Top-5 showdown set for Saturday in Baton Rouge
Rivals to meet Saturday night on ESPN
Alabama faces Missouri for first time on league action
Alabama prepares for division rival Mississippi on Saturday
Crimson Tide is 23-3 against non-conference opponents under Saban
The newest member of Alabama's defensive staff is a familiar name. Lance Thompson began his third stint at Alabama in 2012, this time coaching the outside linebackers for the Crimson Tide (as he did in 2007 and 2008). Thompson returns to the Alabama staff after spending three seasons at Tennessee.
Alabama's defense had to replace several veterans in 2012, including both starting outside linebackers (Courtney Upshaw and Jerrell Harris) along with key reserve Alex Watkins. Sophomores Xzavier Dickson and Adrian Hubbard stepped into starting roles and performed well, while true freshman Denzel Devall also earned playing time. Hubbard leads the outside linebackers with 39 tackles, a team-high 10 tackles for loss (49 yards), six sacks (39 yards) and three forced fumbles. Dickson has 33 tackles with five tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Thompson spent three years at Tennessee (2009-11) working with the linebackers the first two seasons and the defensive line in 2011. As linebackers coach, he guided Nick Reveiz to a team-high 108 tackles in 2010. Reveiz also was a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, presented to a former walk-on having the biggest impact on his team.
Alabama put together an impressive 12-2 record in Thompson's second season in Tuscaloosa, winning the 2008 SEC West title and a BCS bowl bid. The Tide ranked third nationally in total defense (263.5 ypg) and seventh nationally in scoring defense (14.3 ppg) in 2008. Thompson was named the Rivals.com National Recruiter of the Year for his work in helping land what was widely regarded as the nation's top signing class in 2008.
Previously, Thompson was a member national championship staffs at Georgia Tech and LSU. Thompson has been a member of two SEC championship coaching staffs, two ACC championship staffs and one Conference USA divisional winner.
Thompson served as the defensive coordinator at UCF for three seasons (2004-06). In 2005, his unit produced a pair of All-Conference USA first team selections in defensive end Paul Carrington and cornerback Joe Burnett. The Golden Knights also were the 2005 Conference USA Eastern Division champions. He helped develop one of the nation's youngest defenses at UCF in 2004 and the group came together to hold the opposition to 21 points or fewer in three of the final four games of the season.
In his first stint with Saban, Thompson spent two seasons at LSU as the assistant head coach in charge of recruiting and the tight ends coach for the Tigers during their national championship season in 2003. Thompson began his tenure at LSU in 2002 as the defensive line coach. In his first year with the Tigers, Thompson coached defensive tackle Chad Lavalais to first team all-SEC honors while the Tigers front four racked up 22 sacks.
Thompson also coached for four seasons on head coach George O'Leary's staff at Georgia Tech. In 2001, he coached a defensive line that recorded 21 sacks, including 10 by All-America defensive end Greg Gathers.
He served as Alabama's defensive line coach in 1999-2000, as the Crimson Tide won the 1999 SEC championship and earned a BCS bowl berth (2000 Orange Bowl). Players he coached at Alabama during that two-year period included all-SEC defensive lineman Jarret Johnson, regarded as one of the most consistent performers in the NFL as a starter with the Baltimore Ravens.
Prior to his first two-year stint at Alabama, Thompson was a part of the Georgia Tech staff for 11 years. During his stay with the Yellow Jackets, Thompson was defensive line coach in 1998, defensive ends coach in 1996 and 1997, and tight ends coach in 1995. Thompson served as Georgia Tech's recruiting coordinator from 1995-98 and then again in 2001. Prior to serving as an on-field coach for the Yellow Jackets, Thompson held the position of director of football operations at Georgia Tech from 1992-94.
Thompson started in coaching in 1988, serving as a graduate assistant for two years at Georgia Tech, followed by two more years as a volunteer assistant in 1990 and 1991. Thompson coached the defensive ends, including All-America and All-Pro Marco Coleman. Georgia Tech earned a share of the national championship in 1990.
As a player, Thompson was a four-year letterman at The Citadel, where he earned his bachelor's degree in education and mathematics in 1987. A native of Riverdale, Ga., Thompson has three daughters: Allie, Christina and Lane.