"He came over and said ‘Head!?!, Shoulder!?!, Knee!?!,'" Brodie Croyle said laughingly at Tuesday's press conference. "I said ‘no', I just couldn't catch my breath. I lost my breath. He got me straight in the middle of my back and I didn't see him right until the end of the play."
Bama's 18th-year trainer wasn't in jeopardy of losing his job, but like many Tide fans he was concerned to see Croyle wincing in pain on the sideline.
Croyle admitted being a bit sore on Sunday and Monday, but mostly from playing his first football game in more than nine months. On the next Alabama offensive series, many Crimson Tide fans were relieved to see Croyle show no ill-effects from the year's first big hit.
Being healthy is one advantage Croyle will have entering Bama's Southeastern Conference opener against Mississippi on Saturday night. Another advantage - and don't be shocked if you heard it before – will be the Tide's extended knowledge of it's own offense.
"This year when I step in the huddle it's quiet," Croyle said. "There was a lot more confusion last year. There were some times they had to talk all through the huddle to find out who they were blocking."
Croyle will be the best quarterback on the field Saturday night, and the quarterback across the field, Michael Spurlock, is the one who's adjusting to being a first-year starter. Croyle's hoping to help put Spurlock in a hole early, returning the favor of 2003 done by Eli Manning.
"It seems like we were down 21-0 before the game even started," Croyle said. "We had a game plan and we couldn't do some things we wanted to do against them. They hit us on big plays early and we had things go wrong on offense. We've preached all summer about being fast starters."
"We've got a bitter taste in our mouth after last year's game against them," Croyle said. But we know they're going to be ready after losing their first game."
Croyle wants to be able to affect Head Coach Mike Shula's game plan to the letter this week, using the run as well as the pass to exact revenge.
"We've got power guys, slasher guys, and Ray (Hudson) can break one at any time," Croyle said. "I doubt if any corners want to come and hit Tim Castille straight up."
"Thy run a lot of different types of schemes but they always start off in that 4-2-5 alignment. It's a defense where you can move a lot of people around on the field."
All the talk, however, doesn't mean that what happened to Alabama a year ago can't happen in Tuscaloosa is year, but the Tide's number one quarterback seems determined to dispel demons of Oxford in '03.
"Fans realize how embarrassing last year was for us, and they want it bad, too."