Countdown to Kickoff
Football Focuses on Plus Territory and Third Down Work


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Evan Mathis
Evan Mathis

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama worked for two hours Wednesday afternoon in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts and in what was the most humid preseason practice of the fall camp.

The Crimson Tide worked exclusively on plus territory drills and third down situations with Wednesday's session.

"We worked a lot today in plus territory and third down situations," Alabama head coach Mike Shula said.  "Again, the effort was good. Our execution, especially offensively, was not quite where it needs to be.  That is probably an understatement.  We still need a lot of work in both of those areas."

With three new faces on the offensive line this season, Shula and the staff are concentrating on pass protection.

"As I said before the biggest thing for our offensive line will be pass protection," Shula added.  "We have a lot of guys at new positions.  Kyle Tatum (RT, So., 6-7, 298, Prattville) has gotten a lot of work there.  Danny Martz (RG, Sr., 6-4, 288, Gaithersburg, Md.) and Evan Mathis (LG, Sr., 6-5, 296, Homewood) are starting at new positions.  So, we have to get better in that area."

While Shula mentioned the reps needed by the offensive line, he also said that his young corps of receivers needs lots of reps, too.

"Our young receivers have some things to learn, too," he added. "When we go to third and long and we go to out three and four wide receiver sets n our four-wide set (the young receivers) have a few more things in than we had this time last week.  They are spinning a little bit.  We just need a lot of reps."

The defense continues to impress the coaching staff during two-a-days practices.

"Defensively, it has looked pretty good the last couple of days," Shula said.  "The biggest thing defensively is we do a lot of good things and then we have a bust that could be critical to us in a game.  That's something we cannot afford to have, whether it's on a blitz, coverage or guy misses a gap."

Alabama will work twice on Thursday at 8:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.  The morning practice will be in full gear, while the afternoon practice will be in helmets, shorts and shoulder pads.