Tide Players Reflect And Look Ahead
Meeting with the media Monday, Alabama's Darren Mustin said, "They (coaches) do everything they can. Mental intensity has to come from us, the players. It has to come from certain leaders on the team. Those leaders have to step up to keep the intensity going. The coaches are doing a great job. They‚re doing everything that they can do. We had great mental intensity in the first half. We didn't have the same intensity coming out in the second half like we did the first half. That is still something that we need to work on."
After playing perhaps his finest game in crimson, Alabama senior defensive end Wallace Gilberry was named SEC defensive lineman of the week for an 11-tackle, two-sack performance. "I played good," said Gilberry, who hails from Bay Minette. "At the same time there are a lot of mistakes I made. We let the quarterback scramble a little too much. We definitely could have had a few more sacks. My hat goes off to the coverage guys. They put us in some good positions. Coach (Kevin) Steele and Coach (Bo) Davis also put us in some good positions to make plays."
Gilberry said that Houston made adjustments for his play, but they paid a price. "Once they start doing that, Lorenzo Washington started to come open. Brandon Deaderick and Zeke Knight start coming open. There is not much an offensive team can do to me that the other guys won't capitalize off of it."
Gilberry knows that the unorthodox Houston offense was much different than what he and his teammates will face in Oxford, Miss., Saturday. "Ole Miss is one of those custom teams," he said. "They line up and what you see is what you get. They have been doing it for the past three years we played them. They are definitely an SEC smash-mouth football team. It's going to be a violent game. But it's going to be a fun one. We are back in the SEC and on the road. What better way to go get it?"
Sulligent's Rashad Johnson also looks forward to a return to SEC play. "It's going to be a lot easier on us and a lot less adjustments," Johnson said. "We can just line up and play more. Ole Miss is a good team and it's going to be physical so we're just going to have to come out and play our best game. It's been a physical game for the past couple of years and I'm expecting the same thing this coming Saturday."
Johnson said that when the team watched videotape of its Saturday win over Houston, "We got the feeling that we lost that game. We made a lot of mistakes and we actually could have lost that game and I'm glad we did win. You don't want to forget that you won that game, but you have to look at the negative things, point them out and try and get those things changed this week."
Johnson said the team will have to have intensity against the Rebels. He said, "It's just something that you have to think about all the time while you're out on the field practicing. When you're tired, you just need to just try and focus a little more mentally and not make mistakes. On Saturday, once the defense got a little fatigued, we started making mistakes here and there. The coaches are going to keep reminding you, but on Saturday it's all left up to the individual player to do the right things even when they're tired."
There was a changing of the guard from a playing-time standpoint at the running back position for Alabama Saturday. Redshirt sophomore Glen Coffee made the most of his first collegiate start with 30 carries, 121 yards and a touchdown. "I was just thankful that the coaches put faith in me to run the ball," he said. "As far as a 100-yard game, that's good, but I‚m just thankful that we got out with a victory. We all try to do what we can to help the team win. Any one of the backs can get out there and run the ball that many times. It was just game planning. They decided to throw me in there and I was just happy that we got out with a victory."
Coffee realizes he must do the job week in and week out in both practice and in games, because Terry Grant and Roy Upchurch are both in the rotation with him. "Basically it's all healthy competition back there," he said. "I mean we don't know going into week to week who is going to be the featured back. We just know that we all have different things to bring to the table. Whatever the coaches decide is the best thing we need to win, that's what we are going to roll with.
"We all practice as hard as we can. It just happened that I was the best fit for this particular game. That could change from week to week. Next week I could have five carries, and Roy (Upchurch) and (Terry) Grant could have 25. That's just how it plays out."
Coffee said there is no problem with ego. "Football is a team sport," he said. "You can't be selfish. It's just not going to work. You aren't going to be happy."
Coach Nick Saban indicated during his press conference that all three will see action Saturday when the Tide and Rebels tee it up at 11:34 a.m. CDT on LFS-TV.
One reason that Alabama can expect to be better on offense is because of sophomore left tackle Andre Smith. On Monday, Smith said, " "It's pretty much up to us to go out there and do our job. We have to go out there and continue to work hard, have fun and show that killer instinct."
Regarding Ole Miss, he said, "Overall the defense is good. It's an SEC team so it's going to be a competition on Saturday so we're going to continue to go out and work hard."
Alabama had new men in the offensive line against Houston. Smith said, "It worked out pretty well. The first three times we had the ball, we scored. We had to be doing something right. We just have to work on the things we messed up last week."
Smith said Bama can be more effective running. "We have to communicate," he said. "Communication is the key, and when one person on the line may see something the others may not, its' really up to us to communicate it down the line so that everybody can understand what's going on or what's about to happen."
Junior quarterback John Parker Wilson said in answer to a question, "I think I've improved on a lot of things, my feet, my timing, everything. I just have to continue doing that. I don't think I've said I'm done with this so I have to move on to something else. I just have to keep working every day and try to get better. The great ones, you hear Peyton Manning and Tom Brady talking about working on something all the time. I just try to do the same things they do."
On assessing the Houston game, Wilson said, "We didn't play a perfect game, but looking back at it, especially looking at the games that happened Saturday, it just tells you how tough it is to win. USC goes up and drops one to Stanford. It can happen to anybody in the top because everyone is good. We're just fortunate to come out with a win."
Wilson said, "We go out there expecting to play for 60 minutes so I don't think it's anything different mentally. I think we kind of dropped off through the middle, but it's nothing we can't handle."
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