Players Comment On Tough Win
"The first thing I noticed was they had number one ( Jeron Harvey) up thee and he;'s like 6-5," said 6-1 Alabama defensive back Simeon Castille. "Then they brought another guy (6-6 Wesley Scourten) and he looked to be taller than number one.
"I thought, 'This can't be good. They're going to throw it up.'
"I just looked out there, and saw three (receivers) take off. They threw the jump-ball, and I just went up and was able to come down with it. I was tracking the ball, and looked back, and the ball was in the air, and I was able to out-jump the guy and get it."
One reason the Tide built, and nearly blew, a 23-0 lead was the career rushing performance by sophomore halfback Glen Coffee. " Any team will tell you you need to establish the running game, to help out the quarterback," said Coffee, who helped do just that. Coffee ran for 121 yards on 30 carries, both career bests.
Another senior who played a huge role for Bama was defensive end Wallace Gilberry, who had two sacks among his nine solo tackles (Gilberry was in on two others). He said the Tide learned from the Georgia game to fight until the clock shows all zeroes.
"We put ourselves in that position (by blowing a lead), but at the same time, we will always fight to the last minute," Gilberry said. "Until the last second ticks off the clock. That's what we do. We fight. That's what we were able to do today. We were able to come out on top.
"We started out the day with pressure, and we ended the day with pressure. That was never a doubt. Coaches stress that we keep doing it, and don't let up, and we didn't." For the afternoon, the sack-challenged Tide defense racked up five sacks and six more quarterback hurries.
Bama quarterback John Parker Wilson admits his late interception at the Houston 38 should never have happened. "I was trying to make a play, and flipped it to Glenn (Coffee), and put a little too much mustard on it. He couldn't have caught it. It was my fault.
"We've done it twice now," Wilson said. "We got up on Arkansas, and we got up (23-0) on these guys. We start coasting. We get up on teams, and we have to put them away."
Wilson did have a pair of TD strikes versus the one nearly-costly pick. The Junior finished 15-27 for 157 yards. He rushed for another 25 yards on seven tries.
"We started out hot," he noted. We started out how we needed to. We just didn't finish like we needed to. That's all there is to it. We are starting good. That's a big thing. I liked the way we started, just not the way we finished."
"This game was both hurtful and helpful at the same time," said Houston Coach Art Briles, whose team rallied from 23 points down to come within a snap of winning. "The way our guys battled, that's impressive and encouraging to me. A lot of teams would have folded up and went home and the final score would have been 45-7."
The man who nearly rallied the Cougars to the upset was back-up quarterback Case Keenum. "We weren't really out of it. We fought hard out there.," he said. "We hadn't gotten much going on the offensive side. Its one of those things. It was a long game, and we're a good football team. We can battle back, and we did. These (losses) hurt. I guess that's fuel for the fire."
One reason the Cougars got back in the game was by finding a way to slow down Bama's running attack, after surrendering 124 yards on the ground in the first 15 minutes. "They came out in the first quarter and they thought they were going to grind on us," said Houston defensive lineman Tate Stewart. "They ended up grinding themselves in the ground. We put forth a great effort. I thought we played good enough to win the football games. Its in the books (as a loss).
"We played hard out there. We showed a lot of fight. It came down to the last play. There's not a whole lot to say about a loss like that."