Andre Answers Opening Call

The question of whether true freshman Andre Smith would be ready to play for Alabama was answered fairly quickly. As early as the first week of fall camp offensive line coach Bob Connelly said that he'd told Andre, "as soon as you learn the playbook, that's how soon you'll be on the field."

Andre's first game was a challenge both mentally and physically. Hawaii's defense, like a power pitcher in baseball who is "effectively wild", got its advantage by being unpredictable, which can be a bit frightening.

"They were a pretty different defensive scheme," Smith said. "The defense was just – it wasn't an ordinary defense. You have your 4-3, 3-4, 4-4, you're basic defenses, but they had several different looks out of one formation so you really didn't know what they were doing in unless you studied film.

Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said Smith did "very well" for a true freshman. "He had a couple of missed assignments and some little things, but overall he did a good job."

Smith started and played 62 snaps at left tackle. Only center Antoine Caldwell and quarterback John Parker Wilson, who each played all 66 snaps got more action on offense. With Smith's six special teams plays, he ended up on the field for more plays than any other member of the squad. Smith talked to reporters for the first time since being graded on his opening day performance Tuesday afternoon

"I did pretty good," Smith said. "I had a lot of fun, overall. It was a great learning experience as far as college ball, the speed of the game, how strong the guys were going to be and what kind of techniques defensive ends, tackles and linebackers use."

"The most important thing I learned from the game is to keep my pads low all the time," he said. "You can't overpower people like you did in high school so you have to use great technique."

Shula said the offensive line's pass protection outpaced the run blocking in the opener, but that the overall play was improved from last year's team.

Smith's and the Bama offense think they will be more comfortable this Saturday, where Vanderbilt is expected to present a more mainstream, technically sound defense.

"It's going to be a lot easier (mentally) because they run a pretty steady defense," he said. "It's going to be much easier as far as mental and knowing where everybody's going to be."


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