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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2007
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Alabama Report

No quick strike

TUSCALOOSA — When Alabama didn’t score in the opening period of Saturday’s home game against Georgia, it marked the first time this season the Crimson Tide was held scoreless in the first quarter.

In addition, the Crimson Tide didn’t score on its first possession for the second straight game.

Last week against Arkansas, Alabama was up 21-0 by the end of the first quarter, and the Crimson Tide scored on its first drives against Vanderbilt and Western Carolina in its other two contests this year.

The stellar starts helped put the pressure on Alabama’s opponents.

Against Georgia, in the first quarter the Crimson Tide had only one first down. Its first
drive was four plays and went 24 yards, and the Tide went three-and-out on its second.

Hall, McClain start

Alabama coach Nick Saban kept it secret last week when discussing who would start at inside linebacker.

During the week, Saban said that if starting inside linebacker Darren Mustin couldn’t play because of his shoulder injury, he preferred to put someone like DeMarcus Waldrop in his place instead of freshman Rolando McClain, who starts at middle linebacker. Saban said he didn’t want McClain to have to learn a second position.

However, Mustin remained on the sidelines Saturday and wore sweat clothes, while McClain started at inside linebacker. Sophomore Prince Hall started at middle linebacker after coming off the bench for the first three games.

Caddell in rotation

Matt Caddell parlayed his nine-catch, 91-yard performance against Arkansas to a position in Alabama’s rotation at receiver. Caddell was one of the Crimson Tide’s starting receivers.

DJ Hall started despite being limited this week in practice with a sore quadriceps muscle, and Mike McCoy lined up across from Hall on the other side of the offensive line.

Saban taking chances

Alabama tried a fourth-down gamble in the second quarter but failed.

On fourth-and-one from the Georgia 30-yard line, Saban showed no hesitation in going for it.

Offensive coordinator Major Applewhite called for a play-action pass, which the Bulldogs covered.

Georgia scored a field goal on the following drive.

Julio at Bryant-Denny

According to Rivals.com, Foley High wide receiver Julio Jones made his second straight visit to The University of Alabama.

The site said that Jones was at the Alabama-Arkansas game last week.

He is considered by both Scout.com and Rivals.com as the nation’s top high school wide receiver and also Alabama’s top in-state player.

Assistants first

Normally before games, a video camera shows Saban leading the team through the tunnel toward the field, but Saturday was a little different.

As the crowd built to a crescendo in anticipation of Saban, his assistants sprinted out of the locker room before the coach made his way out.

Cornerback Eric Gray, a West Morgan High grad, was the first Alabama player out of the tunnel.

More rain

For the second time this season, rain poured down during an Alabama game. With 7:40 remaining in the first quarter, the skies opened up.

Many Alabama fans did not leave their sections as the steady rain morphed into a light downpour. The only fans who moved were in the north end zone box seats, which are connected to an indoor box area. The rain stopped by the end of the first quarter.

It also rained during the fourth quarter of Alabama’s 24-10 win at Vanderbilt.

Caddell helps out

Little did Matt Caddell know that his eventual game-winning catch against Arkansas last week would net Alabama some cash.

Caddell’s catch won the “Pontiac Game Changing Performance” award, which means Alabama received $5,000 in scholarship money. It is the sixth time Alabama has won the award.

Unfamiliar to Tuscaloosa

While the Alabama-Georgia series dates back to 1895 with the two teams hooking up 62 times, the Bulldogs hadn’t made their way to Tuscaloosa often.

Including Saturday’s game, the Bulldogs have played nine games in Tuscaloosa. Oddly enough, Georgia is Alabama’s third oldest rival. Only Auburn (1893) and Ole Miss (1894) are older.

Castille honored

Team chaplain Jeremiah Castille was named one of Alabama’s honorary captains before the Georgia game.

He was one of three former Alabama defensive backs to be honored. The group included Castille (1979-82), Jim Bob Harris (1978-81) and Tommy Wilcox (1979-82).

The trio started together in Alabama’s 1981 defensive backfield. The fourth member of that secondary? Decatur High grad Benny Perrin, who still lives in Decatur.

Castille is the father of former fullback Tim Castille and current cornerback Simeon Castille.

Georgia radio different

Legendary Georgia radio announcer Larry Munson missed his second road game in 42 years as Georgia’s play-by-play man.

Before the season, Munson, 84, announced that he would work only Georgia’s home games. Scott Howard and former Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier had the call for the Bulldogs broadcast.

Grading the CrimsonTide

Decatur Daily Sports Writer Josh Cooper grades Alabama’s performance in Saturday’s 26-23 overtime loss to Georgia, giving the CrimsonTide a letter grade from A+ to F in four categories.

OFFENSE: B-

Alabama compiled 349 yards, easily its lowest of the season. The passing game wasn’t clicking, but the running game was solid with Glen Coffee and Terry Grant.

DEFENSE: B-

The defense made some big plays, but there must have been a blown coverage on Georgia’s game-winning overtime touchdown.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

P.J. Fitzgerald had good hangtime on his punts, but the return game lagged. Jonathan Lowe’s muffed kick return set up Georgia in good field position. Kick returner Javier Arenas didn’t have a big day, either.

THE BIG PICTURE:B-

It was a loss, but Alabama played well. This Crimson Tide team still looks like it’s overachieving, which isn’t a bad thing.

Best and worst

Best halftime show: The Georgia band doing songs from the Who. Nice to see something different.

Best kicking performance: Leigh Tiffin making his return to overtime nailing a 42-yard field goal. The fans in Bryant-Denny Stadium wearing crimson likely held their breath waiting to see how he would respond.

Worst time to break down: A Georgia fan, his car decked in Bulldog decals with his hood up on Interstate 65 about 20 miles south of Decatur.

Worst way to lose: It’s tough for Alabama to have an emotional loss after that emotional win seven days earlier against Arkansas.

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Josh Cooper
Josh Cooper
DAILY Sports Writer

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