Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide’s opponents gear up for 2010

What’s now known as “The Final Drive” has become a part of Alabama football history. The 2009 Iron Bowl, 12-0 record on the line, down 21-20 against in-state rival Auburn, and two minutes left in the game. Alabama fans held their breath as the last few minutes in the fourth quarter wound down. The Tide started its winning drive, and 75 yards down the field, it is third down and goal, and the Tide is on its last chance.

Junior quarterback Greg McElory found senior running back Roy Upchurch for a 4-yard touchdown to win the game.

“It was not expected,” Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes said. “It haunts me to this day. Watching them [Alabama] win in our stadium in that fashion.”

This year Auburn will come to Tuscaloosa for the annual Iron Bowl game. Four offensive starters return for the Tigers. Cam Newton is the projected starter at quarterback for Tigers, coached by second-year head coach Gene Chizik.

“Cameron is a phenomenal young man,” Chizik said. “He has done everything we have asked him to do so far. He led his junior college to a national championship. He is the last missing piece to the puzzle.”

Another missing puzzle piece is the hole at the running back position. Onterio McCalebb, who had four touchdowns last year, will be the starter this year. Pushing the way for McCalebb will be senior Lee Ziemba and 6-foot-3, 316 pound Mike Berry.

“We are second to none,” Ziemba said about the offensive line. “We have been playing together for so long. We are like one. We can help when we know one needs help, even if they don’t ask.”

On the defensive side of the ball for the Tigers is defensive back Aairon Savage who is returning from a season-ending injury.

“I have had plenty of time to think about what it’ll feel like to get back on the field,” Savage said. “I just want to get out there.”

Also back on the field will be Bynes, a defensive leader for the Tigers who believes that finishing will be what Auburn needs to take the next step. Chizik was also very excited about the return of Zac Etheridge who was injured last year.

“It has been an emotional ride for Zac,” Chizik said. “But we are very excited to see him back in an Auburn jersey.”

On the other side of the Western Division, LSU head coach Les Miles said he was looking forward to facing Alabama.

“This year they come to us,” Miles said. “A night game in Death Valley.”

LSU is predicted to finish fourth in the West this year. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson and cornerback Patrick Peterson will lead the Tigers this season.

“We have fixed a lot of our problems,” Peterson said. “We’re getting rid of the rust. I am very excited for our defense this year. We have changed so much, but you won’t be able to see it until we hit the grass.”

Peterson, who lives with Jefferson, feels confident that LSU will beat Alabama this year and snap McElroy’s winning streak when they do.

“Bama, tell that quarterback he will get his first loss this year,” he said.

“Well look, Greg [McElroy] is a great player, and he is very fortunate to have experienced what he accomplished last season,” Jefferson said, after hearing Peterson’s comment towards the Alabama quarterback. “But this is not last season; just like Alabama, we go into this season focusing on our first opponent.”

Miles said the team will use the first game against ACC opponent North Carolina that they’re playing in Atlanta in the Georgia Dome as motivation.

“We have our first season game there [the Georgia Dome,]” Miles said. “We are going to try hard to have our last season game there, that’s our first goal.”

The last season game Miles referred to is the SEC Championship, which is also hosted in the Georgia Dome. In LSU’s last appearance in 2007, the team won the title and ended up winning the National Championship, its third in school history.

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