The Men Who Played Have Different Takes

The most dominant defensive player on the field in Saturday's 20-6 Alabama win over Tulane was not made available to the media after the game, but one of his teammates had no problem discussing the 15-tackle performance of middle linebacker Rolando McClain.



"That's an amazing, amazing job. Fifteen tackles," said Alabama defensive end Lorenzo Washington of McClain's performance against the Green Wave. "He's a hell of a player. So mature, and he's just a sophomore. He calls everything on the defense, and makes all the checks and all the adjustments. He made great plays all day."

Washington also couldn't help but notice the ten tackles of true freshman Dont'a Hightower in just his second college game and start.

"Dont'a Hightower, he's another freshman phenom, you know," said Washington, "He's getting the calls down now, and he definitely stepped up, just like Rolando did last year. He does everything asked of him. He does his job, and he's going to be a great player."

 Like all true freshmen who play for Nick Saban, Hightower is not available to speak with the media and won't be until spring practice.

Alabama never really got going on offense, gaining but 172 yards. "We just weren't clicking. We didn't execute on third downs," said Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson, who finished with just 73 yards on 11-of-23 passing and got sacked four times. "We got into third and longs. It was just a little bit of everything, and not executing the way we were supposed to, and the way we can.

"They showed on film they were going to blitz, and they brought 'the house' a lot. We've got to be ready for that. Obviously, we didn't do a good job of handling that tonight. That's why we have (blocking) rules. No matter what they do, we should be able to handle it."

Defensively, Bama gave up 318 yards, but allowed only six points, thanks in part to a pair of field goals missed by Tulane kicker Ross Thevenot.

"It just took us a little while to get all our cylinders clicking in all phases," Washington said. "Offense and defense. We started off sort of slow."

One phase the Tide not struggle in: punt returns. Junior Javier Arenas set a Crimson Tide single-game record with 147 yards in punt returns, and added another 40 on kickoff returns before leaving the game after a blow to the head. Arenas has many fans, but few bigger than Washington.

"I was hoping they'd keep kicking it to him. Any time he touches the ball, I think he can take it to 'the house'," said Washington. "Anything, any time, anywhere. No matter if he intercepts it, a punt return or a kick return. He's an excellent player."

Tulane coach Bob Toledo took time to find a silver lining in his team's loss. ":I'm just proud of our football players giving as good an effort as they did and they played hard until the end," he said. "Our kicking game really let us down. They had a punt return for a touchdown, a blocked punt for a touchdown, and we missed two field goals. Our red zone offense wasn't very good and that's a credit to Alabama - they were able to keep us out of the endzone."

Green Wave quarterback Kevin Moore finished 28-49for 225 yards.

"There were two or three plays that will probably haunt me tonight because they could have been big ones. I put one down in the red zone and one around midfield in the second or third quarter that I will be thinking of for a while. All in all I thought we battled hard, came in and played, put our head down and didn't get too much in awe of the situation. I was proud of us for that. A couple of breaks go here and there, a couple of plays on special teams or if the offense could have put it in. They (Alabama) played fantastic, great defense, very talented with a lot of athletes. They have a lot of good players and they answered."

Tulane linebacker Travis Burks had a sack and 1.5 tackles for a loss.

"All in all I think we did pretty good, but we've got some fine-tuning to do," he said. "You know, the clock is running and we just need to tune it up. We made a couple of mistakes that the people in the stands wouldn't notice, but it was a big blow."

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