McCullough Gets Starting Chance
Prior to this week, Alabama junior offensive tackle Alfred McCullough's primary responsibility has been to be ready to play. This week his responsibility will be to play.
McCullough, 6-2, 309, has been Bama's back-up tackle on both the left and right sides the past two seasons. When the Crimson Tide hosts Ole Miss for homecoming Saturday night, McCullough will be in the starting line-up. In last week's loss at South Carolina, Alabama redshirt freshman D.J. Fluker suffered a severe groin injury that will keep him out at least one game.
McCullough stepped in for Fluker during the South Carolina game and will get his first start this week.
"I'm ver excited about it," McCullough said. "I've been ready. I'm ready every week, in case somebody does go down. D.J. did and it's unfortunate. I hope to get better and I'm going to go out and do my best.
"You never know what's going to happen. In one play, anybody can go down. You have to be ready to step up and go out and execute like anybody else would."
Prior to Fluker's injury, McCullough had back-up duty at left tackle, behind James Carpenter. McCullough said practice has prepared him to play both sides. "It's the same thing," he said. "You have the same calls. ou just get in a different stance."
McCullough sees a challenge from the Ole Miss defensive ends this week. "They're good," McCullough said. "They're speed guys. You have to be ready for them to try to run you at the quarterback. And they can go to power. They have a great defensive line."
Does that mean an emphasis on protecting the quarterback this week?
McCullough, who said he is more proficient as a run blocker than pass blocker, said, "It's an emphasis every week. We have to protect the quarterback. We can't let him get hit."
Last week Tide quarterback Greg McElroy was hit often, sacked seven times and forced to run on other occasions.
In his limited time against South Carlina, McCullough said, "I think I did all right. I could have done better. It was tough that we lost, but you just have to be into the game the whole time and watch the players you might have to go against if you do get your name called."
This week, Ole Miss players said that Alabama had been exposed in its loss to South Carolina and that the "almighty" Crimson Tide mystique was gone. McCullough didn't let words hurt him. "We don't pay attention to that type of stuff," he said. "We just do what we're supposed to do each week."
He said there had been "a different sense of urgency" in Alabama practice this week.
"I just feel we didn't come out and play like we should have (at South Carolina)," McCullough said. "We're going to try to come out more ready this week, prepare all during the week in practice."
He said that his position coach, Joe Pendry, "does a good job of having everybody ready. We all get a lot of reps, so we all know the game plan every week."
McCullough said, "Plaing college football is mentally tough, but I think all our coaches do a good job keeping our heads on straight and keeping us in the game."
This week, McCullough will really be in the game. From the start.
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