Alabama Hosts San Jose State in Season Opener

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Aug. 30, 2010

No. 1 Alabama (0-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. San Jose State (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
 Date Saturday, September 4  6:07 p.m. CDT
 Location Tuscaloosa, Ala. | Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821)
 Tickets SOLD OUT
 Television CTSN Pay-Per-View (Chris Stewart and Tyler Watts)
 Radio Crimson Tide Sports Network (Eli Gold and Phil Savage) | Listen Live
 Internet ESPN3.com | GameTracker | Live Game Blog
 Game Notes Alabama Notes Get Acrobat Reader | San Jose State Notes Get Acrobat Reader
 All-Time Series First meeting

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama football team opens the 2010 season on Saturday, Sept. 4, when they host the San Jose State Spartans at the newly expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will mark the start of the 116th season of Alabama football. The Alabama-San Jose State game will be televised on a pay-per-view basis by the Crimson Tide Sports Network with kickoff set for 6 p.m. (CDT). Chris Stewart will call the action with former Alabama quarterback Tyler Watts as the color analyst and former Tide linebacker Barry Krauss reporting from the sideline. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the CTSN.

HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) begins his fourth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school's 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 28-8 record (33-8 before five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to two SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and one national championship. Saban holds a career record of 119-50-1 (124-50-1) as a collegiate head coach, while also serving at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU. Saban won his first national championship as head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2003, guiding the Tigers to a 13-1 record that season. Overall, Saban has coached four conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC, 2003 SEC and 2009 SEC) and 10 of his 13 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban's direction. Saban is also one of two coaches (Urban Meyer, Florida) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.

PRESEASON RANKINGS: Alabama opens the 2010 season ranked first in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' preseason polls. It is the highest preseason ranking since the Tide started the 1978 season atop the AP poll. Alabama went on to win the national championship that season, although the team did not go `wire-to-wire' at number one, suffering a loss to Southern Cal in the third week of the season. It marks just the third time in school history that Alabama has been selected as the AP preseason No. 1 (1966, 1978 & 2010).

SAN JOSE STATE: Alabama and San Jose State have never met on the gridiron. The Spartans are coming off a 2-10 campaign in 2009 with a 1-7 mark in Western Athletic Conference play. San Jose State is 0-3 all-time against Southeastern Conference opponents. Two of the Spartans games against SEC foes have come in season openers, suffering a 59-21 loss to Florida in 1991 and a 29-21 defeat to LSU in 1999. The Spartans last game against an SEC opponent came in 2003 when they faced Florida in the second week of the season, suffering a 65-3 loss. The Crimson Tide is 6-4 all-time against WAC opponents.

NEXT GAME: Alabama will host the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday, Sept. 11, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It will mark the 14th meeting between the two traditional rivals and the 13th time legendary coach Joe Paterno will have faced the Crimson Tide. Alabama leads the overall series 8-5, although Penn State holds a 2-1 edge over the Tide in games played at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for a 6:06 p.m. (CDT) on ESPN with Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Erin Andrews calling the action.

ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama's success on the field over the past two seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide's success in the classroom. After playing the 2010 BCS National Championship Game with 21 players that already had their degrees. The 2010 Crimson Tide begins the season with four players that already have degrees in hand, including Earl Alexander (financial planning), Greg McElroy (business marketing), Brian Motley (general studies) and David Ross (consumer affairs). Over the past three seasons (2008-10) the Crimson Tide has seen 31 players compete for the Crimson Tide after having already graduated.

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: The Crimson Tide has had six players earn preseason All-America accolades from various publications leading up to the start of the 2010 campaign. The list includes, Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower, Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones and Julio Jones. Both Ingram and Jones were selected to the Playboy Preseason All-America Team, while quarterback Greg McElroy was selected as the winner of the Anson Mount Student-Athlete Award by the same publication.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Coach Saban also spent a little time behind the camera during the offseason. He flew out to Los Angeles to film an ESPN College GameDay commercial with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler. Saban was also the center of a feature film, Nick Saban: Gamechanger, which was released in theaters in August.

STADIUM RENOVATION: The newest expansion project for Bryant-Denny Stadium raised seating capacity to 101,821, making it one of the five largest on-campus football stadiums in the nation. The expansion is the fourth expansion of this magnificent edifice since 1988 and the seventh expansion in the stadium's history. This renovation mirrors the north end zone project that was completed in 2006. It consist of roughly 8,500 additional seats, 1,700 South Zone Club seats, two corner video boards, an upper concourse with concessions and restrooms, 36 skyboxes, the Crimson Tide Foundation offices, Donor Hall of Fame and an outdoor market with Zoe's Kitchen, Yogart Lab and a new university admissions office welcome center.

TOUGH SLATE: Alabama will once again have one of the most difficult schedules in the nation with five games against teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches' Poll top 25. The Tide will face No. 14 Penn State on Sept. 11 and then travel to No. 17 Arkansas on Sept. 25. The Tide's other preseason top-25 opponents include Florida, LSU and Auburn.

