Adrian Hubbard, who was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week after recording a career-high 12 tackles in Alabama's 21-17 win over LSU Saturday, said he couldn't watch A.J. McCarron lead that final two-minute drill in Death Valley.
"My eyes were closed," Hubbard said. "I was just praying, ‘C'mon, please come through."
And when T.J. Yeldon caught that screen pass for a 28-yard touchdown, all went silent and as the country saw on TV, McCarron grew very emotional.
"He caught the Holy Ghost sliding on the ground and I kind of dragged him, telling him, ‘Get up, we've got 50 seconds left still in this game, we have to win,'" Hubbard said.
Kevin Norwood, who caught three of McCarron's four passes on that epic drive, couldn't put into words what happened in those dwindling seconds. All he knew was that he had to keep his feet in bounds and have sideline awareness and just make the necessary plays, which he did.
"We saw our season going down the drain," he said. "I guess our eyes just popped open and we got it done."
Every Thursday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has his team run the two-minute drill so that when dire situations such as Saturday night in Death Valley arise, they know what to do.
Here's how they go down:
"Coach Saban basically tells us how many minutes we have left on the clock, how many timeouts we have left, if we need to get a field goal or touchdown and we just move the ball as an offense," Norwood said.
Thing is, the Tide's offense has to do this against one of the best defensive units in the country—its' own.
So how often is the offense successful on your average Thursday?
"Hmm it's kind of like 50-50," Norwood said.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley would disagree with that statement.
"Maybe a little bit less than that," he said, smiling. "It's very competitive. We go from practice and then we go straight to two minutes like we're getting ready for a game. And all the time we get tired when they get plays and plays and get first downs and stop the clock. So it's really like a game situation."
Stopping Johnny Football
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, a true freshman that's taken the SEC by storm, will be a unique challenge for Alabama Saturday.
He's a scrambler that Saban compared to Doug Flutie, and he leads the conference in total offense, racking up 383.2 yards per game (a total of 3,449 yards on the season thus far).
"You just got to practice against scrambling, matching patterns, trying to contain the guy in the pocket and push the pocket—because he doesn't just run around you, he'll step up and fake off as well," Saban said.
"I think the big thing is, don't give them explosive plays. You've got to put athletic people on the field. This is not a time to have a bunch of guys out there that can play two-gap on the nose and can't move. Hopefully relentless pursuit keeps this guy from being able to reset and be able to get a good throw off."
Added Mosley on how to defend the guy they call Johnny Football: "Just gang tackling. I guess just the way we do our defense. We try to get to the ball and we try our best to contain whoever's a threat to us."
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