October 13, 2007

Tide pass rush coming together

OXFORD, Miss. - When Alabama's pass rush made it's first real appearance of the season against Houston for Homecoming, the impressive display was tempered by questions of whether or not the Crimson Tide could bring similar heat to the pocket of a Southeastern Conference opponent.

Saturday, that question may have been answered.

Alabama tallied four sacks of Ole Miss quarterback Seth Adams, including two by Wallace Gilberry for the second week in a row, in a 27-24 win. Safety [db]Rashad Johnson and defensive end Brandon Deaderick also recorded sacks of Adams.

Gilberry said some words on the Alabama sideline gave him a little extra motivation.

"I got challenged by Andre Smith on the sideline," said Gilberry. "And coming from him, it kind of meant something to me because we share a bond. He said '92, you do it in practice every day, why can't you do it now?' And he was absolutely right."

Adams had ample time to throw for the majority of the first half, and the Rebels reached the intermission without having to punt even once. Alabama saved most of its pressure for when it mattered most - on Ole Miss' desperation drive that nearly sent the game into overtime. Adams was sacked three times, by Gilberry, Deaderick and Johnson once each, on the final march that ended on an overturned fourth down.

"It definitely helps us a lot. It makes the quarterback think he's about to get hit," said Johnson, "and he just starts throwing it up a little more, throwing it out a little quicker, and he's going to look his receivers down more often when he's getting a rush on him."

The Crimson Tide recorded only five sacks through its first five games of the season, but has recorded five more in the last two games. And with one of the SEC's leading passers coming to Tuscaloosa next week in Tennessee's Erik Ainge, this isn't the time to turn the heat down.

"It's going to be a big one," Johnson said.

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