Bama Must Swallow the Loss

Following the age-old advice "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all," Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula didn't have much to say about the third quarter pass interference non-call that changed field position, swung momentum and dashed Alabama's chances of upsetting 15th-ranked LSU in Baton Rouge, La. Saturday night.

"I saw what everyone else saw," Shula said when asked in his weekly Sunday teleconference what he saw on the play. "If you're asking me to comment on officiating, I've got no comment. I'm not going to get into that. That play hurt field position and it hurt the scoring and turned a lot of things around."

Alabama never recovered from the play, and on their next offensive possession, Marcus Spears knocked the ball loose from Bama quarterback Spencer Pennington, and LSU's Cameron Vaughn scooped the ball up and scored from the 8-yard line to give LSU the lead.

"Two turnovers, if you look and try simplify it, made the difference in the game," Shula said. "Any time anything negative happens guys get down, but that's just the ups and downs of the game. You have to keep battling back… Our guys do that. Did we execute well enough? No, otherwise we wouldn't be talking about the things that we're talking about."

Forced into passing after falling behind, Shula said he avoided many four-wide receiver sets because of LSU's ability to blitz the quarterback. "As you could tell in the end, their pass rush got better when they knew we were in pass situation," he said.

Shula said he was also disappointed with dropped balls on kickoff returns and not being able to get off a good punt when it was needed.

As has been the case for much of the year, Alabama did not escape the game without injuries. Sophomore fullback Le'Ron McClain left the game with ankle injury and did not return. Pennington was noticeably favoring his left side after taking a hit in the fourth quarter, and Kenneth Darby, Wesley Britt and Charlie Peprah played at less than 100 per cent.

Shula did not specify the status of the injured players, but he did say the injuries forces him to consider conducting practice as he did last week, working without any contact, and without pads for the entire week. He said, "hopefully, the guys that played hurt made it through okay and will be ready for Auburn."

"(McClain) was walking gingerly when we got back on the bus," Shula said. "It doesn't look like anything is broken or torn. I hate to say that all and all of a sudden it be something else. We'll find out today and hopefully get him out there Tuesday. We're going to have to look at conducting practice like we did last week because we're going to be beat up in general."

"(Pennington) got hit in the ribs or landed on ball," Shula said. "He was ready to come back in later on. Hopefully it won't be a thing where he'll miss any playing time this week."

Alabama must now prepare to face an undefeated Auburn squad. The 3rd-ranked Tigers pounded Georgia 24-6 Saturday to extend their record to 10-0 overall, and 7-0 in the Southeastern Conference.

Shula said that Pennington, who finished the game 7-for-15 passing with 114 yards and one interception, faced the best defense Alabama has seen thus far in LSU. He said Pennington has to improve on making sound decisions, and throwing the ball away. "At times he's getting better at that, and like most quarterbacks, at times he needs to improve."

"We've got to regroup, swallow this one and get ourselves ready to go against Auburn," Shula said. "It's Auburn. That's the number on thing and that's all that needs be said."

"We've won some games, too, lately," Shula said. "Are we undefeated? No. We're playing to have options with bowl games and those are all things we talk to our players about and they know it. But the bottom line is it's Auburn."

"They're good on defense, too," Shula said. "They run to the ball and the front four has lot speed. They are sound in their system, (Auburn Defensive Coordinator Gene) Chizik does a good job with the players and gets them to understand fundamentals of sound defense.

"I'm sure it's going to be a thing where they are going to try to stop the run and bring their safeties up tight," he said. "It's something we have look at both running and throwing, how we can best attack them."


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