07 October 2008
Last Saturday, the Crimson Tide battled a UGA hangover, penalties, and turnovers to get past Kentucky. While it was in no way a good game for the Tide, it was nice to see them pull out a game that they would have almost certainly lost under the previous regime.
Being the lackluster effort that it was, there were not a lot of candidates for Unsung Heroes this week. After some extensive thought and analysis (or maybe not) here are three guys who not everybody is talking about this week.
And thanks SEC for making Bobby Greenwood Defensive Player of the Week! I was ready to feature him here but that doesn’t really work now. They should really call me next time, sheesh!
Walker only finished with two catches for 30 yards but he has had a solid senior season for the Tide. OC Jim McElwain has discovered that Alabama actually had tight ends on the roster and has actually thrown to them. I think the last coaching staff just thought the tight ends were extra tackles that happen to wear eligible numbers.
Walker will almost assuredly become a NFL tight end that was under utilized during his time at the Capstone like Howard Cross and Rod Rutledge.
When Walker lines up on the same side of the formation as Julio Jones, he becomes a dangerous weapon to the teams that want to double team the dynamic freshman.
Yep, that PJ Fitzgerald. The punter that everyone (myself included) has cursed while sitting in the stands or on the couch has been relatively consistent so far this season.
Due to the effectiveness of the running game this season, Fitzgerald hasn’t seen the action that he did a year ago. Maybe he developed a tired leg last season from overuse because he has been a pleasant surprise thus far this season.
Saturday, Fitzgerald punted six times for a 43.2 yard average. For the season he is averaging over 42 yards per punt.
The freshman linebacker/jack has developed into a terror on kick coverage teams. Upshaw tallied only two tackles and a pass break up Saturday but has gotten better every game this season.
The development of Upshaw is the way all coaches would want their freshmen to develop (uber talented kids aside like Jones or Andre Smith). You put the kid on special teams right away and let his enthusiasm help lessen the learning curve. As he gains confidence there, you put him on the field for some snaps when the game is not in doubt.
As he gains some experience there, his snaps increase to situational snaps that matter. After a season of being brought along slowly, he becomes a real factor his sophomore season.
If Upshaw keeps developing, Brandon Fanney will need to bring his hard hat to spring ball because he will have a battle on his hands.