September 29, 2007

Notebook: Good not good enough for defense

While the Crimson Tide offense struggled throughout Saturday's 21-14 loss to Florida State, the Alabama defense pitched its first opening half shutout of the season limiting the Seminoles to just 89 yards of total offense in the first half.

"It's something to take pride in," said safety Rashad Johnson on the Tide's first half shutout of Florida State. "No matter what offense gets the ball, we try not to let them in the end zone. We put our backs against the wall and fought our way out of it and did a good job."

The Tide's shutout ended on the first drive of the second half, however, when backup quarterback Xavier Lee led the Seminoles to an opening drive touchdown.

"We played pretty well on defense in the first half. I think when they brought Xavier Lee in he ran the ball a couple times so we played a little different on defense," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "They hit some hitches, they hit some slants, they hit some passes."

The Tide defense took little consolation in its overall strong performance and said that playing good defense wasn't good enough to beat the Seminoles.

"I would say we needed to create more turnovers," said senior corner Simeon Castille. "Our offense was struggling with field position. If we had given our offense a shorter field we could have given them more momentum. Making them punt wasn't good enough this game."

The Crimson Tide defense continued to play strong throughout the second half until giving up a 70-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter allowing Florida State to seasl the victory.

"We were trying to get the ball back and blitzed at the end and they hit a hitch the guy runs 70 yards for a touchdown, which is not a play you can tolerate," Saban said. "He make make the catch but you've got to tackle the guy and get him on the ground."

Despite limiting the Seminoles' production on offense, the Tide defenders said they understand that it's also their job to create better opportunities for their own offense to play at an advantage whenever possible.

"It's frustrating but it's not our job to worry about the offense," said senior defensive end Wallace Gilberry. "We were definitely energized. There were times when we got blown on those long plays and that's our fault. When the drive becomes four or five plays, it's our fault so we can't blame the offense for us staying out on the field. There's a lot of things that we as a defense can improve on."

Gilberry placed the blame for the Tide's loss squarely on the shoulders of his own unit rather than the faltering offense.

"It was two tough teams and it boiled down to who had the better defense."

Notes, Stats, Etc…

* With a halftime score of 0-0, the game marked the first scoreless half in an Alabama game since the 2005 Tennessee game. It marks the first time since 1971 that Florida State played in a scoreless first half.

* Three Alabama players made their first game appearances of the 2007 season against Florida State: Linebacker Matt Collins, receiver Travis Sikes and nose tackle Brian Motley.

* With tonight's loss, Alabama falls to 355-125-10 all-time when ranked in the AP Poll.

* Alabama also falls to 76-33-1 all-time vs. ACC schools.

* Florida State is the 61st different school Nick Saban has coached against in his head coaching career.

* Tonight's loss drops Alabama to 2-2 all-time in Jacksonville and 1-2 all-time at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.

* Terry Grant moved past Bobby Humphrey on UA's single-season freshman rushing list moving Grant into fifth place in school history.

* John Parker Wilson completed a career-high 28 passes and attempted a career-high 35 passes.

* Prince Hall recorded his first interception picking off a Xavier Lee pass in the third quarter.

* Punter P.J. Fitzgerald set a single-game personal high for punts with 10 for 369 yards with an average of 36.9 yards per punt. Fitzgerald's longest punt of the night was 56 yards.


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