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September 6, 2009ATLANTA _ Former University of Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson couldn't help himself when he congratulated senior guard Mike Johnson after Saturday's game.
"What's up with the Wildcat stuff?" said the newest member of the Atlanta Falcons after surviving the final cuts earlier in the day.
Yes, the Crimson Tide unveiled the new offensive wrinkle on its first offensive snap of the season, although with little success.
With junior Greg McElroy lining up wide, technically making his first-ever start for the Tide at wide receiver instead of at quarterback, sophomore Mark Ingram took the snap and executed a rushing play.
Alabama lined up in the "Wide Tide" seven times during the first half, with one nullified by a time out. Thanks to a botched snap resulting in a 10-yard loss, the other six resulted in just two yards. It made 9 yards on three attempts in the second half, giving the formation a grand total of 9 yards on nine attempts.
The rest of the game the offense averaged 6.99 yards per play.
Sophomore linebacker Jerrell Harris was declared ineligible before the game.
The university issued the following statement: "The University of Alabama has declared sophomore linebacker Harris ineligible pending a reinstatement decision by the NCAA regarding a violation of team and NCAA rules. The duration of Harris' ineligibility has not been determined."
The school is still awaiting a ruling by the NCAA regarding Harris not being able to produce a receipt for a laptop he allegedly received from Athens resident Curtis Anderson, the same person who went on the fishing trip with sophomores Julio Jones and Mark Ingram which was determined to be an impermissible benefit that the players had to repay.
True freshman Nico Johnson warmed up in Harris' spot at backup weakside linebacker behind sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower, with senior Cory Reamer taking over in nickel formation.
Nine players made their first career starters, six on offense (James Carpenter, William Vlachos, Barrett Jones, Colin Peek, Brad Smelley and McElroy) and three on defense (Eryk Anders, Mark Barron and Marcell Dareus).
Shaun Alexander and Antonio Freeman delivered game balls prior to kickoff. Team captains were Javier Arenas, Mike Johnson and Rolando McClain.
Virginia Tech had its usual home-game introduction, the playing of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" with fans jumping up and down as the team enters the stadium. The teams participated in the pregame handshake, part of the sportsmanship initiative coming from the American Football Coaches Association.
The officiating crew was from the Southeastern Conference, with Matt Austin the referee.
Wearing the headset and relaying plays in was walk-on quarterback Thomas Darrah.
The crowd of 74,954 was the fourth largest attendance in Georgia Dome history. "I would open every season with the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game if I could," Coach Nick Saban said. "I love coming here to play. It is great for our fans and great for the U.S. to see two great teams play."