Alabama Coach Mike Shula changed Alabama's post-season work slightly this year. Instead of waiting until after final examinations to start work, Tide players had practices on the two open Saturdays. "We wanted to at least get some work in that would keep the guys ready for when we get into practice next week," Shula said following Saturday's work. "The difference in this practice and last Saturday's practice is that we did add some Texas Tech stuff."
Alabama will meet Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl from Dallas at 10 a.m. Monday, January 2.
Shula said the Tide "worked against ourselves. And then we kept the younger guys out for about 20 minutes and gave them four or five periods of drills. They did some one-on-one, seven-on-seven, and team work."
The Tide coach said, "We had pretty good energy, but we were a little rusty."
Asked if the layoff had helped quarterback Brodie Croyle recover from two physical games to end regular season play, Shula said, "I think it helps everyone. And it helps to work against ourselves. We get quality work, as close to game speed as we can get. Our offense hasn't played against a defense like ours, so the schemes are a little different and the reads change."
Alabama will begin practice Friday and work in Tuscaloosa for about a week before breaking for Christmas. The team will reassemble in Dallas on December 26 and begin practice there on December 27.
Although real preparation for Texas Tech has not begun on the practice field, Shula is very much aware of the potency of the Red Raiders. "Offensively they do such a good job of distributing the ball," he said. "If you are in zone they will go under you. If you get careless, they will go long. If you are in man, they will find that good receiver. They are very diversified. And they aren't afraid to call the same play from their one-yard line that they would call from the 50."
The senior class is nearing the end of its Alabama play and Shula was asked about those players. He said, "First of all, I hope they go out with a win. But they will be remembered not only for having stabilized the program, but for turning it around. They have played with passion and pride for their university and for each other."
All-America linebacker DeMeco Ryans missed the work to be in Orlando, Florida, for an award ceremony. Shula said, "As an alumnus and as coach, there's a great sense of pride for DeMeco to have been nominated for all the awards. He has worked hard for them. He is a classy guy, a great representative.
Shula was also asked about his own nomination for awards. He is the Region 3 coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association and also a finalist for the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year award. He was reluctant to comment, saying only that it was a product of the team and a reflection on the coaching staff.
There were a number of prospects at the practice. Bama has some 15 prospects making official visits this weekend.