November 17, 2006

Coach's Corner

Auburn visits Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa this week, for the annual Iron Bowl. Game time is 2:30 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised on the CBS Network. Alabama comes into the game with a 6-5 record, 2-5 in the SEC. Auburn is 9-2 overall, 5-2 in the SEC.

After having been beaten at home by outmanned Mississippi State, the Tide was actually somewhat competitive in losing to LSU in Baton Rouge last week. At the same time, Auburn played probably their worst game of the season in losing to Georgia at Jordan-Hare. Alabama players, coaches, and fans are intent on not losing The Thumb Game, and the stadium is going to be stuffed with Tide fans hoping to see Alabama finally win an Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama on Offense:

Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula and Offensive Coordinator Dave Rader spiced up their offensive plan last week for LSU, showing more imagination than I've seen from them all year. I think Shula and Rader have shown some flexibility this year in using the personnel they have. The offensive line, despite the addition of freshman Andre Smith (6-4, 348) is still not capable of supporting a power running game, but the Tide offense has been fairly successful with the passing game.

Sophomore QB John Parker Wilson (6-2, 209) has been impressive, playing through a number of minor injuries and throwing for almost 2,300 yards and 14 touchdowns. Wilson has also shown a willingness to run the ball, and has been somewhat effective with that tactic.

Tailback Kenneth Darby (5-11, 215, Sr.) has 184 rushing attempts in 11 games, and averages 4.2 yards per carry. Amazingly, Darby has not scored a rushing touchdown this season. He does have 11 pass receptions, though, and one of those went for a TD in the LSU game last week, from 26 yards out. Backup running back Jimmy Johns (6-2, 227, So.) has 54 carries and a 4.5 ypc average.

The big play component of the Alabama offense is the pair of wide receivers. Juniors Keith Brown (6-3, 204) and DJ Hall (6-3, 186) have been outstanding, especially in converting third downs. Hall (56) and Brown (40) have combined for 96 catches and eight touchdowns this season. Hall is averaging 99.9 receiving yards per game over the course of the season. Brown is supposedly injured and questionable for the game, but I fully expect him to play, even if it only to draw some coverage away from Hall. Tight end Travis McCall (6-2, 264, So.) has six receptions, and backup Nick Walker (6-5, 270, So.) has three.

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