"Jimmy's impressed me," Mustin said. "I thought he was a pretty good running back, but I think he will be a really good linebacker. I think he picked it up quicker than I did when I first started." Mustin even joked that he was glad Johns didn't make the move sooner and take playing time away from himself.
The Alabama defense probably exceeded most expert expectations this season, and seemed to improve as the season went along despite the Tide's four-game losing streak to end the year. However, when asked if he thought the defensive progressed had been too much overlooked, Mustin said, "It's hard to talk about one aspect of the team when the team is not doing good. To be talked about you got to do one thing – win."
Colorado running back Hugh Charles Thursday pointed out an unseen advantage he thinks the Buffs might have over Alabama – better breathing ability. The elevation of Boulder, Colorado is approximately 5,400 feet above sea level, and Charles said there has been a noticeable improvement in team stamina during practices at Shreveport.
"We were all hoping for warmer weather, but we play in (the cold) all the time," he said. "The big advantage that we have is the acclimation. I think a lot of people are breathing better down here than they are in Colorado. You really can (sense a difference). I can breath a lot better. I took a lot of reps in practice yesterday. If I had taken that many in Colorado I would die."
Players said Friday that Alabama Coach Nick Saban told the backs and receivers who would be handling the ball a lot that he did not want them wearing sleeves.
For their bowl gifts this year players received sweat suits, watches, surround sound systems and video recorders (one of which was used to record that footage of Nick Saban dancing) as well as the standard allowed spending money for the trip. In 2004 and 2005 the team also got bowl rings from the school, but did not last year and are not expected to this year.
In the spirit of full disclosure it must also be noted that the media members covering the Independence Bowl on Sunday also received gifts. In picking up press credentials, media members received a small tote bag filled with a pencil, notepad, change purse, Mardi Gras beads and an (empty) Independence Bowl whiskey tumbler (Hey, what are they trying to pull?)
Memories of Coaches Past
Nick Saban will have to do more than shuffle his feet on the dance floor to top the memorable bowl moments for Alabama coaches in the past two years. Last year there was Joe Kines' halftime interview on ESPN heard ‘round the world (linked here), and two years ago at the Cotton Bowl was Mike Shula's graceful fall (linked here) before his fall from grace.