RETURNING HEISMAN WINNER: Alabama running back Mark Ingram returns for his junior season after capturing the school's first Heisman Trophy on the 75th anniversary of the award in 2009. Ingram rushed for 1,658 yards and 20 total touchdowns and became the first Heisman Trophy winning running back to also help his team win the national championship in the same season since Tony Dorsett in 1976. Ingram is also one of just six players to win the Heisman Trophy and a national championship in the same season since 1950. He is also the first Heisman Trophy winning running back to return the following season since Oklahoma's Billy Sims returned for his senior year in 1979. Sims won the 1978 Heisman Trophy, but finished second to Charles White of Southern Cal in 1979.

NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw seven players selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Rolando McClain (eighth overall to the Oakland Raiders) and Kareem Jackson (20th overall to the Houston Texans). Alabama also had two more second-round picks in cornerback Javier Arenas (Kansas City Chiefs) and nose guard Terrence Cody (Baltimore Ravens). Offensive guard Mike Johnson went in the third round to the Atlanta Falcons while cornerback Marquis Johnson (St. Louis Rams) and Brandon Deaderick (New England Patriots) were taken in the seventh round. The Tide had eight more players sign free agent contracts, including Colin Peek (Atlanta), Eryk Anders (Cleveland), Lorenzo Washington (Dallas), Justin Woodall (Chicago), Cory Reamer (New York Jets), Leigh Tiffin (Cleveland) and P.J. Fitzgerald (New Orleans).

RETURNING SUCCESS: Much of the talk in the preseason has been about Alabama`s high-powered offense, and the offensive side of the football is where the Crimson Tide returns the biggest portion of its players from last year's BCS National Championship team. UA features 10 total returning starters and 39 lettermen this season, but eight of those returning starters are on the offensive side of the football with two on defense. The offense returns 84 percent of the rushing yards from last season (2,526 of 3,011). Greg McElroy, who took 94 percent of the snaps at quarterback last season, returns with four of his top five receivers from 2009 (Jones, Ingram, Maze, Hanks and Richardson).

NICK'S KIDS: At Michigan State, head coach Nick Saban and his wife Terry started the "Nick's Kids" Foundation, which the Sabans have continued in Tuscaloosa. Since their arrival at the University of Alabama, the Sabans have helped raise over $1.5 million - including over $450,000 this year - for "Nick's Kids" and made a total of more than 140 donations to children's charities throughout the state of Alabama.

TIDE PLAYERS EARN EARLY ACCOLADES: Ten Alabama players have been named to 15 different preseason awards watch lists heading into the 2010 season. The players have been recognized before the start of the 2010 season as potentially the top players at their position nationally.

Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower and Greg McElroy each appear on four watch lists. Barron, Dareus and Hightower are on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player), as well as the Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year). McElroy has been named to ever major quarterback award watch list that has been announced, including the Manning Award (top quarterback), Davey O'Brien Award (top quarterback) and the Unitas Golden Arm Award (top senior quarterback). McElroy was also named to the Maxwell Award (most outstanding player) watch list.

Crimson Tide offensive stars Mark Ingram and Julio Jones are well represented in watch lists as well. Jones appears on the lists for the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver) and the Maxwell Award, while Ingram appears on watch lists for the Walter Camp Award (player of the year), the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award (best running back). Last year as a sophomore, Ingram ran for a school single-season record 1,658 yards en route to winning the school's first ever Heisman Trophy.

TWO TIDE PLAYERS NAMED PLAYBOY ALL-AMERICANS: Alabama landed two players on the 2010 Playboy Magazine annual preseason College Football All-America Team. Mark Ingram was selected as a running back and Julio Jones was picked at wide receiver. Alabama has now had six Playboy All-Americans in the last three years after Andre Smith was chosen in 2008 and Rolando McClain and Javier Arenas were selected in 2009. This is Julio Jones' second straight year on the Playboy All-America team.

TRUE FRESHMEN START SEASON OPENER: Alabama has had 11 true freshmen start the season opener since freshmen regained their eligibility from the NCAA in 1973. A pair of true freshmen started the season opener in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, Rolando McClain (LB) and Kareem Jackson (CB) started against Western Carolina. In 2008, both Dont'a Hightower (LB) and Julio Jones (WR) got the nod against Clemson. The 2008 season opener marked the third time in school history the Crimson Tide has started a pair of true freshmen in the its opener. In 1999, Alabama started freshman left tackle Dante Ellington and linebacker Saleem Rasheed in its 28-17 win at Vanderbilt. Alabama has started at least one true freshman in the season opener in three of the last four seasons as left tackle Andre Smith started his first game at Alabama in the 2006 season opener against Hawai'i.

FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Alabama's 2009 freshman class did more than just excel on the football field, the Crimson Tide placed 12 rookies on the 2010 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll, by far the highest total in the SEC - double the second-place team. