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Alabama dressed 80 players for its 2004 Southeastern Conference opener with the Ole Miss Rebels ... The Alabama game captains were senior left guard Evan Mathis (Homewood), senior linebacker Cornelius Wortham (Calhoun City, Miss.) and senior kicker Brian Bostick (Cullman) ... Alabama won the toss and deferred its option to the second half ... Tonight's paid attendance is 83,083 for the Ole Miss game ... Legendary Alabama head coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant would have been 91 years old today ... Bryant was born on Sept. 11, 1913 in Moro Bottom, Ark. ...
The Alabama offense had three first-time starters against Ole Miss, including senior tailback Ray Hudson (Bonifay, Fla.), freshman receiver DJ Hall (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.) and freshman wide receiver Keith Brown (Gulfport, Miss.) ... Hudson is playing is 38th career game tonight for Alabama, but is in the starting lineup for the first time in his four-year career ... Hudson's start against the Rebels leaves senior left corner back Chris James as the UA player with the most career games played (38) without starting a game for the Crimson Tide ... Senior left guard Evan Mathis (Homewood, Ala.) made his 36th consecutive start on the offensive line, the longest current streak on the team ...
TWO FRESHMEN IN STARTING LINEUP:
DJ Hall (Ft. Walton Beach and Keith Brown (Gulfport, Miss.) became the first true freshmen to start at wide receiver for Alabama since Ozzie Newsome started at the receiver position in 1974 ... The Ole Miss game marked the first time since freshmen regained eligibility in 1973 that Alabama has ever started two true freshmen wide receivers in the same game ... In addition, Hall and Brown become the 13th and 14th true freshmen to start a game for the Crimson Tide since 1973 ... The 2004 season marks the third time since 1973 and second year in a row that Alabama has started two freshmen in the same season ... The complete list of true freshmen to start for Alabama since 1973 includes Newsome (1974), Jim Bunch (OT, 1976), Bill Condon (G, 1984), Larry Rose (OT, 1985), Matt Hammond (LT, 1990), Jon Stevenson (RT, 1991), Terry Jones, Jr. (TE, 1998), Dante Ellington (RT, 1999), Saleem Rasheed (LB, 1999), Kenny King (DE, 1999), Tim Castille (FB, 2003), Le'Ron McClain (FB, 2003), Hall (WR, 2004) and Brown (WR, 2004) ...
Alabama last three home wins over Ole Miss have been by a combined 115-21 score ... In addition to tonight's 28-7 win, the Crimson Tide also posted a 42-7 win in 2002 and a 45-7 win in 2000 ...
ALABAMA-OLE MISS SERIES:
Alabama now leads the all-time series with Ole Miss, 41-9-2 (.808) since the first meeting in 1894 ... Since 1977, Alabama has won 17 of the last 19 meetings with Ole Miss ... Alabama has won seven straight home games with Ole Miss, dating back to the 1992 season ...
ALABAMA IN SEC OPENERS:
The Crimson Tide improved to 46-20-2 (.691) all-time record in SEC openers since the league was formed in 1933 ... Bama's very first SEC game was a scoreless tie with Ole Miss at Birmingham's Municipal Stadium (now Legion Field) on Oct. 7, 1933 ... The Crimson Tide has now won 13 consecutive SEC openers, dating back to 1992 ... The current 13-game winning streak in SEC openers, includes 10 wins over Vanderbilt (1992-2001) and one win over Arkansas (2002), Kentucky (2003) and Ole Miss (2004) ... Alabama is now 9-2 (.818) in SEC openers against Ole Miss ...
ON THIS DATE:
Alabama improves to 5-1 (.833) all-time in games played on Sept. 11th, including a five-game winning streak ...
