McElroy's Sights On Tide Offense

The storyline everyone knows: Alabama junior quarterback Greg McElroy will face his former high school coach this Saturday in Tuscaloosa. North Texas Coach Todd Dodge was the head coach at Southlake Carroll High School and led the team to four state titles in five years. McElroy was one of his star pupils at quarterback.

Following Alabama's victory over Florida International last Saturday, the Crimson Tide could turn its attention to North Texas, this week's opponent. For most Alabama players, North Texas is not the highlight of the schedule. For Bama quarterback Greg McElroy, facing his former high school coach, it is a game he "circled" on this year's schedule.

McElroy cracked that he could probably help Bama's defense this week because of his knowledge of Coach Dodge's system.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, "We're not going to ask Greg to help us coach defense this week, we'll just go ahead and let him be the quarterback. I'm sure he'd be helpful as smart as he is."

Not even a tip?

Saban said, "Well, we haven't asked him, yet. We're still trying to figure it out on our own. The way I like to do it is see if I can figure it out and then ask him if I'm right or wrong. That's not how it supposed to be between the player and the coach, but that's the way we do it."

In case you don't get it, Saban was being facetious.

Saban is well aware of the success Dodge had, including winning four state championships in five years at Carroll High School. McElroy was one of his title-winning quarterbacks. So was Chase Daniel, who had a great career at Missouri.

"Coach Dodge and I had a good relationship," McElroy said on Monday. "Obviously, I kind of fell behind a player who he had a fantastic relationship with in Chase (Daniel), so I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked to with Coach Dodge as a starting quarterback, but I very much enjoyed the year I had with him. We did some great things offensively. We ended up scoring more points than any other offense in the history of Texas high school football that year. Coach Dodge is really a great coach, and I am glad to see him having some success this year. His son (Riley Dodge) is a good quarterback and I have a lot of faith in him as well. Other than this game, I will be pulling for them the rest of the year."

McElroy won't be helping the Alabama defense this week. He'll be doing what he does every week, which is working to defeat the opposing defense. McElroy said North Texas looks "to be a much better team this year. They are doing a lot of things defensively that they weren't doing last year."

North Texas may know something about McElroy, too.

The Tide quarterback said the Alabama and North Texas systems are not the same. "The only thing that is similar is reading the defense," he said. "The way Coach Dodge taught me to read is just the way I was taught to read here."

McElroy is obviously doing things well in his first year as Alabama's starting quarterback. In his first two games for the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide, McElroy has completed 33 of 54 passes (61.1 per cent) for 471 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. That's after starting the season 2-12. The interception came when he was hit as he released the pass.

McElroy is described by all who know him as very smart, which leads to the conclusion that intelligence helps him.

McElroy said, "I think anyone can understand the terminology. The time and dedication, maybe that's the difference. Maybe someone like me with my study habits in situations like that, I can pick things up a little faster. Usually if I see it one time I can remember it.

"My mom says it's a photographic memory, but after a couple of hits in the head, you start to question that photographic memory. I will say it's really helpful for me. to be able to understand the offense really well and understand what everyone else is doing. That helps me be successful."

Happy memories of playing for Coach Todd Dodge aside, McElroy will have his full attention of moving the Alabama offense this Saturday. Kickoff for Bama vs. the Mean Green is 11:20 a.m. CDT in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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