This Week in the SEC: Alabama

<b>INSIDE SLANT</b><br> This time there were no controversial coaching decisions for Alabama. Just a sloppy performance and a 20-3 home loss to South Carolina.<p> After questionable decisions in two previous games turned the heat up under second-year Alabama coach Mike Shula, the Tide took a decided turn for the worse against South Carolina, with an ugly offensive performance. <p>

Quarterbacks Marc Guillon and Spencer Pennington each threw two interceptions, and the Tide finished with only 210 yards on 52 plays, no first downs on 11 third-down attempts, and only 26 minutes of possession time. In the process, the Crimson Tide (3-2, 1-2 SEC) lost their second consecutive game after a 3-0 start.

"You just look at the stats," said Alabama coach Mike Shula. "It's not what we're about. It's not what we preach. We're a better team than the way we played. We've got to believe that as players and coaches."

It's hard to imagine the Tide being this bad with Brodie Croyle at quarterback, but Croyle suffered a season-ending knee injury in a blowout win over Western Carolina three weeks earlier. Critics accused Shula of leaving Croyle on the field too long (the injury occurred in the third quarter), but either way, it's obvious Alabama misses him on several levels.

Guillon started for the second time and completed nine of 18 passes for 63 yards with two interceptions. Pennington entered the game with 7:40 left in the third quarter, but he wasn't any better, completing just one of six passes for four yards and two interceptions.

Shula said "we're not about pointing fingers," but then turned to the quarterback situation and said, "Obviously the quarterbacks did not play winning football."

Even South Carolina coach Lou Holtz admitted, "It was difficult for Alabama to win without Brodie Croyle."

He's right, but the Tide still needs to find a way before it's too late.


GAME BALL GOES TO: LB Cornelius Wortham -- The defense tried to keep Alabama in the game and Wortham did his part with 14 tackles.
KEEP AN EYE ON: TB Ray Hudson -- Despite the lack of a passing game, Hudson rushed for 74 yards on 15 carries and led the Tide with three receptions for 15 yards.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought we'd beat them by three touchdowns, if you ask me." -- Alabama tailback Ray Hudson.


LOOKING GOOD: The Alabama defense did its part, holding South Carolina to 249 yards on 65 plays and forcing three turnovers, including two in the red zone.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: The running game could be dangerous if it had some help from the passing game, but Tide QBs Marc Guillon and Spencer Pennington struggled just to make simple plays. They threw four interceptions.

ROSTER REPORT: The Tide lost two players during the game, with freshman receiver Keith Brown suffering an injury to his left shoulder when he slammed into a fence near the south end zone. His status for this week's game at Kentucky is uncertain, but the Tide most likely will be without linebacker Juwan Garth (shoulder) for at least two weeks. ... RB Tim Castille took a shot to his right shoulder that could limit his time in practice this week, but he is expected to play at Kentucky.

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