Countdown to Kickoff
Tide Has Final Tuscaloosa Practice Before Bowl


Thursday, December 23, 2004

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama football team held it final on-campus practice Thursday morning, working for almost two hours in helmets, shoulder pads and sweats in bitter cold conditions before a two-day Christmas break.

The Crimson Tide intended to practice indoors on Thursday, but a power outage caused by ongoing construction around the athletic complex forced the team out of the Hank Crisp Indoor facility and outside, where a stiff wind made temperatures feel like the upper teens.

Despite the setbacks and the winter atmosphere, the Crimson Tide closed out its camp with another solid day.

"We had a good practice," Alabama head coach Mike Shula said.  "Practice-wise we tried to get a majority of our stuff in, so now when we get (to Nashville) that 85 percent of it is in place and we've had reps on.  Now, it's kind of refining things and going over and over and over it again."

Shula also said that freshman wide receiver Keith Brown, senior tailback Kenneth Darby and senior punter Bo Freelend all practiced on Thursday.

"Keith Brown practiced today," Shula added.  "Kenneth Darby actually got 25 to 30 percent of the reps today and we will see how he is on Sunday.  He felt good, so we let him give it try.  Bo Freelend also punted today.  Even though we were indoors, he punted and actually punted pretty well.  So I think he will be ready, and that is surprising.  We will see how he is after practice today and have a chance to kick some on Sunday."

Overall, Shula was pleased with the nine practices his team was able to get in the last seven days and the work they accomplished.

"We got a lot of work in this week and I feel real good about the fact that we have practiced against ourselves, meaning the number one offense against the number one defense getting the speed of the game back.  The last few practices getting ourselves caught up with Minnesota.  We put a premium on the early practices (in Nashville), especially Sunday, Monday and Tuesday getting ourselves comfortable with things and what our responsibilities are."

The Tide football team will break for Christmas and then regroup in Nashville for a 6 p.m. practice on Dec. 26 to prepare for the Dec. 31 contest with Minnesota in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.  The Alabama-Minnesota game will be televised by ESPN with an 11:05 a.m. (CT) kickoff on New Year's Eve morning in Nashville.