Alabama Crimson Tide Football Notebook

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ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

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The Hawai’i Game - Saturday, September 2, 2006 - Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa)

PREGAME:  The University of Alabama opened its 112th football season hosting the University of Hawai’i at Bryant-Denny Stadium ... Alabama alum and Honolulu, Hawaii resident Jim Nabors sang the National Anthem prior to the game ... Nabors, a native of Sylacauga, Ala., is widely known for his role as “Gomer Pyle” on the popular television show, “The Andy Griffith Show” and later starred in his own show, “Gomer Pyle, USMC” ... The Alabama game captains were seniors Kenneth Darby (Huntsville), Le’Ron McClain (Northport) and Ramzee Robinson (Huntsville) ... Alabama won the coin toss and deferred to the second half ... Kickoff was at 6:10 p.m. (CST) ...

ATTENDANCE RECORD: Tonight’s sellout crowd of 92,138 is the largest crowd to ever witness a football game in the state of Alabama ...The previous record crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium was 86,869 against Tennessee on October 23, 1999 ...

ALABAMA STARTERS:  The Crimson Tide utilized eight first-time starters against Hawai’i ... On offense, the list includes true freshman Andre Smith (Birmingham) at left tackle, junior Justin Britt (Cullman) and sophomore John Parker Wilson (Hoover) at quarterback ... On defense, the first-time starters were junior Keith Saunders (Willingboro, N.J.) at right defensive end, junior Matt Collins (Clay) at middle linebacker, junior Marcus Carter (Fort Payne) at free safety, senior Jeffrey Dukes (Oxford, Miss.) at strong safety and redshirt freshman Rashad Johnson (Sulligent) as the nickel back ... While eight players made their first career starts tonight, another seven players extended their consecutive starting streaks for the Crimson Tide ... Antoine Caldwell, Chris Capps, Kenneth Darby, Wallace Gilberry and Juwan Simpson extended their streaks to 13 consecutive starts, while Ramzee Robinson and B.J. Stabler have now made 11 straight starts ... Senior left tackle Kyle Tatum (Prattville) saw his streak end at 24 consecutive starts in the season opener ... The last time he did not start for the Alabama was also against Hawai’i to close out the 2003 season ...

ALABAMA PARTICIPATION:  Alabama dressed 113 players for the Hawai’i game ...  The Crimson Tide played 60 players in the win over the Warriors ... In addition, Alabama used 18 first-time players during the first half against Hawai’i ... Seeing action on offense were true freshman offensive lineman Andre Smith (Birmingham) .... Seeing action on defense were redshirt freshman linebacker Prince Hall (Moreno Valley, Calif.), freshman defensive back Marquis Johnson (Sarasota, Fla.), redshirt freshman linebacker Zach Schreiber (Shreveport), redshirt freshman defensive back Rashad Johnson (Sulligent) ... Those seeing action only on special teams includes Roy Upchurch, Chris Rogers, Ali Sharrief, Javier Arenas, Terry Grant, Baron Huber, Sam Burnthall, Luke Spaulding, Mike Johnson, Brandon Deaderick, P.J. Fitzgerald, Andrew Friedman and Leigh Tiffin.

DEFENSE SCORES, AGAIN: The Alabama defense has scored in five consecutive season openers, dating back to the 2002 season ... The Crimson Tide recorded a second quarter safety when a bad snap was knocked through the end zone to give the Crimson Tide a 12-3 lead ... Other opening day scores by the UA defense since the 2002 season include Freddie Roach (41-yard interception return vs. MTSU, 2002), Charlie Peprah (51-yard interception return vs. South Florida, 2003), Simeon Castille (31-yard interception return vs. Utah State, 2004), team safety (vs. Middle Tennessee, 2005 and Hawai’i, 2006) ...

JOHN PARKER WILSON: The sophomore from Hoover made his first start at quarterback in the season opener against Hawai’i ... Alabama quarterbacks are now 10-4 (.714) in their last 14 debuts, dating back to the 1991 season ... Wilson is the first UA quarterback to make his first start in a season opener since John David Phillips (vs. BYU) in 1998 ... Wilson completed 16 of 29 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown ... He was 4-for-5 for 77 yards and one touchdown on the Crimson Tide’s opening drive of the second half ... In the third quarter, he completed 9-for-12 for 146 yards and one touchdown ...

KEITH BROWN:  The junior from Fort Walton Beach, Fla. hauled in six passes for 132 yards and one touchdown in UA’s season opening win over Hawai’i ... Brown has recorded back-to-back 100-yard games for the Crimson Tide, including a career-high 142-yard effort in the 2006 AT&T Cotton Bowl win over Texas Tech ... In the win over Hawai’i. Brown caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Wilson with 11:15 left in the third quarter to give the Crimson Tide a 22-3 lead ... Brown also eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for his UA career in tonight’s game ... In 22 games, he has 57 receptions for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns ...

KENNETH DARBY:  The senior from Huntsville ran the ball 16 times for 25 yards in the season opener against Hawai’i ... He moved into sixth-place on the school’s all-time rushing list in the win over Hawai’i as he surpassed Johnny Davis’ (1974-77) total of 2,519 career yards ... In 35 games, Darby has 508 rushing attempts for 2,544 yards and 11 touchdowns ...

