"I'm sore from Saturday, but I'm ready to go." "> "I'm sore from Saturday, but I'm ready to go." ">

Zow ready to go if needed

With a news blackout decreed by Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione concerning the health of quarterback Tyler Watts, senior Andrew Zow decided he'd throw the news media a bone this week. After coming off the bench to direct Alabama's 24-17 victory over Mississippi State, Zow offered this tongue-in-cheek tidbit to reporters yesterday. "I'm alright. No groin pulls or anything to worry about--not yet. <p> "I'm sore from Saturday, but I'm ready to go."

Given the uncertain status of Watts for the upcoming game versus Auburn, a healthy Zow could be key. "If I get the opportunity to play, then I'll just go out there and try to do my best," Zow explained. "That's all I can do. The bottom line is to come out with a win, no matter how it looks.

"I'm hoping something good can come out of this season by going down there and coming out with a win. An ugly win is still a win. That's what we're going to try and get. It's going to be tough. They're on a roll right now, so we'll have our work cut out for us."

Zow came in off the bench versus Mississippi State to lead Alabama to a 24-17 victory.

The senior quarterback got a chance to showcase his talents last week against MSU when starter Tyler Watts was injured 10 plays into the game. Zow came in and accounted for 24 yards rushing and 157 passing on 12 of 22 attempts. He did not throw an interception and had one touchdown pass.

"That game may have helped my confidence," Zow said. "Hopefully I worked out the nervousness and jitters against Mississippi State. Anytime I'm called on this week I should be able to go out and perform at a high level. I want to help my team win in any way I can."

Alabama expects Watts to recover in time to compete versus Auburn. But despite battling Zow for playing time his entire career, Watts was his biggest cheerleader last weekend. "Oh yeah, you'd better believe I was happy for him," Watts said. "He stepped in there and did a great job. I always knew that anytime he had that opportunity, then he was going to take advantage of it. And he did."

Alabama's career leader in pass attempts (804) and completions (430), Zow now has 5,672 passing yards, only 17 behind all-time leader Jay Barker. He's also only four behind Mike Shula's 35 in career touchdowns and only 92 yards behind Walter Lewis' career yardage mark. "If I get a chance to set (those records), that would be nice," Zow said. "But I'm not going to cry about it if I don't. The important thing is winning games."

Zow also holds the Alabama record for consecutive completions with 12 straight in last year's 45-7 victory over Ole Miss. Zow's best game as a player came at Florida in '99, when he completed 28 of 40 passes in the 40-39 overtime win. His best passing day was a 361-yard performance against Southern Miss in 1998.

A starter for most of his career at Alabama, Zow holds several Tide records and is within striking distance of others.

Zow's first experience playing Auburn came in 1998. In that game a jittery redshirt freshman relied on superb running from his friend and Tide tailback Shaun Alexander. "I definitely remember back in 1998 the first couple of plays and the first half I was nervous," Zow said. "I really had to calm myself down and start handing the ball off to Shaun so I could get into a groove. That was my first Auburn game, and I was nervous. It was something that you can't explain. It was my first time playing against them, and it was more than I expected."

Alabama won that game 31-17, and followed it up with another victory the next year at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium. Zow was the starter in the 28-17 win, but he takes no credit for the outcome. "Two years ago I didn't have a good game. Tyler came in and played. I started, but I struggled."

Of course last year's game is one he would prefer to forget. In the freezing rain Zow was part of a horrid offensive performance, dropping a 9-0 decision to end that abysmal season.

"It's been special to play against Auburn and really know the rivalry," Zow said. "I've learned about it the last couple of years. Being a Florida boy coming up here, at first I wondered what was the big deal? But it's probably the biggest rivalry in college football. It's been fun. From what I've seen, I would say the Alabama/Auburn game is as big or bigger than any other rivalry game in the country.

"The things I've heard and seen…"

Zow's voice trailed off as he reflected back on the intense nature of previous games. A Floridian by birth, he came late to the Alabama/Auburn civil war. "I was surprised when I first saw it," Zow admitted. "I didn't really have a favorite college team growing up, but I used to hear about Florida and Georgia, Florida/Florida State. But those were just games that everyone hypes up.

With Zow participating in the game at quarterback, the Tide is 2-1 versus Auburn.

"Everyone has their own way of looking at certain games. If you're for Florida, then I guess you would say your rivalry with Florida State is bigger. In any state rivalry you're going to have kids whose high school friends are on the other team. That just makes it that much bigger. Being from Florida, it's a little different for me. I don't have that many friends or really know anybody on their team."

Of course not having any personal friends on the Auburn squad can be a blessing. This way Zow doesn't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings. He explained; "Once I got here I saw how much everyone gets into it--as far as the fans and how much it means to them. You see the fans really getting after each other. But I've enjoyed it. It makes you feel special that someone is really behind your team the way our fans are."

"Auburn recruited me down there," Zow added. "But I'm glad it turned out this way. I like them and I respect them, but I wouldn't want to end up on their side of the field."

A fifth-year senior, Zow has endured more than his share of media interviews. And when a reporter asked whether or not Saturday's game would be a perfect climax to his career, Zow graciously pointed out the mistake. "Well actually, you know we have the Southern Miss game the following week," he said.

"But every year going against Auburn is a big game," Zow continued, answering the question he knew the reporter meant to ask. "No matter what the rankings or the record, you can throw those things out the window. When we went down there in '99, they were confident. It was a hard game for us, but we came out with the win. They've come out this year and really played well. We'll have our work cut out for us."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Barry Allen of Alabama's Department of Media Relations contributed to this report.

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