Veteran Hall Goes Against UT Rookie
D.J. Hall, Alabama's record-setting wide receiver, didn't look happy at the end of last Saturday's 27-24 win over Ole Miss in Oxford. "I couldn't understand what was happening," Hall said. "I was going off the field and they were telling us to put on our helmet. I thought, ‘Why?' Then I saw all those bottles coming out of the stands.
"Then I saw all those policeman running up into the stands."
That was serious.
Alabama playing Tennessee is serious, too. The South's most famous football rivalry continues Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Kickoff will be shortly after 11:30 a.m. with regional television coverage by the Southeastern Conference's Lincoln Financial Network.
But Hall, a senior who has set numerous Alabama receiving records, including most career catches (164) and most career receiving yards (2,497), has seen something that pleases him, too. Tennessee has an excellent defense, but it includes a lot of man coverage in the secondary.
"They play fast," Hall said. "Fast and physical. They have a great defensive line, they have linebackers who get to the ball quickly, and they put a lot of men in the box. That means their corners are on an island, and that's always good news to a receiver."
More than that, Hall said, "They've got a true freshman cornerback. I'll take it easy on him," the Tide receiver joked.
Hall has actually been impressed with Tennessee freshman cornerback Brent Vinson, a 6-2, 185-pounder who joined the Volunteers as a wide receiver. He shifted to cornerback early this year and has won the starting job.
"He's tall and very athletic and breaks on the ball," Hall said of Vinson.
Hall said that Tennessee plays more off man than press man, meaning the corners drop back and the safeties come up. "As a receiver you want to see any kind of man defense," Hall said. "Then it's man against man."
Alabama has not seen a lot of man defense in the secondary since the Arkansas game. Even Florida State, which had been primarily a man defense prior to playing Bama, switched to zone for that game.
Regardless of the scheme, Hall said, "I've been against the best in the SEC, so I know what I've got to do."
As for speculation that this could be a high-scoring game, Hall said, "I hope it's high scoring on our side. If we do the things we're supposed to do, execute the plays Coach (Major) Applewhite calls, I think we've got some things in that could be big plays."
Hall said that it might not seem like Tennessee week around campus and without all the orange and the constant racket of the country song, "Rocky Top," that is Tennessee's trademark, "but that's off on the field. On the (practice) field we know it's Tennessee week. We know it's going to be a 60-minute fight."
Hall had a big moment in the Alabama-Tennessee game of 2005. With the game tied 3-3 late and Bama backed up, Hall said then-quarterback Brodie Croyle "looked me in the eye and said, ‘Run. I'm coming to you.' He made a great throw and it put us in field goal range to win the game. That was big."
Against Ole Miss last week, Hall had 11 receptions for 140 yards. For the season he has 37 catches for 579 yards (15.6 yards per catch) and three touchdowns.
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