Players Talk About Opener

Terry Grant was ready for his opportunity, and made the most of it. Grant made his first start in crimson and rushed for 134 yards on 18 carries, scoring three times in Bama's 52-6 rout of Western Carolina to open the Nick Saban era. "They call the plays, and I just run the ball. That's how I feel about it," Grant said. "I felt good."



The redshirt freshman made his coach feel good, too. "He's had good production (all camp)," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said. "Today was no different. He's a great 'space' player. He's very dangerous in terms of making people miss."

Terry Grant played three games last year before an injury ended his true freshman season and was granted a medical redshirt. "I never doubt myself," he said Saturday night. "I've been out of (action) for a while, and coming back, I'm just happy to have a game like that."

One man who put Grant and his offensive mates in good field position all night was kick return ace Javier Arenas, who totalled 88 yards between punts and kickoffs. "Its important... relative to you're being able to execute your returns to create a good, positive drive start for yourself," Saban said. "That's where return men have a lot to do with it."

Arenas' 30-yard return of the opening kickoff jumpstarted his teammates. "I just have a lot of confidence in myself " Arenas said. "The new rule (movin kickoffs back to the 30)... it didn't affect me that much. I got a lot great blocks from guys like D.J. Hall, especially on my kickoff returns."

After playing just 32 snaps all last season and not making a tackle, sophomore nose tackle Lorenzo Washington aimed to make the most of his first start at Alabama. Subbing for the injured Brian Motley, Washington made four stops, including a sack for a loss of six yards and was credited for 1.5 tackles for lost yardage of seven. "I try to play 'balls-to-the-walls' all the time,"said Washington "I thought I played pretty well.

"I missed one tackle, and I had another couple of tackles that I felt I should have made. I've just got to try to keep getting better, so I can start making those plays all the time." Washington refused to use the excuse of fatigue due to Bama's thin front line. "I realize that we have some young guys," he said. "They were trying to keep me in untill we got ahead some, so they could put them in." Two of Washington's backups, true freshmen Alfred McCullough and Josh Chapman, both saw action. McCullough recovered a fumble and was credited with one assisted tackle.

Defensive end Wallace Gilberry said, "I thought we did pretty well. To be considered very young and inexperienced, I thought we got out there and gave great effort."

Gilberry was pleased for his head coch to get the win. "What a debut to have!" he said. "We put up a lot of points, and we held them. My hat goes off to Coach Saban and Coach (Kevin) Steele (defensive coordinator). They put us in great position to execute and get away with a win."

Junior quarterback John Parker Wilson said, "It was a good start. We knew we wanted to start fast. We knew we wanted to move the ball and we were able to do that on the first play. Terry busted open. The offensive line played great the whole night. It was a good way to start the season off.

"We are going to come back and get ready for Vanderbilt next week."

Wide Receiver D.J. Hall said, "We showed we have a few play-makers. Guys are just hustling all around -- offense, defense and special teams. There is so much talent on this team. There is not one guy to pinpoint.

"You saw a little of our offense. We have a little bit left. I'm pretty sure our coaches know the right time to bring everything out. The coching staff does a great job of everything they do around here."

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