Is Tide Tipping Off Its Plays?

Following Alabama's hang-on-by-its-nails 30-24 win over Houston last weekend, we came into knowledge of what the Houston coaching staff thought about the Crimson Tide as the Cougars prepared for the game. Additionally, Houston may have gotten a little boost during the game.

Alabama scored 23 points in the first quarter against Houston, but then the offense began to sputter. A source close to the Houston situation indicated that it may not have been something as simple as Bama play selection, or even execution.

Alabama's offensive line may have been telegraphing.

Our source said that a Houston coach was accurately calling "Pass" or "Run" as soon as the Tide offensive line was set. And he reportedly said he was picking it up "from the linemen."

The source said, "One thing that was interesting was that they knew that Will Oakley would be the target of that one third down play as soon as Bama lined up."

The source said Houston expected Alabama to pass more in the game.

In his weekly briefing with media Monday, Alabama Coach Nick Saban said that the Crimson Tide "won't win a game because we're Alabama" The information we received indicates Houston had no fear of the Crimson Tide, and, in fact, thought Bama had some weaknesses to exploit.

Other tidbits included:

The Houston staff has great respect for Bama tailback Terry Grant, but the Cougars were not happy to see Glen Coffee at tailback. Houston has had trouble with a big back, and Coffee gave them plenty of problems with his 30 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown.

It was no surprise that Houston coaches thought Bama's top two offensive linemen are Andre Smith and Antoine Caldwell. What the Cougars did not like to see was Caldwell in Marlon Davis' spot at right guard. Davis missed starting after having missed a couple of practices with a death in the family last week.

The source said Houston coaches regarded D.J. Hall and Mike McCoy as the only Tide receivers "to worry about." They were particularly high on McCoy as a blocker. Hall was "never to be left in one-on-one coverage." It was the belief of the Cougars staff that Keith Brown would not be a factor in part because of the hard lick he had taken on a touchdown reception the week before against Florida State.

The Houston staff is much higher on Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson than many Alabama fans seem to be. They don't necessarily consider him an "elite" quarterback, but think when the rest of the offense does its part that he will be very, very good.

Those coaches are also familiar with Alabama's back-up quarterbacks, both Texans. They believe Greg McElroy could be successful, the source said, but the one they didn't want to see was Nick Fanuzzi, whom they believe to be one of the best quarterbacks to come out of Texas in many years.

On defense, the Cougars staff was not happy to see Brandon Deaderick on the defensive front (and Deaderick responded with a sack on the first play of the game). They expect Rolando McClain to be a good linebacker in the future, but think the only very good linebacker for Bama right now is Ezekial Knight. In the secondary they were impressed with Simeon Castille and Kareem Jackson.

The Houston coaches believe that Bama has one of the best coaching staffs in the country.

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