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It was a little bit closer to kickoff than most weeks Thursday when the Alabama football team walked off the field after its last practice session of the regular season.

"We went a little bit longer to get some work on down and distance with the crowd noise," Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said. "We take for granted sometimes, even though we've been in other stadiums, that we've got a young group. We worked hard on it today (with crowd noise) and hopefully it will pay off for us. The guys were into it. There was a lot of energy, as you might think."

Shula changed things up all this week in preparation for the Tide's 2:30 p.m. season-finale kickoff at Auburn on Saturday, going without pads all week (except in select drills) and moving the preparation indoors all three days.

"The longer the week went you started to realize how much our guys know about their guys and how much their guys know about our guys. That's what keeps everybody's focus," Shula said. "Growing up in Miami, I didn't have that opportunity to play against a lot of guys that I grew up with and played high school ball against and I think this is what really makes this thing fun for the players."

Alabama's only starter with any injury concerns for Saturday's game was weakside linebacker Juwan Simpson, who sprained his ankle last week against LSU.

"Juwan, he's been doing fine. We see him playing," Shula said. "Will he play the whole game? I'm not sure. We'll see Demarcus Waldrop and Terrence Jones those guys are ready to play and they've done a good job when they've been called upon."

Shula was unaware of a dubious report on the Internet, citing UT athletic department sources, about Sparky Woods leaving Alabama to replace Trooper Taylor at Tennessee.

"I haven't heard anything, and I wouldn't comment on those rumors anyway," Shula said.

It would be a professional courtesy for anyone seeking to talk to a coach about another position to contact the school athletic director or coach of that school. Shula said he did not know of any such contact being made.

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