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Tide-Seminoles create plenty of good storylines

When Alabama and Florida State entered talks about playing Saturday’s game, I wonder if they knew there would be so many storylines.

Josh Cooper
Josh Cooper
DAILY Sports Writer
To start with the obvious, Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden is from Birmingham and has never coached against the Crimson Tide. Bowden spoke with then-Alabama President Joab Thomas about the CrimsonTide job when it was open before the 1987 season, but they could not work out an agreement.

Then there is coach Nick Saban’s fondness for Bowden. FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher used to coach for Saban at LSU, and Tide defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was Bowden’s linebackers coach before he came to Alabama.

Alabama graduate assistant TravisTrickett is the son of Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett.

“There are so many interlocking things,” Bowden said.

Beyond the coaching ties, Alabama (3-1, 2-1 SEC) is a team coming off its first loss of the season. Saban often talks about responding to tough situations, and this week should be a good test for Alabama.

Not having to do with anything coaching related, here are the under- and over-the-radar story lines for Alabama’s fifth game of the season.

John Parker Wilson: Which quarterback will show up? Will it be the one who set career high in passing yards and touchdowns against Arkansas or the one who has looked confused against Vanderbilt and Georgia?

Wilson has gone back and forth between good and bad games. He led Alabama back from a seven-point deficit in the last eight minutes against Arkansas, then completed 17 of 35 passes against Georgia the following week.

Oddly, Wilson seems more relaxed in Alabama’s hurry-up offense. Against Georgia, Wilson led Alabama back from down 10 in the second half.

But he needs to find a way to translate that success into an entire game.

“It’s what have you done for me lately? If we would have won ... it’s just whatever happened last is what everybody is going to talk about,” he said.

If Wilson’s pattern of alternating good games is any indication, this weekend should be one of his better contests.

Running back depth: This is a positive for Alabama.

After last season, we were wondering who would back up Jimmy Johns. Now, Johns plays mostly on special teams, and Alabama has three different backs who can run the ball.

Terry Grant has been Alabama's main back all year, but in the fourth quarter against Georgia, when Alabama needed hard yards, it turned to Glen Coffee and Roy Upchurch.

Coffee had 28 yards on nine carries in the quarter, and Upchurch had 19 yards on two carries, which accounted for all of his attempts. For the game, Coffee had 16 attempts for 62 yards.

"We joke about it on the sideline," Upchurch said.

"(Terry Grant) stretches them out, makes them run, Glen beats up them up, and then, while they're soft, I come in and get what I can."

Linebacker situation: It's probably a dilemma any coach would love to have.

With Darren Mustin (shoulder) expected to come back, where will Prince Hall play?

Rolando McClain seems to have a stranglehold on the middle linebacker slot, but Hall did lead Alabama last week with 12 tackles.

Saban has been slow to warm to Hall. When asked Monday about Hall's play last weekend, Saban gave Hall faint praise:

"He did have a lot of production in the last game relative to tackles, and he did make some mental errors in the game," Saban said.

Added the coach later in his answers, "I don't think it's very helpful to me and my mental health when we can't get the two of the three best ones on the field in any circumstance and situation."

Handling adversity: Alabama rode a wave of emotion through the first four games of the season.

Now the Crimson Tide needs to respond to the loss in a hurry. This Florida State team might not be as good as past groups, but it can defeat Alabama any given Saturday.

Alabama vs. Florida State in
Jacksonville, Fla.

4 p.m.

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