Interceptions Come With Opportunities

The surprise wasn't that Simeon Castille made the interception that ended the game in Alabama's 30-24 win over Houston last Saturday. The surprise to many is that it was Castille's first interception of the season.

Simeon Castille was All-Southeastern Conference as a junior as he led Alabama with six interceptions in 2006. He had two interceptions as a freshman and two as a sophomore.

Castille had been a right cornerback his first three seasons. This year he is listed as a left cornerback, but he has played almost exclusively as a nickel back in the Crimson Tide's defensive scheme this year.

Coaches and players frequently talk about the offense "taking what the defense gives." In respect to interceptions, the opportunity comes only when the offense gives it.

Bama Coach Nick Saban was emphatic in explaining that the number of interceptions is not the way to judge the play of Castille. The Tide coach said that it would be a valid question, perhaps, if Castille had had "a lot of opportunities to make interceptions and he missed the ball."

In all likelihood, Castille's stellar play has reduced the number of chances he has to make interceptions this year.

Saban said, "Sometimes if a guy covers well, they don't throw to his guy. It's like a batter in baseball "who goes 25 at-bats without a home run. Maybe he hasn't had any good pitches to hit."

Castille's interception against Houston was pressure-packed. The Cougars had been down 23-0 at the end of the first quarter, but had fought back to trail by only six points, 30-24. Late in the fourth quarter Houston began driving towards the Alabama goal. With five seconds to play, the Cougars had time for one play from the Bama 15.

Houston put three tall receivers on the left side. Castille said he knew what was coming – a jump ball opportunity in the end zone – and he kept his eye on the ball. The 6-1 Castille won the jumping contest. and Alabama moved to 4-2 on the year.

Saban said, "You make interceptions when you have the opportunity.

"You want turnovers, but we aren't asking guys to take chances and cut in front of receivers and try to make interceptions to get your name in the paper. If you cut in front of a guy and you're not in position to make the tackle and he catches the ball behind you, he's on his way to a 70-yard touchdown."

Saban said, "Simeon is doing a great job for us. He's playing great. He's playing with as much consistency as anyone on our defensive team. He's shown great leadership. He's doing a great job for us.

"He's doing what we ask him to do the way we ask him to do it.

"He hasn't had the opportunities to make interceptions."

Castille ranks fifth on Alabama's team for tackles with 20 primary stops and 11 assists. He leads the Tide with four pass break-ups.

Castillle's next chance to play well – perhaps to make interceptions – comes Saturday when the Crimson Tide goes to Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels. Kickoff is at 11:30 a.m. CDT with television coverage on the Southeastern Conference's Lincoln Financial network.

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