"We didn't have the year we wanted, but everything happens for a reason," B.J. Stabler said. "I think having a season like this, that was sort of mediocre, will make us have a better season next year. It will make us work a little harder and put in a little more effort so we can go where we want to go."
The Crimson Tide will face Oklahoma State December 28 with defensive coordinator Joe Kines serving as interim head coach. Fans are anxious to see the team without Shula running the show. Stabler talked about the bowl preparations.
"We have our minds set for us to go out there and win the game," he said. "I think Oklahoma State has a real good team, and they have played against some real good teams. The last couple of games they only lost in the last minute of the game by a touchdown or so. It is going to be a pretty hard game for us to play. I think it will be good competition."
"I think coach Kines is a little bit more of 'you have to get this done no matter what happens, you are going to get it done.' If he tells you that you are going to be out there (practice) a certain amount of time, you are going to be out there that long. He sticks to what he says we are going to do," Stabler said of the difference in the two coaches (Shula and Kines).
"The way he (Kines) talks to us is not too much different than coach Shula. It is just time for us to bounce back. Everybody thinks this is our time to be down and just get run over in times like this. Coach Kines has made sure we are going to come back and play a very good game in the bowl game."
Stabler was asked of all the coaching rumors and his reply, "We really like coach Kines. Everybody likes him, and I mean we liked coach Shula also. It hurt us when he left, but we got to move on. I don't know who the next coach is going to be. I am not sure who the Athletic Director (Mal Moore) has in mind. I just pray for the best, and hope they bring in a good guy or keep coach Kines in there. I know we are just going to stick together any way it goes."
Stabler has suffered through injuries since he arrived in Tuscaloosa. He has most recently been sidelined with what doctors said was chronic swelling in his knee.
"My knee is doing real good right now," he said. "It isn't bothering me too much. This is just football, some pains you just have to work through. I don't know if anyone will ever be 100-per cent in football. I remember Shaun Alexander told me that he hasn't been 100-per cent playing football since he was back in pee wee football. It's like a fulltime job playing football, so you just got to stay with it."
Sophomore Season: Stabler started at right guard in each of the first eight games before his streak ended when he missed the Florida International game due to an injury. It was the first of three games he would miss due to an injury. He tallied nine total starts on the year. Recorded five or more knockdowns in seven of his first eight games before suffering an injury. He finished with 48 knockdowns. He led the team in three games with a season-high nine against Hawaii, seven at Arkansas and five at Tennessee. He played a total of 449 snaps with a season-high of 66 at Florida. He played over 50 snaps in six of his nine games.