Notes From Tide Win Over FIU
In his first home game as the starting quarterback, Alabama junior quarterback Greg McElroy produced an extremely accurate single-game passing performances against FIU, completing 16 of his first 18 attempts (including 11 of 12 to start the game). He ended the game with an impressive 18-for-24 (75 per cent) passing performance for 241 yards and one touchdown.
Alabama suffered injuries in the win over Florida International. Starting tailback Roy Upchurch went out after a few plays with medical staff checking his left ankle. Later, star wide receiver Julio Jones was on the bench with an ice pack on his bruised left knee. The news is much worse for redshirt freshman linebacker Damion Square, believed to have a serious knee injury.
Alabama started the game with Preston Dial, a tight end, at fullback and Roy Upchurch at tailback, both first time starters on offense. Mark Ingram, who started at tailback the previous week and ran several plays as the wildcat, had been out of practice with flu during the practice week for Florida International. Although Upchurch has played in 30 Bama games, it was his first start.
Also starting for the first time was sophomore safety Robby Green as Bama opened with five defensive backs.
Upchurch was injured early in the game and freshman Trent Richardson was the back-up. Later in the first quarter Ingram went in at tailback, and Terry Grant was the fourth Bama tailback in the first quarter.
Alabama used both the wildcat formation (direct snap to tailback with quarterback Greg McElroy split out) and the pistol formation (McElroy taking a deep snap with the tailback directly behind him) against FIU. Neither formation was used much after the first couple of possessions, though.
Alabama had 516 yards of total offense against Florida International, which followed a 498-yard output against Virginia Tech.
Bama middle defenders were key. Junior middle linebacker Rolando McClain was Bama's leading tackler, six primary stops and four assists. The other inside linebacker, Dont'a Hightower, had three primary and three assists and strong safety Mark Barron had two primary and four assists.
Alabama defensive end Brandon Deaderick was on the field for the Crimson Tide, but the senior did not start for the second consecutive week. Deaderick has had a terrible personal start to the season. He was very limited in Bama's opener against Virginia Tech because he had been shot in a hold-up attempt the previous Monday. Last week he had to return to his home in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, because of a death in the family.
Freshman wide receiver Michael Bowman saw his first action of the season on Bama's second reception. Later, freshman Dre Kirkpatrick was in on the punt rush/return team. Previous true freshmen to play this year were Rod Woodson and Trent Richardson. Alabama wipe-up action late in the fourth quarter included a number of new faces, including both soph walk-on quarterback Thomas Darrah and redshirt freshman quarterback Star Jackson and a fifth fullback, soph tailback Demetrius Goode.
Alabama kickoff coverage in the Virginia Tech game had not been good. On the first kickoff of the night against FIU, Bama stopped the Golden Panthers inside the 15-yard line. That proved to be false comfort. On the second kickoff, T.Y. Hilton went 96 yards for a touchdown. And on Bama's third kickoff, the ball went out of bounds, setting FIU up at the Panthers' 40.
Senior Bama placekicker Leigh Tiffin missed a 39-yard field goal in the third quarter, but he did connect on a pair of three-point kicks in the first half. Those field goals gave him 59 for his Alabama career, which is tied for third most in Crimson Tide history. Philip Doyle had 78 in 1987-90 and Michael Proctor (65 in 1992-95). Leigh tied his father, Van Tiffin, who kicked his 59 in 1983-86.
Alabama captains were junior quarterback Greg McElroy, senior left guard Mike Johnson and sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower.
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