QB Brodie Croyle

2003 Statistics

Coach: Mike Shula
4-9, 1 year
2003 Record: 4-9
at Georgia LOST 23-37
at Mississippi LOST 28-43
at Mississippi State WON 38-0
at Auburn LOST 23-28
at Hawaii LOST 29-37

2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

The short version is this: The Crimson Tide won't be a contender for the SEC title, but they should squeak out a winning record. The breakdown is a bit more complicated. Quarterback Brodie Croyle has a year of experience at the helm and strong offensive tackles to protect him. The backs and receivers are inexperienced, but talented. The offense should improve as the season progresses and finish as a much more productive unit than 'Bama had by the end of '03.

The Tide will be very strong on pass defense and will make big plays, particularly sacks and interceptions. But true to their/any smallish profile, their problem will be preventing opponents from controlling the ball with the running game. The SEC is a particularly bad league in which to have a soft run defense, but Alabama will have to make up for it by forcing turnovers and playing very aggressively.

This year is already an improvement as long as coach Mike Shula stays out of strip clubs. When you go through the Tide's roster, there are an amazing number of second and third-generation players, and they genuinely understand what Alabama football tradition is all about. Being an alumnus himself, Shula already understands such and just how important it is to the fans.

Having a full off-season to convey his message to the team will help Shula get his players back to playing 'real' Alabama football. The won-lost record won't turn around quickly, but the atmosphere will. The instability of the past few years is being replaced with an emphasis on 'Bama tradition and stability. Once that is firmly in place, the wins will follow, just not this time around, especially with trips slated to Arkansas, Tennessee, and LSU. Loyal followers have to be happy seeing the healthy foundation of a five-year plan in its genesis rather than pushing a short-sighted, "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately/one-season-at-a-time" depth of vision. Such a limited mindset would ultimately cause even more down-time for their precious football machine. Successful college programs are built, not bought, and Alabama has plans.

Projected 2004 record: 6-5
QB - 3.5 DL - 3
RB - 3 LB - 3.5
WR - 2 DB - 3
OL - 3.5 ..
Passing: Brodie Croyle, 341-182-13, 2303 yds., 16 TD

Rushing: Ray Hudson, 100 att., 490 yds., 1 TD

: Tim Castille, 21 rec., 129 yds., 0 TD

Scoring: Brian Bostick, 16-25 FG, 33-37 PAT, 81 pts.

Bo Freelend, 73 punts, 40.8 avg.

Kicking: Brian Bostick, 16-25 FG, 33-37 PAT, 48 long

Tackles: DeMeco Ryans, 126 tot., 72 solo, 8.5 TFL

Sacks: Mark Anderson, 3 sacks

Interceptions: Charlie Peprah, 4 for 93 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Ray Hudson, 10 ret., 20.2 avg.

Punt Returns: Brandon Brooks, 11 ret., 7.8 avg.


CB Charlie Peprah
OFFENSE: Atlas Herrion-OT, Dennis Alexander-OG, Donald Clarke-TE, Shaud Williams-HB, Dre Fulgham-WR, Zach Fletcher-WR, Lance Taylor-WR, Triandos Luke-WR, Justin Smiley-OG (NFL)
DEFENSE: Nautyn McKay-Loescher-DE, Anthony Bryant-DT, Derrick Pope-SLB, Charles Jones-FS, Antwan Odom-DE (NFL), Ahmad Childress-DT (NFL), Brooks Daniels-LB (NFL)

Brodie Croyle will emerge as one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC. Croyle has shown flashes of brilliance but needs to improve his accuracy and get the ball downfield more often. He is a strong leader and a tough player, finishing '03 with a bad non-throwing shoulder that required off-season surgery. This is Croyle's offense and he will finish growing into the job in 2004. His backup, Spencer Pennington, has very limited experience and is, too, coming off shoulder surgery but on his throwing side.

Running Back
Ray Hudson will have to pick up the load from the departed Shaud Williams and will be up to the task. He has the speed to slip through holes quickly and get into the secondary. Hudson is also a good receiver and averaged 11.9 yards per catch in '03, an exceptional number for a running back. Tim Castile will return as the starting fullback. He was just the eighth true freshman to start in a season opener for Alabama since freshmen became eligible in 1973. He is primarily a blocker, and a very good one. Ken Darby, a quick slashing runner, will see some fill-in duty. As usual, the Tide has a full stable of thoroughbred young runners chomping at the bit for action if/as needed.

Wide Receiver
Alabama's wide receiver group is one of the most inexperienced in all Division 1-A. The only veteran returning from 2003's final depth chart is then-second-team sophomore Tyrone Prothro, who caught only 16 passes. Prothro, despite his diminutive size (5'8") has the potential to be a game-breaking receiver. He has outstanding speed and can run well after a catch. Prothro seems like a giant compared to junior Brandon Brooks. In short, the 5'4"-phenom will make a push for the other starting wideout slot. How does he rate? Well, Brandon holds the Alabama receiver record with a 4.35 mark in the 40-yard dash. Matt Miller is not as fast, but he is very athletic and could see time in a possession receiver role. This group will need to mature very quickly to give the Tide a productive passing game.

