QB Jackson leads 3 scoring drives
By MICHAEL CASAGRANDE
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban didn’t wait for the second half to dip into the reserves Saturday afternoon.
Second-string quarterback Star Jackson was the most noticeable replacement who entered for the final drive of the second quarter. The rest of the supporting cast avoided disaster in Alabama’s 53-7 win over North Texas.
Jackson played the rest of the way except for the first drive of the third quarter when Greg McElroy returned for one final series. The redshirt freshman, who lost the battle for the starting job in the spring, completed 9-of-13 passes for 87 yards while leading three scoring drives.
“He was a little slow in the operation sometimes and took a penalty in the red zone inside the 5-yard line,” Saban said. “But that’s what you learn from.”
Jackson, who was a little wild with a few of his second-half passes, also saw the potential to grow from his first extended game action.
“I made a couple of mistakes, but we will go over it in film and get better,” he said. “It was great to get out on the field and help the team. I just have to continue to work and wait for my time.”
Jackson found a pair of receivers who made their first receptions of the season. Brandon Gibson hauled in a 21-yarder in the second half while true freshman Michael Bowman made his first collegiate reception on a third-down pass that gained seven yards on the final play of the third quarter.
Third-string running back Terry Grant easily had the best day for the offensive backups. His 19 carries and 79 yards ranked third behind Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, and the 2007 leading rusher even carried the entire load on one drive.
The junior running back ran it five times and caught one Jackson pass in a six-play, 33-yard drive.
His 1-yard run capped the short drive that put the Tide ahead 44-0 with 2:57 remaining in the third quarter. Javier Arenas set up the short drive with a 33-yard punt return.
On the defensive side, Chris Jordan went from a sideline-dweller to the team’s leading tackler with his six stops. Nick Gentry, a second-string nose guard, tied for second-most tackles with five.