3 Alabama Deep in talent, deep in attitude, the Tide thinks this is the year it rolls all the way in

August 13, 2000

A young Alabama team won the SEC championship last season the
hard way, but now the Crimson Tide is rich in talent and
experience--and arrogance. "Different style," says junior
quarterback Andrew Zow, "but the same old Alabama tradition."
Adds sophomore Tyler Watts, in his second year of battling Zow
for the starting job, "This year we're thinking bigger. We're
thinking national championship. We know how to go about it. We
know how to win."

Last season, Alabama won one game by one point, lost two others
by the same margin and won three times by making defensive stops
on the last play. Along the way a team loaded with freshmen and
sophomores soaked up every lesson, and the payoff is coming this
fall. Ten of the top 12 tacklers return on defense, and in
addition to both quarterbacks, four of the top six receivers and
four of the five starters on the line are back. "We've got talent
backing up talent," says sophomore strongside linebacker Saleem

Though the Tide lost only six starters, two of them, tailback
Shaun Alexander and left tackle Chris Samuels, went in the first
round of the NFL draft. In fact Alexander scored most of his 23
touchdowns running behind Samuels. Senior Shaun Bohanon will be
the new tailback, and sophomore Dante Ellington, who started at
right tackle as a freshman, replaces Samuels.

This year the offense will revolve around unassuming junior
wideout Freddie Milons, who at 5'11", 183 pounds and wearing a
golf shirt and chinos on a recent afternoon could have been
mistaken for just another student. He is the fourth of seven
children, which means, as Milons puts it, that he "gets along
with everybody." Last season he set a school record for
receptions (65), finished fourth in the SEC in punt returns (9.7
yards per return) and gave opposing defensive coordinators
nightmares by occasionally lining up at quarterback.

Look for Milons to occasionally line up behind center again. He
is, after all, the only quarterback who has the universal support
of Alabama fans. Zow started the first seven games in 1999 before
spraining his right ankle against Tennessee. Watts started the
next two games, and then in the last two games Alabama coach Mike
DuBose went with whichever of the two had the hot hand. In spring
practice Zow retained his status as No. 1 to Watts's 1-A, but
DuBose says he'll play both again.

The Zow-Watts debate overshadows two glaring weaknesses the team
must address--placekicking and pass defense. Departed kicker Ryan
Pflugner missed four extra points last season, including a costly
one in overtime against Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Still,
DuBose doesn't believe in spending a scholarship on a
placekicker, so walk-ons Chris Kemp, a senior, and Danny Haynes,
a freshman, will vie for the job. On defense the Tide allowed an
SEC-high 20 touchdown passes last season, and that was before
Michigan quarterback Tom Brady threw for 369 yards and four
touchdowns on New Year's Day. Injuries were partly to blame for a
poor pass rush. Senior defensive tackle Kenny Smith, who suffered
torn ligaments in his left knee against LSU, should be ready for
the opener against UCLA. Sophomore middle linebacker Marvin
Constant, who ripped up his right knee on the final play of the
LSU game and needed reconstructive surgery, hopes to be back by
midseason. Junior college transfer Aries Monroe will get first
crack at filling Constant's spot; if Monroe isn't up to it,
Rasheed, who led Alabama last season with 84 tackles as a
freshman, may have to move into the middle, as he did last year.
"Don't ever think something can't be achieved," he says.

That's one of the lessons he learned last year.

--Ivan Maisel

COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO The Tide D returns virtually intact; if safety Marcus Spencer (41) and the pass defense step up, all opponents go down.

Fast Facts

1999 record: 10-3 (7-1, 1st in SEC West)
Final ranking: No. 8 AP, No. 8 coaches' poll

Telling Number

Completions needed by Andrew Zow to reach 403 and surpass Jay
Barker as the Crimson Tide's alltime leader

5 Key Returnees

LB Saleem Rasheed So. First freshman to lead Tide in tackles
WR Freddie Milons Jr. 65 catches for 733 yards, 2 TDs
QB Andrew Zow Jr. Nine interceptions in 264 passes
T Dante Ellington So. Right tackle in '99. Now on left
DE Kindal Moorehead Jr. 39 tackles, 13 for loss, 5 1/2 sacks

The Book

An opposing team's coach sizes up The Crimson Tide

"On offense the guy you focus on is Milons. They put him
everywhere and get a lot of mismatches. If you get a safety or a
linebacker on him, watch out. But if you study them enough, you
can find out what they're doing by watching where he lines up.
For instance if he lines up second in a three-wide set, or if
they stack three receivers, he's running the tunnel [inside]
screen....[Quarterbacks coach] Charlie Stubbs does as good a job
as anybody of taking his personnel and mixing it up. I watched a
game that Watts started and a game that Zow started, and I
couldn't tell the difference....I don't think there's a glaring
soft spot on defense. The play of the safeties stands out. Reggie
Myles is a great open-field tackler, a very instinctive player.
I'm impressed how well the safeties play the run from the deep
position. You block everybody perfectly, it looks like a 12-yard
run, and all of a sudden it's just a four-yard gain....They are
very creative in their defensive front. What they do best is run
line stunts, tackle and end twists. [End] Kindal Moorehead is the
guy you notice. The stunts bring out his talent and quickness."

Strength: 25th of 115

Sept. 2 at UCLA
23 at Arkansas

21 at Tennessee

Nov. 4 at LSU
11 at Mississippi St


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