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Gunshot Victim Inspires Alabama

ATLANTA - Shot by a would-be robber on Monday, playing defensive end five days later. Never mind the teams that won by four touchdowns over the weekend. The biggest victory belonged to Brandon Deaderick.

He could not start as usual for Alabama Saturday night against Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome, but he could play. There was padding on his left arm, where the bullet entered his body. Padding on his left thigh, where it left.

He had one tackle. A tackle he'll never forget, on a night he'll never forget, after a week he'll never forget.

"This is a testimony to how good God can be," he said afterward. "I could have been in a wheelchair or a funeral home, instead of the dome right now."

Deaderick saw the man coming last Monday night, while sitting in the parking lot of his apartment complex. Never realized his life was in danger, thought it was all a joke.

"Give it up," the man said.

"By the time I realized it was for real," Deaderick said, "the only thing I could do was try to go for the gun."

The weapon went off, and suddenly the Virginia Tech game didn't mean as much anymore.

Somehow, the bullet missed everything vital. An inch one way or another, and who knows? The healing began faster than a kickoff return, the amazed doctors gave the clearance, and Saturday night there he was, pacing the sideline until Nick Saban finally consented to put him in.

"(God) gave me a second chance at life," Deaderick said. "I just want to take every day and live it up to its potential.

"I got the opportunity to do what I love tonight."

The Tide won an early showdown of top 10 teams 34-24, and the inspiration of a wounded teammate taking the field could not be overlooked.

"When you see Brandon go out there with bullet holes in his arm and leg," quarterback Greg McElroy said, "it's a lot easier to push yourself."

Stat of the week

In Tennessee's offensive meltdown last season, quarterback Jonathan Crompton threw four touchdown passes all season. He had five Saturday against Western Kentucky, which is why the Lane Kiffin regime is off to such a popular start.

P.S. The Florida trip is only two weeks away.

Quotebook

"I don't think I could beat that kid from Jamaica." - Joe Paterno, able to jog onto the field again with his Penn State team after hip replacement, but not quite ready for sprinter Usain Bolt.

"I was hoping the next voice on the phone wasn't (athletic director) Gene Smith, because that was a poor decision." - Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, berating himself for not kicking a field goal in the fourth quarter with a 29-14 lead over Navy. The Buckeyes failed on 4th-and-2 and Navy nearly rallied for a tie.

"We learned today that we can't play with the SEC." - Western Kentucky coach David Elson after the Hilltoppers lost at Tennessee 63-7. Nobody raised their hand to disagree.

"We should have won that thing hands down." - Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley, after his team had two field goal attempts blocked in the last seven seconds and lost to Iowa 17-16. It would have been UNI's first win ever over the Hawkeyes since 1898.

"He said that everything he put in this program - this new stadium, this new locker room, this new facility - that this win today was worth it. I have a feeling that he expects more than that." - Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy about billionaire donor T. Boone Pickens, after the Cowboys beat Georgia.

"I'm going to be kicking myself over that one." - Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus, on an interception he forced into coverage in overtime that led to the Orange losing 23-20 to Minnesota. Paulus - playing his first football game in five years after a basketball career at Duke - was 19 for 31. In the stands, Syracuse alum Donovan McNabb approved.

Thumbs of the week

Up to Michigan and Notre Dame. Two beleaguered bluebloods win by a combined score of 66-7. But now they have to prove it's for real - against each other.

Up to BYU. More fodder for the Mountain West BCS argument, even if the Oklahoma quarterback was hurt. And because all three future games against ranked opponents are at home, the Cougars have a clear path up the polls.

Up to D.J. Monroe. Touted Texas newcomer makes a quick impression for the Longhorns. First chance with the football, he returns a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. So much for freshman orientation.

Down to Oklahoma. The Heisman quarterback gets hurt and the Sooners lose at home. Could they have a restart?

Down to ACC. Duke loses to Richmond, Virginia loses to William&Mary, Wake Forest loses to Baylor, Maryland's 52-13 pounding at California is its worst opening game loss since 1892. Basketball, this isn't.

Down to new Oregon coach Chip Kelly. No first downs the first 37 minutes at Boise State and his tailback sucker punches a taunting opponent. No Broadway flop ever had a worse opening night.

Down to New Mexico. It's not that the Lobos have lost the season opener four straight years. It's that they haven't scored a touchdown in the season opener four straight years.

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