ALABAMA NOTEBOOK:  Alabama improves to 88-21-3 in season openers after its 25-17 win over Hawai’i ... The Warriors are the 52nd different opening day opponent for the Crimson Tide ... Bama is now 202-41-3 all-time at Bryant-Denny Stadium ... In addition, Alabama is 285-54-3 in games played in Tuscaloosa ... Alabama improves to 4-1 in games played on September 2 ... Freshman P.J. Fitzgerald (Coral Springs, Fla.) nailed a 55-yard punt on his first collegiate attempt during the second quarter ... The punt was downed at the Hawai’i one-yard line and later resulted in a safety ... Freshman kicker Leigh Tiffin (Muscle Shoals) subbed for the injured Jamie Christensen in the season opener ... Tiffin hit two field goals and one extra point in his UA debut ... He also handled the kickoff duties on the opening kickoff ... Another freshman Andrew Friedman (Fairhope) played on special teams and handled all kickoffs for the remainder of the game ... Sophomore wide receiver Will Oakley (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) made his first career reception (20-yard catch on third-and-11) in the third quarter ... Sophomore Lionel Mitchell (Stone Mountain, Ga.) recorded his first career interception on the final play of the game ...

University of Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula

Hawai’i Post-Game Quotes

“It was a great win for us. We worked as hard as we could. We didn’t play perfect but there were some really good individual efforts. At times we played really well as a team. It is so important to do that. We moved the ball fairly well; we just didn’t get it in the end zone. The defense played fairly well at times. It was a good way to end the game with the defense on the field controlling things. Kenneth Darby did a good job. John Parker Wilson did some good things and adjusted well. We adjusted well in the third quarter.”

“We were a little off with the running game. That’s something we’ll get corrected. We probably ran the ball more than usual tonight but I think our quarterback got more confidence.”

“Hawai’i is very good. They have as much speed as anybody we’ll see all year. On defense we mixed up zones and played man but we got beat on the blitz. We wanted to keep everything in front of us.”

“This was a game of inches. We were inches away from a field goal, inches away from a touchdown and inches away from a safety.”

“John Parker (Wilson) did a good job adjusting. They played a lot of base defense and it was different from what they showed on the tape. John Parker did a good job getting the ball to the tight ends. That’s why you recruit tall tight ends.”

On Colt Brennan:

“He was really good tonight and was very poised. He came out on that first drive in a big stadium and didn’t show any signs of being intimidated.”

“It was huge for Keith Brown to step up. He made more plays tonight than he has since he has been here. If that’s a sign of things to come then he’s in for a big year.”

University of Alabama Player Quotes

Juwan Simpson

“He (Coach Shula) gave me the nod before we went out.  I didn’t know if I was going to get to go but I was excited I was able to get out there and play.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  It was his decision and I’m glad he made it.”

“We knew the type of team that Hawai’i was. Hats off to them. We knew how they were going to play. They’re the type of team that with a couple of touchdowns, they can come back. They’re a big-play team.”

On tackling:

“We work on it in practice. We try to get in the right place. It’s one thing to tackle, but to recover is another. The d-line had great pressure and didn’t let (him) sit in the pocket.”

Keith Brown:

“It was fun. My teammates depend on me to make plays. My number was called tonight. I had to step up and make plays.”

“We made a couple of mistakes (toward the end of the game). They played great defense. We tried to play hard and so did they.”

“My confidence is always up with our defense and their confidence is always up with us.”

On the last catch:
“JP (John Parker Wilson came out of the pocket. I saw him and he gave me the opportunity.  I didn’t see the ball but my hands did.  The offensive line tonight did good standing up against their big guys.  They gave us JP time to get us the ball.”

Jimmy Johns:

On sharing ball with Darby:

“We’ve got great coaches and they decide who gets the ball. KD is the first back. However many he gets, that’s great. However many I get, that’s great.”

“We led off hoping to dominate. We’ve got to keep it up and continue to pound them. They started to dominate us off our mistakes.”

Roy Upchurch:

On review play ruled non-touchdown

“I think I should have had six points. I got to the punter and saw it (the ball) in the end zone. The ref said I didn’t have possession so I didn’t get my six points.”

Andre Smith:

“It was exciting. It was definitely a learning experience as far as how fast the speed was. Overall I had a great time. Our offensive line did great. Both offensive and defensive sides did well. That’s how we were able to come out with the win.”

Visiting Coach June Jones

Opening statement: “We weren’t ourselves in the first half. You could tell the first couple of times (we had the ball), apparently, we were nervous and stumbling. We tried our hardest but we fell a little short. “

“The fumbles really hurt us and the dropped punt. Our little mistakes were ongoing in the game. We can’t make those mistakes on the road and expect to win the game. The fact that we had the chance to tie it at the end of the game was kind of a disgrace. As I told the team we were going to be a good football team this year. We learned a lot about ourselves today.”

We played hard up front. We knew we had to stop the run and I feel like we did a good job defending the run. They had some big guys. They threw the ball up and that was a big disadvantage (for us).”

Hawaii Player Quotes

#15 Colt Brennan, Quarterback

On Alabama’s defense:

“To be honest, they did exactly what Coach Jones said and what we practiced for.  One thing that we kind of say about Alabama they are a good defensive football team.  They have athletes so they don’t have to make it hard, they keep it simple.  That’s pretty much what we saw.  They did what we thought they would do.”

“A year ago, I don’t think we had the camaraderie or team cohesion to fight in the second half.  You have to take the positive and you have to look at the negatives.  I think the negatives were pretty blatant but the positive is that we fought with a great football team.  I hope that Alabama goes on to have a terrific season.”

#34 A.J. Martinez

“That’s what’s different about this team.  We are a lot more mature.  We had three mishaps and we have to learn how to play without them.  There is a lot of good leadership on this team.”

#7 Davone Bess

“We had a talk with Coach Jones at halftime.  He basically told us it was time for us to suck it up.  I think if we would have come out strong in the beginning it would have been a different outcome.  Overall, I think we gave it our all.”