Gibson Gets TD That Really Counts

Everyone who saw Alabama's A-Day game in person knows who Brandon Gibson is. Though Gibson's game-winning touchdown catch on the first play of overtime was not broadcast by ESPN, those at Bryant-Denny Stadium saw the Mobile junior come down with an A.J. McCarron pass for the winning points and accompanying steak dinner.

Fast-forward seven months to Alabama's 63-7 win over Georgia State on ESPNU. With 7:16 to go in the first half, senior Chavis Williams blocked a punt by Georgia State's Bo Schlechter. Brandon Gibson was Johnny-On-The-Spot, scooped up the ball off the Bryant-Denny Stadium turf. He carried it 22 yards for the first official touchdown of his college career.

"It was a great opportunity for me, man," said a smiling Gibson. "All I really did was pick up the ball and run, but I just did what I was supposed to do. I was in the right place at the right time.

     "We went for (the block) almost every time, with the things they do. Chavis Williams got a good  block, and I picked it up and got lucky and scored."

     Seconds later, Gibson further made his mark on the ensuing kick-off. At first, at looked as if the Panthers' Albert Wilson was about to break a long return, but kicker Cade Foster separated Wilson and the football. There to pounce on the loose pigskin? One Brandon Gibson.

     "I actually did lose contain on that one," Gibson admitted. "It was actually a mistake, but it worked out pretty good for me, because I recovered the fumble. I was at the wrong place at the right time, actually."

     In the first quarter, Gibson was inches away from blocking a punt himself, with Georgia State backed up deep in its own territory. "If I had dove for it, I probably would have had a better chance at it," he said. "I just barely missed that one."

     Said Tide Coach Nick Saban, "Brandon Gibson has done a really good job on special teams for us, all year long. It was (also) good to see him get an opportunity at receiver on offense."

     Another man who got an opportunity to play, and at a position he had not played since his days at Athens High, was well-known Saban impressionist Rob Ezell. The senior got in first at his usual wide receiver slot, and then moved late in the game to his old position, quarterback.  

    And, as Ezell usually does, he had fun with it.

     "They didn't give me any indication that that was going to happen," Ezell said. "We changed up the snap count a little bit, and even threw in a little Brett Favre with the ‘Blue! 58!'  

    "That's why we had the success we had, no doubt."

     Saban said Ezell had no clue he was about to get time behind center.

     "It was really more our idea. He didn't really lobby to do it. He's a guy that has been a spiritual leader on the team. We take him on road trips for that reason. He's one of the ‘Charlie Hustle' type guys."

     (Many Alabama fans probably wondered why walk-on Morgan Ogilvie got no snaps at quarterback. The reason: he's on a Bryant Scholarship, and the moment he plays in a game, Ogilvie will count against the team's 85-man scholarship limit. Those on Bryant scholies normally don't play until their red shirt sophomore season. Recent examples include current special teams ace Wesley Neighbors and former tight end David Cavan.)  

    Ezell was asked if any other such surprises might be in store. "Well," he dead-panned, "I was told before the game that I might be needed to return punts."

     One thing not surprising to any and all in the crimson camp is the magnitude of the next (and final) home game: unbeaten Auburn's trip to Tuscaloosa for a 1:30 p.m. CT kick next Friday.

     "Oh, the rivalry's big," said Ezell. "When you come (to Alabama), the two biggest games in terms of rivalries are Tennessee and Auburn. You don't prepare any differently, though. That's one thing the coaches always preach. It's a  big week, and we'll practice hard, but you have to prepare for everybody the same. We'll give them our best shot."

     Anthony Steen got his first career start against the Panthers, in place of right guard Barrett Jones. Steen plans to be ready for the unbeaten Tigers if Jones is not cleared.

     "I think we can beat anybody, if we play our game," Steen said. "I think playing at home, we can beat anybody, hands down, for sure. Especially with our crowd."

     "The preparation for next week is going to be intense, because right now this is our big game," said linebacker Don'ta Hightower. "We have to go in and get ready, prepare for it. The guys have to give the tapes a good look, as far as offense, defense and special teams.

     "(Auburn) is a real good team, but hopefully, we'll come in and play real hard on (next) Friday."

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