Tide Improves It's Depth Perception
Thing is, the rain stopped, but the Red Sea never parted. Alabama's defense only allowed 187 yards to the Mean Green offense. The Crimson Tide would have posted a goose-egg if not for a busted assignment by its backups on defense.
There is depth in this Crimson Ocean.
"We got to play a lot of players," said Alabama coach Nick Saban. "That experience will be very valuable down the road."
Among the 65 players who saw action was backup quarterback Star Jackson. The red shirt freshman guided the offense nearly half the game, and completed 9-for-13 passes, his first aerials in Crimson. Jackson threw for 87 yards.
Jackson said being ready to run the offense when his number is called "is very important. You know (as the backup) that you're always one play away. I never want "Mac" (Greg McElroy) to go down, but you're one play away. You've just got to be ready.
"It was a good job by Coach Mac (Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain) of giving me plays I was comfortable with, and just allowing me to play fast.
"I made a couple of mistakes but we will go over it in film and get better. It was great to get out on the field and help the team. I just have to continue to work and wait for my time."
McElroy, the junior starter, enjoyed seeing his understudy get some meaningful action.
"It was pleasing. I was really happy for (Jackson)," McElroy said. "He's done a great job in practice, and he prepares just like you need to if you're going to play every Saturday.
"I was glad to see him have a good day. He went through his reads and his progressions. He got put in at a difficult time. The ‘May Day' (2-minute) situation is not ideal. He really did well, and moved the ball down the field."
The Tide got a field goal to cap the first half on Jackson's first drive.
Said sophomore running back Mark Ingram, "I think Star was real good today. He had a few little errors with mechanics, but that's his first game in there (to do more than hand off). I think he looked good throwing the ball, and I think he looked real comfortable out there getting a feel for the offense."
And, as Ingram (91 yards on just 8 carries) aptly pointed out, quarterback was not the only position where depth delivered.
"At running back, we have a lot of depth. We have a lot of really good runners. Whoever goes in, I know they're going to show well. It is really nice to have success as a unit. As we start to get into the SEC schedule we will need everyone to contribute."
Such was the case Saturday, as three Tide backs gained 79 yards or more, led by Ingram's 91. He was followed closely by freshman Trent Richardson's 87 and junior Terry Grant's 79 yards. And senior Roy Upchurch didn't dress, though Saban said he might return for the Arkansas game next week.
Depth is also developing at receiver, where five Tiders caught at least a pair of passes Saturday, minus star Julio Jones (who dressed out but didn't plays, and is almost certain to return next week.) Marquis Maze led a balanced group with four grabs for 49 yards. Mike McCoy and Ingram each caught three passes.
Count Mean Green coach Todd Dodge as a believer in the No. 4 Crimson Tide, it‘s starters and it‘s backups.
"They were as advertised. Coming in and preparing for them we felt like there was definitely a reason they were ranked No. 4 in the nation. They obviously should, and have high hopes of being able to play for a national championship. They've got all the ingredients you need – a big physical offensive line, tough running backs, an accurate quarterback and a defense that's very tenacious."
Defensively, 21 different players made at least one tackle. "I'd give us an A-minus," said nose tackle Terrence Cody, who made five stops, as did Mark Barron, Robby Green and Eryk Anders. Backup middle linebacker Chris Jordan led Bama with six stops.
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