North Texas familiar to Peprah

Interestingly, in his first start at cornerback Charlie Peprah will be facing a team located just down the road from his hometown of Plano, Texas. <br><br>"(North Texas) is only about 45 minutes away from where I live," Peprah said. "I know that they defended Texas pretty well, and we've got to come out prepared."

The Mean Green players will be flying into Tuscaloosa today from Denton, Texas, and Peprah is one Tide Texan who means to be prepared. "They sacked the (University of Texas) quarterback eight times," Peprah pointed out. "North Texas is a team that you can't take lightly, or they'll come up on you. They went to a bowl game last year. They beat Middle Tennessee last year.

"They're going to be a tough team."

Peprah makes a diving tackle last week versus Oklahoma. (Associated Press)

Alabama began the Oklahoma game with five defensive backs on the field, so for the record Peprah's first collegiate start was at the ‘nickel' position. "Starting in any game is special," Peprah said earlier this week. "But I don't worry about that. I don't know what goes through the coaches' heads about starting. They have the final decision. If they put me out there to start, fine. If they don't, that's okay. But the way they rotate the corners, I'm happy with my playing time. (The coaches) don't really let me know.

"But I don't really ask them either."

Smart player.

And hopefully smart coaches as well, because Thursday Peprah was announced as one of Alabama's two starting cornerbacks versus North Texas. "(Charlie) played almost every snap in the second half last week and did a real good job," said Cornerbacks Coach Chris Thurmond. "We thought he would be a good player, and he came in the second half and really played well."

After yielding three long plays in the first half--two of which were touchdowns and the third led to one--the Tide secondary had a new look after halftime, with Peprah and Anthony Madison getting most of the snaps.

Peprah talked about the play of Bama's defense. "There is still room for improvement, obviously. But we did a lot of good things on defense that we were proud of. As a team we need to come out and go a whole four quarters, instead of just a good second half. We need to put it all together.

"But I'm happy with how we didn't stop fighting. We went down swinging. I just wish we could have hung on and gotten that ‘W'."

Shown talking to reporters in the media suite, Peprah should have a bright future ahead of him at cornerback.

Regarding his own play, Peprah is more modest. "I'm glad I didn't give up too many plays," he said with a laugh. "You always want to play solid at cornerback, but I saw a bunch more room for improvement. You can't be ever satisfied. I felt more comfortable. I wasn't as jumpy as the first game. I was able to concentrate a lot more. As the season goes along, I think I'll improve. I'll be more relaxed and comfortable."

Having redshirted in 2001, this is Peprah's second season on campus. But Saturday's start will mark only his third game in Crimson. "I didn't know what to expect," he admitted. "These are my first few collegiate games. I just wanted to go out and make sure I didn't do anything dumb. Go out and make the coaches happy."

Back at the beginning of fall camp, the Tide coaches were frank in explaining that they preferred to work Peprah and Madison into the lineup slowly. Thurmond explained, "We wanted to be patient. The one thing you don't want to do with a young player is you don't want to get his (confidence) shattered. You want to get them in there as much as you can, but you don't want to get them in there before they're ready.

"You want to find ways for them to have success."

Both Peprah and Madison first saw action as back-ups in Bama's season opener versus MTSU, but Peprah learned a hard lesson when the Blue Raiders turned him completely around on a long pass play.

Peprah commented, "To me, that was the best thing that could happen to me. I learned from it. I'm aware of the post route now. I've got to pay more attention to staying inside. Whenever something like that happens, I take it as experience. Learn from it. Forget about it and move on."

Peprah (left) and roommate Anthony Madison relax after practice.

Peprah explained the mindset of a collegiate corner. "You've got to have a short memory. Once they get a big play on you, they're going to keep picking on you. You've got to forget. You can't let it eat on you, or you're going to get beat all the time.

"The other team is going to complete passes on you. You can't forget that they have scholarships as well. So they're going to catch passes on you. You've just got to make the most plays between you and the receiver. Whoever comes out with the most plays is going to win."

He's only a redshirt freshman, so the odds are that Peprah will have more balls completed on him before this first season is finished. But he's learning. "I've got four years to improve, and I'm excited about that," Peprah pointed out. "Me and Anthony both are going to try and improve every week. I want to learn the game--be a smarter football player. I need to improve my footwork. Make the big play. Be sound. I need to be more physical--every aspect of the game I want to improve.

"You've got to aim for perfection."


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