Originally created 09/01/01

Alabama hoping to spring surprises on UCLA

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama's coach was at TCU last season. The defensive coordinator was at North Carolina. The starting quarterback is a closely guarded secret.

That leaves UCLA coach Bob Toledo wondering what to expect from the 25th-ranked Crimson Tide in Saturday night's opener.

"It's very difficult because of the unknown," said Toledo, whose Bruins enter the season ranked 17th. "We're going to have to be able to adjust at game time to what they're doing. We've had to prepare for a lot of things."

New Alabama coach Dennis Franchione is trying to take full advantage of the mystery, shedding little light on what kind of offense he will run this season. He also has refused to publicly announce a starting quarterback, though junior Tyler Watts is expected to get the nod over senior Andrew Zow.

"The beauty of our offense is there are things Andrew can do and things Tyler can do, and they can both do a lot of it," said Franchione, who expects to use both.

"I don't think you're going to see our offense change dramatically with either of them in the game."

The beauty of UCLA's offense lies in the returning stars. Quarterback Cory Paus, running back Deshaun Foster and receiver Brian Poli-Dixon all rank among the top 11 on the school's career yardage list at their respective positions.

"Any time you've got to defend somebody with a 1,000-yard tailback who's an excellent running back, a passer who threw for over 2,000, (and) a receiver who caught over 50 balls, you've got your hands full because they have balance," Franchione said.

Like its quarterbacking situation, Alabama's tailback rotation is up in the air. Ahmaad Galloway is the starter, but he won't be carrying all of the time. He and Brandon Miree shared the duties last season, and Santonio Beard and Ray Hudson also are in the mix.

"You could see four tailbacks carry the ball," Franchione said.

Toledo is sure of one thing: The Bruins can't take for granted a repeat of last season's physical domination in a 35-24 win at the Rose Bowl.

It was a big letdown for an Alabama team coming in ranked No. 3. The Tide went on to lose seven more times before the season ended with head coach Mike DuBose's firing.

"I don't think they probably thought we were as good as we were or as tough as we were," Toledo said. "Our players need to realize they're a new coaching staff, that we're really not going to see the same team that came out here last year. The team's playing at home with their crowd behind them, in a hot, humid, hostile environment.

"Plus, I'm sure there's a little revenge on their minds."


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