TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It sounded like 137F24E0Trent Richardson 13C4C058was set to make his return to action Thursday, but the sophomore remained on the bench for the second straight game.
He practiced during the week and was hovering around sideline huddles against the Panthers, but he came no closer to the field.
Richardson suffered an unspecified knee injury against LSU on Nov. 6.
Saban said Richardson was eager to play against Mississippi State but did not have enough practice time in the previous week to warrant playing him against the Bulldogs. He warmed up with the team but never saw the field.
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Third-string back 16B39598Eddie Lacy 166C7168was the first sub for 13F3ABB8Mark Ingram 13F610B8followed by 168B4E28Demetrius Goode17EB0008.
Georgia State left Bryant-Denny Stadium momentarily stunned after one offensive play.
Tight end 17EA0918Emmanuel Ogbuehi 167647A0found a seam in the middle of the Tide defense for a reception that covered 55 yards sending the small corner of Panther fans into a frenzy. That wouldn’t last as back-to-back penalties set up a first-and-30 situation followed three plays later by a 16511F60Mark Barron 16296AF0interception and a sour end to the once-promising drive.
In their previous 10 games this season, the Panthers have started quickly by putting points on the board seven times in opening possessions.
There were pockets of empty seats in the upper deck of the student section against Mississippi State.
By Thursday, the gaps of unoccupied seats reached all over Bryant-Denny Stadium as Alabama played its first Thursday night game in nine seasons.
Still, attendance was announced at the stadium capacity of 101,821 since all seats were sold. By the third quarter, only a few hundred students remained in the south end zone lower bowl.
Tailgating also suffered with the game being moved to a weeknight. The quad near Denny Chimes -- typically packed shoulder to shoulder on Saturdays -- was mostly barren with only a fraction of the usual number of tents set up in the grass.
13DB6610Anthony Steen 16442758earned his first start at Alabama at right guard Thursday night.
Regular starter 13ED3D90Barrett Jones 13A29868was held out after spraining his ankle in the first quarter of Saturday’s game with Mississippi State.
13ED3E60D.J. Fluker 13B6E1A8returned to the starting lineup after an extended absence. He didn’t saw action but didn’t start against the Bulldogs after missing every game since going down with a groin injury Oct. 9 at South Carolina.
McCullough a backup again
For the first time in four games, 16511CE0Alfred McCullough 13C6E998was not a starter.
He had filled in for Fluker during his groin injury, but with the redshirt freshman healthy again, McCullough returned to backup duties.
The former Golden Eagle spent time working with the guards-- his natural position Saban said -- in case he was needed with Jones injured and out for the game. McCullough entered the game late in the first half with the second-team offensive line.
Another Mosley TD
Alabama freshman linebacker 169C84A8C.J. Mosley 16927008is consistent.
He now has two interceptions in an Alabama uniform. Both were touchdowns as well.
His 41-yard return of an errant Drew Little throw early in the second quarter put the Tide up 21-0.
It also went in the books right next to his 35-yard touchdown return of a 1629B7F0John Brantley 13E3A660interception against Florida earlier this season.
Mosley’s two interception returns for scores puts him second on the all-time Alabama list behind just Antonio Langham who had three.
Another strange TD
Just minutes after Mosley scored on the interception, 17E9E3D0Brandon Gibson 169C33B0put another non-traditional touchdown on the board.
He returned a punt blocked by 13B4DF20Chavis Williams163D4CD8 22 yards for the touchdown and a 35-0 lead. The last Alabama blocked punt came last season at Ole Miss and the most recent block returned for a touchdown was recorded in 2008 against Tulane.
Gibson, who scored the A-Day-winning touchdown on a hail mary, then recovered a fumble on the following kickoff to set up another touchdown.
The Tide special teams wasn’t perfect, though. It missed two field goals -- a 54-yarder by 13B8C6E8Cade Foster1FD34C18 after a delay of game flag in the first quarter and a 27-yarder from 169C5770Jeremy Shelley167CA070 that drilled the upright on the final play of the first half.
Alabama led the nation in interceptions heading into the game and it picked up the pace against the Panthers.
Averaging 1.7 picks per game, the Tide had four Thursday -- the same number it tallied in January’s BCS National Championship Game over Texas.