Chapman Popular Choice For Cover
But there on the regional issue of the magazine was Josh Chapman, flashing big biceps in representing Alabama's 38-10 victory over Florida in Gainesville. Chapman wasn't chopped liver in the game. He was in on three tackles, including one for a loss, and he got his big paw up to tip away a couple of passes by Gators quarterback John Brantley.
But if a defender was going to make the cover, shouldn't it have been Courtney Upshaw, who had four tackles? Who had the play of the game, picking off a Brantley pass and returning it 45 yards for a touchdown that gave Bama the lead for good at 17-10? Whose vicious sack of Brantley knocked the quarterback out of the game?
And why not Heisman Trophy candidate Trent Richardson, who shredded the Florida run defense for 181 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries?
But it was Chapman, the 6-1, 310-pound senior who made the cover.
How has that worked out, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was asked.
"I was kind of wondering how that happened myself," Saban said.
"He's probably happy that he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but he is also being harassed a little bit by the circumstances as well. Not just by the other players, but by [pause] certain coaches."
No one has gone head-to-head with Chapman more than Alabama center William Vlachos. In addition to five years of practice at Alabama, they were rivals in high school in suburban Birmingham, Vlachos at Mountain Brook, Chapman at Hoover.
Vlachos was ecstatic over his teammate's photograph being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. "It's awesome," he said. "It's great. If you had asked me I would have assumed they would have put Trent (Richardson) on it, but it's great. I love that. Some linemen getting some love. I think it's wonderful."
A victory for interior linemen everywhere?
"Absolutely," Vlachos said.
Before he knew he was the SI cover boy, Chapman discussed his play against the Gators.
"We knew we had to out-physical them at the line of scrimmage," Chapman said. "We tried to stop the run and affect the quarterback. That's by getting pressure on him. Once you get pressure on him, that's when the sacks come."
An area of emphais this year has been the fourth quarter, and the Tide has responded. In addition to out-scoring opponents by 45-8, Alabama has had fourth quarter rushing yardage of 639 yards to just 59 yards on the ground for opponents in five games.
Alabama will attempt to extend the winning streak and the domination this week when the Crimson Tide hosts Vanderbilt for homecoming. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium with television coverage by ESPNU. Alabama is 5-0 overall and 2-0 in Southeastern Conference games, Vandy 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference. Bama is ranked second in the nation in one poll, third in another.
Chapman said, "the fourth quarter is what we pride ourselves on. We've got a Fourth Quarter program in the off-season. It's a hard program. It's about don't quit mentally. When you quit mentally, you quit physically. We try to dominate our opponents for four quarters, and the fourth quarter is what we pride ourselves on."
Chapman has been the victim of a little domination. About the start of the season he started growing a beard.
"Momma said I need to go trim it up now," he confessed. "She doesn't like it. I trimmed it up a little bit."
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