December 31, 2007

Gilberry spends night in backfield

SHREVEPORT, La. - Wallace Gilberry can't say Alabama's season ended the way he would have dreamed - bowl trips to Shreveport rarely do.

But the senior from Bay Minette couldn't have imagined a much better way to end his personal career. Gilberry tacked five more tackles for loss on his Southeastern Conference-leading total Sunday night, finishing with 27 on the year. He had sack of Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins for minus-8 yards (his tenth sack of the year), and finished with eight tackles on the night. In all, his TFLs created 19 yards in losses for the Buffaloes. He also drew a second-half holding penalty.

"We finished the way we were supposed to finish," said Gilberry.

As Colorado mounted a slow but steady comeback from a 27-0 deficit, it was Gilberry who provided big plays on a consistent basis to help keep the lead safe. Most of those plays came in the second half, when Alabama's offense struggled and defensive stands were needed most. As a result, the Buffaloes mustered only three third-quarter points as the Crimson Tide maintained a two-score lead until the Buffaloes pulled within six points with 3:51 left.

"Gilberry's a great player," said Colorado senior tackle Tyler Polumbus. "Hopefully [I'll] see him again one day [in the NFL]."

One of the team's emotional leaders on defense, Gilberry closed his career with his best season, passing his previous career-high of six sacks as UA's only consistent pass rush threat.

Asked if Gilberry's effort played a key role, Saban said: "No question. Tackles for loss, pressure on the QB, affecting the quarterback, keeping the down and distance in your favor are all keys to playing good defense."

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