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Davidson, Crimson Tide gear up for Minnesota

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
For most college football players, the freshman season is a year of sitting, watching and learning.
To an extent, Trent Davidson has fallen into that category. He has done a watching and he has done a lot of learning.
The thing Davidson has not done a lot in his initial season with the Alabama Crimson Tide is sit.
It may not have happened the way head coach Mike Shula would have designed or the way Davidson hoped, but the former T.R. Miller Tigers tight end saw his role increase significantly as Alabama's season progressed.
In fact, Davdison vaulted all the way into the starting position for Alabama's final regular season game against third-ranked and undefeated Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
"If you had told me before the season started I would have started in the Iron Bowl game against Auburn, I wouldn't have believed it," Davidson said.
The initial role for the 6-5, 270-pound Davidson this season was special teams.
"I knew going into the season I would probably play quite a bit on special teams. I think that was a good way for me to break into college football. It gave me a taste of what it's like without being thrown completely to the wolves," Davidson said.
As is often the case, injuries can move a player quickly up the depth chart and that was the case for Davidson.
In Alabama's win over Mississippi State, the Tide first lost second team tight end Clint Johnston to a concussion. Later in that game, starting tight end David Cavan suffered a vicious hit and a fractured vertebrae.
Just like that Davidson found himself not only in the line of fire, but on the oher side of the field stood All-American defensive end Willie Evans.
"That was quite an experience having to go up against Evans," Davidson said. "Both Clint and David have taken me under their wings this season. They've showed me a lot of their secrets and techniques. They've tried to get me in the kind of college mindset they've built through their experiences. I really appreciate that," Davidson.
Johnston returned the following week against LSU, but went down again late in the game with another injury. Again, it was Davidson who got the call for Alabama's last two possessions. Then came his first college start against Auburn.
"It's been a year of adjustment for me. Being away from home for the first time is an adjustment and I definitely have to study harder in college than I did in high school," Davidson said. "One of the toughest things for me has been learning our playbook. In high school, we did some motion with our plays, but in college there is so much more. When we call out a play, there may be 20 to 25 words and you have to listen carefully for maybe two, three or four key words," Davidson said.
Davidson and the Crimson Tide are in the final preparations for next week's Music City Bowl game in Nashville where Alabama (6-5) meets Minnesota (6-5) at 11 a.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
"Considering all the injuries we've had this season and with the program just coming off probation, I think we're fairly happy with being 6-5. We were in just about every game. Perhaps the lone exception was the South Carolina game (a 20-3 loss) where pretty much nothing went right. I definitely think Coach Shula has the program headed in the right direction," Davidson said.
Even though the Music City Bowl is not one of the country's elite bowl games, Davidson said it is a pivotal one for Alabama.
"For starters, this game decides whether or not we have a winning season or we're .500. Winning a bowl game is both a good recruiting tool and it helps springboard you into the next season," Davidson said.
Davidson said he does not have a lot of knowledge about the Golden Gophers at this time.
"We haven't heard a lot about them. They got off to a pretty good start to the season and then hit a slump. They've got a couple of good running backs we'll have to slow down. I haven't watched a lot of their offense yet. Being an offensive player, I've been studying a lot on their defense through films," Davidson said.
Davidson said he is using a little advice from high school coach Jamie Riggs to prepare for his first bowl game.
"Coach Riggs always told us to practice evry day like you're preparing for your last game. Hopefully that won't be the case for me," Davidson said.