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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2007
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Alabama Report

Mitchell doesn’t play

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Lionel Mitchell is listed as the first-team right cornerback on Alabama’s depth chart, but he did not play in Saturday’s 21-14 loss to Florida State.

Mitchell remained on the sidelines as he was replaced by Kareem Jackson. Marquis Johnson then slid into the left cornerback position and Simeon Castille — normally left cornerback — switched in between the star position and cornerback.

“Lionel is still a good player,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We need a little better execution at the corner position. We can’t give up big plays like we gave up today because of who is playing, but we had been giving up plays at right corner.”

Johnson struggled. On Florida State’s first touchdown drive, he bounced off of Seminoles receiver Greg Carr while trying to tackle him on a 28-yard pass play. Then Johnson was the cornerback covering De’Cody Fagg when he hauled in a 7-yard touchdown grab.

Johnson was also covering Fagg when he caught the ball, spun away and sprinted for a 70-yard touchdown reception with 4:46 remaining in the game.

Hall does his part

With starting linebacker Darren Mustin hurting once again — this time with a deep thigh bruise — Prince Hall stepped in and did his part to help the Alabama defense at middle linebacker.

Hall had an interception in the third quarter at the Alabama 17-yard-line.

“I could have played, but I wouldn’t have been 100 percent, and that would have been selfish,” Mustin said. “I was like, Prince get in there because I can’t go.”

Said Hall: “I’m just trying to win the game like I’ve been doing every week.”

McCall hurts his head

In the first quarter when Alabama tight end Travis McCall hit Florida State defensive end Neefy Moffet, he fell to the ground and his body went limp.

McCall’s helmet hit Moffett’s leg, giving the tight end a concussion. As he lay on the turf, players from both teams huddled around in prayer, hoping McCall would be alright.

“When you see that, you hope the guy isn’t paralyzed,” Tide center Antoine Caldwell said. “It’s a rough sport we play, and that was our first reaction as a team. We are glad it was just a concussion.

Bowden beats Bama

Birmingham native and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden grew up rooting for Alabama.

When asked after the game what it felt like to be 1-0 against the Crimson Tide, Bowden said, “I won’t brag about it, but it beats being 0-1 against them,” he said. “I’m glad we did win, and it was really a pleasure playing against them. You don’t realize that when I was kid what my love for that darn university was.”

Grant makes record

Tide running back Terry Grant moved passed Bobby Humphrey into fifth place on Alabama’s single-season freshmen rushing list. Grant has 519 yards in five games while Humphrey had 502 yards in 1985.

Despite the superlative, it was easily Grant’s worst game of the season. He finished with 36 yards on nine carries. His fellow running backs didn’t do that much better, as Glen Coffee had 31 yards on five carries.

Roy Upchurch, a Tallahassee native, had 1 yard on three carries.

After the game, Saban said the Tide running game needs to find more consistency.

“This is the first time we weren’t able to run the ball effectively,” Saban said.

DJ Hall strong in loss

Tide wide receiver DJ Hall grew up a Florida State fan, and he produced a big game against his former favorite team.

Against the Seminoles, he caught seven passes for 83 yards with one touchdown.

Many injuries

According to Saban, defensive end Bobby Greenwood hurt his ankle and he will need an MRI exam. Greenwood went down in the first quarter and was replaced by Brandon Deaderick at defensive end.

Also, Mustin had a deep thigh bruise and was visibly limping following the game. McCall had a concussion and did not return after he was knocked to the ground in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, nose tackle Brian Motley saw his first action of the season after hurting his ankle in the preseason. He had two tackles.

Crowd sets record

Jacksonville Municipal Stadium has hosted Super Bowls, college bowl games, the ACC championship, and Georgia-Florida game — formerly known as the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party.

But it has never hosted a game with a dual-fan base like Florida State and Alabama.

The night before the game, a band played at Jacksonville Landing, a party district in the city. And the stadium was expanded to seat a record 85,000 people. A total of 85,412 crammed into the stadium. The previous record was 84,753 for the 2004 Georgia-Florida game.

Officials added 7,000 bleacher seats in one of the end zones, as well as seating in various other locations.

Grading the Crimson Tide

Decatur Daily Sports Writer Josh Cooper grades Alabama’s performance in Saturday’s 21-14 loss to Florida State, giving the CrimsonTide a letter grade from A+ to F in four categories.

OFFENSE: C-

The Crimson Tide couldn’t convert on third downs, making 6 of 20, and tailback Terry Grant had 36 rushing yards, easily his lowest output of the season.

DEFENSE: B-

The defense looked great against quarterback Drew Weatherford, but was off against backup Xavier Lee. Alabama’s players said even though they hadn’t prepared much for him they should have known what to do. With Weatherford struggling the first few games of the season, they should have been more ready for a switch.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C+

It always seemed like Florida State was starting somewhere in Alabama territory. The wind was a factor, but so were the special teams.

THE BIG PICTURE:B

Houston next week, then Ole Miss after that provide a chance for Alabama to get back on track. Losing this game hurts, but it’s not the end of the world.

Best and worst

Best sideline demeanor: You have to love Bobby Bowden with the panama hat — he switched to a baseball cap in the second half — and no head set. Who knows how many days the all-time winningest coach has left on the sidelines, but it was a treat to see him in action.

Best stadium split: It didn’t seem plausible when people said the tickets were split 50/50 between Alabama and Florida State fans. But when the Seminoles fans did the chop, and it was indeed roughly 50 percent of the stadium.

Worst color blending: The Jacksonville Jaguars teal and Alabama’s crimson and Florida State’s garnet made for several interesting color combinations when people got up form their seats.

Worst beer prices: The game not being played at a college stadium enabled fans to purchase alcoholic beverages at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. Seven dollars per beer just seems a little steep.

Worst first half: This goes for both teams. The Crimson Tide had 78 yards of offense, and Florida State had 89 yards. It was the first time in 36 years that Florida State had been involved in a scoreless first half.

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Josh Cooper
Josh Cooper
DAILY Sports Writer

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