'Bama punter was well armed against UH
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Punter Lane Bearden usually helps Alabama's football team with his foot.
Yesterday at Aloha Stadium, he displayed another facet: his arm.
It was Bearden's quick shovel pass to slotback Dre Fulgham for a 12-yard gain on a fake 35-yard field-goal attempt that prolonged the Crimson Tide's first scoring drive of the game early in the second quarter in a 21-16 win against Hawai'i.
The play moved Alabama to the UH 6. Three plays later, running back Shaud Williams scored the first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run.
"We saw an opening in the blocking scheme where we thought we could get it in and get the yards," Bearden said. "We didn't know we'd get nine, but Tre really ran hard."
The fake came after place kicker Kyle Robinson had missed attempts from 37 and 39 yards in the first quarter after consecutive UH turnovers. This time, Alabama got a break when UH failed to convert on a fake punt on fourth-and-15 at the UH 12. Upback Chad Kapanui who is about seven yards behind the long snapper took the snap and raced right for 10 yards before being stopped by linebacker DeMeco Ryans at the UH 22.
"That's something they've done twice so far this year," said Alabama tight ends and special teams coach Mark Tommerdahl, who coached at TCU with head coach Dennis Franchione. "They did it the last time we played them at TCU, so we were well prepped for that and we were not surprised by that. They're very confident in that fake."
The Crimson Tide reached the UH 18 after three plays, looking to set up a third field-goal attempt by Robinson. The Warriors lined up with three down linemen lined up in front of the offensive guards. The linemen shot the A or center-guard gaps, but left the guard-tackle gaps open. Bearden, the holder on the field-goal attempts, took the snap and shoveled the ball to Fulgham, who slid over from the left slot to catch the short pass and sprint through the hole for the first down.
"They were coming between center and guard and left the tackle (gap) open," Bearden said. "We watched film and saw it."
Added Tommerdahl: "Quite frankly, we were fortunate to get the thing off. We were hoping they would call a certain block and we were fortunate to have the right call called into their (field goal) block."
More impressive of Bearden, a 6-foot-2, 198-pound senior, was that he got off eight punts for a 41.6 average. He had a long of 47 yards and two that landed inside the UH 20. What is impressive is that he is punting without an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He missed the 27-25 loss to Georgia on Oct. 5, which snapped a 36 consecutive starts streak. But he has missed only one game, playing in the last seven. Last night was the Crimson Tide's season finale.
"I'm glad I got to finish the season," he said. "That was six games ago and I've been playing ever since. It's rough (the injury) but everybody did a great job helping me out."
"He has no ACL," Tommerdahl said. "He's quite a story. He's going to have surgery next week to repair it. Tough kid."