Thursday, October 16, 2003
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama football team put the finishing touches on its game plan for Saturday's Southeastern Conference Western Division game with a ninety-minute workout Thursday afternoon in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide worked indoors on Wednesday and Thursday to prepare for the surface at Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium. The Ole Miss stadium has the same type of surface that Alabama played on at the 2001 Independence Bowl in Shreveport.
This week's game with Ole Miss will the Crimson Tide's first regular season game not played on natural grass since the 1997 game at Vanderbilt.
"We practiced indoors today offensively for the field turf," Alabama head coach Mike Shula said. "The defense worked inside (Wednesday) just to get used to the surface and have the guys that have been on there in a while get used to it again. So that was good for us offensively. We also had a little crowd noise in there, too. We were just trying to make this as game-like as we can to get ready for Ole Miss.
"I don't know if this surface is exactly the same, because I have never been on (Ole Miss' field), but I think the variances are little," Shula added. "The surface is a lot like grass. It's almost exactly like grass. The surface may be a little harder when you land on it, but its just like grass. It's actually pretty nice."
The Alabama game captains for Saturday's game with Ole Miss are Evan Mathis (offense), Freddie Roach (defense) and Chris James (special teams).
This will be coach Shula's first-ever trip to Oxford. As an Alabama player, Shula made his debut with the Crimson Tide against Ole Miss on Sept. 17, 1983 in a 40-0 win at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama had played Ole Miss in Jackson the previous year (1982) and did not play the Rebels again until 1988.
Alabama will workout in Tuscaloosa on Friday and then take a chartered flight to Memphis before traveling on to the team headquarters in Olive Branch, Miss.
The Crimson Tide and Rebels will meet in a regionally (Jefferson Pilot Sports) televised game this Saturday in Oxford, with kickoff set for 11:33 a.m. (CT) from Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium/Hollingsworth Field.