September 8, 2007

Coach, players unhappy with passing game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Had someone wandered right off West End Avenue, onto Dudley Field and into Nick Saban's post-game remarks about Alabama's passing game Saturday, one might have wondered if the Crimson Tide had even won its Southeastern Conference opener against Vanderbilt.

It did, and by a comfortable margin of 24-10.

But both Saban and his players left no mistake about the first order of business this week in preparation for Arkansas: straightening out the passing attack.

"We didn't throw the ball as effectively as we need to, and that's something that should be a strength of our team and that's something we need to work on," said Saban. "That's something we've been able to do effectively. I don't know why we weren't able to do it today, for whatever reasons."

Wilson finished 14 of 28 for 150 yards and an interception. And while those numbers were far better than those of Commodores counterpart Chris Nickson (5 of 18, 67 yards), Wilson was nonetheless disgruntled with Alabama's inability to convert chances in the passing game.

"We're not where we want to be," Wilson said. "... We had a couple of deep balls we just missed, and if we would have hit those we wouldn't be talking about this right now. That's the way it goes."

Wilson did connect on a two-point play to Nick Walker that put the Crimson Tide ahead 24-3 in fourth quarter. Receiver DJ Hall picked up a game-high 67 receiving yards on three receptions, but the duo was unable to connect on several deep tries.

"We weren't able to hook up today," said Hall. "A few times we did, but a few times we had missed opportunities that would have put the game out of reach."

Alabama's running game picked up much of the slack left by the passing attack, amassing 221 yards on 48 attempts, and contributing to a hefty time-of-possession advantage. Still, Saban made it clear the running game can't be counted on to carry the offense as the Crimson Tide's schedule continues to toughen.

"We've just got to throw it better," Saban added. "We've got to execute the passing game better, and that's not just the quarterback, that's the protection, the receivers running the routes, the thrower making the right decision to throw it to the right guy. It's a lot harder to throw it than it is to run it. Everybody's got to execute. If you've got one guy messing up, you get bad plays, and we need to do a better job of that. That [passing] should be a strength of our team."

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