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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2007
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Alabama Report

Stover arrives

TUSCALOOSA — It took a while, but Alabama receiver Nikita Stover finally got his second catch of the season, and it was a big one.

Quarterback John Parker Wilson found Stover on the left side of the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown grab in the Tide’s 30-24 win over Houston on Saturday.

It marked Stover’s first reception since the first game of the season.

“I was surprised I was so wide open,” Stover said. “I don’t know if he blew the coverage or not.”

Earlier in the week, Stover realized that he was doing a fair amount of practicing with the first team. Later in the week, receivers coach Curt Cignetti told Stover to “be ready to play a lot.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban often talks about players earning playing time in practice, and for Stover, that was the key.

“I was just working hard, man,” Stover said. “Improving in practice in stuff and earning my playing time.”

McClain sits plenty

With the way Rolando McClain has played for Alabama all season, he hasn’t looked much like a true freshman.

However, he is, and that’s part of the reason the Decatur High grad played sparingly against Houston’s complex offensive system.

Alabama’s leading tackler coming into the game, McClain had one stop and played behind Prince Hall at Alabama’s middle linebacker. Saban said after the game that it had nothing to do with McClain’s skill and that the Decatur High grad wasn’t being punished.

Instead, Saban wanted to go with more experienced linebackers against the Cougars.

“With Prince (Hall) and (Darren) Mustin, you have two guys who have experience. They probably understand especially the packages better,” Saban said. “So we decided we’ll take a load off (McClain) guy, so he doesn’t have to feel like he has to make all these calls and do all this stuff.”

According to Saban, Alabama had never played against a team with so many types of plays.

“We had never played against this many multiples. I have never coached against this many multiples and this was a week from hell for me,” Saban said. “I didn’t sleep good. I got a bad cold. We spent a lot of time on these guys to figure out when our players could be out there.”

Running-back roulette

It was another week of running-back roulette for the Crimson Tide. Saban decided to go with Glen Coffee, who had 121 yards on 30 carries.

Both were a career highs for the 6-foot-2, 197-pound running back, who was a reserve in the first five games behind Terry Grant.

Roy Upchurch had 32 rushing yards on six carries, and Grant had 25 yards on seven rushes.

According to Saban, nothing is wrong with Grant.

“We intended to play Terry Grant more today,” Saban said, “and we need to play him to get his production back to where it was earlier in the season because he can be a very effective player for us.”

Having three running backs is a problem Saban said he enjoys having.

“I would have all three guys play equally,” Saban said.

Sacks galore

When asked earlier in the week about Alabama’s lack of sacks, Alabama defensive end Wallace Gilberry said they “come in bunches.”

Apparently, he wasn’t lying.

Gilberry had two sacks as part of his team-high nine tackles and the Crimson Tide equaled its season total with five sacks.

Lorenzo Washington, Brandon Deaderick and Darren Mustin also had sacks. For Deaderick, in his first start, having a sack meant a little more to him.

“It was exciting,” Deaderick said. “That feels really good. Iit’s my first career sack. I love sacking the QB.”

Hall breaks record

DJ Hall sounded kind of tired of talking about his accomplishments as a wide receiver at Alabama.

But after his latest record-breaking performance, he may not need to answer any more questions.

On Saturday, Hall broke the last of his major achievable records, passing Freddie Milons for first on Alabama’s all-time reception list. Milons had 152, and with three catches Saturday, Hall now has 153.

“It’s a blessing. I hope it’s the last one — I’m tired of these questions,” Hall joked. “I’m so proud to be able to break records like this at such a special university.”

Homecoming queen

Kathleen Kelley of Indianapolis was named The University of Alabama homecoming queen for 2007.

Kelley is a senior at UA majoring in public relations. The following students were chosen as members of the 2007 Alabama homecoming court: Sophia Francillon, a senior from Montgomery majoring in accounting; Michelle McGaha, a senior from Albertville majoring in industrial engineering; Jessica Pugh, a senior from Huntsville majoring in business; and Kahdijiha Rowe, a senior from Atlanta majoring in telecommunication and film.

30-second timeout

If you attended Alabama’s game and heard the term “30-second timeout,” it had to do with television.

All timeouts that are charged to a team are 30 seconds long, while television timeouts in the SEC are two minutes long.

However, when a team calls a timeout and television wants a break, too, play will stop for two minutes. If TV declines to go to commercial during a timeout charged to a team, you’ll hear the official say, “30-second timeout.”

Grading the CrimsonTide

Decatur Daily Sports Writer Josh Cooper grades Alabama’s performance in Saturday’s 30-24 win over Houston, giving the CrimsonTide a letter grade from A+ to F in four categories.

OFFENSE: B-

Forget the 231 yards in the first quarter. The Crimson Tide didn’t move the ball when it needed to, especially in the fourth quarter, which allowed Houston to climb back into the game.

DEFENSE: B

Yes, the defense did give up 404 total yards and allowed the Cougars to come back from a 30-10 deficit. But there isn’t much you can do when your offense keeps going three-and-out.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

P.J. Fitzgerald averaged 40 yards on his seven punts, but the return game once again couldn’t help Alabama with any field position. Javier Arenas had six yards on two punt returns, and Alabama’s longest kick return was a 25-yarder by Jonathan Lowe.

THE BIG PICTURE:B-

Alabama did win, but what does it say that Alabama almost blew a 30-10 lead and needed Simeon Castille to save its bacon on the final play against Houston? Something tells me this won’t sit well with head coach Nick Saban.

Best and worst

Best warmup: It looked just like a scene out of “The Mighty Ducks,” the 1992 Disney movie about hockey. About an hour and a half before the game, all the Houston players were tossing footballs back and forth to one another. Maybe it was to get ready for the 261 passing yards the Cougars had.

Best derisive cheer: After a play on Houston’s second touchdown drive in the fourth quarter was called dead, with the referee citing a phantom whistle in the stands, the entire crowd whistled on the next two plays.

Worst place for a referee: In the second quarter with Houston driving on Alabama’s 47-yard line, Cougars quarterback Blake Joseph hit a wide-open Jeron Harvey ... who slammed into the referee in the middle of the field, knocking the ball from Henry’s hands. The play killed Houston’s first prolonged drive of the game.

Worst homecoming crowd: You always have big expectations for a homecoming crowd, and it’s always disappointing when you’re not stuck in traffic for at least five hours on the way to Tuscaloosa for a homecoming game.

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Josh Cooper
Josh Cooper
DAILY Sports Writer

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