Game Full of Positives for Shula

It was a good win for the Crimson Tide, "a great win, really" Head Coach Mike Shula said. There was just enough good for the Alabama football team to feel confident, and enough areas for improvement to keep the squad busy.

D.J. Hall didn't play in the game, nor did placekicker Jamie Christensen.

"Hopefully they'll both be back next week," Shula said. "D.J. turned his ankle in Thursday's practice. Jamie we thought was going to be ready, but was still sore."

Shula noted that in addition to a field goal attempt by Leigh Tiffin that hit the left upright, Alabama was inches away from scoring a touchdown instead of a safety on Hawaii's muffed punt snap and inches away from a touchdown with Keith Brown open in the end zone.

"Those three plays and it turns out differently," he said. "I think that's a little bit of a silver lining. We know if we turn those plays on what will happen."

"Did we play perfect football? No," Shula said. "And to me that's even better news. We won the game and we know we're going to get better."

With just a few more converted plays on offense, the Tide might have stuck the final nail in Hawaii's coffin early. In the end it was a matter of hanging on for dear life for one last Hawaii heave towards the end zone to try to force overtime.

"At some times in the game you think you can't be stopped and you can't do anything wrong," Shula said, "and then you go to almost like you can't do anything right. And that's how important it is to stick together as a team, keep your poise and keep playing."

It was thought the running game would be Alabama's bread and butter, but Hawaii forced Alabama out of that plan to some extent.

"They were going to defend to stop the run," Shula said. "We probably ran the ball a little more than we would with a senior quarterback with a lot of experience."

Bama had 36 rushing plays, and 29 pass attempts.

"Our offensive line, for the most part, protected well," Shula said.

Shula thought the third down incompletion with seven seconds left in the game was the last of the game. He paced the sideline, alternately glaring at the clock on the scoreboard and the official, as it showed one second remaining.

I want to find who the clock operator was," he said (half joking). "Those plays look like they took a lot longer than six seconds. It was a little nerve racking. We mixed up zone, mixed up some blitzes and played man, all those three. The one we got beat on for the big play was a blitz."

After that last play Shula exchanged a handshake with Hawaii Coach June Jones, then he went looking for Warrior quarterback Colt Brennan. The two met and spoke briefly, and Shula was very complimentary.

"He's really good," Shula said. Brennan finished 30-of-44 passing with two touchdowns and one interception (on the last play of the game). "That was the first time I had met him after the game – he's a neat kid, very respectful.

"He was really poised when they came out for the first drive and you could really tell. That stadium can be a little intimidating and they weren't intimidated. I think that was largely due to Colt."


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