Junior quarterback Brodie Croyle (Rainbow City) completed 14-of-22 passes for 169 yards and two TDs in the win over Ole Miss ... Croyle has thrown two TDs passes in each of his last three games dating back to last year ... He also has thrown at least one TD pass in 13 of his 15 career starts for Alabama ... Croyle now has 25 career TD passes, tying Joe Willie Namath (1962-64) for ninth place on the school's all-time TD list ... With 22 pass attempts against Ole Miss, Croyle moved head of Tyler Watts (494, 1999-2002) and Walter Lewis (504, 1980-83) into seventh place on the school's all-time list with 508 career pass attempts ... For his career, Croyle has completed 272 of 508 passes for 3,723 yards and 25 TDs ...
Alabama fumbled on its opening drive of the game, its first turnover of the 2004 season ... Alabama lost two fumbles in the first quarter ... The Alabama offense had four drives that began inside its own 20-yard line ...Those four drives began at the UA 2, 3, 7 and 15-yard lines ... UA scored TDs on two (98-yard drive and 85-yard drive) of those four possessions ... Senior Ray Hudson (Bonifay, Fla.) recorded his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game tonight against Ole Miss ... Hudson ran 14 times for 116 yards and one TD ... Hudson scored two TDs in the win over Ole Miss, his first career two TD game for the Tide ... Hudson's first touchdown was a 13-yard TD reception from Brodie Croyle with 8:15 left in the third quarter ... His second TD was a 46-yard run with 10:34 left in the game to give the Tide a 28-7 lead ... Sophomore running back Kenneth Darby (Huntsville) had a career-high 17 carries for 86 yards in the win over Ole Miss ... Redshirt freshman Matt Caddell (McCalla) hauled in the longest reception of his UA career, gaining 34 yards on a third-and-seven at the Alabama 45-yard line with just over 10 minutes left in the second quarter ... Alabama's first touchdown of the game came on a 10-play, 98-yard drive ... Sophomore tailback Tim Castille (Birmingham) capped the drive with a 1-yard TD run ... The 10 plays and 98 yards are the longest drives of the season by the Crimson Tide ... The drive was aided by three Ole Miss penalties (roughing the passer, facemask and pass interference in the end zone) ... Sophomore wide receiver Tyrone Prothro hauled in his second career TD reception with a 15-yard catch from Croyle with 7:50 left in the first half to give Alabama a 14-0 lead ...
Junior free safety Roman Harper (Prattville) led the UA defense with 11 tackles, including one sack (-15) in the win over Ole Miss ... He also added two pass breakups, one forced fumble and one QB pressure ... He recorded his third career sack in the second quarter of tonight's game ... Harper's sack (-15 yards) also resulted in a fumble and gave Alabama the ball at the Ole Miss eight-yard line ... Sophomore linebacker Juwan Garth (Decatur) recovered the fumble and was credited with a one-yard return ... The offense scored a touchdown two plays later to give the Tide a 14-0 lead with 7:50 left in the half ... Alabama has forced three turnovers this season resulting in 21 points ... Alabama forced two turnovers in the opener against Utah State and scored 14 points off those two turnovers ...
Alabama hosts Western Carolina next Saturday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. here at Bryant-Denny Stadium ...
University of Alabama Coach Mike Shula
"It was a good win. I thought our defense played very hard. They played very aggressive, kind of set the tone for the game. Offensively, we moved it, got the first touchdown and got the turnover, got the second touchdown. We wanted to try and get a lead on these guys and try to make them play catch-up a little bit. We were a bit concerned about Spurlock, especially with him running the football. We wanted to make sure we did everything we could to keep him from running the ball."
"Our defense and Coach Kines did a good job of mixing the calls up and making some plays when they had the opportunity."
"We were focused on what we had to do this week. There's a lot of preparation that goes into each week, especially when you play SEC teams. Ole Miss, as we know from last year, they're a quality football team. They are well coached. They've got weapons on offense. They do a great job defensively with their scheme. That's kind of where our focus was, on everyone doing their job. Our players were focused before the game. And that's what we asked them to do. They prepared a long time for this game, for every game and I was glad to see it go well."
"It feels good to get a win here again. Brodie Croyle did a good job tonight and he's only going to get better."
"It was a good win. Our guys fought hard. We knew it was going to be a physical game. I'm happy about the way our defense played. They really set the tempo. We struggled early offensively. We had two turnovers but we got the lead at halftime. We felt good about that."
