Expect More from Bama Ground Game

Since Jimmy Barnes tore his ACL knee ligament two weeks ago Alabama's options at backup quarterback dwindled to either using running back Jimmy Johns or one of a couple of walk-ons, Trent Dean or Will Vandervoort.

Joe Kines has said he will not burn the redshirt year of freshman Greg McElroy, the team's only other scholarship quarterback, just for a bowl game. The best option, of course, would be to not need a backup. To that end, it looks like Alabama's game plan for the Independence bowl might serve the purpose of ensuring John Parker Wilson take as little a beating as possible.

"I think we're going to run it a lot more than what we've been doing this whole season," Alabama tailback Kenneth Darby said. "We're basic right now. Certain drills that we normally pass the ball a lot we are running the ball more. That's why I say we think we're going to run the ball more."

Alabama offensive coordinator Dave Rader, who will be calling the plays, said his game plan is about 75 per cent installed. He wasn't giving up anything about the Crimson Tide's game plan for Oklahoma State on December 28, but said he encouraged by what the offensive staff has done.

"I really like what the guys have come up with and what we want to do," Rader said. "We're not going to go running the wishbone. We are who we are, but it's always fun to see what we can come up with and I like the way we're going to attack it."

Quarterback John Parker Wilson was not at the press conference Friday afternoon.

Left tackle Andre Smith concurred with Darby's assessment that, based on practice setup, it appeared as if the Tide would be more ready to run in the Independence bowl.

"We've been doing a lot more run-oriented drills in practice," Smith said. "Run blocking is more like you attack them than they attack you."

Darby, as would be natural for a running back, said he thinks Alabama could have ran the ball more effectively all season. It was clear Friday that the players had not really been let in on the offensive game plan, however.

"He hasn't told me nothing but as far as I can tell we've been running it a lot more," Darby said. "He can change his mind all of a sudden. There's no telling."

Rader said if a backup did have to enter the game, Johns would be the ideal candidate. Johns has been sporting a cast on his right hand, however, which has complicated matters. He is expected to shed the cast by game day, and has taken some snaps in quarterback at practice.

Of the two walk-ons, Dean and Vandervoort, Rader said, "We're embryonic right now. We're going to try to alternate" days where each one gets work under center.


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