After a 0-0 half, Tiger Stadium was anxious for a score last Saturday.
Finally, a break through happened in the first three minutes of the second half when Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts skied a football to wide receiver ArDarius Stewart for a 52-yard pass down to the 8-yard line. It looked as if the standoff would end, but four straight runs were stymied by the Tiger defense, and the stalemate continued.
“We knew going into that game it’s going to be a tough game,” running back Damien Harris said. “We weren’t going to be popping long runs throughout the game. We knew it would be a game where you would have to run for more 2, 3, maybe a loss of a yard, but you got to keep pushing, keep trying to apply pressure and keep trying to put pressure on the defense, so we can continue trying to move the ball down the field.”
The tension continued into the fourth quarter, with still no score on the board. Confidence, for both offenses, began to fold, but, as Harris said, Alabama kept pushing. At last, after converting on a fourth down just three plays before, Hurts took a counter quarterback sweep for 22 yards into the end zone.
Alabama took a 7-0 lead.
“We knew this game was going to be coming into the last minute. We were pressing every play and trying to get everything we could out of every play,” center Bradley Bozeman said.
Tiger Stadium, nicknamed Death Valley, is considered one of the toughest and loudest stadiums to play in. Bozeman said he had to do a lot of pointing and gesturing rather than making calls aloud, which he usually does for the offensive line in other games, because he could not hear the offensive guard beside him.
“(Bozeman) is definitely a vocal leader on the field and on the sidelines,” Harris said, “so I think he did a great job during the game of kind of keeping us calm under the circumstances of the game and how things were going. He’s a great, key part of our offense.”
The depth of Alabama’s roster is what many attribute to the victory. Some of the players believe it has an affect on every Saturday, not just this past one.
“I mean, we always pride ourselves on winning the fourth quarter, so having that depth we have at every single position like we do allows us to continue to execute in the fourth quarter, “ Harris said. “When you get in those situations where it’s the fourth quarter and both teams are kind of you’re starting to wind down and things are getting tougher, having that depth definitely allows fresh players to get in and try to make those plays.”
Alabama may have felt some relief after escaping Death Valley alive, but Saban doesn’t want that to affect next week. Mississippi State is just around the corner and will be in town Saturday after just knocking off the No. 4 team in the nation.
“I think the biggest thing is we can’t have any kind of relief syndrome after a big, emotional game, especially when you have a really good team coming up and a new challenge that we all need to respond to.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports