Abittersweet victory for Bama

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 26, 2002

It was a bittersweet victory Saturday as the University of Alabama defeated Southern Mississippi 20-7 in front of a packed house at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Although Alabama earned a convincing victory they lost their starting quarterback and tailback in the process.

Ahmaad Galloway tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.

Tyler Watts suffered a &uot;sprained ankle.&uot;

The extent of his injury is not known but most people close to the team feel he will return soon.

Brodie Croyle and Shaud Williams replaced the two injured starters.

Williams performed admirably, rushing for 135 yards on 21 attempts.

Croyle had a less-than-stellar outing, completing four passes out of 15 attempts for 15 yards.

Croyle also threw two interceptions.

Despite his performance, local fan Richard Watkins feels Brodie Croyle is a star in the making.

Taking up the slack at tailback should be an easier task than at quarterback.

Wayne Middlebrooks feels depth at that position will soften the blow of losing Galloway.

While the offense was sputtering, the defense made sure Southern Miss would not get back into the game.

Derrick Nix started the game as the second leading rusher in the nation for the Golden Eagles.

He finished with a paltry 57 yards.

In the last three games Alabama has allowed only 85 yards rushing.

A cornerback even made an interception.

Charlie Peprah’s second quarter interception was the first by a cornerback since the Sept. 22, 2001 victory over Arkansas.

Overall it was a dominating performance, even more than the score indicated.

With a little over two minutes remaining, Alabama had the ball on the Southern Miss 4 yard line.

Three times the ball was handed off to the tailback straight up the middle.

Instead of trying to punch it in for a touchdown or kick a field goal, the Alabama coaches decided to just let the clock run out on fourth down.

It was an honorable move by Coach Fran.

On the other side of the coin, you have Tommy Tuberville who runs a fake field goal late in the fourth quarter of a game that is well out of Mississippi State’s reach.

I understand there is bad blood between Tuberville and Jackie Sherrill.

Even so, running a fake field goal to run up the score humiliates the kids who are playing the game much more than the coach.

Tuberville’s reputation as a coach dropped faster than the price of HealthSouth stock after that call.

People appear to be taking note of Coach Franchione and the Alabama football program.

The ineptness and confusion of Mike Dubose’s tenure (not to mention the corruption) has been replaced with innovation and discipline by Coach Fran.

Even Bill Curry has noticed the change.

Curry, the Alabama coach from 1987-1989, is now a game analyst for ESPN.

Since leaving Alabama he hasn’t had many nice things to say about the program.

Somebody throwing a brick through his office window before he left may have something to do with that.

Curry covered the game for ESPN Saturday and has this to say about Alabama:

&uot;I do know this about Alabama football, especially with its present leadership,

it will be back, and it will be back with force, and it won’t be long.

Maybe they’re already there.

We’ll find out&uot;.

Alabama goes to Fayetteville to play Arkansas Saturday.

Arkansas is 2 – 0.

The game will kick off at 6:45 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.