Bama's Bread and Butter

The running game was considered to be Alabama's bread and butter entering the season with a deep and talented backfield, combined with a new starter at quarterback, but so far that hasn't been the case. Passing has been Alabama's "go-to" option for the bulk of its offense this season.

In two games, Alabama has passed for 460 yards while rushing for 259 yards.

"I feel comfortable with everything we're doing," quarterback John Parker Wilson said. "We've got some guys who can get open in tight coverage. I wouldn't say one particular play (is our bread and butter), but our receivers are doing a good job of getting open right now."

Rushing attempts have outnumbered passing attempts 76-58 in the stats, but if you figure in Wilson's sacks and scrambles, which go down as rushing attempts even though they are originally designed as pass plays, the play calling breaks closer to even at 70-64 in favor of the run (Wilson has eight rush attempts, two of which were designed running plays - quarterback sneaks.)

Nikita Stover, who on the first play of his career at Alabama caught a crucial pass, is "probably the best we've got going across the middle," Wilson said. Stover entered the game when Keith Brown left with an injury in the game.

"It was third and long and he's in the game," Wilson said. "I know a guy was hurt, but he wouldn't be in the game if we didn't have trust in him."

Wilson did have one critique of Stover, however, that he didn't get into the end zone. Stover was tripped up from behind with an open field and room on the Alabama sideline to run.

"I just watched it and I didn't know the end zone was that wide open," he said. "I like throwing to that kid, he's a good receiver; he has no fear. He was my first read and it was covered. I was going to run the ball, but I went back to him. He was wide open."

Mike Shula was disappointed last week that no one asked him about the three passes that were thrown (and completed) to the tight end in Bama's 25-17 win over Hawaii. But in week two Alabama tight ends were shut out in the receiving column. Wilson did throw one pass towards tight end Nick Walker, and pass interference was called on the play.

"We don't go out and say we're going to get this many balls to this guy," Wilson said. "We just go through our reads. Their middle linebacker was good in coverage, number 47 (Jonathan Goff)."

Alabama defensive end Wallace Gilberry said, despite Alabama running a three-man defensive line for most of the first two games, that the Crimson Tide is still a four-man front base defensive team at heart.

"I want to know the same (thing)," Gilberry said when asked about the prevalence of the three-man line in the first two games. "I wouldn't say we're a three-man front. We run a lot of 30. That puts us in a position to win. I wouldn't say that's our base front, although it does look like it because we've played two teams that are probably 85 per cent pass."

Shula's player of the week awards handed out Sunday afternoon went to Simeon Castille, Le'Ron McClain and Leigh Tiffin. Castille had two interceptions and Tiffin kicked what turned out to be the game-deciding field goal. Le'Ron McClain turned in an outstanding blocking performance.

Tiffin said Sunday that he doesn't mind all the talk and questions he's been getting about his father Vann, an All-America placekicker at Alabama.

"It doesn't really bother me," he said. "I understand everybody wants to talk about it. It's just natural. I'll try to do my best, and maybe they will be good comparisons."

It's been so far, so good on that end. Tiffin is 5 of 6 on the year on field goals, with the one miss a 31 yarder that hit the left upright in the first game against Hawaii. Tiffin, who stepped in for Jamie Christensen when he suffered a groin injury, said he was comfortable with taking a step back if and when Christensen returns.

"I think Jamie's still first string on the depth chart," Tiffin said, "and it's always up to the coaches as far as that goes. I'll just be ready to go."


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