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December 21, 2012TUSCALOOSA | As University of Alabama football players enjoyed the fruit of the 1992 national championship in the locker room of the Superdome in New Orleans after a 34-13 win over Miami, only they knew how the seeds for that fruit were planted in that very locker room about three months earlier.
Not even the UA coaches could fully appreciate that.
They weren't even in the room.
On Oct. 10 of that season, the Crimson Tide had traveled to the Superdome for a road game against Tulane, a game it eventually won 37-0. But at halftime, Alabama led just 6-0., and the team's leaders requested a players-only meeting during the halftime break. Coach Gene Stallings, clinging to a slim lead with an undefeated season in jeopardy, chose to oblige.
"I think it was (linebacker) Derrick Oden that got the coaches out of there, and we had a knock-down, drag-out. People telling it like it is," All-America defensive end John Copeland recalled. "We came out of that locker room ready to play. Tulane shouldn't have been in the same stadium with us. Normally, you go in, get drinks, get some more tape or whatever, then the coaches sit you down and make adjustments. We didn't even get to that. We took all the time ourselves."
So with the halftime adjustments amounting to nothing more than an attitude adjustment, the Crimson Tide went on to rout the Green Wave with a total offense advantage of 573 yards to 165.
"We were fouling up. We had two or three chances to score and didn't do it," Stallings said on his television show the next morning, speaking of the first half. "We had a receiver open and dropped the pass, we went the wrong way one time, got a penalty another time and couldn't get many points."
The Tulane game was a classic trap game on the Alabama schedule that season, nestled inconspicuously between a feel-good 48-7 home rout of South Carolina and a crucial road test at Tennessee.
Naturally, it was Alabama's dominant defense that helped spark the Tulane turnaround. Defensive backs Chris Donnelly, Antonio Langham, Willie Gaston and Sam Shade each made an interception.
"As a defense, we always said, 'Win on D, count on me,'" linebacker Antonio London said. "That was kind of the song we sang."
The Alabama offense came to life in the second half with four rushing touchdowns, capped by Chris Anderson's 57-yard run for a score on a draw play. Derrick Lassic led all rushers with 188 yards on 20 carries.
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196.