08 September 2009
Open season in Atlanta with a win. Check. Open season with a win against an ACC team. Check. Open season scoring 34 points. Check. Ho hum. Saturday’s victory against Virginia Tech in Hotlanta might not have been as big of a surprise as last year’s over Clemson but it was arguably a bigger win.
This 2009 Hokie squad is clearly better than the 2008 Tigers if for no other reason they didn’t lay down after falling behind.
Just like last year, I will be pointing out some players who were instrumental in the Tide’s victory (or loss) that might not be getting as much credit as they deserve. This week I give you three such players:
The senior punter has been a popular target for criticism his entire tenure in Tuscaloosa and in some cases rightly deserved. But to his credit, Fitzgerald has done nothing but improve every year resulting in what might have been his finest game yet.
Fitzgerald averaged 44.8 yards on his five punts Saturday night with his longest punt covering 53 yards. More importantly, three of these punts were downed inside the 20 yard line. Fitzgerald boomed high punts every time that enabled the Bama coverage team to get down field and corral a very good Virginia Tech return team.
In a defensive struggle, which the game was despite the 58 total points scored, field position is critical and Fitzgerald won that battle for the Tide on Saturday night.
The senior was supposed to be just warming the seat for Sophomore Don’t’a Hightower and his eventual move to the jack position. Anders seemed to have other plans as he led a stout Tide defense with eight tackles, two of which came behind the line of scrimmage.
Anders used his speed to come of the end and put pressure on Hokie quarterback Tyrod Taylor causing the junior to abandon the pocket and force early throws. The resulting pressure led to the Tech offense being out of rhythm for most of the night that resulted in a meager 155 yards of total offense.
The senior transfer from Georgia Tech had a great coming out party for the Tide that looks to be a sign of things to come. Peek hauled in 3 passes for 37 yards as well as a two point conversion. Peek looks to be the best receiving threat at tight end since Lamonde Russell.
Peek also gets props for contributing to an offensive line with three new starters (four if you include Peek) that led the way for 293 yards rushing and a 5.5 yard per rush average against one of the best defenses in the country.
Peek’s numbers should get better as the season goes on as Teams continue to double team Julio Jones.
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