Tide wins big in first-time matchupBy Laura Owens | 11/18/2010 11:03pm
The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated Georgia State 63-7 in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Alabama’s first Thursday night game since 2001, improving its record to 9-2. This was the first time these two teams had ever met.
With the short week of practice preceding this game, head coach Nick Saban said he was very pleased with how the team was able to perform.
“It was a different kind of preparation, but the intensity and toughness in the effort in the way we played the game was the way we wanted to play,” he said. “We like to try to play to a standard, and I was pleased with that.”
With 63 points on the board, Alabama put up the most points in a game this season, topping the victory at Duke by one point. While the offense scored most of those points, special teams and defense had a big hand in the scoring as well.
On special teams, though the two field goals attempted were missed, junior wide receiver Brandon Gibson returned a blocked punt for six points, and then on the next kickoff, Gibson recovered a fumble.
“I actually lost contain on that,” Gibson said, laughing. “It was actually a mistake, but it came back pretty good for me because I recovered the fumble. But I was at the wrong place at the right time.”
With the blocked punt, Chavis Williams got a hand on the ball to block it, and then Gibson picked it up and ran it into the end zone. It was his first touchdown of the season.
“It was great for me,” Gibson said. “All I was trying to do was not get a penalty for celebrating, so I just gave the ball to the ref and came back off the field. It was a great feeling, but now I just have to catch one, and I’ll be satisfied.”
On the defensive side, freshman linebacker C.J. Mosley came up with a pick-six, intercepting Georgia State’s quarterback Drew Little. For the night, the team had four interceptions, which also equaled the number of completions Little had.
Though the defense and special teams helped out, the offense still did a lot of work on its own. Starting quarterback Greg McElroy threw for two touchdowns, both to Julio Jones, and then four different running backs each had a touchdown.
With just under seven minutes left in the second quarter, AJ McCarron took over for McElroy at quarterback, throwing for a touchdown of his own in the third quarter to Chris Underwood. And once McCarron was back on the sideline, McElroy was there to give him more encouragement.
“Greg’s always there for me, no matter what,” McCarron said. “Me and him have a special relationship. We’re really close. And if I ever need help, I know he’s right there beside me to help me.”
By the end of the game, all of the starters were out, and the second string got its chance to play.
“We played as many guys as possibly we could,” Saban said. “It was exciting to be able to get so many players to play.”
Now with more than a week to prepare, Alabama looks to the day after Thanksgiving when it will host in-state rival No. 2 Auburn.