October 17, 2006

Practice Report: Tide gets intense for UT

Tuesday's practice session for the Crimson Tide football team showed that the Tide is taking this week's match against heated rival Tennessee very seriously as things got intense in full pad contact drills.

"Practice was really intense today," said freshman Andre Smith who is preparing for his first Alabama-Tennessee game of his career. "There was some urgency from everybody and we are all preparing for a big game against Tennessee."

"We've got a big and exciting week coming up for our football team on the road at Tennessee," said head coach Mike Shula. "We're going to rely a lot on our upperclassmen, the guys that have been over to Knoxville, just to kind of help with these younger guys, fill them in on what this experience is going to be about. We've got a little momentum from last week's win. It was good to see our football team win in overtime. We're going to have to play better football this week just to give ourselves a chance."

Shula stressed to all his players the uniqueness of the Tennessee rivalry and has put an extra sense of urgency into this week's preparations.

"Coach told us this is a big week coming up and the preparation is going to have to be there," Smith said. "We've got to watch film, pay attention in practice and make sure we know what's going on. It's the same kind of thing he says every week but this week there was really some urgency in his voice."

Injury Report

Heading into its seventh game of the season, the Tide is starting to see some players suffer some wear and tear that goes along with playing a brutal 12-week schedule in the SEC.

Shula said that in NFL terms, the three players injured last week, Keith Brown, DJ Hall and Jimmy Johns, should all be listed as "questionable at worst" and will likely be upgraded as the week goes on. Shula said he believes that all three should ultimately be ready to play this weekend.

Special teams coach Dave Ungerer revealed that placekicker Jamie Christensen, who kicked two kickoffs out of bounds last weekend against Ole Miss, has been suffering from a strained glute muscle for the past week.

"It limited him in practice last week but he felt good when he warmed up so I figured we'd give it a shot," Ungerer said. "He did well on the first kickoff and a field goal but after that the wheels fell off."

"It definitely affected our decision to go for it on fourth late in the game. I told Coach Shula that I was concerned about it at that point."

"My leg was totally dead," Christensen said. "I just didn't have any control over where the ball was going and my glute started to bother me pretty bad. Today we'll work field goal and kickoff and we'll just have to see how I feel and take it day by day. Field goals aren't bothering me but kickoffs are a little more straining."

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