Credit the System

Some plays calls might be made as simple as saying "Hey Prothro, go deep!" It's certainly not a bad option to have.

But what gave rise to The Catch Saturday night, and perhaps the reason Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said he didn't know if Alabama would have won that game two years ago, goes a little more in-depth.

It was coaching over the long haul, and not a singular play call, that enabled the 42-yard momentum swinging fourth-down catch by Tyrone Prothro as time ran down in the second quarter Saturday night.

Of course the players deserve and have received due credit for the play making - especially Prothro for the magnificent catch.

But make no mistake, an offensive system that has had just two years and a month under Shula to ferment into the brains of the Tide offensive players paid huge dividends Saturday night.

"We were actually running comebacks (with the outside receiver) on that side," quarterback Brodie Croyle said. "We had run the same play the time before and we were going to try to run the same play again."

So, if Prothro was supposed to be the bait to hold the safeties in the middle of the field, and the play was designed to be a comeback route to and outside receiver to pick up the first down, what happened?

"I guess they figured we were going to do that," Croyle said. "Prothro just saw it. Normally he's trying to break it and trying to get the attention of the safeties. When he saw that he put it in high gear and took off down the middle."

"Prothro really didn't even know my read. But when you see two safeties spread open wide like that and you've got a nickel back covering Tyrone Prothro you've got to give him the chance."

Would that have happened to years ago when the offense was in its infancy?

Would it have happened last year after Croyle was out with the knee injury? Likely not.

"We were watching film all week. As close as their safeties were in the box we felt like our receivers could beat their DBs one-on-one," Prothro said.

Said offensive coordinator Dave Rader after the game, "Last week they played off and we threw underneath and won the ball game… Tonight they pressed and we threw behind them. I'm proud of them for making the adjustment."

"The way our guys handled the adverse situations, it's why you play the game. It's a great game. Not everything goes the way you practiced it. Sometimes you play people that don't even play what you practiced. It's going to help this young team to go through some things they went through tonight and still win the ball game. I hope none of our guys are saying, 'Wow, we were lucky to win that.' because we weren't. We fought and won legit."


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