Turning the Tide
Super sub Andrew Zow has led Alabama to back-to-back wins and into the bowl picture
Long before his work on the field led Alabama to a 31-7 win over Auburn, senior quarterback Andrew Zow may have been the Crimson Tide's most valuable player for what he did off the field: He kept his mouth shut. After two tumultuous seasons of job-sharing with Tyler Watts, Zow was dumped to second-string this season and never complained. "He kept his composure," says senior wideout Jason McAddley. "He was always there for the team, always into the game." Zow played in only three of Alabama's first eight games, five of which ended in a loss. When Watts, a junior, pulled a groin muscle early in the Nov. 10 game against Mississippi State, Zow led the Tide to a 24-17 comeback victory.
Last Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Zow made himself into a legend, at least to the folks in Alabama who live to beat Auburn. Not only did he complete 22 of 29 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns, but he also consistently called the right play at the line of scrimmage. No less an authority on Crimson Tide quarterbacks than Joe Namath said he told Zow in the locker room after the game that it was "one of the alltime great games I've ever seen a quarterback play. I thanked him for playing the way he did. It made all of us feel so good."
Zow's gem came at a time when Tide fans sorely needed a lift. On Saturday, Alabama president Andrew Sorensen and athletic director Mai Moore appeared before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis to answer charges of recruiting violations. If the major infractions stick, the Tide could be put on probation for the second time since the summer of 1995.
An hour after the game the 23-year-old Zow leaned against the team bus and reflected on how he'd used prayer and lessons learned from his family to help endure being benched. Specifically, Zow, the married father of two, mentioned his seven-month-old son, Avry, who isn't winning any sleeping awards. "I've had to be more patient with him," said Zow. "I've told my wife [Ambress] that things in football aren't always going to go our way. You keep praying they'll work out. If we're patient, they will."
When the season began, Zow needed to throw for 361 yards to surpass Jay Barker as Alabama's leading career passer. Zow got the record on Saturday, but it may have been the least of his accomplishments. The Zow-led wins over Mississippi State and Auburn have improved Alabama's record to 5-5, and if the Crimson Tide defeats Southern Mississippi on Nov. 29, it will qualify for a bowl game.
Watts, who praised Zow after the Auburn game for having been "sharp all week, mentally and physically," said he hopes to be ready to face the Golden Eagles. But given the noticeable limp that Watts had as he left the interview room and the considerable amount of practice time hell miss, Zow will almost certainly start.
The Four-Minute Offense
Slowing Down In a Hurry
After Miami junior quarterback Ken Dorsey threw four interceptions in an 18-7 victory at Boston College on Nov. 10, Hurricanes coach Larry Coker praised Dorsey for keeping his focus despite the mistakes. "He ran a 14-play drive in our four-minute offense at the end of the game," Coker said. "He finished strong."
The four-minute offense, as some teams refer to it, is a clock-management strategy that teams employ when they are trying to protect a lead—when it's too early to take a knee but late enough that making a couple first downs can settle things. "It's the opposite of a two-minute drill," says Michigan State offensive coordinator Morris Watts. "You try to run the clock down to where your opponent doesn't have a chance to win."