Tight End
David Cavan, a solid blocker, will need to shake off last campaign's injury bug to hold onto the starting job. Clint Johnston is a similar type player who fits well into 'Bama's system. The Tide uses the tight end as a blocker, seldom throwing to them. Cavan and Johnston are nothing special as receivers, but both block well.

Offensive Line
Tackle Evan Mathis, the Tide's most experienced lineman, will anchor a line that will struggle to play up to Alabama standards. Hindered by a nagging stress fracture, Mathis should return to the high standards he set in 2002. Also coming back from an injury is Wesley Britt, who broke his leg last season. He still gained All-SEC recognition and his return to form will be a huge boost for the line. J. B. Closner will start at center. A stud in the weight room, he will look to improve his technique. Several players are competing for the guard positions, but regardless of who prevails they will be inexperienced. Alabama is in good shape protecting pass rushers from the edge, but the middle of the line - meaning inside running and blitz pick-ups - will be a big question mark.

The Crimson Tide offense will benefit greatly from their second year in coach Mike Shula's system, as they often looked like they weren't on the same page as their mentor in '03. The talent at running back and wide receiver has dropped off, however, and the interior of the offensive line is unproven. This will put a lot of pressure on quarterback Brodie Croyle, and his ability to handle such will go a long way toward determining the success of the offense, and entire team fate, for this season. Without experienced help, it will be a struggle.


OT Wesley Britt


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Brodie Croyle-Jr (6-3, 200) Spencer Pennington-Jr (6-4, 227)
Marc Guillon-So (6-4, 215)....Gill-un
FB Tim Castille-So (5-11, 231) Josh Smith-Sr (5-11, 221)
TB Ray Hudson-Sr (5-10, 202) Ken Darby-So (5-10, 202)
WR Matt Caddell-Fr (6-0, 171) Antonio Carter-Sr (5-9, 191)
Matt Miller-Jr (6-3, 199)
WR Tyrone Prothro-So (5-8, 173) Brandon Brooks-Jr (5-4, 163)
TE David Cavan-Sr (6-5, 252) Clint Johnston-Jr (6-4, 245)
OT Wesley Britt-Sr (6-8, 313) Chris Capps-Fr (6-5, 275)
OG Evan Mathis-Sr (6-5, 308) Mark Sanders-Jr (6-7, 310)
C J.B. Closner-Jr (6-4, 290) Travis West-Fr (6-3, 280
OG Danny Martz-Sr (6-4, 291) Taylor Britt-Jr (6-4, 278)
OT Kyle Tatum-So (6-7, 282) Justin Moon-Fr (6-4, 304)
K Brian Bostick-Sr (5-10, 213) Mike McLaughlin-Jr (6-2, 207)



Defensive Line
Mark Anderson and Anthony Bryant will be expected to anchor a very inexperienced Alabama defensive line. Anderson has moved back (and forth a few times) from linebacker to end, where he will start. He is a small lineman (6'5", 239 lbs.), but he knows how to utilize his speed and quickness to get around much larger offensive linemen. Bryant, a massive presence at 6'3", 336 pounds, is a good pass rusher but needs to make more plays against the run. Jeremy Clark, also a good pass rusher, starts at the other tackle. The other starting end spot is up for grabs in pre-season practice. The line will again put pressure on quarterbacks but needs to improve in stopping the run. If the front-four again allow anywhere near 3.7 yards per run, it will equal a long, suffering struggle for any fan-optimism.

This unit will be the strength of the Tide's defense. DeMarco Ryans, Alabama's leading tackler as a sophomore, set a school record with 25 tackles vs. Arkansas. He covers an enormous amount of ground from his strong-side position. Freddie Roach mans the middle for the Tide. He excels in both pass coverage and pressuring quarterbacks. Juwan Garth is the weak-side backer who, like the other starters, has good speed and quickness, but at only 208 pounds desperately needs to bulk up before SEC play. This is a very athletic, but somewhat small, group that will have trouble if the defensive line does not occupy blockers.

Defensive Back
Alabama has one of the best pairs of cornerbacks in the SEC. Charlie Peprah, who is one run-back away from tying the school record for INT-returns for a touchdown, is very aggressive in pass coverage. Anthony Madison returns at the other corner, and has the speed to be a solid in pass coverage. Roman Harper, although small for a strong safety at 191 pounds, is a big hitter who is dangerous on safety blitzes. He is also a very sure tackler. The free safety spot is wide open and could be a weak area for the Tide. This area fits the entire defensive mold of streamlined speedsters whose ability to "hawk" the ball makes up for any pure brawn lacking. Success with such requires teamwork, and you will know real quick if the DBs are on the same page.

