Players Discuss Win Over Red Wolves

It's been five years since Alabama safety Rashad Johnson scored a touchdown in a football game. Johnson played running back at Sulligent High School back in 2003, then walked on to Alabama where he was converted to safety. In Saturday's 35-0 homecoming win over Arkansas State, the senior was covering a Red Wolf receiver when he turned around quickly, and saw: the ball.

"I turned around, and the ball was just there," said senior Alabama captain Rashad Johnson. "I did a good job to get my hands on it, I was able to reel it in, and once I got it, all I saw was just sidelines. When I got it, I was determined to get in the end zone."

The man Johnson victimized, ASU quarterback Corey Leonard, explained what happened on the play. "It started off with the pressure," he said. "They brought everybody. We had a slide protection on and they got a little too much pressure and I had to get rid of the ball early. He made a great move on the ball. Again, they just cause problems as a defense and that was one of those times where you can't say he (the receiver) was wrong or I was wrong, it was just good by them."

"That was a big play in the game," Bama coach Nick Saban added.

Johnson led all tacklers in the shutout with 13. His team is now 9-0. "It means a lot," said Johnson. "With all the hard work we put in in the off-season, and to come into this season with people thinking we were only going to win maybe eight games. We're 9-0 now. It definitely feels good for this to be my last year, for us to be playing as well as we're playing, and that we still have some good ball left to play."

The Tide defense managed four sacks in the game, 1.5 each by ends Bobby Greenwood and Brandon Deaderick.

"We're clicking, and going on all cylinders," said Deaderick. "Regardless of who the opponent is, Tennessee or Arkansas State, we come to play, every game."

"It was great, with how quick that quarterback (Corey Leonard) was," Greenwood said. "We contained him. He got out on us a few times, but for the most part we did okay. We have to stay in our lanes, and just make good tackles."

The Tide defense held the Red Wolves (4-4) to 158 yards on 54 snaps. Bama's offense had 357 yards. "They are a fantastic football team," said Arkansas State Coach Steve Roberts. "We knew that from film study of all their games this year. They played very well. I am proud of the effort from out football team. I thought we did some things to make them adjust on both sides of the ball, really all three sides of the ball. We did some good things, we just didn't do enough of them, and they showed why they are the number two team in the country. They are a very, very powerful and very physical football team."

Despite Saban's "24-hour rule" about how long to celebrate a win before turning talk to the next opponent, Alabama's players are fully aware they can clinch the SEC West and lock up a trip to Atlanta to face Florida in the SEC Championship game with a win at LSU next week.

Quarterback John Parker Wilson said, "As soon as coach Saban got done talking (post-game), and said ‘24-hour rule,' (senior center Antoine) Caldwell has a thing. He always says ‘It's Red Wolf week' or whatever. As soon as (Saban) got done, (Caldwell) was like, ‘It's Tiger week!'

"I think everybody is ready to let this game go, because we're excited, and we're ready to get to work. Its such a big game for us, and we all know what it means."

Said Wilson: "We knew it was a big game coming in. We hadn't looked or talked about LSU at all. Now we can. We have this win and it's a good one. Now we can go work and get ready for those guys. We're looking forward to it. I think we've done well so far, and we've just got to keep going, and take the same approach. Not let any outside ‘clutter' get in our way, because its going to be there. We're a very mature team, and we've handled the ‘clutter' very well.

"We've got the right approach, and we know how to win. Now, its just important to take the same approach--not getting ahead of ourselves, and just going out and playing good football."

Greenwood has been to Baton Rouge before. "They have a great atmosphere down there, and its going to be a huge game," he said. "They have a good team, and solid players."

"Its never too early to get started," said Deaderick. "We've already seen some clips of LSU when we were looking at tapes preparing for other games."

Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas said, "We were better, but we weren't focused to the extent that we dominated on every play. We went into this game thinking it wasn't about them, it was about us. That will take care of itself next week with a big opponent like LSU."

Bama nose tackle Josh Chapman said, "It's going to be on your mind. LSU is a great team. We've got to get our minds ready."

The Tide and Tigers meet at 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday, with CBS set to televise the game. Alabama goes to Baton Rouge to take on the defending national champion LSU Tigers in a game that could decide the winner of the Southeastern Conference Western Division. (If Alabama wins, the Tide clinches the berth in the SEC Championship Game. If LSU wins, Bama could still win the division with wins over Mississippi State and Auburn.)

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