Good Timing

Alabama offensive coordinator David Rader said there had been a plan to have a sprint out pass to Will Oakley against Ole Miss. "It looked like that play was going to be left out, but Coach Shula had saved it for just the right time," Rader said after Bama's 26-23 overtime victory over Mississippi in Bryant- Denny Stadium Saturday.

Alabama was trailing Ole Miss 23-20 in overtime and the Crimson Tide faced a third-and-five situation at the Crimson Tide was facing a third-and-three at the Mississippi 18-yard line.

A lot of things can happen in that situation. The offense can run or pass for the first down, or even a touchdown. That's the good news.

Many things can go bad. The best of the worst is that the offense comes up short of a first down, but still has the chance to kick a field goal and send the game to a second overtime. The worst is a turnover that ends the game. And it would be bad to get a penalty or suffer a sack and make things tougher.

What Alabama did was good. John Parker Wilson sprinted to his right and threw to Will Oakley, heretofore and almost unused wide receiver. Oakley, a sophomore, finished with three receptions for 33 yards. He has never had a bigger one for Bama than his five-yard gain in overtime.

>From there it was still a struggle to get the touchdown. Offensive Coordinator David Rader was watching from his perch in the press box. "I thought when it went to overtime and we won the toss that we were going to win," Rader said. "First of all, the odds were against us winning the toss in overtime since we had won it to start the game. When you win the toss in overtime you get to go first on defense and that gives your team confidence.

"I thought our defense would hold them and we would score and win the game. We were running good and we were getting a good push up front. Our defense did pretty good to hold them to a field goal. On our first play K.D. (halfback Kenneth Darby) got into the secondary and I thought, 'This is the time he makes the safety miss.' But the safety made a good play."

Bama earned two first downs on the drive and had first and goal at the Mississippi three. Rader said, "On second down it looked like Tim (Tim Castille, playing tailback in Bama's Jumbo Package) was going to get in, and then someone came from no where and made the stop."

Rader said on third-and-goal from the two, with the Tide staying in the Jumbo Package, "It was 50-50 run or pass. They guessed run, and they made a play to stop the run. Le'Ron (fullback Le'Ron McClain) adjusted his route. He was supposed to be ifn the flat, but the defensive guy adjusted and we made the play."

Quarterback John Parker Wilson made the short pass to McClain for the winning points.

Rader said he was pleased for Oakley. "No wide receiver has improved more than he has," Rader said. "I was glad to see him do that. He's worked hard."

Rader was also very pleased for the performance by Darby. The senior halfback, who had a slow start to the season, rushed 25 times for 162 yards, his best this season, and also had a season-best 37-yard run that led to Bama's fourth quarter touchdown and a 20-13 Crimson Tide lead.

"I'm proud of K.D. for hanging in there," Rader said. "He's had so many frustrating things happen to him."

Rader said he believes the overtime win will help Alabama win other close games and give the team confidence.

He said it's going to take everything the Alabama offense can muster at Tennessee next week. Rader said that Ole Miss had a good defense, but that Tennessee's is really doing well.

And, he said, "We'll be saying again this week that our best game is still out there."

Rader said he and the coaches and players love being at Alabama "because the expectations are to win every game. We won a tough game against a good SEC team. Everyone in this league has good players, and every team that comes into Bryant-Denny Stadium plays its best game of the year. That was Ole Miss' best game this year."

Rader said that Alabama was able to have a balanced attack because the running game was working. The Tide had 21 first downs, 11 rushing, 9 passing and 1 by penalty. Bama had 228 yhards rushing and 206 passing.

And, he said, the reason the Tide was able to run was the work of the offensive linemen, "Starting with Antoine (center Antoine Caldwell)." He also prasied left tackle Andre Smith, the three guards -- Justin Britt, B.J. Stabler, and Marlon Davis -- and said that Kyle Tatum, who took over in relief of Chris Capps at left tackle "I think probably played his best game."

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