Wallace Gilberry has been a fall standout for the Alabama defense, and had a particularly good day Saturday. Alabama's coaches called it Bama's worst offensive performance. One problem of a team playing against itself in a scrimmage is that it's difficult for both the offense and the defense to look good.
"Today it was our day," said Gilberry after the scrimmage. "Some days are not good. The defense was better today than it was in the first scrimmage last Monday. We fixed some mental mistakes."
He said, "Sometimes the offense is better. We're all one team and we all want to go hard at it all the time."
The quarterbacks are protected in Alabama's scrimmages, meaning that Gilberry didn't flatten Brodie Croyle or John Parker Wilson or Marc Guillon or Jimmy Barnes. But Gilberry could have. He was credited with three "sacks" (a sack meaning he touched the quarterback before the ball was thrown) for 27 yards in losses, and also had a quarterback pressure (forcing a quick throw for an incomplete pass) and four tackles.
"We're coming together as a defense," Gilberry had. "We have a lot of confidence in each other, and today was a good day to build confidence. We came out with some fire today. We know we have to play hard every day."
Gilberry said, "There are still plenty of things we need to improve on. And we will."
He added, "It was good to see 22 or so guys on defense having a good day. We need the depth. The second defense did well."
Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines said, "Wallace is getting better. He's growing. Sometimes that means having growing pains. He's going to mature and turn out to be a good player."
National observers agree. As a sophomore, Gilberry has been placed on the pre-season Ted Hendrix Award watch list. The Hendrix Award is given to the nation's top defensive end.
One reason he's getting better is that he is a hard worker. Last spring Crimson Tide coaches selected him as winner of the "Jerry Duncan I Like To Practice Award."
Gilberry was quite a find for Mike Shula, the first player signed by Alabama's head coach in the summer of 2003. Gilberry, a native of Bay Minette, had not been recruited by major colleges. But Gilberry was selected to play for the Alabama team in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game in Mobile. After his showing in that contest, Bama was one of several schools that came calling, and he signed with the Crimson Tide before the start of pre-season camp.
After being redshirted as a freshman, Gilberry was the back-up to Todd Bates at left end in 2004. This year he has taken over the spot. In his first varsity season, Gilberry saw action in every Tide game. He made the most of his opportunities. His 13 tackles for loss was eighth best in recorded Alabama history (tackle statistics were not kept on a regular basis by Alabama until the early 1970s). He also had a team high six-and-a-half sacks, 28 tackles, seven quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.