Wednesday, December 22, 2004
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- On the eve its final on-campus practice of the bowl season, the University of Alabama football team worked for less than two hours in full pads on Wednesday morning in preparation for the 2004 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.
The Crimson Tide's penultimate practice was a marked improvement over Tuesday's session that had to be restarted after the fourth period due to a lackluster start.
"Practice was a lot better today than (Tuesday)," Alabama head coach Mike Shula said. "The guys were moving around much better. We responded better today after the sluggish start we had (Tuesday)."
After eight practices, Shula said that the younger players had really benefitted from the week-long session and that should give them an early start for spring training, which begins in February.
"(The younger have done) probably even more than we expected," Shula said. "You can see the comfort level now in some of the younger guys that have been on the scout team this season. They are better than they were in August and they are better than they were seven practices ago."
The Crimson Tide head coach also commented that this had been a beneficial week for everyone and that about 85 percent of the game plan is in place for Minnesota when the team has a two-day break following Thursday's practice.
"We should have about 85 percent of the game plan in when we get to Nashville," Shula added. "We will tweak some things a little bit and we've done that the last two days.
"We need to have a good practice tomorrow and then take a couple of days for everyone to enjoy the Christmas holiday before getting refocused on Sunday night in Nashville.
The Crimson Tide will hold a brief workout on Thursday beginning at 9:30 a.m. After a two-day break, the team will meet in Nashville for a 4 p.m. meeting on Sunday, Dec. 26 and hold a light practice at Vanderbilt University at 6 p.m. All practices in Nashville will be closed to the general public.
Alabama (6-5, 3-5 SEC) will face the Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-5, 3-5 Big Ten) in the 2004 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl presented by Bridegstone on Friday, Dec. 31 in a nationally televised game by ESPN. The kickoff time is 11:05 a.m. (CT).