GAMEDAY: A black out to remember

GAMEDAY: A black out to remember

CW File

The home crowd and the players were dressed in black, but their mood was anything but. Top teams ahead and behind No. 3 Georgia had already fallen that weekend, and the only thing standing between the Bulldogs and the No. 1 ranking was an Alabama team Georgia had beat in Tuscaloosa the year before.

“It was crazy, just electric,” Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson said. “I know it gets overused, but it really was. They were playing music that the Georgia players were dancing [to] on the sidelines. It was one of the coolest environments that I’ve ever been in.”

It’s been seven years since Alabama’s last trip to Athens. The Crimson Tide won the game 41-30 and went on to win the SEC West division and finish the regular season undefeated.

Starting center Antoine Caldwell felt good after the pre-game warm ups. The weather was perfect, and the blackout crowd helped Caldwell pick out the patches of Alabama fans wearing white. He estimated 40 percent of the crowd would be cheering him on in the game.

“We knew that game, that night, was a pivotal game for us,” Caldwell said. “For a while we had been getting better, getting better [and] getting better. There comes a point in time when you gotta kick the door down, so to speak.”

The season before Alabama finished with a 7-6 record, and Wilson said the team learned a lot of different ways to lose football games that year. The team was ready to learn how to win consistently.

“You could kind of see it in John Parker before the game,” Caldwell said. “He literally was just in the zone. He couldn’t miss.”

Parker finished the game 13-for-16 and picked up the school record for career passing yards. Wilson had a lot of great moments in that game, but the one that stands out to him was his lone touchdown pass.

“They had great coverage on him [Julio Jones],” Wilson said. “I threw him a great ball and he made a good catch laying out, but that was kind of like we are here to stay when we start completing balls like that.”

Alabama went into the half up 31-0. Georgia’s blackout seemed to have backfired on the Bulldogs.

“I think if somebody has to go outside the realm of something they normally do, to me that shows me that they are scared,” Alabama linebacker Eryk Anders said. “To me, once I realized that, you can kind of pin your ears back and, you know, put the pedal to the metal because they not confident in what they can do.”

Suddenly, the home crowd didn’t seem quite so cheery, but perhaps they had dressed appropriately after all.

“[Alabama strength coach Scott] Cochran I think really made it famous when he said they’re wearing black ‘cause they’re ready to go to a funeral,” Wilson said. “I mean, we came out and just put it to them and never looked back from the first snap.”

At the half, the Crimson Tide didn’t celebrate. Instead, the team decided to keep its foot on the gas. This was a Georgia offense run by guys that would play on Sunday, but Anders said Alabama’s teamwork kept Georgia from ever threatening Alabama’s lead.

“We were just able to get to the quarterback and affect his arm, and I think Knowshon Moreno had like 40 yards rushing that game, and so we were able to hold him at bay as well,” Anders said. “I alone must have hit Matt Stafford about seven times that game.”

Caldwell said a great week of practice prepared him for Georgia. At times he seemed to know what Georgia’s defense was going to do before they did.

“[That game] turned the page and set the tone for our whole season. When a lot of us guys look back on it, we would always look back on that Alabama-Georgia game,” Caldwell said.

Wilson said losing that evening in Athens wasn’t an option for the team, and beating Georgia gave the team the confidence it needed for the rest of the season.

“We weren’t going to let people come and beat us,” Wilson said. “We were going to beat them. That kind of set a tone for the rest of that season, and the rest is history.”

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