INSIDE THE SEC
Alabama QB should play vs. Georgia
Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 at 11:22 p.m.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Forget Alabama's vulnerable run defense, inconsistent offense and inability to pull out several close games.
The biggest question facing the Crimson Tide this week is the aching shoulder of quarterback Brodie Croyle and whether he'll be able to play Saturday at No. 11 Georgia.
"It's pretty sore right now, but I'm expecting to go Saturday," Croyle said Tuesday. "If there's any way possible, I'm going to be out there."
Croyle played the entire second half and both overtime periods after dislocating his left, nonthrowing shoulder in Saturday's 34-31 loss to No. 8 Arkansas.
It didn't affect his throwing. Croyle's first pass after walking off the field clutching his left arm to his side late in the first half was a 71-yard touchdown to Dre Fulgham. His second was a 12-yard score to Fulgham.
Croyle didn't practice on Tuesday, but coach Mike Shula didn't indicate what the cutoff day would be for his quarterback to get in the game.
"It's such a difficult position to play without a lot of reps, but then you've got to factor in who you're talking about," Shula said. "If there's a guy that can do it without as many reps, it's him. I wouldn't say that about a lot of guys, especially at that position.
"It'd be tough for anybody to go in there without any practice."
The Tide (2-3, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) cannot afford to lose its only experienced passer, though backup Spencer Pennington helped lead the team to a field goal in his lone series after Croyle went down.
The Bulldogs (4-0, 1-1) have the nation's No. 2 scoring defense, giving up 8.5 points per game and have allowed only three passing touchdowns this season.
Croyle, a sophomore, is the league's fourth-leading passer with 1,076 yards, throwing for six touchdowns against four interceptions. But Alabama ranks 11th in the league in passing efficiency.
Croyle knows the Bulldogs will be well aware of his wounded shoulder and will try to take advantage of it.
"That's football," he said. "If they've got somebody hurt, you could bet that our defense would go after him a little bit harder. If I play Saturday, I'm going to expect the same thing."
Shula faced a similar situation his first season with the Miami Dolphins, when quarterback Jay Fiedler injured his nonthrowing shoulder. Shula said Fiedler's throwing wasn't necessarily affected, but he did have some problems with handoffs and other facets of the game.
"We're going to take a close look, if he is playing, at how we want to approach this game in every area, not just throwing the ball," the coach said.
Croyle has had his shoulder popped back into the socket twice during games this season, but this time, he said, it felt different.
The Tide did a nice job protecting Croyle, not allowing a sack to Arkansas, but he and Shaud Williams had problems with an exchange that led to a fumble midway through the fourth quarter.
Shula wasn't sure if Croyle's injury caused the problem.
"Something just looked different," he said. "He's handed it off to Shaud thousands of times, so that may have been a factor."
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