Dial's First TD Catch ‘Was Cool'

This week, Alabama will be making its first football trip to Duke. The game will be televised by ABC and the game announcer will be a woman, Beth Mowins, and having a female do play-by-play on Crimson Tide football is another first. As many accomplishments as there have been in Bama football, there is still room for "firsts."

There were a handful of Alabama firsts last week when the Crimson Tide defeated Penn State. Jeremy Shelley kicked his first field goal. Wide receiver Kevin Norwood made his first pass reception and on the same play scored his first touchdown. Walk-on safety Will Lowery made his first pass interception. Placekickers are supposed to kick field goals and wide receivers are supposed to catch passes and even walk-on safeties are expected to make pass interceptions.

There was also a first for Preston Dial. Dial, a tight end and H-back is an eligible receiver, but as Alabama Coach Nick Saban pointed out, Dial does the "dirty work." He's primarily a blocker for Crimson Tide tailbacks, or picking up a blitz to protect the quarterback. But every now and then that guy gets his reward, and Dial got it against Penn State.

On the first play of the second quarter, Bama quarterback Greg McElroy lofted a pass over the top of Penn State defenders, who were naturally playing up expecting more hammering from tailback Trent Richardson. Dial, who had lined up at tight end, was behind the safety and linebacker and took the toss for his first college touchdown.

Dial, a 6-3, 237-pound senior from Mobile, will be back doing mostly dirty work this weekend. Alabama has a walk-through in Tuscaloosa Friday afternoon, then flies to Durham to take on Duke at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central time) Saturday from Wallace Wade Stadium.

Dial acknowledged that it was "cool to catch one, expecially against an opponent like Penn State." But he said he was more interested in the score. The touchdown put Bama up 14-0 en route to a convincing 24-3 win by Alabama, the nation's number one team.

"After the game, it was cool to think about," Dial said. "During the game, I was like we need to keep the pedal to the metal. I was more worried about points rather than who scored them."

There was worry on the part of Bama partisans that McElroy's pass wouldn't make it to Dial.

"I have a lot of faith in Mac," Dial said. "I knew he was going to put it where it needed to be, but I wasn't sure it was going to get all the way over there. They (Penn State defenders) started covering ground pretty quickly. It was one of those things. I had faith in my quarterback and I think he had enough faiith in me to let it loose. I was happy he did it."

In his first three seasons, Dial caught five passes for 54 yards. In the Tide first two games this year he has three receptions for 37 yards. Last year Colin Peek was the conventional tight end and caught a handful of passes, including three touchdowns. His touchdown catch in Bama's Southeastern Conference Championship Game was one of many Alabama football scenes that have made the cover of Sports Illustrated in recent years. Dial wasn't expecting that. "I'm not as lucky as Colin Peek," he said. "I bet I don't make the cover."

This week the Tide is playing against a defense that gave up 54 points to Wake Forest last week. That doesn't mean anything to Dial.

"It's a new week," he said. "People have good games, bad games. Defenses struggle and come back the next week and play great. We have an amazing defense and there have been games where we give up more points than we should have, but we come back the next week stronger than ever.

"It's something you can look too much into that shootout they had. You have to focus on where our offense can maybe have success against them."

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