Despite mistakes, Tide dominates 33-7

No one would suggest that North Texas is a college football powerhouse, but Alabama's performance against the Mean Green was impressive nonetheless. The Crimson Tide made its first appearance of the year in Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium a good one Saturday night as Bama rolled to a 33-7 victory over North Texas.

The win improved Alabama's record to 2-1 and dropped the Mean Green to 1-2. Bama continues in non-conference play next Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts Southern Mississippi at 6 p.m. CDT, a game that will be nationally telecast by ESPN2.

While North Texas is the type team Alabama is supposed to beat easily, the Mean Green had been impressive defensively in a loss to highly-regarded Texas to open the season. North Texas had held the Longhorns to only 28 yards rushing. Alabama rushed for 336 yards. The Tide had total offense of 534 yards and averaged 6.9 yards per play.

It may be that the most telling statistic for the game was Alabama punting. Alabama was never forced to punt.

Alabama has been promising that Shaud Williams, a transfer from Texas Tech, would figure heavily into the Crimson Tide offense this year. While Williams had been relatively quiet in the first two Bama games, he broke out against North Texas. Williams was the Tide's leading rusher with 93 carries on only seven rushes, a 13.3 yards per carry average. He had a 41-yard touchdown burst. Williams also caught two passes for 17 yards, returned five punts for 32 yards, and one kickoff for 14 yards.

Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione said, "Shaud had a good night. He looked good running the football." The Tide coach said it had not been the plan to feature Williams, but that Alabama developed a game plan using two tailbacks and four wide receivers, and those are the times when Williams plays.

Ray Hudson, like Williams an "A-Back" and tailback, was the Tide's second-leading rusher with seven carries for 82 yards, an 11.7 yards-per-carry average. Hudson had the longest run of the game, a 47-yarder. Quarterback Tyler Watts had 12 carries for 64 yards.

Tailbacks Ahmaad Galloway and Santonio Beard and back-up quarterback Brodie Croyle also ran for touchdowns.

Although he missed one short field goal, Michael Ziifle hit two others.

While the rushing numbers were most impressive, Alabama also did well passing. Watts completed 12 of 15 passes for 161 yards and Croyle was good on two-of-four passing for 37 yards.

Donald Clarke, who took over as starting tight end, was the game's leading receiver with three catches for 80 yards. Dre Fulgham also had three receptions, totaling 39 yards.

Franchione said he thought that it was North Texas' plan to try to control the clock. Alabama won the battle of time of possession, 33:46 to 26:14.

Indeed, Alabama was dominant in all statistics. The Tide had 25 first downs (11 rushing, 10 passing, four penalty) to 11 by North Texas (six rushing, four passing, one penalty). While Bama had 58 rushes for 336 yards, North Texas managed only 50 rushing yards on 37 attempts. The Tide hit 14 of 19 passes for 198 yards, while North Texas was good on 10 of 19 pass attempts for 91 yards. Bama had 77 plays for 534 yards, 6.9 yards per play, North Texas 56 plays for 141 yards, 2.5 yards per play.

Alabama's defense gave up a long drive on North Texas' first possession, allowing the Mean Green to go 66 yards in 14 plays and eat up nearly seven minutes of time. However, that drive ended with a missed field goal.

Against Texas, the Mean Green had eight sacks. North Texas had one sack on Bama quarterbacks, while the Tide turned in five sacks. Both teams forced three fumbles with Alabama recovering two, North Texas one. One of the few disappointments was Alabama's turnovers. The lost fumble by Bama set up the Mean Green's one touchdown. Additionally, Watts threw an interception inside the North Texas 10-yard line and Croyle threw an interception in the North Texas end zone. Franchione said the turnovers were the most disappointing thing about the game.

The Tide head coach said one of the best things about the game was that so many players were able to play. Among those playing for the first time were redshirt freshmen quarterback Spencer Pennington, center J.B. Closner, and offensive lineman Von Ewing, all in mop up duty.

Alabama never trailed in the game. An opening drive fizzled at the North Texas seven-yard line and Ziifle kicked the first of his field goals, a 24-yarder. On Bama's first possession of the second quarter Ziifle was good on a 27-yard field goal to make it 6-0.

A North Texas turnover led to Alabama's first touchdown. Brooks Daniels forced a fumble that was recovered by DeMeco Ryans at the Mean Green 26. Watts hit Clarke on a 24-yard pass to the two and then Galloway took it in. A two-point conversion try failed, leaving the score at 12-0.

A fumble by Watts gave North Texas the ball at the Alabama five. The Tide defense held for two plays, then gave up a three-yard touchdown pass that cut the lead to 12-7.

Alabama responded with a five-play, 72-yard drive – the big gainer the 47-yard run by Hudson – with Beard going in from three yards out to give Bama a 19-7 halftime lead.

Bama wasted a nice drive just before the half when Croyle was intercepted and a nice drive to start the second half when Ziifle missed a 23-yard field goal. But the Tide struck quickly with Williams darting up the middle on a 41-yard touchdown run to put the score at 26-7 going to the fourth quarter.

Croyle closed out the scoring with a nice bootleg and dive into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown run that capped a nine-play, 47-yard drive and ended the scoring.

In addition to Clarke getting the starting nod at tight end, there were two new starters in the secondary. As had been announced prior to the game, redshirt freshman Charlie Peprah started at right cornerback in place of Hirchel Bolden. Also in the defensive backfield, Carlos Andrews started ahead of Waine Bacon at strong safety. Bacon did play most of the game.

Cornelius Wortham led the Tide in tackles with nine. In addition to Daniels, fumbles were caused by Kindal Moorehead and Mark Anderson. Ryans and Todd Bates had fumble recoveries.

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