Going Google Over Guillon

FAYETTEVILLE -- Before Saturday, a Google Web search for "Marc Guillon" yielded a mere 45 results. On Wednesday, more than 1,500 were returned.

Guillon's world-wide rise in popularity comes on the heels of Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle's season-ending knee injury during last Saturday's 52-0 win against Western Carolina. The third-year sophomore was 5 of 7 for 71 yards and a touchdown after Croyle, who had reconstructive surgery Monday, went down in the third quarter.

Toss in the fact that Guillon's a Miami transfer and that was enough to give the Tide and their fans confidence in their new starting quarterback.

Around the Tuscaloosa campus, Guillon's already starting to hear voices of encouragement mixed in with the occasional "You da man!" shout when he comes across a Tide diehard.

"There's not been too much of it, but I'm starting to hear more of it every day," said Guillon, who turns 21 next month. "I don't think they know my face too well yet."

The past four days have been dizzying as media members have crammed cameras and tape recorders around Guillon, trying to find out more about the 6-foot-3, 212-pounder.

So far, it sounds like he's taken it well. But when he takes the field here against Arkansas at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, things could change.

"If I told you I wouldn't get nervous before the game, I'd be lying to you," Guillon said. "I'll probably get nervous on the way to the stadium. But that's natural."

Guillon expects the Razorbacks' blitzes to be even more taxing than the blitz of reporters and fans this week.

"You kind of figure that automatically they're going to come after a backup who takes over for a starter," Guillon said. "We welcome that. If they're going to bring more pressure, than we welcome that with open arms.

"We've got something to handle everything for them."

Second-year coach Mike Shula said Guillon has handled everything well so far and is confident he'll continue to do so Saturday.

"Even last week, as little as it was, he got better with each snap," Shula said. "And you could see him feeling more comfortable in and out of the huddle and kind of seeing things defensively.

"Now it's a whole new challenge because he's starting a game and we're playing against Arkansas at Arkansas. So I just think he's got to get out there and play and we all think he's going to get better with each snap."

Alabama offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dave Rader gained confidence in Guillon in the spring when Croyle and backup Spencer Pennington were out with injuries. He took 75 of 91 snaps and earned the Bart Starr Most Improved Quarterback Award.

"He had a couple of nice scrimmages, so we've seen him under pressure perform well," said Rader, Tulsa's head coach from 1988-99. "We think he'll execute our offense in good fashion. Will he do it the way Brodie did it? No.

"But I think he'll do a fine job, though."

Originally from Chico, Calif., Guillon transferred to Mirmonte High in suburban Oakland before the eighth grade. Mirmonte also sent quarterbacks Ken Dorsey to Miami and Drew Bennett to UCLA, among others.

Guillon threw for 4,750 yards and 43 touchdowns while leading Mirmonte to a 23-1 record and back-to-back North Coast Section Championships in his final two seasons.

He signed with Miami after strongly considering Tennessee and USC. Hurricanes coach Butch Davis offered him a scholarship before his junior year, even though he hadn't been a varsity starter.

After playing in two games and having his freshman season end because of a shoulder injury at Miami, Guillon transferred to Alabama, where he said he has "a bunch of family" and lots of trust in the coaching staff.

Guillon hopes his past experiences have readied him for the likely pressure he'll face from Arkansas as it tries to dismantle Guillon in his collegiate debut.

"My high school team, the way it was set up, teams always tried to blitz us and pressure us to try to force bad reads from the quarterback," Guillon said. "So I'm used to blitzes. It wasn't a problem then, and we've practiced for it. We train for it every day by watching film and going against our own defense's blitzes.

"So we can handle it."

When Guillon arrived at Alabama, there wasn't much he didn't have a handle on. In fact, Rader said he was prepared so well that he hasn't needed much guidance.

"Marc brought a lot of tools with him," Rader said. "He's just been enhancing what he has since he's been with us. He has a fine release, a strong arm, and we try to get him in position to where we can use his arm strength.

"When he's calling plays for us, we've got a game plan for him to, hopefully, use the whole field and a variety of personnel."

Before Saturday's kickoff, Guillon will get away from the media and fans and try to find a quiet place.

"I just like to focus and kind of be in my own little world - think about what I'm going to do and what the rest of the team has to do," Guillon said.

"It's kind of my own little world that I'm in."

Not anymore.

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