Tide#039;s SEC title hopes slim with Prothro out

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

For the last few days University of Alabama fans have been riding Cloud 9.

And with good reason.

But I think it's time for a little reality check before everyone gets ready to order those plane tickets for Pasedena, Calif., which is the site of the national championship game.

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It may even be a risky move to make reservations for Atlanta.

Although the Crimson Tide came away with an impressive win over Florida on Saturday, the loss of Tyrone Prothro may be more detrimental than when the Tide lost starting quarterback Brodie Croyle and running back Kenneth Darby last season.

Prothro was one of the most explosive players in the Southeastern Conference if not the country.

It was easy to compare Prothro with Southern California's Reggie Bush because the two were easily their team's most valuable players.

All it took was one play, and Alabama's most valuable player was lost for the season.

So while Alabama fans are beating their chest over the fine win over Florida, they may end up shedding a few tears when the season is over.

Before the season is done, Tide fans will find out just how valuable Prothro was to the success of this year's squad.

Just the talent drop from Prothro at wide receiver to Zeke Knight is scary enough as it is. Knight has shown to be consistently inconsistent at catching balls.

That's not good when you pride yourself in being a balanced offense. Look for teams in the coming weeks to stack up the line, shut down Alabama's rushing attack and force the Tide's wideouts and Croyle to beat them.

Something tells me that won't happen.

Had Prothro not been lost for the season, Alabama was destined for a great if not a magical year akin to Auburn's last year.

I'm not saying that Alabama's season is over, but the chances of winning a SEC Championship or even earning a New Year's Day bowl berth disappeared when Prothro went down.

Before losing Prothro, I thought that this year's Auburn vs. Alabama game may actually have some meaning. And it still may. This year's game may decide which team represents the West in the SEC title game.

If Alabama can find someone to step up and catch half as many balls as Prothro, then the Tide could be headed for Atlanta with a perfect record.

But the reality of it all is that Alabama's chances to go play for an SEC title are gone because its most valuable player is gone for the season.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. You can call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.