On the interception, Milliner pushed the intended receiver out of bounds but was not penalized for pass interference because the pass was not yet in the air. Where did he learn that move? “Just running in the backyard,” Milliner said. He was asked if he was looking for a penalty flag. “No, I was looking for the ball when I turned around,” he said.
Dee Milliner's performance against Michigan Saturday drew another honor Tuesday, this time the Chuck Bednarik Award player of the week. The University of Alabama cornerback was named the national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Foundation on Sunday, then earned Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors from the league. "I came out and competed like I wanted to," Milliner said. "As a team I felt we did great, also, just to come out and compete and win like we did."
It's wasn't luck that allowed Alabama to return two interceptions a long way Saturday. - "We practice that every day at practice," Milliner said. "Anytime somebody makes a play on the ball we’re always coached to run down the sideline and try to get everybody blocked back to the ball."
It doesn't seem to reverberate quite as loudly or relentlessly as it used to, maybe because even many SEC fans are starting to find it kind of boring or played out. But even if it's strictly obligatory, the dreaded S-E-C! chant lives on: there it was again Saturday night, briefly wafting through the rafters of Cowboys Stadium and into living rooms and bars across America as Alabama's first half lead over Michigan climbed past the point of no return. In its original context, there is still nothing ironic about it. The call is aggressive; it's an ode to aggression. Yes, they're loud. Yes, they're obnoxious. Yes, they know you, stoic Big Ten fan, would love nothing more than for them to shut up. But what are you or your team going to do to make them?
Alabama players called it a “wrinkle.” The Crimson Tide’s tweak on an I-formation, along with a couple of other looks, will be wrinkling brows of defensive coordinators in the coming weeks. Tight end Michael Williams suggested the “I” look against Michigan was temporary, but few are buying that. “Nothing that I would see myself doing,” Williams shrugged, “but just a wrinkle we saw against their D.” Williams was also involved in another formation that Alabama rarely shows. He occasionally split out wide, almost like a slot back, as Michigan packed the box trying to stop Alabama’s running attack. “I guess it was to stress the defense a little,” said Williams, the senior from Reform. “You have different calls when two tight ends are on the field, rather than when there’s one or none. I guess the calls of the D can go in your favor as an offense.”
After picking up 20 first-place votes in the preseason coaches’ poll, the Crimson Tide received 37 of a possible 59 in this week’s edition. The percentage of first-place votes was even higher in the AP poll, as it picked up 45 of a possible 60, which was up 28 from the preseason poll. For Alabama’s players, the 24-hour celebration rule came and went before the voters cast their ballots early Tuesday. “I think everyone understands our goal wasn't to beat Michigan,” center Barrett Jones said. “It was great. But our goal is to win the national championship. “This was the first step in that journey, but we have a long way to go."
Alabama is the new No. 1 in both The Associated Press and USA Today college football polls, moving past USC thanks to a resounding victory against Michigan. The Crimson Tide swayed more than enough voters in both polls with a 41-14 win Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium to overtake the preseason No. 1 Trojans, who beat Hawaii 49-10. USC entered that game a 40-point favorite at home. Alabama received 45 first-place votes in the AP poll, up 28 from last week, and 37 first-place votes in the USA Today coaches' poll. It marks the 47th time that Alabama has been No. 1 in the AP poll, the 16th under coach Nick Saban.
Western Kentucky won its opener for the first time since 2005, as the Hilltoppers played major conference opponents to start each of its previous six seasons - three of which were ranked at the time. They're 0-8 all-time against Top 25 foes. "We feel like we can compete with anybody. They are human just like us. We have to go out there with confidence, play within ourselves, play together, play as one heartbeat and go out there and compete," Jakes said. "This is my last go-around. We want everyone to play like it is their last go-around. No matter who it is, we are going to play together and play to win."
Alabama players are not expecting last Saturday to be the high-water mark of their season. "I definitely think the execution was average," senior center Barrett Jones said. "We made a lot of mistakes, and we honestly left a lot of points out there. I think we kind of let off the gas a little bit in the second and third quarters, which is kind of disappointing."
"There's a lot of things we need to fix, there's a lot of things they did well" Saban said. "They played hard, they were physical. They did a good job of stopping the run, which was the goal in the game. "The goal of the game was not to let the quarterback run the ball. He didn't have very many opportunities to run it. Even on his zone option reads we were sort of making it so he was going to hand the ball off and make somebody else beat us. We did a good job of executing the game plan."
"From the outside, Nick comes across as gruff, tough, don't talk to me," Nutt said. "He's really not like that. He's actually a players' coach. Talk to guys like Trent Richardson. They believe in this guy and know he looks out for his players."
The University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team is working to improve the offensive line’s performance on the field during practice this week. Offensive lineman Anthony Steen said that while the offensive line showed more maturity during Saturday’s game than it did at this time last year, the players continue to eliminate imperfections they experienced in Dallas, Texas. The offensive line is also improving their performance in the I-formation the team used many times against The University of Michigan. The Tide’s five linemen are not intimidated that the formation invites eight defensive players into the box. Steen said practice with this type of play has allowed the offensive line to become comfortable with this formation and the threat from opposing defenses. “We do so many reps during the week, we’re prepared for anything right now,” the offensive lineman said. “It’s a little unfair, but we’re going to make do.”
Mississippi quarterback Calvin Barbour had a slightly different take on the game's outcome. He blamed Ole Miss's lack of scoring on the officiating. Barbour claimed that the referees disallowed three touchdowns due to penalties. He said that when his team realized that the game was not being called their way, they started to have fun and not care about winning. Barbour may have been correct because all of the officials were former players for the Cuban Athletic Club and were probably not impartial.