Sept. 9, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - RollTide.com will break down the Alabama offense, defense and special teams throughout the 2008 season. The Crimson Tide offense will be featured each Tuesday during the year. Here is today’s look at the UA offense heading into Saturday’s game with Western Kentucky.
CHANGING FRONTS: The Alabama offensive line has struggled to stay intact over the past two seasons. For various reasons, the Crimson Tide has started eight different combinations along the offensive front over the last 15 games. Alabama started six different combinations during the 2007 season and has had a different offensive line in both games of the 2008 season. Last week, Andre Smith missed his first career start at left tackle. Mike Johnson moved over to left tackle in place of Smith and David Ross made his first career start at left guard for Johnson. Alabama has used 10 different starting offensive linemen in its last 15 games.
COFFEE AND INGRAM: Alabama junior running back Glen Coffee and freshman running back Mark Ingram have formed a solid one-two punch for the Crimson Tide in the first two games of the season. The duo has combined for 308 rushing yards and averages 5.7 yards per carry this season. Ingram is UA’s leading rusher with 28 carries for 159 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and one touchdown. Coffee has 26 rushing attempts for 145 yards (5.6 yards per carry). Ingram is eighth in the SEC with 79.5 rushing yards per game, while Coffee is ninth with 72.5 yards per game.
TIGHT END PRODUCTION: The Crimson Tide has made full use of their talented tight ends early in the 2008 season. Alabama has completed 10 passes for 93 yards to its tight ends with Nick Walker hauling in eight passes for 82 yards and a touchdown while Travis McCall has two catches 11 yards. Walker has made three third down catches that resulted in first downs while five of his eight grabs have gone for first downs and another was a four-yard touchdown catch.
John Parker Wilson: John Parker Wilson is one of the school’s most prolific quarterbacks. He is Alabama’s all-time career leader in pass completions (511) and attempts (905). He owns single-season school records for total plays (104), total offense (2,950), pass attempts (462), completions (225), passing yards (2,846) and touchdown passes (18). A three-year starter, Wilson has his sights set on a number of UA career passing records. He has started 28 straight games under center for the Crimson Tide. Wilson was named to the 2008 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm watch list, the Davey O’Brien watch list and the Maxwell Award watch list. He is a third-team preseason All-SEC pick by SEC Coaches and Phil Steele and rated as the No. 20 quarterback in the nation by Lindy’s. Selected as the 2008 Johnny Musso Most Outstanding Offensive Back Award following spring practice, Wilson graduated from the University of Alabama in August with a degree in marketing.
WILSON BREAKING RECORDS FOR TIDE: John Parker Wilson became Alabama’s all-time leader in pass completions against Clemson on Aug. 30. Wilson found UA tight end Nick Walker for a five-yard completion in the second quarter to pass Brodie Croyle’s record of 488 set from 2002-05. Wilson now has 511 career completions. Wilson also surpassed the Alabama career pass attempts mark vs. Clemson and now has 905, exceeding Croyle’s 869. His two touchdown passes vs. the Tigers also moved him within two touchdowns of tying Croyle’s career record of 41. Wilson then captured the school record for career plays vs. Tulane and now has 1,080. Wilson isn’t too far behind in a couple of other Alabama career categories heading into Saturday’s game with Western Kentucky. He needs just 102 yards to become the school’s all-time leader with 6,206 total yards (Croyle had 6,205 yards). Finally, Wilson (5,902 yards) needs 80 passing yards to move into second place on the career chart, ahead of Andrew Zow (5,984) and behind Croyle (6,382).
Antoine Caldwell: Three-year starter Antoine Caldwell returned for his senior season despite earning his degree from Alabama last spring. Caldwell has started 36 games on the offensive line and has played center, guard and tackle in his career. He is on the watch list for both the Rimington Trophy and Outland Trophy. He is a second-team preseason All-SEC pick by league coaches, the Associated Press, Phil Steele, Lindy’s and College Football Preview. Caldwell is ranked as the No. 5 center in the country according to Lindy’s. He earned the 2008 Mal Moore Leadership Award following spring practice and was elected captain of the 2007 Alabama team.
Editor’s note: The Alabama defense will be featured on Wednesday, while the special teams’ notebook will run every Thursday during the 2008 season.