|Former Texas QB Applewhite takes reins of Alabama's offense|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 10 August 2007 10:53|
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -John Parker Wilson has never seen Major Applewhite play quarterback.|
``He's a little too old,'' the Alabama quarterback said, grinning.
Old? The 29-year-old Applewhite was the nation's youngest offensive coordinator last season at Rice and now holds the same job under Nick Saban at Alabama, making him more whiz kid than old man.
The former Texas quarterback has already created a buzz among Tide players dazzled by the stats the Rice offense produced last season, including a school-record 350 points.
``When they were talking about coach Applewhite coming here, guys were coming up to me saying, 'Did you hear about his offense last year and what he did?''' receiver DJ Hall said. ``They would show the numbers he produced, and you'd get excited.''
It's been awhile since anybody got particularly excited about Alabama's offense, which was often criticized for what some fans deemed unimaginative playcalling under the Mike Shula regime. The Tide was no better than middle-of-the-pack in the major SEC offensive stats last season.
Wilson did set the school's single-season passing mark in his first season as starter and Hall broke the record for receiving yards. That leaves Applewhite with a solid foundation for the passing game.
Age quips aside, Wilson likes his new position coach and coordinator.
``I like him a lot,'' he said. ``We have a very good relationship. I think he's great for our offense.''
Applewhite, meanwhile, doesn't seem intimidated by his youth and position on an offensive staff that includes two assistants who have been coaching since before Applewhite was born: Joe Pendry (41 years) and Burton Burns (31).
``It's unbelievable the amount of experience that we have in our offensive room,'' Applewhite said. ``It's great for a young coach like myself to be able to lean on that.''
Rice's spread offense produced a 1,000-yard receiver, 1,000-yard passer and 1,000 yard rusher for the first time in school history during Applewhite's lone season.
He likened playcalling to his playing days, when he produced a 22-8 record as a starter for the Longhorns.
``You get through the first game, you get through those jitters, then you start to feel comfortable out there,'' he said.
Applewhite seems well-prepared for the pressurized environment and high fan expectations at Alabama, having played at a similar traditional power in Texas.
Plus, he already has the 'Bama name. Applewhite's father, a former president of Alabama's national alumni association, named him after former Tide running back Major Ogilvie.
``I enjoy this university, I love this university and I want it to be successful,'' Applewhite said. ``Playing at Texas helps you understand the aspect that you have to deal with as a player when you're playing at a bigger university.
``Understanding Alabama and what it means to the people and how it's embedded in the culture - I lived it. So it's an extremely exciting position to be in right now.''
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