Woodall Continues Impressive Play

Alabama assigns some good coaches to secondary play. Kirby Smart is in charge of the defensive backs and is also Crimson Tide defensive coordinator. Helping him in the defensive backfield is Bama Head Coach Nick Saban, who works primarily with cornerbacks.

The secondary is very important in the Alabama defense. Ostensibly a 3-4 (three down linemen, four linebackers, two cornerbacks and two safeties), the alignment is more often than not altered to include one (nickel) or two (dime) extra defensive backs.

One member of the secondary who has been among Alabama's most improved players this fall is safety Justin Woodall, who had another fine game in Alabama's 41-30 win over third-ranked Georgia in Athens Saturday night.

One of the key plays as Bama built a 31-0 lead against Georgia in the first half Saturday night came when the Bulldogs' excellent quarterback, Matthew Stafford, rifled a pass to Georgia freshman wide receiver A.J. Green in the second quarter. Woodall was on the scene and stripped the ball from Green's hands and into those of freshman Tide linebacker Dont'a Hightower. From there Bama went to a touchdown and a 24-0 lead.

Later in the quarter, Stafford went deep. Woodall was there and made the interception, ending a streak of 111 passes without an interception by Stafford.

The Bulldogs had two turnovers on the night and Woodall had a big hand in both of them.

He was also Alabama's leading tackler with five unassisted stops and broke up a pass.

As has been pointed out, Woodall had a rather undistinguished first two years at Alabama after an outstanding prep career in which he tied the Mississippi high school interceptions record. He was also an outstanding baseball player who passed up a Major League contract to sign with the Crimson Tide, and he has frequently been described as one of Bama's best athletes.

This year it's showing. He has been in on 18 tackles and leads the Tide with three interceptions for 87 yards in returns.

"That was the best team we have played," Woodall said Saturday night after Bama's win over Georgia.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban had said that a key to Alabama's victory had been the front seven of the Bama defense being able to put pressure on Stafford and control the vaunted Georgia running game, led by All-America candidate Knowshon Moreno.

Woodall agreed. "It gives us a chance to make plays when the seven guys up there get the job done," he said. "Cody (nose tackle Terrence Cody) and the defensive line really played well.

"We were in position to make plays."

One of the tough assignments for Alabama defensive backs Saturday night was dealing with Georgia's outstanding wide receivers, including Green. Georgia's Green and Alabama's Julio Jones were considered the top two wide receiver prospects in the nation last year. In Saturday's game, Green led the Bulldogs in receiving with six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown and Jones led Bama with five catches for 94 yards and a touchdown.

"They're both pretty good," Woodall said. "Julio is a lot more physical."

Woodall was not surprised at Jones' good game against the Bulldogs. "He does it in practice every day," Woodall said. "It wasn't anything I haven't seen."

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