Five Minute Guide to '99
With a one-two punch at quarterback and running back, the Tide should be up
So from time to time this season Zow, who took 484 of 487 snaps after the Florida game, will watch highly touted freshman Tyler Watts direct the offense -- all because Zow was so effective last year. It won't be easy for Watts to unseat the incumbent, though. In seven starts last year Zow completed 57.3% of his passes and threw for 253.7 yards per game.
That Zow threw for 253.7 yards a game for anybody came as a shock to a fair number of college coaches. An option quarterback at Union County High in Lake Butler, Fla., Zow saw his chances of playing quarterback in college all but disappear when he tore the ACL in his left knee the spring before his senior season. DuBose was one of the few coaches who wasn't dead set on turning the 6'2", 217-pounder into a linebacker or a safety, so Zow backed out of an oral commitment to Auburn and headed to Alabama.
Zow's emergence last fall couldn't have come at a better time for DuBose, who had incurred the wrath of 'Bama's notoriously impatient fans by going 4-7 in 1997, his first year on the job. This year DuBose again finds himself at the center of a storm. In early August the school lopped two years off his contract and docked him $360,000 after settling a sexual harassment complaint filed against DuBose by a university employee. DuBose admitted that he had misled the public by angrily denying rumors that he had an improper relationship with the employee.
One player who could help take the heat off DuBose is tailback Shaun Alexander, who last year ran for 1,178 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. Although he finished his degree last spring, Alexander decided to return for his senior season and is a candidate to win the school's first Heisman Trophy. He is also the team's leading returning receiver, which, while it says a lot about Alexander's well-roundedness, doesn't say much for the Tide's receiving corps.
Alabama has plenty of talent on D. The line, anchored by All-America defensive tackle candidate Cornelius Griffith, is extremely deep, which DuBose sees as a sign that Alabama has recovered from the NCAA sanctions that stripped it of 32 scholarships in '95 and '96. "We're still a young team because of that," he says. But it's now a much better one.
-- Mark Bechtel
1998 record: 7-4 (4-4, 3rd in SEC West)
Sept. 25 vs. Arkansas
Oct. 2 at Florida
The Crimson Tide might win the SEC West crown but won't get past the SEC East winner in the conference championship game.
Five Minute Guide to '99
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