you're playing against as much as anything. I try to keep my emotions out of it. I'm not playing in the game."

Croom also offered his thoughts on the lack of high level running backs in the SEC this season in comparison with most years.

"I look around our conference and I don't think we have the runners. Kenny Irons - the kid at Auburn - is a top back, but you look just a few years ago and they had Cadillac and Ronnie Brown - two great backs. It's a cycle. The league is throwing the ball more this year, but there'll be balance in years to come."

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