Alabama notes: Nick Saban ends Grant Hill's redshirt status

Anniston StarOctober 5, 2013 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- True freshman offensive lineman Grant Hill burned his redshirt on Saturday when he entered the game to replace Austin Shepherd at right tackle.

During his weekly radio show, Tide coach Nick Saban said Hill "deserved to play."

Hill, from Huntsville, Ala., played quite of bit of snaps with the first team offensive line and finished the game during garbage time.

"Grant Hill is very, very intelligent. Very bright guy. Very football smart," Saban said. "It's very important to him so he's very much committed and has a lot of pride in performance. He's one of those guys that is going to make sure he knows what to do and how to do it.

"He works hard everyday to try to make sure that he's doing it the right way. From a character and attitude standpoint, you couldn't ask for a guy that has better intangibles."

Saban said the decision was made because he feels the team needs him.

"We just felt like instead of taking a chance to redshirt him for this year that we were going to go ahead and play him today because I feel like we need him," Saban said. "I think it creates some competition. I think he's very close to being one of our five best players. Whatever position he has to play, we felt like we had to get somebody else ready to play."

Chris Black

Chris Black was expected to be the Crimson Tide's breakout freshman receiver last season, but a shoulder injury he suffered in August 2012 sidelined Black and forced him to redshirt.

Now, Black is back and carving up defenses when given the opportunity. He was the Tide's leading receiving with six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown from Blake Sims.

Black said he's been patient and is "ready for any opportunity I get." On his touchdown catch, he made a defender miss with a juke move and dove for the endzone.

"Every play I go out there, I think about doing something," Black said. "I try not to do too much, but it's exciting to get in that endzone."

Parker Barrineau

Walk-on Parker Barrineau made his first career reception and gained six yards on a hitch route, picking up a first down in the process.

Barrineau, from Northport, Ala., said it felt good to play in front of some hometown fans.

"It's definitely a weight off my shoulders finally," Barrineau said. "Months and months of preparation and getting to play, especially making a catch for first down, is a blessing."

Depth

According to Alabama's participation chart, 70 Tide players saw time in the game on Saturday. Fifteen different wide receivers caught at least one pass, including walk-ons Parker Barrineau and Ty Reed. It was the second time this season Alabama has had double-digit receivers with the first coming at Texas A&M (10) on Sept. 14.

Star wideout Amari Cooper did not catch a pass.

"Amari practiced well this week," Saban said. "Every now and then, his toe gets a little sore, especially when we practice on turf. We really weren't holding him out. … It would be real beneficial to us if we could get Coop back in the swing of things. I think he's very close to being able to get there."

HaHa Clinton-Dix

Alabama coach Nick Saban was asked about suspended safety HaHa Clinton-Dix following the Crimson Tide's 45-3 victory over Georgia State.

Saban said there's no new information on Clinton-Dix's situation.

"There's really no information. I don't have any new information," Saban said. "When we get new information, we'll certainly pass it along."

On Monday, Saban announced that Clinton-Dix was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules and policies.

Injury news

Saban said linebacker Denzell Devall sprained his knee, but could have returned if necessary. Devall limped off the field after the game with ice on his left knee.

Saban said true freshman cornerback Eddie Jackson sprained his ankle, but could have returned as well.

Junior defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan didn't play because he sprained his shoulder in practice this week and the team didn't want to push him, Saban said.

Defense

For the sixth time in its last nine games, Alabama has held its opponent scoreless in the first half. Along with Saturday's game, Crimson Tide shut out Ole Miss (Sept. 28, 2013), Colorado State (Sept. 21, 2013), Notre Dame (Jan. 7, 2013), Auburn (Nov. 24, 2012) and Western Carolina (Nov. 17, 2012) during the first two quarters of play.

Under Saban, the Tide has held opponents to 10 points or fewer 44 times since the start of the 2007 season.

During Saban's last 73 games at Alabama (since the start of the 2008 season), the Tide's defense has held the opposing offense to fewer than 200 yards of total offense 27 times. Alabama limited Georgia State to 175 yards and nine first downs.

Up next

Alabama hits the road for an SEC matchup with Kentucky in Lexington. The Wildcats are struggling and won't be much of a problem for the top-ranked Tide. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT from Commonwealth Field. ESPN2 will televise the game.

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