News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Tide players testing; next practice Friday

From Staff, Wire Reports

TUSCALOOSA — Alabama players will take a week off for final exams before resuming workouts Friday for the Jan. 2 Cotton Bowl.

The No. 13 Crimson Tide (9-2) plays No. 18 Texas Tech (9-2) in Dallas.

Alabama players practiced for two hours Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa — the team's second workout since its 28-18 Iron Bowl loss to Auburn on Nov. 19 and its first practice in a week.

"We wanted to get at least one more practice in so the guys wouldn't be as rusty when we get going next week," coach Mike Shula said.

The time off has given Alabama players time to rest and heal, including senior quarterback Brodie Croyle, who was sacked 11 times by the Tigers.

"I'm fine," Croyle said after Saturday's practice. "I was sore for about a week after the Auburn game."

When asked what Alabama's Cotton Bowl practice schedule was, Shula joked it was "classified."

The official schedule, however, isn't a secret. Alabama will conduct a pre-bowl media day Friday, followed by a 4 p.m. practice.

The Tide will practice in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, Dec. 19, Dec. 20, Dec. 22 and Dec. 23 before breaking for Christmas.

Alabama players will report to the team hotel in Dallas on Dec. 26, and will conduct their first practice at Southern Methodist University's Ford Stadium on Dec. 27.

Part of Saturday's work, though, was spent looking at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are averaging 399.9 passing yards per game and have passed for 33 touchdowns, a stiff test for the Alabama defense — which is no slouch, either.

The Tide has given up 211.1 passing yards per game, and only 353.4 total yards per game.

  • Smelley commits, Tebow watch remains: Highly regarded prep quarterback Chris Smelley of Tuscaloosa's American Christian School gave a verbal commitment
    to South Carolina on Sunday afternoon.

    Smelley, rated the ninth-best quarterback in the country by, had plenty of scholarship offers — but not from Alabama.

    Smelley's commitment to Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks makes the pending announcement of St. Augustine, Fla., quarterback Tim Tebow that much more interesting.

    Tebow will make public his college choice at a 4:10 p.m. Tuesday press conference on ESPNEWS.

    Shula will reportedly visit Tebow's home tonight, the last in-home visit before the quarterback chooses.

  • Two commit: Prep defensive back Justin Woodall of Oxford, Miss., and wide receiver Mike McCoy of Brandon, Miss., gave verbal commitments to the Tide on Sunday, according to
  • Ryans wins Lott: Linebacker DeMeco Ryans received the Lott Trophy on Sunday night as the nation's top defensive player.

    Ryans, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound senior, led Alabama in tackles this season and was the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year. He graduated from school in seven semesters with a 3.7 grade- point average. Alabama will receive $25,000 from The Pacific Club's IMPACT Foundation for its general scholarship fund.

    Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
    AP contributed to this report.

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