Worth a second look

In terms of its long-term impact, Saturday's 40-17 win will be seen as merely the first step of Bama's football journey this season. But nevertheless, the solid effort warrants a second look.

(Above left) Tailback Kenneth Darby jumps over a would-be USF tackler during the fourth quarter. Darby finished with 44 yards on eight carries. On several runs Darby seemed just a step away from breaking free for a big gainer. But by the fourth quarter he played the role of battering ram, pounding the Bulls into submission.

The game captains watch during the pre-game coin toss. Bama won, but deferred the decision till the second half. Representing the Tide were Charles Jones (#20), Triandos Luke (#84) and Shaud Williams (#21).

Alabama coach Mike Shula patrols the sidelines as his team celebrates a long pass for a touchdown in the first quarter against South Florida. The play was called back as quarterback Brodie Croyle was across the line of scrimmage by a half-step. "Football is a game of inches," Quarterbacks Coach Dave Rader said afterwards. "Just imagine how the game might have gone if Brodie was a step back on that play." (AP Photo/Jay Sailors)

Charlie Peprah (#26) has the goalline in sight, after intercepting a South Florida pass. The first-quarter pass slipped through the hands of the intended USF receiver, and Peprah was there to snag the football and return it for a touchdown. Until very late in the second quarter, those were the only points Bama would score. (Bruce Dill photo)

Mike Shula and Brodie Croyle confer on the Tide sideline. For most of the first half, Croyle and the Tide offense seemed just a tad off their rhythm. When his team fell behind by 10 points, Shula calmly went from player to player, reminding the veteran offensive stars that they had been there before. Just go out there and do it again. (Barry Fikes photo)

Defensive tackles Anthony Bryant (#97) and Jeremy Clark (#99) tackle the South Florida ball carrier. For the final 31 minutes plus of the game, Bama's defenders held the Bulls scoreless. (Barry Fikes photo)

Brodie Croyle follows through on his pass. For most of the game Croyle frankly looked like the sophomore quarterback he is. But at the same time, Croyle showed great potential as a big-play, passing quarterback. He finished with 203 yards through the air, with a long of 49, and one touchdown pass. (Barry Fikes photo)

By the fourth quarter Alabama was able to play its reserves. Here backup QB Spencer Pennington carries out his fake after handing the ball off. Pennington showed no ill effects from the hairline fracture of his thumb suffered during fall camp. Evan Mathis (#51) blocks in the background. He and Atlas Herrion split duty at right tackle.

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