September 23, 2007

Notebook: Passing woes plague Tide

After exploding out of the gate in the firs three games of the year, the Crimson Tide offense stumbled early in the 26-23 overtime loss to Georgia scoring just 3 points in the first half. While the Tide's was able to make some consistent headway on the ground it struggled mightily in the passing game completing 10-of-20 attempts in the first half for just 80 yards.

"We just weren't executing," said junior quarterback John Parker Wilson. "We picked it up in the second half a little but we've got to execute better in the first half."

Wilson finished the game 17-of-35 for 185 yards in the air with no passing touchdowns, the second lowest total of the season thus far.

"We didn't execute in the passing game like we need to," said head coach Nick Saban. "Sometimes it was the protection, sometimes we missed a few throws, sometimes we didn't throw it to the right guy, and sometimes they did a pretty good job of getting us covered."

"We had opportunities and we need to cash in on more of those opportunities and have some more consistency in the passing game."

Saban said the Tide's biggest offensive issue in the loss to Georgia was the failure to convert on third down, a problem Saban said was compounded by the lack consistency in the passing game.

"We were only 3 of 15 on third down, which was an issue for us," Saban said. "We weren't able to keep drives going. We had too many circumstances where we didn't keep the ball for 7, 8 or 9 plays and change field position like they did. That affected how many points we could score and how we played in the game."

While Saban was careful not to place all the blame on the Tide's junior signal caller, he said he believes Wilson must improve his focus for the Tide passing game to succeed.

"The thing we try to keep John Parker doing is focusing on what he needs to do down in and down out to manage our offense," Saban said. "Make good reads, feel comfortable in what he's doing, set his feet and throw the ball. We had a couple of people open in the first half and instead of just setting our feet and putting the ball on them we overthrew it."

"We have too many good skill guys here not to have a good passing game. It's something that we have to work on."

Wilson said he is ready to put the Georgia loss behind him and focus on making the necessary improvements to get the Tide offense back on track.

"We win as a team and we lose as a team. A couple plays here or there and we're all happy like last week," Wilson said. "We just have to learn from this loss and there's a lot to learn. Georgia's a good team but we have to learn from what we did wrong and come back and get ready for Florida State."

Brown makes big plays again in 4th

After showing up with some late heroics against Arkansas one week ago, senior wide receiver Keith Brown stepped up again in the fourth quarter for the Crimson Tide hauling in three big receptions for 73 yards in the final period of the game.

"Keith did a nice job last week in the game as well. He's worked hard, he's improved a lot as a player and it's certainly shown in his performance," said Saban. "I thought he made a couple great catches out there tonight. He's a guy we need and we'd like to see have a great year. We're anxious for him to continue to improve and make a more significant impact in the future."

"Keith stepped up for us tonight," said Wilson. "He's a good player and a good athlete and he's going to make plays whenever he's in there."

Brown said he was pleased to have the opportunity to make an impact late in the game but is content with serving his role as defined by the Tide coaching staff.

"I like to be out there on the field supporting my teammates and making big plays," Brown said. "If I'm on the sideline, I'll support them there too."

The senior wide out said that while he hopes to earn his way back into a more significant role in the offense, he is prepared to take advantage of the playing time he receives right now.

"When your number's called you have to be ready. I've had a guy come in and he's been making a big difference on the offense. I tell him everyday 'it's your turn, make it happen. And if you don't I'm right here behind you'. It's my role on the team right now."

Notes and Quotes

* Saturday night's loss marke the 10th time that an Alabama team has played a game that reached overtime. Alabama is 3-7 all-time in overtime games.

* With the loss, Alabama holds a 34-24-4 lead over Georgia. The Bulldogs have won the last three meetings

* Sophomore linebacker Prince Hall led all players in the game with 12 tackles, one short of his single game career record. Freshman Rolando McClain registered 11 tackles, a new single-game high for McClain with the Tide.

* Lionel Mitchell and Rashad Johnson each recorded interceptions in the game tonight. Mitchell hauled in his fifth career pick while Johnson picked up his second.

* Alabama is now 355-124-10 all-time when ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

* Freshman defensive tackle Nick Gentry saw his first snaps of his career at Alabama tonight after missing fall camp recovering from an off-season shoulder surgery.

"He was finally cleared to play a couple of weeks ago," said Saban. "Working him there gives us some quickness inside."

* Saban on the performance of the Alabama special teams:

"Special teams was not a factor for us in this game. This was the first game we played all year where we haven't made plays on special teams that affected the game."

* Wilson on the offense:

"We can't score 20 points and expect to win. We think our offense can score a lot more than that and we didn't do it tonight."

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