This will be a very difficult team to pass against. Alabama has good pass rushing linemen, linebackers who play well in pass coverage, and excellent cover men at the corners. The problem will be stopping the run. The line, although good as pressure quarterbacks, is inexperienced. The linebackers and defensive backs are all very small. They can cover the field very well, but a power running team will have success knocking them down and shoving the ball down the Tide's throat. A big and fast team (as are many SEC foes) will be lethal to them. The trick may be organized blitz schemes that are run-blitzes by default, and pass blitzes if that is what happens. The timing of these blitzes will be the key so as not to instigate opposing offensive coordinators into quick slants that would then have no one to stop the extra YAC. Obviously, teamwork and avoiding over-pursuit are centerpieces for accomplishing such. Regardless of this, being smaller will mean timing is a factor all over for 'bama defensive success.


LB DeMeco Ryans


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Mark Anderson-Jr (6-5, 239) Wallace Gilberry-Fr (6-2, 239)
DT Anthony Bryant-Sr (6-3, 336) Dominic Lee-So (6-2, 302)
DT Jeremy Clark-So (6-2, 290) J.P. Adams-So (6-3, 262)
DE Todd Bates-Sr (6-4, 253) Chris Harris-So (6-5, 241)
SLB DeMeco Ryans-Jr (6-2, 225) Terrence Jones-So (6-0, 205)
MLB Freddie Roach-Jr (6-2, 245) Cornelius Wortham-Sr (6-1, 237)
WLB Juwan Garth-So (6-2, 208) Demarcus Waldrop-Fr (5-11, 200)
CB Anthony Madison-Sr (5-9, 180) Eric Gray-Fr (5-11, 190)
CB Ramzee Robinson-So (5-9, 181) ..
SS Charlie Peprah-Jr (5-10, 189) Carlos Andrews-Sr (5-11, 210)
FS Roman Harper-Jr (6-0, 191) Thurman Ward-Sr (6-1, 186)
P Bo Freelend-Sr (6-4, 257) Jeremy Schatz-Jr (5-7, 151)




Brian Bostick is a decent kicker with decent accuracy and range. His 66.7% career accuracy and lack of attempts beyond 50 yards show that he is not the type of kicker that will kill 'bama with easy misses, but you can't necessarily count on him to win a game for the Tide, either. Jeff Aul will inherit the kickoff duties, possessing a stronger leg than Bostick.

Bo Freelend is a solid punter with decent hang time and excellent placement on his kicks. He dropped 21 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line in 2003 and had less than half his kicks returned. But by ranking 74th in '03 for net average, the Tide has to be careful and avoid field-position battles if it is again the case that their defensive depth marginally fails in coverage.

Return Game
Brandon Brooks will likely be the Crimson Tide's primary kick returner. He saw occasional duty with both punt and kickoff returns and ran back a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. His exceptional speed and elusiveness need to work as well from a standing start as they do when he has a head of steam already. Tyrone Prothro will utilize his quickness to help out running back kickoffs. Coach Mike Shula hopes Brooks and a starting WR will add life to a recently lackluster return game.


The Crimson Tide had Miami-transfer Marc Guillon running the offense this spring. Now Bama fans, don't get all bunched up. Brodie is still the man, he's just an injured one. He and backup Spencer Pennington nursed ailments this spring, giving Guillon valuable playin gtime. Crolye returns this fall to command the offense, while Guillon battles Pennington for #3. RB/FB Tim Castille continues to impress at both positions. He is the best athlete on this side and will give 'Bama a great leader in the run game. The O-line is a work in progress. Wesley Britt continued to heal from injury and will need time to get back in mode. The WRs are a lacking unit. The 'Tide coaching staff needs some of the incoming snarlers to catch on quickly and contribute right out of the gate. Nikita Stover and Keith Brown should do so. Also look for former major league baseball player Damien Jones to add depth here, too.

DE Todd Bates paced the spring first team 'D'. He had to sit out last season, and the smoldering fire that built up in the interim has obviously given him inner drive. The rest of the bunch (around him) is relatively frail. The LBs played well in the A-game and give the 'Tide a solid unit. Charlie Peprah has not (yet) completely evolved at safety. He does a good job in coverage, but dropped some key spring INTs and at times looked a bit confused in assignment. He's a veteran, though, so he'll pick it up come August. Look for two freshmen to add depth in the secondary real early. They are Simeon Castille (younger brother of Tim) and Travis Robinson. There are big special teams concerns. Punter, Bo Freeland consistently boomed the pigskin, but all other realms flat out stunk.

DE Chris Turner (jr)
CB Simeon castille (fr)
CB Travis Robinson (fr)
WR Matt Caddell (fr)