Catching On

Alabama had good success in the passing game in its 25-17 season-opening win over Hawaii Saturday night, and one reason was the good play of the receivers. Particularly notable was the performance of Keith Brown, who had six catches for a game-high 132 yards and one very nice leaping touchdown grab.

Keith Brown, Alabama's junior wide receiver who had one touchdown catch and just missed on two others that were just out of bounds when he caught them, came in for a lot of praise from Bama Head Coach Mike Shula in Tuesday's weekly press briefing.

"Keith did a nice job last week," Shula said. "He's tall (6-3, 204) and and can jump, so he can go up and get the ball. That gives confidence to the quarterback and to the coach. He could have a real good year and really help us."

Brown said Tuesday, "I graded 90 per cent, so I could have done better."

Shula said, "More than anything else, it's his maturity. He's older now and he's wiser. And he's got talent. He's starting to underestand now how to use that talent."

Shula said that Brown, Hall and Matt Caddell are very familiar with the offense and that Will Oakley "is getting there." Oakley had his first college reception, a key 20-yard catch that was followed by John Parker Wilson's 36-yard touchdown pass to Brown.

He also said that Nikita Stover was getting closer to being able to play. "He's a lot closer than he was last spring or at the start of pre-season camp," Shula said of the sophomore transfer.

He said that Bama needs more wide receivers "for our three- and four-wide sets."

The Tide coach said "We're giving the young guys only one position to learn. If the guy in front of him needs a blow, he can go in for him." The young ones are Mike McCoy, who played two snaps in place of Brown, and Earl Alexander, who did not play against Hawaii.

The coach added that both juniors Brown and Hall had been able to learn all the wide receiver positions "in about the first three weeks" of their freshman season in 2004. That was a matter of necessity as Bama was low on receivers.

The wide receivers weren't the only ones getting in on the action. Bama opened the game with two tight ends, which is for blocking, but both Travis McCall and Nick Walker got in on the receiving game, too. Walker had two catches for 38 yards and McCall one catch for 15 yards.

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