Bowl last chance to end Tide slide

By Christopher Mckay The Crimson White

December 7, 2007

Tuscaloosa, AL (CSTV U-WIRE) -- Alabama will head back to Shreveport, La., for another shot at the PetroSun Independence Bowl, and the players are thankful for a chance to end their four game losing streak.

Considering that the Tide could have been left out the bowl picture completely, defensive end Wallace Gilberry said he is honored and pleased to be going back to the Independence Bowl.

After dropping last year's game to Oklahoma State 34-31 under interim head coach Joe Kines, the Tide is matched up with the Colorado Buffalos of the Big 12 Conference.

Tide players know how this season could have been different - if they would have found themselves on the other end of several close games late in the season - but they know there is still an opportunity to end the season positively.

"Obviously you want to go to a BCS bowl or a bigger bowl, but as far as going out and getting to play another game, it's a good thing," safety Rashad Johnson said.

"It can be the last game of this season, and we go out with a win and send the seniors out good, but it also can be a building thing for the guys who are coming back. You don't want to end the season on a four-game losing streak," Johnson said.

The Tide will begin practice Dec. 16 and will likely concentrate on fundamentals and technique while also preparing for their Dec. 30 opponent.

"It's about 50-50," Gilberry said. "You can't underestimate any opponent, but at the same time, you have to go back to the basics."

The bowl practice will also give younger players an opportunity to get more reps in practice. Senior linebacker Darren Mustin said bowl practice is "a blessing in disguise" for the underclassmen.

"Bowl practice is something you can take advantage of because the people who are going to be here next year, that's when they can come in and get reps and start working, like a pre-spring practice," Mustin said.

Colorado will head into Shreveport with a 6-6 record of its own. Coach Dan Hawkins' team recorded its biggest win of the year with a 27-24 upset victory over the Oklahoma Sooners on Homecoming night in Boulder.

Colorado's offense averaged 150 rushing yards per game and 227 yards per game through the air.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Hawkins threw for 2,693 yards and 19 touchdowns in 12 games under center. Hawkins, the son of head coach Dan, does not present much of a running threat and was sacked 14 times in 2007.

Senior tailback Hugh Charles is the feature back in the Colorado offensive attack. Gilberry said Charles reminds him of Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 11 games Charles rushed for 989 yards and caught 24 passes for 233 yards.

The Buffalo defense has allowed 29.4 points per game on 389.4 yards. The defense features three All-Big 12 first team selections led by conference defensive player of the year Jordan Dizon. Dizon recorded 160 tackles and 4 sacks. He is one of three finalists for the Butkus Award, to be presented to the nation's top linebacker today.

Senior cornerback Terrence Wheatley picked off five passes in 10 games and returned one for a touchdown. Defensive tackle George Hypolite led the team with six sacks.

Several Tide players said they think they match up fairly well with the Buffalos.

"I don't care who you put us against, I think we match up well against everybody in the country," Mustin said. "It's how we come out there and play. It's not about them, it's about us."

(C) 2007 The Crimson White via CSTV U-WIRE

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