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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2007
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Alabama Report

Grant picks it up

OXFORD, Miss. — During the week leading up to Alabama’s 27-24 win over Ole Miss, Tide running back Terry Grant said that the more he is used, the better feel he can get for a game.

On Saturday, Grant got 16 carries and picked up 62 rushing yards, which is his most productive outing in three weeks.

“It feels great to get back in the groove,” Grant said. “The more you are in there, the more you heat up. When you get in there, you get that confidence going and you feel like you can do anything at the time.”

Before the season, head coach Nick Saban made no secret he prefers using two running backs. Now, it appears Saban is OK with using three.

Roy Upchurch had five carries for 39 yards, and Glen Coffee had 12 carries for 41 yards.

Saban used Grant more after Coffee fumbled on the Ole Miss 4-yard line in the third quarter.

“(Glen) played well today,” Saban said. “Terry Grant did some good things today. He got back into it a little bit and Roy had a couple of good runs.

“We just really have to work on our backs making them miss in the secondary. I thought we could have made a little more out of a couple runs we had today.”

Wilson in a groove

Quarterback John Parker Wilson couldn’t explain why he had what Saban described as “his best game of the season.”

After three straight weeks of inconsistent play, Wilson silenced his critics with an efficient 26-of-40 passing day.

Wilson locked in on receivers DJ Hall and Matt Caddell, hitting Hall 11 times for 140 yards, and Caddell seven times for 49 yards.

“We just came out and didn’t try to do too many things,” Wilson said. “We just ran the offense, and everything worked out.”

According to Hall, Wilson was a little more laid back on Saturday.

“In the huddle, he was not as uptight ... just like, ‘OK guys, going to get this first down,’ ” Hall said. “When he does that you understand, ‘OK, he’s comfortable,’ and he get in a rhythm.”

More big plays

Alabama allowed passing plays of 21, 35 and 42 yards Saturday, but according to Tide defensive backs, that had nothing to do with blown coverages.

Instead, they blamed it on Ole Miss receivers going up and getting balls that were up for grabs.

Ole Miss’s final offensive play — the 42-yard reception from Seth Adams to Shay Hodge that was ruled incomplete because Hodge had stepped out of bounds — would have been a moot point if Tide cornerback Lionel Mitchell or safety Marcus Carter had either intercepted the pass or knocked it down.

Instead, Hodge out-leapt both defensive backs and wrestled the ball away from Mitchell. After the game, Saban was quick to point this out.

“That’s one of those that our guy should’ve caught,” Saban said.

Also, on Ole Miss receiver Michael Hicks’ 17-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, Hicks cut in front of cornerback Simeon Castille to make the catch. Castille saw the ball heading his way, but not Hicks.

“I never looked to see where the receiver was,” Castille said. “He made a play on the ball like he was supposed to. I have to go up and get the ball. I can’t wait for it.”

Big day for Arenas

Note to the rest of the teams on Alabama’s schedule: Do not kick the ball to Javier Arenas because he will get mad.

That’s what he said following Saturday’s win. Arenas had 71 yards on two punt returns and gained 93 yards on four kick off returns. While Arenas did credit the blocking in front of him, he also pointed to the Rebels’ strategy as a reason for his big game.

“They didn’t respect me, so I figured if they do that, I would spin it back on them and shove it up theirs,” Arenas said. “We did just that as a special teams unit.”

McClain sits again

Rolando McClain is no longer Alabama’s leading tackler. For the second straight week, McClain played sparingly while Prince Hall saw most of the action at middle linebacker.

Hall and fellow linebacker Darren Mustin each had seven tackles. When asked after the game about McClain, Mustin was surprised that the Decatur High grad saw minimal playing time.

“I don’t know what’s going on there,” Mustin said. “But he was itching to get in.”

Grading the CrimsonTide

Decatur Daily Sports Writer Josh Cooper grades Alabama’s performance in Saturday’s 27-24 win over Ole Miss, giving the CrimsonTide a letter grade from A+ to F in four categories.

OFFENSE: B

Despite the so-so yardage (378 total), quarterback John Parker Wilson got back on track, completing 26 of 40 passes for 265 yards. Also, running back Terry Grant gained traction with his highest yardage total with 62 yards since the Crimson Tide played Georgia.

DEFENSE: C-

Ole Miss didn’t punt until the beginning of the fourth quarter. Keep in mind the Rebels were ranked ninth in the SEC in yards before picking up 420 against Alabama.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-

The 71 yards on Alabama’s punt returns put the Crimson Tide in stellar field position. The minus comes from the blocked punt in the third quarter.

THE BIG PICTURE:B

Once again, a win is a win. But taking it down to the last play against Ole Miss? A lot of these close games could have gone either way, and Saturday was no exception.

Best and worst

Best hotty toddy: Before each home game, Ole Miss has a special guest do its famous “hotty toddy” cheer on the video screen. The guests have ranged from rapper Snoop Dogg to TV weatherman Al Roker. On Saturday, former baseball player and current Rockies right fielder Seth Smith did it.

Best tailgating: It’s tough to argue with the Grove as maybe the best place in collegiate sports to hang out before a game. With girls in dresses and food aplenty, the Grove once again did not disappoint.

Worst time out: With four seconds left in the first half and Alabama lined up for a 35-yard field goal, Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron called a timeout. The players didn’t hear the whistle, the play went off, and Tiffin missed the kick. It would have been a horrible move if Tiffin eventually made the kick ... which he didn’t.

Worst fan display: Ole Miss fans throwing glass bottles of alcohol and high-heeled shoes at the field was just classless. There’s nothing more to say.

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Josh Cooper
Josh Cooper
DAILY Sports Writer

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