September 3, 2007

Grading the Tide provides a weekly report card for the Alabama football team during the 2006 season. Here's a look at how we graded the Crimson Tide in Saturday night's 52-6 win over Western Carolina.


John Parker Wilson delivered machine-like efficiency for his two-plus quarters of work Saturday night. He spread the ball to various receivers, avoided turnovers and even flashed his tuck-and-run skills once just to make 92,000 hearts skip a beat. When you combine lights-out pass protection against a I-AA secondary, however, his performance should have been nothing less than excellent. Greg McElroy got his first career action and shredded the Catamounts on an 8-of-9 effort. He doesn't appear to have as much of a fastball as Wilson, but McElroy did show to be comfortable with the offense. Combined, the pair was 25 of 34 for 262 yards and no interceptions.

Running backs

Terry Grant's debut was a stellar one, posting the fourth-best rushing total for a season opener in the history of Alabama football. Coach Nick Saban is fond of describing Grant as a "space player", and Saturday he showed why in the open field. Jimmy Johns provided some tough yards, and reserves Roy Upchurch and Glen Coffee showed some explosiveness of their own. It merits noting, however, that many running plays were so well-blocked that the backs had 5-10 yards before even needing to make a cut or absorb any contact. The backs all hung onto the football also, which will be a critical trend to continue.

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