Saturday, March 19, 2005
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - John Parker Wilson and Marc Guillon each turned in solid performances as the Crimson Tide wrapped up its spring football drills with the annual A-Day game, with the White team defeating the Crimson, 20-18.
Guillon's 28-yard touchdown pass to Ezekiel Knight with 3:54 remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference in the game. The White team had trailed throughout the contest up to that point.
Alabama relied heavily on its kickers in the game, which was fortunate for the Tide as they search for a replacement for the departed Brian Bostick. Ryan Saxby and C.J. Rhody handled the kicking duties for the White and Crimson teams respectively. Each player converted on two successful field goal attempts, as Saxby converted from 27 and 29 yards and Rhody drilled a pair of 41-yarders.
But much of the attention surrounding the game focused on Alabama's quarterback situation. As senior Brodie Croyle watched from the sidelines, the junior Guillon and the freshman Wilson stepped into the role of primary signal-callers.
Wilson finished 14 of 31 for 168 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. His performance earned him the Dixie Howell Memorial Award as the game's most outstanding player. Guillon completed 13 of 26 passes for 157 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a winning effort.
"I think we moved the ball pretty well," Wilson said. "I think we're getting a lot better offensively. I'm getting better and better. I got a ton of reps this spring, so it's getting pretty good right now."
Freshman Rashad Johnson saw significant playing time at tailback, rushing 12 times for 53 yards. He was just one of several young players that impressed Tide head coach, Mike Shula.
"I saw a lot of young players getting interviewed after the game, which makes me a little nervous as a head coach," Shula joked. "That was probably the best that the offense has moved the ball against the defense in the spring so far."
Another freshman, Nick Walker played impressively at tight end for the Tide. Walker led Alabama in receiving yards with 59 on three catches. His 27-yard touchdown reception from Wilson early in the first quarter gave the Crimson a 6-0 lead.
Kyle Bennett and Rashad Johnson were the only other players to cross the goal line on the afternoon. Bennett, a junior from Boaz, scored on a one-yard plunge on the final play of the first quarter to push the Crimson lead to 12-3. Johnson also plowed in from a yard away to draw the White team to within two points in the second quarter, 12-10.
Junior Jeffery Dukes led all tacklers with six, while Ramzee Robinson and Travis Robinson each recorded an interception.
Senior center J.B. Closner, expected to an anchor on the Tide's 2005 offensive line, was selected as the Dwight Stephenson Top Lineman of the A-Day game by the media.
A-Day Player Quotes
"We were just out there having fun. A-Day game is basically just for the fans, so we can show them some appreciation for being there for us. We were just out there flying around, having fun. I think we played pretty good. We held back on a lot of things, so as far as just coming out in our basic package, I think our offense played great today. John Parker hit all the hot spots. Both the second team and the first team competed really well."
"We've made tremendous strides so far, especially throwing the ball and in our key positions. John Parker did great this spring, just like the rest of the guys."
John Parker Wilson:
"I think we moved the ball pretty well. I think we're getting a lot better."
On winning game MVP:
"I just found out about that. I guess that's pretty cool. Our line blocked better than they have all spring. They got so much better throughout the whole spring. I don't know how many sacks we ended up with, I'm sure it's not as many as we've had in the past. Le'Ron did a great job and our receivers were making plays, so I've got to give it up to them.
"I'm getting better and better. I got a ton of reps this spring. It's getting pretty good right now."
On John Parker Wilson: "He's already well ahead of a lot of quarterbacks I've seen. With the right coaching and the right progression, if he keeps maturing and getting better and keeps on working and listening to his coaches, he'll do really well."
"We had some missed tackles. Those kept some drives alive. There are a couple of things that we need to sew up. A lot of things they were getting we were giving to them. We just tried to slow things down."
"I feel great. I'm moving around, doing everything I need to do. If I had to have played, I would have played but we didn't want to risk it. We didn't want to have someone trip and fall and maybe rolling on my leg. We figure we are going to take our chances in September."
"I'd give the defense a C-plus. We didn't start as well as we normally do when we come out there. In the previous scrimmage we've started out a little bit better, We missed too many tackles. That's one thing we stressed during spring ball but we finished strong so we get a C-Plus."
Coach Mike Shula Postgame Quotes
"I saw a lot of young guys getting interviewed after the game which makes me a little nervous as a head coach, knowing that we are going into the fall again with a lot of young guys. We have a lot of new starters on offense. That's probably the best the offense has moved it against the defense in the spring so far.
"I wish sometimes our offense wouldn't settle for field goals to try to get the ball into the end zone. Defensively I don't think at first we were quite where we needed to be but as we got into the flow of the game, we played better. We played a lot of younger guys defensively just to try to get some of the younger guys work with the first group. Overall I think it was a good way to end the spring practice."
- Lee Roy Jordan Headhunter Award: Linebacker Freddie Roach
- Jerry Duncan "I Like to Practice" Award: Defensive End Wallace Gilberry
- Billy Neighbors Most Improved Defensive Lineman Award: Defensive Tackle Rudy Griffin
- Bobby Johns Most Improved Defensive Back Award: Defensive Back Simeon Castille
- Paul Crane Most Improved Offensive Lineman Award: Offensive Guard Antoine Caldwell
- Ray Perkins Most Improved Receiver Award: Wide Receiver DJ Hall
- Johnny Musso Most Improved Offensive Back Award: Fullback Le'Ron McClain
- Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award: Defensive Back Anthony Madison
- Woodrow Lowe Most Improved Linebacker Award: Linebacker Juwan Simpson
- Ozzie Newsome Most Improved Freshman Award: Wide Receiver Ezekial Knight
- "Bear" Bryant Best Non-Scholarship Award: Middle Linebacker Matt Collins
- Derrick Thomas Community Award: Fullback Tim Castille
- Mal Moore Leadership Award: Linebacker DeMeco Ryans
- Bart Starr Most Improved Quarterback Award: John Parker Wilson
- Dixie Howell Memorial Award: Quarterback John Parker Wilson
- Dwight Stephenson MVP Lineman of the A-Day: Center JB Closner