Tight Ends Come Up Big For Tide

Think about Alabama offense and Trent Richardson pounding between the tackles is the image that comes to mind. The Crimson Tide has two tight ends in its line-up, an on-the-line tight end and an H-back. They are considered by most to be blockers for Richardson.

But a funny thing has happened in the Alabama offense this year. The Crimson Tide is passing the ball to its H-back, Brad Smelley, and its tight end, Michael Williams. In fact, in Bama's 38-10 romp over Florida in Gainesville last Saturday, quarterback A.J. McCarron started the Alabama offense with a pass to Williams. Two plays later, on another first down play, McCarron went back to Williams.

For the year, Smelley has been McCarron's third favorite target, behind primary wide receiver Marquis Maze and Richardson. Williams has been No. 4. Smelley has 9 receptions for 103 yards, Williams 8 catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

"A.J. usually finds us when we;re open, and it's just up to us to make plays," said Smelley, a 6-3, 239-pound senior. "So far, we've been doing that. We just have to continue getting looks and making plays for the offense."

Thus far, 12 different receivers have caught passes this season. That's in great part because none of them is named Julio. Julio Jones, Bama's top receiver the past three years and one of the best in Crimson Tide history, has taken his game to the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.

Not having Julio, said Smelley, is "good and bad. We'd love to have Julio, but we've got a lot of talened guys and people he can spread the bal out to, so that's a good thing."

Smelley gives great credit to first-year starting quarterback McCarron.

"He's done a great job," Smelley said. "He's had two tough road games and handled it very well. He really hasn't made a mistake. I can't remember the last time we had a turnovers. Our turnovers are really low, and he's done a good job protecting the ball."

Alabama is now 5-0 and ranked second in the nation in one poll, third in another. This week the Crimson Tide has homecoming, hosting Vanderbilt at Bryant-Denny Stadium at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday. ESPNU will televise the game.

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