September 28, 2007

BOL Notebook: Tiders face childhood fave

More than a few Alabama players will get a chance to face the team they grew up pulling for on Saturday against Florida State. And the list, surprisingly, includes a lot more just the native Floridians on the Crimson Tide roster.

"We had a room in our house painted [FSU] colors," said Andre Smith.

"We were born in the 80s, grew up in the 90s, and at that time it was Nebraska and Florida State [dominating college football]," said LB Darren Mustin. "Nebraska is way out there, and Florida is where you go for vacation, so there you go."

DJ Hall, Bobby Greenwood, Antoine Caldwell and Wallace Gilberry are among the other Alabama players who said they favored FSU as children. The favorite that repeatedly came up among Alabama players was Peter Warrick, the former Seminole Heisman candidate who went on to the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals.

Running back Terry Grant didn't grow up a Seminoles fan, but nearly signed with FSU. Legendary coach Bobby Bowden made an in-home visit, but Grant, who also considered Southern Miss, opted for Alabama less than a week before signing day.

UPCHURCH ROLE ON RISE - After carrying twice for 19 yards with last week's Georgia game very much on the line, Alabama reserve running back Roy Upchurch said he is excited about the possibility of an increased role.

"I'm focusing on my assignments, focusing on my pass pro [protection], and just waiting to get my number called," said Upchurch.

UA coach Nick Saban commented Wednesday that Upchurch had improved in several areas, including attitude and work ethic. Saban said that while he would like to insert Upchurch into game action more, Terry Grant and Glen Coffee have performed well and have done nothing to deserve a decreased role.

ETC. - Defensive back Simeon Castille said FSU's 6-foot-6 receiver Greg Carr, who makes nearly all of his big plays on lobs, presents an exciting challenge for UA's secondary. "You've got to put a body on him and get good position without getting called for the P.I.," said Castille. "But it's exciting when you know they're just going to throw it up in the air for anybody, you've got a good chance to come down with it, too." ... Although Javier Arenas has broken all of Alabama's big returns on special teams this season, Saban said he has equal confidence in Jonathan Lowe, who joins Arenas on kickoff returns. "We don't care who they kick it to," Saban said. ... Alabama's last meeting with FSU finished in an 8-7 Crimson Tide victory after Alabama scored a safety and a field goal in the final 1:27 to overcome a 7-3 deficit. ... Alabama is 2-0-1 all-time against Florida State.

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