"We've played two games. We won our first one in the SEC. It feels great to win again in Bryant-Denny. The crowd was awesome and it's a good start but we have a long way to go."
On the drive that went 98 yards for a touchdown:
"When you kick the ball out of bounds and they get good field position it's hard to get out of bad field position (for us). We had a couple of good plays and a couple of penalties. We know if we do our job we can get down the field and eventually make some plays."
On Bo Freeland:
"He had five punts, hung the ball up there well, averaged 43 yards and the coverage team on the kicks were very good."
University of Alabama Player Quotes
#12 Brodie Croyle
"This (win) gave us confidence going into the season. They (Ole Miss) are a good defense, but we made good plays and long drives."
On Alabama's Running Backs
"They all bring something different. They all have a different role. There is no "me-me" with any of them. Whoever is fresh, whoever is hot does the job."
"(Last Year) that (Ole Miss game) was the most embarrassing loss I have ever been a part off, it was probably the lowest point of my career. To come back with a good performance as a team made it worthwhile."
#41 Roman Harper
"We knew we had to fight. We came out strong and established a hit game."
On the turnover
"We were blitzing from the outside. We switched and called my number from the middle. I didn't know what happened until I saw guys diving for the ball."
"We put last season behind us on January 15, when off-season practice started. We know we have to keep fighting and we will keep our eyes on the future."
#26 Charlie Peprah
"This game was monumental. It gave us momentum for down the road. It was a big SEC game."
"The team was motivated and hungry. We were embarrassed last season (by Ole Miss). Last year we would have given up and fallen back. This year we are a different team and are ready to fight."
Mississippi head coach David Cutcliffe
"We blew some opportunities early in this game. We tried to get some momentum going. We had field position and maybe an opportunity to go up in the ballgame but we didn't take advantage of it and from there it just got worse."
"We were anemic offensively again. I think the biggest issue was hurting ourselves with penalties and miscues. Defensively we held our own early, but again we asked too much of our defense. We didn't play as well in second half as we did in the first half."
"But give Alabama credit, they had a good plan and beat us in every phase."
ON THE QUARTERBACK CHANGE
"We just weren't doing much. Michael just didn't get it done, and we had talked about going in if we were inconsistent again we would just let Michael see it from the sidelines. Ethan came in and did a good job so we decided to stay with him. We have thought about it all spring and all fall and we thought that we might want to play another quarterback some, particularly since we didn't have another quarterback behind Michael with game experience. We just wanted to take a little pressure off Michael at that time and let him see it from the sideline and settle down. It doesn't mean anything at this time (for next week). We're going to evaluate the tape and we'll talk about it as a staff and examine the situation. We'll make decisions as we practice next week.
Ole Miss Player Quotes
"We should have converted. We needed to get the points off of the turnovers."
ON ETHAN FLATT
"He did a great job coming in, he had great rhythm. That was the coach's decision."
ON ALABAMA'S DEFENSE
"They knew how to make us react."
ON HIS EXPERIENCE SO FAR
"It hurts. You want to get into a good rhythm and a good flow and we haven't had that in the first two games."
"It's easy to convert first and ten rather than first and twenty. We just couldn't do that tonight."
"It was my role to be prepared. I came in to my first SEC game and it was fast but my teammates and coaches made it easier for me."
"You always expect (to mess up) in the back of your mind, but its Alabama and you have to put that aside."
ON RUNNING GAME
"It helped a lot, I didn't have to throw. I was pleased we could move the ball and the running backs were making plays."
"We need to improve on the little things, penalties, a drive here and a drive there. We've just got to work on the little things."
"Just hoping I get a good snap and don't fumble."
"Defense got tired and everybody had their heads down. We've got to push through it."
"Alabama has a good offensive line and it's normal to expect that from Alabama."
"We missed assignments. We had the effort, but just missed our assignments. We have to get better on both sides of the ball and we have to get points scored.
ON PLAYING ALABAMA
"It felt great, we had a chance against the run but they just ran through the defense."