Tide Offers Much To Choose From

There are a lot of selections made during the course of a football season. The Southeastern Conference chooses various players of the week and the Associated Press is among those choosing a national player of the week. It gets down to the school, too, as the coaching staff at Alabama will announce various players of the week on Monday.

I am among those who are asked to choose players of the week in various categories in the Southeastern Conference, but without naming any players from the team I know best – Alabama. I have been asked to pick the outstanding players from SEC games on offense, defense and special teams and a Newcomer of the Week.

Those selecting players of the week in the SEC should have one or more Crimson Tide performers on the final list.

Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban and his staff will select players of the week on offense, defense and special teams from Alabama's impressive 34-10 victory over ninth-ranked Clemson in Atlanta Saturday night.

The Alabama coaching staff has a huge advantage over me in choosing the players of the week for Bama. They have the opportunity to view film and judge how a player did in carrying out his assignments. Therefore, a right guard might make the best grade on the team, but a sports reporter would be unlikely to be aware of that. The coaching staff also has the advantage of not having to break ties. Saban may announce three men on offense, two on defense and two on special teams, for instance.

And it goes without saying that the coaches know so much more about football than a sportswriter that the value of the reporter's selections is basically without merit.

But as far as I know, lack of knowledge never hindered expressing an opinion. And so, my picks for this week's Alabama players of the week in various categories:

Offensive Player of the Week – I'll be shocked if tight end Nick Walker isn't at least one choice of the Alabama coaching staff, and I would have no problem making that selection. But in gratitude for performing as I have predicted he would while on the speaking tour in recent weeks, my selection is John Parker Wilson (with a supporting award to new Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Jim McElwain).

Wilson, Alabama's fifth year quarterback and third year starter (under three different coordinators and position coaches) had the numbers with 22 of 30 on passing with no interceptions and two touchdowns and 188 yards. He wasn't sacked (part of the read it quick and get rid of it quick philosophy of McElwain). He also ran for a touchdown. And as much as anything, he looked to be the part of a tremendous field leader, something his teammates have been saying about him all month.

The defense didn't have as many opportunities to have players shine. That's because the Alabama offense had the football for 41:13 of the 60-minute game, leaving only 18:47 for the Tide defense to play. Bama's offense ran 80 plays, Clemson's only 48.

There were players who made outstanding plays. Rolando McClain tipped a pass, which was intercepted by Marquis Johnson. Brandon Deaderick had a critical sack to take Clemson out of touchdown range. When a defense holds the nation's so-called best one-two running game punch (Clemson's James Davis and C.J. Spiller) to zero yards, you can bet there was some good defense being played.

Maybe because I kept waiting for someone to beat him out, my selection is junior strongside linebacker Cory Reamer. Early in the game, Reamer forced a fumble that was recovered by freshman weakside linebacker Don'ta Hightower. He also made some sure tackles and always seemed to be in the right place.

As for special teams play, I was able to eliminate the kickoff coverage team, which allowed the only big play by Clemson, Spiller's 96-yard kickoff return to start the second half. And I eliminated the punting team, which had only two opportunities, none in the first half.

This was actually easy. Leigh Tiffin did a nice job of kicking off and he also nailed four field goals in five tries. His 54-yard field goal to open scoring in the game was his longest ever.

I have also been asked to select a "Newcomer of the Week." I expected that my choices might come down to four players. That was based on the depth chart Saban issued last week. There were two true freshmen listed as starters, wide receiver Julio Jones and linebacker Hightower. Also listed as a starter was junior college transfer Terrence Cody. All were on my list and each played well enough to be considered as the Alabama Newcomer of the Week. Jones had four pass receptions, all key catches including one touchdown. Hightower recovered a fumble. Cody was in on four tackles, including one for a loss, but was far more valuable than just raw numbers as he stopped up the middle and disrupted the Clemson backfield.

The fourth newcomer on my pre-game mental list was tailback Mark Ingram. He was listed co-second team with returning starter Terry Grant behind Glen Coffee and Saban and Alabama players had mentioned him on numerous occasions during fall camp. On Saturday night he was a pleasant surprise to Bama followers. He runs with speed and power and toughness and he led all rushers in the game with 17 carries for 96 yards. He had a 28-yard run that was the longest in the game.

Alabama's victory over Clemson was a team win in every respect. There are many Crimson Tide players who could legitimately be considered for recognition.

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