"They have one of the best run-blocking lines in college football," Joe Kines said at Alabama's Tuesday afternoon media gathering. "The wide receiver corps is very talented. They've got guys with speed who can get deep. Their running backs are an exceptional group, very talented and maybe one of the best in the country."
But Kines saved the most praise for Rebel quarterback Michael Spurlock, who threw for 182 yards, hitting 11-of-31 passes in his starting debut. Spurlock threw no interceptions and no touchdown passes. Spurlock rushed 11 times in the game for six yards. Kines said he expects to see a different Spurlock in week two.
"I would think he will improve as the year goes along," Kines said. "Somebody said a long time ago that your biggest improvement usually comes from your first game to your second game, and that goes for everybody."
"The quarterback is an amazing little athlete," Kines said. "He's got good feet and he's exceptionally quick. What shocked us is what a cannon he has. He's a really talented youngster who has a lot of quicks."
Certainly, what Kines has to be most concerned about is Spurlock hurting the Tide with his feet. The Bama defensive ends will be charged with keeping Spurlock contained in the backfield, something the ends struggled with at times versus Utah State. In addition to scrambling on pass attempts, Spurlock will likely have plays designed for him to carry the ball.
"This year they added the option out of the shotgun as another dimension because of what this youngster can do," Kines said. "They lost Eli, but the world goes on. (Spurlock) just pulls the ball down and outruns everybody. We've got to do a good job staying in our rush lanes."
Kines isn't particularly disappointed that the Rebels finally lost quarterback Eli Manning, though. Manning threw three touchdown passes against the Tide a year ago.
"It makes me want to throw up," Kines said of last year's game. "They did a good job from the opening kickoff till they locked the gates and swept up. Their sweeper probably did a better job than ours."