If healthy, Watts will start

As much as any other player, Tyler Watts' career at The Capstone has been a roller-coaster ride from start to finish. When he's healthy, Watts can be one of the most dangerous offensive players on the squad, forcing opposing defenses to defend both the run and the pass.

This is the second of three stories we will be exchanging with BamaMag.com. There will be a story on their site today written by Jeffery Stewart on Tennessee linebacker Eddie Moore.

Last Saturday's game versus Ole Miss marked yet another return for him, and he responded by leading the Tide offense on two touchdown drives on the first two possessions of the game. The first covered 85 yards in nine plays, while the second was five plays for 59 yards. Afterwards Bama was ahead 14-0, lead it never relinquished.

As a fifth-year senior and honor student, Watts understands the nuances of the Crimson Tide offense inside and out.

Watts is dangerous running and passing the football. (GettyImages)

Of course staying healthy has too often been the problem for Watts. Watts was near-perfect on those two long drives, mixing run and pass flawlessly as he led his teammates down the field. But two possessions later, he aggravated the foot injury that had sidelined him the two previous games.

Backup quarterback Brodie Croyle finished the game, playing well enough to put the game away. Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione doesn't talk about injuries during the season, but everyone (including the Vols coaching staff) expects Watts to play Saturday.

Unfairly tagged with the label of "running quarterback," Watts sports a very good 63.6 percent completion rate. But there is no question that the senior does an excellent job rushing the football. Alabama led the SEC in rushing in 2001, and the Tide is currently second in that category. Closing in on 1,000 career rushing yards, Watts is a big, physical athlete, more than capable of taking on a linebacker to get the extra yard.

If healthy, Watts will start with Croyle getting significant playing time off the bench. It doesn't take a professional scouting report to see that Watts is the better runner with Croyle the more dangerous passer. The highest-rated quarterback coming out of high school two years ago, Croyle has one of the strongest, most accurate throwing arms in the nation.

But fans should not make the mistake of assuming that Watts can't throw and Croyle can't run---because both are simply wrong. In fact Croyle is actually a half step faster than Watts. His acrobatic dive over the top of a Georgia defender for a touchdown was as athletic a play as you'll likely see from a quarterback.


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