Alabama football vs Texas: Last meeting with future SEC foe started the Nick Saban dynasty
Barrett Jones had always dreamed of holding the crystal football.
Watching Texas win the national championship over USC during the 2005 season cemented that.
“I remember this really vividly: Vince Young, winning the national championship,” Jones told The Tuscaloosa News, “holding up that crystal football and just thinking, ‘That would be awesome one day if I can do that.’”
A few years later, Jones got his chance. The offensive lineman helped Alabama defeat Texas 37-21 in the 2009 BCS national championship, the last time the Crimson Tide faced the Longhorns.
Since then, the two programs have gone in completely different directions. Texas hasn’t been back to a national championship game since.
But sooner than later, they will be conference foes in the SEC, the conference Alabama has annually been at the top of during the Nick Saban era. The 2009 national championship game started the run that has now reached six Alabama championships.
The game had plenty of drama, and fast.
Colt McCoy's injury
The game changed drastically when Texas starting quarterback Colt McCoy hurt his throwing shoulder on his first drive. He never returned, and freshman Garrett Gilbert replaced him.
“A lot of people say the game would have been different if Colt McCoy would have played, and that’s true,” former Alabama linebacker Eryk Anders said. “Texas probably would have never seen the end zone at all.”
Wait … it was more difficult to face Gilbert?
“Pretty much,” Anders said. “It took us a while to turn up the heat on Garrett Gilbert.”
Anders called Gilbert and McCoy “two opposite quarterbacks.” He explained the game plan was to force McCoy to stay in the pocket and beat them with his arm. They didn’t think he was capable of being the pro-style quarterback. Things changed when Gilbert came into the game.
Texas couldn’t get anything going in the first half, though. It kicked two field goals largely thanks to Alabama special teams mistakes.
‘Almost a perfect play’
Meanwhile, Alabama’s offense started to cook in the second quarter. A 49-yard scamper from Trent Richardson put Alabama up 14-6.
Jones said the semi-misdirection play call was a designed cutback made initially to look like Richardson was running right. The line gave that impression, too.
Then, Richardson bolted left and was off to the end zone. Jones called it “almost a perfect play.”
“Because they read their cues so well, we kind of used that to our advantage,” Jones said. “It’s more of using what we know they’re being taught.
Big man ‘turning point’ touchdown
Alabama had a much bigger man also make a mad dash for the end zone: defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
He picked off a shovel pass for a pick six at the end of the first half. With a stiff-arm and spin move, he put Alabama up 24-6.
Former Alabama defensive back Kareem Jackson, who now plays for the Denver Broncos, told The Tuscaloosa News that was a turning point that flies under the radar.
“It just kind of catapulted us to really being confident in winning that game,” Jackson said.
Perhaps a bit too confident. Jones said they were a bit shell-shocked at halftime: “We were like, ‘Wow, we’re about to win the national championship.”
Not so fast. Two touchdowns from Gilbert to Jordan Shipley and a two-point conversion later, and Alabama led only 24-21 in the fourth quarter. Anders recalled then-defensive coordinator Kirby Smart saying that Shipley was a good route runner but he wasn’t that fast. Shipley proved otherwise.
“They really put up a fight in the third quarter,” former offensive tackle Drew Davis said. “They really tried to come back.”
Texas got the ball back on its own 17 with about three minutes left.
Then Anders struck. He came from the blindside with a free shot at Gilbert, jarring the ball lose, and Alabama recovered.
“To be honest, I kind of thought he threw the ball right before I got to him,” Anders said. “His back was to me, and I really couldn’t tell if he had thrown the ball. But I was there anyway, so I would have felt really silly if I had pulled up and let him throw the ball.”
It set up the first of two rushing touchdowns to secure the win.
The Gatorade bath gone wrong, explained
In the final minute, Anders and Chris Rogers doused Saban with red Gatorade, but they accidentally hit him with the bucket in the process. Anders said they didn’t consider the liquid sloshing around.
“When we got it up to him and tried to stop, the momentum of the water in the bucket kind of kept carrying it forward, and that’s why he got hit in the head,” Anders said.
Saban turning right into the bucket made it worse. To this day, Anders said they haven’t spoken about it.
Then the celebration commenced. Many players went to see family in the stands. But not Jones right away. He was busy securing a spot on the podium behind Saban and the captains.
“I still feel bad about that because it’s not supposed to be coach, captains then redshirt freshman right guard,” Jones said. “But I really wanted to hold it.”
Just like Vince Young.