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November 7, 2005

Tide looking for answers on offense

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STARKVILLE, Miss. - One important streak is over for Brodie Croyle and Alabama. If the No. 4 Crimson Tide's offense doesn't start scoring touchdowns, another one - their nine-game winning streak - could be next.

Alabama's offense was held out of the end zone for its second straight Southeastern Conference game in a 17-0 victory at Mississippi State on Saturday.

"It's frustrating, definitely frustrating, that we can't get into the end zone," Croyle said. "It seems like if we could do it one time, things could kind of escalate from there. But I don't know what the deal is. ... We're not scoring, we're not doing good on offense and it's my fault. I'm the guy who's responsible."

And with No. 5 LSU threatening to knock 'Bama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) from the short list of I-A unbeatens, and with rival Auburn the following week, the offense is pressing for production.

"If we played the way we played (against Mississippi State) against a team like LSU, we will lose," coach Mike Shula said.

Croyle's school-record string of 190 passes without an interception is history - he was picked off for the first time since September on the opening drive - and he finished with two interceptions and a fumble.

"I guess we got that one out of the way," Croyle said.

The offense has been searching for someone to provide big plays ever since Tyrone Prothro broke his leg in the Florida win.

Since then, 'Bama scored one offensive touchdown in beating Ole Miss 13-10 and had two field goals in a 6-3 win over Tennessee. The Tide briefly got well against a mid-major, scoring 35 against Utah State, but quickly returned to their old habits against the Bulldogs (2-7, 0-6).

Their two touchdowns were scored by a backup receiver (Matt Miller) who returned a fumbled kickoff return 15 yards for a TD and a defensive lineman (Rudy Griffin) who brought back an interception 17 yards for another score.

They bailed out an offense that moved the ball between the 20s and gained nearly 300 total yards, but had three drives stall in the red zone and were just 4-of-15 on third-down conversions.

With two games against ranked rivals that will decide the West - and whether 'Bama can reach its first BCS game since the 1999 season - Shula feels better preparation can help the Tide turn around.

"(Croyle is) down because we felt like we're better than the way we played," Shula said. "As hard as we prepared all year, we have to prepare that much harder."

For more coverage of the Alabama Crimson Tide, check out BamaOnLine.com.

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