Defense Controls In A-Day

The defense had the upper hand through most of the spring and it was no surprise that the team with the first defense, the Crimson, took, a 21-0 win over the White squad in Alabama's A-Day Game Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson squad was made up of the first defense and second offense, the White squad the first offense and second defense.

The public exhibition ended spring practice for the Crimson Tide. Alabama players will now get some off time until after spring break, then start back in the off-season strength and conditioning program in mid-April.

Satrurday's "game" was really just the third controlled scrimmage of the spring and the 15th of 15 practice days. And because the decision had been made prior to spring practice that junior quarterbacks Brodie Croyle, the returning starter, and Spencer Pennington, the returning back-up, would not participate in team work, they were involved only in some special situation seven-on-seven drills.

Marc Guillon played all but two series of the game, playing quarterback for both the Crimson and the White teams.

There were no kickoffs and no punting in the scrimmage (although there was some exhibition punting in which Bo Freelend had boots of 50 and 59 yards).

Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said, "We got through the A-Day game pretty much injury-free. Our first team offense went against our first team defense, and the defense shut them out. The game was an example of guys who played well all spring playing well in the A-Day Game."

It wasn't Guillon's best day of the spring. The sophomore transfer from Miami hit a few nice touch passes, but was only 22-47 for 180 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The touchdown pass was a 30-yarder to unheralded sophomore flanker Marcus McKnight, who made an excellent grab.

Walk-on freshman quarterback Zach Golson had a few snaps and made the most of them, completing two-of-four passes for 41 yards and leading the team to a touchdown, a short run by walk-on sophomore Brandon McAway. The big play in the drive was a very nice catch by former pro baseball player Damien Jones for a 32-yard gain to the eight-yard line. Golson ran it into the end zone, over linebacker Juke King, but the rules of the A-Day Game protect quarterbacks, so when he was touched at the two the ball was down there, even though Golson carried King in for the apparent score.

The first touchdown of the day was a fine run by sophomore Tim Castille, who went 39 yards at right end. Castille, who spends some time at fullback, where he was a starter as a true freshman last year, looked more and more like a tailback (halfback in Bama's nomenclature) as the spring went on. He finished with nine carries for 63 yards.

Castille was named winner of the Dixie Howell Memorial Award as the most outstanding player in the A-Day Game. After the game Castille said his goal is to play halfback (he called it "tailback"). "Today was just great," he said. "The offensive line really blocked well today."

Shula said, "Tim Castille continues to get better and better. I don't think we know how good he can be. There's no ceiling on that."

Tyrone Prothro was the top receiver in the game, just as he has been the top receiver all spring. He had six receptions for 37 yards. Walk-on Jake Collins had three catches for 19 yards. Those with two receptions each included Damien Jones (41 yards), Marcus McKnight (33), Tin Castille (17), Nic Luke (10), and Brandon Brooks (10).

Soph halfback Kenneth Darby had 10 carries for 53 yards and Ray Hudson six runs for 44 yards.

Although senior defensive end Todd Bates did not rank high statistically, his three tackles, a pass broken up, and one sack impressed media members who voted him winner of the Dwight Stephenson Most Valuable Lineman Award. It was part of the nice comeback Bates is making from his one-year NCAA suspension for inadvertent use of a food supplement containing a banned substance.

Shula said, "We're going to expect a lot of consistency and a lot of good performance from him. This team needs a lot of consistent players like Todd Bates."

Linebacker Demarcus Waldrop had a game-high six tackles. Making five tackles each were freshman end Wallace Gilberry, junior linebacker Freddie Roach, and junior walk-on safety Bryan Kilpatrick. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans had an excellent pass interception (the only turnover in the game) and was in on three tackles and broke up a pass. Although junior safety Charlie Peprah was credited with two pass break-ups, they were not that positive since both were passes right to him that he failed to intercept. Defensive ends Gilberry and Mark Anderson had two sacks each.

Brian Bostick made his only extra point attempt, but missed two field goal tries. One field goal attempt was botched by a mishandled snap-hold operation. Mike McLaughlin made the other two extra point attempts.

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