Trying To Find Silver Lining

In the historical scheme of things, the 2008 Alabama football season will be remembered as one of the best in school history. The Tide won 12 games for only the third time in program history, but ended the season on a pair of sour notes: losses to Florida in the SEC championship game and to Utah in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Alabama junior running back Glen Coffee finished the 2008 campaign with 1,383 net rushing yards, second-best in school history. He said the way the season ended was disappointing, but overall the team will "take pride regardless, but at the same time, but at the same time, you've got to finish. This does put a damper on the season, no matter how much light we try to throw on it, and no matter how we try to make it sound like a Cinderella story, still, we didn't finish, and that's something we've got to live with for the rest of our lives."

Coffee has not made a final decision on his draft status, but is expected to return for the 2009 season. He sounded like it when asked if the sour end to a year that began 12-0 would serve as extra motivation when off season conditioning work starts.

"Most definitely," he said. "Unfortunately, we have something negative to look at as far as ending the season. As a man, you've got to be able to look at something negative and turn it into a positive. I think that's' definitely what we're going to do. As a competitor, you don't have time to think about worry. You've got to always have high hopes, and be in a positive mind frame going into a new season.."

Several other returning Bama players said the way the season ended will serve as strong motivation when off-season conditioning workouts begin in a few days.

"It's a teaching point and a learning point. These two losses, they were hard to us," said junior nose tackle Terrence Cody. "The Sugar Bowl is a hard loss. Its really going to teach us, and let us know, that we can't underestimate anybody, so we've got to play to our full potential.

"This season is going to build our confidence and enthusiasm going into next year."

Cody made All-American in his first season as a junior college transfer. The 6-5, 365-pounder racked up 24 tackles in 12 games, including 4.5 for a loss, a half sack, and two quarterback hurries. He forced two fumbles and recovered one.

Junior offensive tackle Drew Davis said the two losses "give us a lot of motivation. We didn't finish like we should have, and we didn't get back what we thought we put into (the season). We're just going to go back to the chopping block, and keep working. It's always motivation, coming off a game that you knew you should have played a lot better in.

"I do feel like we're headed in the right direction. I feel like we all have bought into Coach (Nick) Saban's program, and I think we're on the right track."

Davis started all 14 games at right tackle, but was forced into duty at left tackle for the majority of the Utah game after fellow junior Mike Johnson left the game with an ankle injury. Johnson was at left tackle to start the Utah game due to the suspension of All-American Andre Smith, who reportedly had dealings with a sports agent. Johnson is likely to be back at left guard when spring practice opens in March.

Junior defensive end Brandon Deaderick said the way the season ended will "motivate me a lot. In the off-season program, we focus on finishing, and we didn't finish these past two games. We're in good shape.

"I see some holes in my game where I can get better and improve. You've got to cut your losses, pick it up, and get ready. You can't sit around and complain, because all you can do is get better."

Deaderick, a 14-game starter, finished the year with 36 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, and four sacks. He was credited with seven quarterback hurries.

"When we lost the SEC championship, we really wanted to come in here and get a win, to send these seniors out on a good note," said junior linebacker Cory Reamer. "We've got to learn how to bounce back (from adversity), and be ready for that next year." Reamer called the season-ending losses "a big motivation. We want to get back here. We don't' want this to be our only chance at a BCS (bowl) or national championship game. It's a big motivation for us to work even harder in the off-season, to make sure we're a better team next year, so we don't' make the same mistakes we did."

Reamer started 11 and played in all 14 games, and compiled 35 tackles, six for minus yardage. He forced one fumble, had one sack, and one quarterback hurry.

One player who won't be returning is Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson. He was asked where he thinks the Alabama program is now

"I think we have kind of turned things around from the first few years I was here," he said. "We won six games and then we won seven games and this year we won 12 games. I think we changed the attitude, the mentality of the team, that we can go out there and play with anybody."

After a few days of rest, the Tide is expected to start off-season conditioning workouts next week.

BamaMag Top Stories