Reamer Has Respect For Sugar Bowl Foe

I thought I could avoid the Andre Smith saga for a few minutes following Alabama's Wednesday practice at the Louisiana Superdome by talking to Crimson Tide linebacker Cory Reamer. I didn't count on another reporter having an Andre Angle.

Alabama is 12-1 and ranked fourth in the nation. Utah is the nation's last mjajor college undefeated football team at 12-0. The teams will play in the 75th annual Sugar Bowl at 7 p.m. CST Friday with national television coverage by Fox.

But this BCS bowl match-up have been overshadowed--blanketed, in fact--by discussion of Bama's top player, All-America offensive tackle Andre Smith being suspended for the game and sent back to his home in Birmingham.

Alabama linebacker Cory Reamer has been one of the individual success stories within the Crimson Tide success story of the 2008 season (which continues into these early days of 2009). The 6-4 218-pound junior, made the switch from strong safety to inside linebacker last spring, then late in the spring switched from inside linebacker to strongside linebacker, an outside linebacker position.

He was the starter in 11 games (the other two games, Western Kentucky and Florida, Bama didn't have a strongside linebacker to start the game). He had 35 tackles, including six for losses totaling 16 yards, and had one sack (minus eight yards) and caused a fumble.

Alabama's defense has a difficult task against a very efficient Utah offense, and that was the theme of Reamer's meeting with reporters until a television reporter wanted to know how not having Andre Smith would affect Bama.

Reamer gave the diplomatic answer. "We love Andre," he said. "It's tough that he's not going to be here. But he's not going to be here and we can't worry about it. We have to stay focused on what we need to do. We love Andre, he's a good guy, but we have to stay focused on the game."

There was one other Andre-based question. Did Reamer think there was more pressure on the defense since the offense woudn't have Andre and, therefore, might not be as efficient?

"We're not worried about our offense," Reamer said. "They're going to be fine. We just need to go out and do our job."

Reamer said the long layoff from playing a game since Alabama played in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game on December 6 is not an issue. "We had some time off, but we've been back practicing for awhile, and (after the Christmas break) we've been working on the game plan this week.

"We're excited to be in this venue."

Reamer said that Utah brings a lot of offensive schemes, including some of the spread look that Florida had and some of the "Wildcat" type offenses featuring a non-quarterback taking a direct snap "that we've seen from some other teams." And, he said, Utah quarterback Brian Johnson "has a great arm."

He mentioned the Utah two-minute offense that has been so successful. "They have an excellent two minute offense," Reamer said. "I think they have only missed twice at the end of the game or the end of the half.  They were down eight to Oregon State and came back to win that game with a field goal.  They have won a lot of close games."

Reamer is not buying into the reputation of Utah being small. "We've seen them walking around this week," he said. "They have some big guys. They are not small."

Reamer had only to search his memory to eliminate one myth about the opponent. He was watching bowl games a few years ago and saw Oklahoma get bushwacked by Boise State, a non-BCS team. "Boise State proved non-BCS schools cannot be overlooked a few years ago," he swaid. "Utah is 12-0 and that's not easy in college football today. They are a good, talented team who earned their place here."

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