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Wallace Gilberry after a big hit on Western Carolina senior tailback Mike Malone on Sept. 7 in Tuscaloosa. The Tide defensive end is expecting the team's sack total to jump.
Daily file photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Wallace Gilberry after a big hit on Western Carolina senior tailback Mike Malone on Sept. 7 in Tuscaloosa. The Tide defensive end is expecting the team's sack total to jump.

Ripe for sacks
Gilberry hoping they'll come in bunches

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Alabama's Wallace Gilberry has a big, friendly personality.

When discussing a statement he agrees with, Gilberry will be quick to say the phrase "without a doubt," and then go into a long answer, explaining why.

Sometimes he will get animated and throw in a joke or two that leads to this analogy by Tide linebacker Darren Mustin:

"He's like a big ol' cartoon character," Mustin said. "He's like one of those people — there's not another Wallace Gilberry in the world, I love him to death — he's one of those type of people who has a crazy personality."

Asked which cartoon character Gilberry reminds him of, Mustin looked away, refusing to answer. But after the Houston game Saturday, it would be impossible to draw up a better stat line for the 6-foot-2, 267-pound Gilberry.

A starting defensive end, Gilberry totaled 11 tackles and had two sacks, garnering SEC defensive player of the week honors.

Gilberry called it his best performance since his freshman year at Kentucky. In that game, he had one sack and two tackles. Later in the year against Mississippi State, he had 21/2 sacks en route to 61/2 on the season.

"We kind of knew throughout the whole week of preparation that we were going to get to them in certain games," Gilberry said. "Brandon Deaderick (had a sack), and we took off."

Last week, when asked about his lack of sacks on the season on the season — Gilberry had zero at the time — Gilberry kept saying that they come in bunches.

It may sound like the generic sound bite, but it was a statement someone else told Gilberry when he was trying to figure out his troubles in tackling the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage.

Before the season, former Tennessee defensive end Chuck Smith came to Alabama to talk to the team. Smith and Gilberry exchanged numbers and talk two or three times a week.

"He has been telling me that you can't really go out and look for the big games," Gilberry said. "It's going to happen. Sacks come in bunches, and I am a firm believer in that."

Since those two games his freshman year, sacks hadn't come in bunches for Gilberry. He had 11/2 his sophomore year and 31/2 last season.

The tough times didn't discourage Gilberry, though, as he just continued to work hard in practice. During the offseason, Gilberry went from 280 pounds to 265. He had some opportunities in the early games, hurrying Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson on several plays in the second game, but couldn't bring him down.

"If I'm not getting a sack, I want to hit him and let him know I am there," Gilberry said. "Eventually, when the fourth quarter comes, it kind of wears on him."

Coming into the season, Gilberry's career high for tackles was seven against LSU in 2005. Before having 11 against Houston, Gilberry made eight stops against Florida State the previous week.

And with SEC opponents
Ole Miss and Tennessee coming up for the Crimson Tide, Gilberry is "without a doubt" hoping his sack total will continue to climb.

"I said last week sacks come in bunches," Gilberry said. "Hopefully, I started something and can pile them up."

Alabama at Ole Miss

Saturday
11:45 a.m.
WZDX-54

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