Team keeps up energy before bye weekBy Laura Owens | 10/18/2011 11:05pm
The Tennessee game is Alabama’s last before its bye week, and it’s typically around this time in the season that the team can start to look sluggish. However, senior center William Vlachos said the team’s energy level has been really great so far in practice this week.
“It’s been really good,” he said. “It’s been really spirited. This time of the year, you kind of have to make a conscious effort to make sure it is like that because it gets a little monotonous in this time of the year, when you’ve been practicing for a while, and everybody’s a little nicked up, but I think the energy level has been exceptional. We’ve got to continue that until Saturday.”
Last season in particular, when six teams had a bye week before playing Alabama, it began to wear on the team, with three of those six teams winning the game.
“Last year, we lost some games in this stretch, in this part of the year, so I think we’re conscious of that. Also, when you watch the film, yeah you score 52 points and rush for 389 yards, but you also see about 200 yards out there that you missed as an offense. We’re hungry right now.”
Approaching the record
Sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron has been shaking up the usual role of an Alabama quarterback. While most Crimson Tide quarterbacks are referred to as game managers, McCarron is also a playmaker.
The sophomore has gone six games and 151 passes without an interception, a record that is third best in school history. The longest streak is 190 passes set by Brodie Croyle, and second place is held by Jay Barker. McCarron has just surpassed the most recent quarterback to graduate, Greg McElroy, whose record was 149 passes.
For the receivers, they’ve been playing a big role in this season, with McCarron’s ability to thread the needle and see downfield. Senior wide receiver Brandon Gibson, who got his first career touchdown reception Saturday against Ole Miss, said McCarron will continue to improve in his next few years with the Tide.
“He’s going to be a great quarterback,” he said. “He’s going to develop a lot more this year and even next year. If he keeps coming in with the same work ethic, the same attitude, he’s going to be a great quarterback for us.”
High school rivalries
In high school, Gibson and McCarron played for rival high schools in Mobile, with Gibson playing at UMS-Wright and McCarron at St. Paul’s Episcopal School. Gibson said they never hated each other, just the other’s school.
“We had two schools on the same street, so it was a lot of fun,” he said. “It was pretty competitive. We all grew up in park football leagues. Back at home in Mobile, I need to go see those guys and wish them good luck because it’s definitely a lot of fun playing against St. Paul’s.”
He said that rivalry is comparable to the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry.
“It’s a big rivalry game,” Gibson said. “We’re taking everything really seriously this week, focusing on the things that we’ve got to have for this week and not looking ahead.”