Quarterback Play Continues to Impress Shula

Alabama's offense out-gained Vanderbilt by more than 100 yards in Saturday's Southeastern Conference opening 13-10 win, but for the second week in a row only equaled its opponent in touchdowns thanks in large part to two Crimson Tide turnovers in the red zone.

"When you have turnovers against a team that doesn't give up big plays you're going to have trouble scoring points," Crimson Tide Coach Mike Shula said Saturday. "They are a team that's not going to beat themselves."

"We just have to find a way to score more touchdowns," Shula said. "We're not going to all the sudden put an emphasis on plus territory any more than we already do, we're going to correct the things we need to correct.

The one touchdown Alabama did have was a masterful drive led by John Parker Wilson.

"I think our QB is playing pretty good," Shula said. "He had the one interception where you just have to throw it away, but other than that good. He was hot making the right reads and getting the ball in there to start the second half," Shula said. "It's good to see a young quarterback step up and make throws and go to the right guys. It's a young football team and they responded right away. "

Shula was impressed with a read Wilson made on the third quarter touchdown pass to D.J. Hall. It was a veteran move for the second-time starter.

"(Vanderbilt) doesn't play a lot of cover two (two deep safeties), and all the sudden they played that two deep zone and the safety didn't get over the top and John Parker saw it," Shula said. "Those are things you don't talk about much."

Alabama's 134 rushing yards were a hot topic of questioning after the game.

"We know we got work to do in the running game but we hope when we see tape we make the corrections and get better at that too," Shula said.

Kenneth Darby had 21 carries for 65 yards, and backup Jimmy Johns took seven carries for 37 yards (and one lost fumble).

"We're going to play those two and try to play some more just like we've done all they way through," Shula said. "If your running games going well and your playing it's a little easier to make decisions like that. He fumbled the ball. We know we've got some work to do in the running game."

D.J. Hall returned to the field after missing Alabama's last two games for disciplinary (and injury) reasons.

"It was good to get D.J. back on the field," Shula said. He missed our last two games. It really gives our quarterback confidence."

Shula said the defensive effort was good for all but the last series of the first half.

"They beat us on a couple of little short passes and the receivers made a few yards," Shula said. "The touchdown pass was a good read against our cover two defense where the guy slipped in a hole between our linebackers."

After a back and forth with a television camera guy about the fake field goal call, Shula said, "I thought it was a terrible decision. There was a look (Vanderbilt showed) that we practiced. We saw the look and we didn't execute as well as we should have."

True freshman left tackle Andre Smith continues to impress. "He's a big guy that doesn't play - plays quicker than maybe a lot of guys his size," Shula said. "He can change directions, he's not stiff for a big guy. He's a good pass protector, and he has size and reach. He's got a lot of things going for him physically and he's working hard to get the most out of it."

Leigh Tiffin's 47 yard field goal, the eventual game winner, raised a question about whether a competition will ensue if and when kicker Jamie Christensen is healthy.

"How could you say the competition is not closer now than what it was," Shula said. "When Jamie comes back he'll be the starter, but it will be healthy competition. He's going to have to be absolutely 100 per cent. With that injury you don't want him hurt all year."

Nikita Stover's first snap of the year, at least we think, resulted in a 36-yard reception.

"His uniform didn't look to dirty when he went in," Shula said. "We're still finding out about these guys. It was neat to see Nikita come in fresh off the bench and make a play when his number's called. That's a perfect advantage of a guy getting an opportunity. That one play will definitely help. He's got to continue to practice better, too."


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