Alabama Players Pleased With Outcome
A few hours later, with game still tied at 21 and in overtime, Alabama senior safety Rashad Johnson got his third -- and biggest -- interception of the game. This one came in the right corner of the end zone on LSU's initial overtime possession, and put his team in a position where it could score and exit Tiger Stadium as SEC West champs.
After that pick, the same media pundit exclaimed, "He may have just clinched All-American."
"I saw (LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee) roll out, and we brought a blitz to pull him up because they had been running that play a lot in the second half," Johnson said. "It was a great play call by us to blitz him on that side, so he couldn't get all the way out and throw the out route like he normally does. He was looking for his receiver on that side, and just overthrew him."
Thing was, Johnson was just obeying orders from his position coach, given just prior to the start of overtime. "Before we went out there, coach (Kirby) Smart came over to me and said, ‘Make a play to win it; we have a possibility to go ahead and end the game, now.'
"My mindset before the game was to focus on the things we prepared for all week and to make sure I as set up for different (formations.) My mindset was just to have my mind ready for the worst case scenario, so I could recognize it on the field and get the right play in to the rest of the defense. I was just trying to do everything I could to help my team out. It was definitely a huge game. It feels good to come out with a victory, especially tonight."
"He's the leader," said Johnson's fellow safety, Ali Sharrief. "He not only leads by what he does on the field, he leads off the field, too. He's just a player."
Sharrief, who finished with four tackles and a pass break-up that was picked off by Rolando McClain, said Bama came in wanting to rattle LSU redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee, who threw four interceptions and was sacked once. "Basically, we just stuck to the game plan," said Sharrief. "Our coaches put us in a good position this week in practice, and we were able to go out there and execute."
"It's big," said 365-pound nose tackle Terrance Cody, and he should know. "We clinched the West, but we're not done yet. We're going to keep on pushing. We'll enjoy this win for 24 hours, and then get ready for Mississippi State." Glen Coffee turned in another workmanlike performance for the Tide offense, rushing for 126 yards on 26 carries. "We're excited. It's a great feeling, to win in overtime like that," he said. "We overcame adversity. We came out sort of flat (in the first half), and playing in the SEC, you've got to play every quarter, to the best of your ability.
"We came out flat, but we made up for it, in the end. It feels very good, because we haven't really had a game like this where we had so many ups and downs. I felt like we got some valuable experience."
It wasn't the greatest of games for senior quarterback John Parker Wilson, who finished 15-31 for 215 yards with one interception.
"Everyone stayed upbeat the whole game," he said. "We kept heart. We were beating ourselves and doing stupid stuff. We executed when we had to, and won the game."
Wilson served as executioner himself on two plays that killed LSU's upset hopes, both in overtime.
After Johnson's interception in the back of the end zone to end LSU's first (and only) overtime possession, the decision was made to not start out by going for a field goal, even though that's all the Tide needed. Instead, a pass play was called to freshman receiver Julio Jones, who took the 24-yard grab to the 1.
"After that interception, coach Saban said, ‘Let's take a shot,' so of course we threw it to Julio Jones. He made a great play. It was a back-shoulder ball, and he made a great adjustment. He was able to beat them."
Two plays later, Wilson snuck in from the 1 on a play that was reviewed, confirmed, and sent the Tide to Atlanta, where it opened the season with a win over Clemson Aug. 30.
For LSU, it was obviously a tough loss to swallow. "I thought we fought hard, down to the final buzzer," Lee said. "It's unfortunate that it didn't work out for us. We are going to move forward, and keep our heads up."
Running back Richard Murphy agreed. "Yes, its very disappointing. We played hard we did everything coach (Miles) asked us to do. It just didn't fall like it was supposed to."
Alabama' s fans and players, who made up a minority part of the record Tiger Stadium crowd of 93,039, would tend to disagree.
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