Tide's Iron Man

Asked if there were anything he could say to answer those who will be skeptical about his ability to endure the rigors of the last month of the season and beyond, Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle had a ready answer.

"I've played eight games and I got a cut on my elbow. You take it from there," he said.

Please. Allow me.

If Croyle didn't prove his durability after last week's game against Tennessee to some people, he never will. He took a hit on his left knee last week and wore a knee brace for safe measure this week (coach's decision), which proved to be a good move.

"I did (get hit on the knee)," Croyle said. "The brace probably helped, as much as I hate wearing it."

Croyle went to the locker room briefly in Bama's 35-3 win over Southern Miss on Saturday after taking a gash on his elbow late in the third quarter.

"It's broke. Nah, I'm just kidding," Croyle said after the game. "I got some stitches. I was coming out after that drive anyway, so it's no big deal."

Oh, by the way, Croyle finished the drive he was leading before heading to the locker room to have the wound stitched up.

"I was in the process of throwing and the guy's helmet hit it right in the elbow," he said. "It happens all the time, but my elbow got caught on something. I don't know if it's even bruised, it's just cut."

It was "just a cut" because it wasn't the first cut he's suffered. Last week his left had bled after making contact with a UT helmet. He was pile drived and knocked down last week, and too much against Utah State.

For him it's nothing compared to playing most of a season with cracked ribs and a bum shoulder as he did in 2003. It's preferred to sitting out the bulk of the season with a torn ACL, as he did in 2004.

On Saturday, Croyle continued a record-setting year with his performance Saturday. Bama's all-time leading touchdown tosser finished the game 22-of-31 for 279 yards and three more touchdown passes. Croyle set the Alabama record with 185 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. His last interception was in the Tide's second game against Southern Miss.

"I started out bad: 2 games, 2 interceptions," he said. "Since then I've tried to take care of the ball. I almost threw one today. I never saw the safety behind, but Zeke saved me."

"They way we've been playing we've got to take care of the ball. We can't give teams hope. Sometimes if I have a chance to thread the needle I'll check down and go to my back instead of trying to make the big-time throw."

As for the durability question, it doesn't sound like Croyle is planning on sitting out any plays during the last three weeks of the regular season.

We don't want to go 10-1 and be left out of the SEC championship game. If we don't show up every week for the next three weeks we could easily do that. This is it. This is where we have to bare down and start playing our best football of the year."

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