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November 2, 2005With only days left until the squad takes on the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide, player are starting to realize the level of intensity they will have to achive in order to walk away with a victory on Saturday.
"We're having really physical practices, going in full pads," senior center Chris McNeil said. "We're ready for a physical ballgame. It's going to be a backyard brawl, and that's the way we want it. We're excited."
The physicality of the contest is something that neither players nor coach is disputing. Alabama ranks fifth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing offense, and also ranks first among league members in scoring defense. They have won their last two contests by a field goal, and will enter the game ranked fourth in the nation.
"Everyone knows they are ranked high, but we are playing like it's any other week," said defensive lineman Deljuan Robinson. "We're just going to try to be physical. They're going to line up and run the football, and we're going to be up to the challenge."
First Start for Henig
Redshirt freshman Mike Henig will get his first start in the world of collegiate football on Saturday. Henig played the second half against Florida earlier in the year when Omarr Conner went out with a chest injury, and played most of the contest against Kentucky last week after Croom pulled Conner in the first quarter.
"In the Florida game everything was just boom, boom, boom," Henig said. "But when I got out there against Kentucky, everything slowed down. I saw the field, I saw the progressions."
Henig, a Montgomery, Ala., native, will get the chance to take the helm coincidentally against a Tide team he grew up rooting against. His father went to Auburn, and he grew up rooting for the Tigers.
"In Alabama you are either for Alabama or Auburn," Henig said. "I used to bleed orange and blue (for Auburn), but now I'm straight Maroon. I have no love [for the Tide]."
For a team with as many depth problems as the Bulldogs have, they are remarkably healthy for this time of the year. The major question mark going into Saturday will be the status of place kicker Keith Andrews.
"It is going to be touch and go," Croom said. "It's going to be close as to whether he is going to make it. Other than that I think we are pretty healthy."
Though most of the players have been tight-lipped about how much this game means to their coach, Henig explained some interesting motivational tools Croom has used this week to prepare his troops for one of the biggest games in the coach's short tenure.
"He told us everybody from Alabama is going to be captains," Henig said. "He has no love there, so he's kind of built it up for everybody. It's personal, and it's going to be a rivalry game. It's Alabama."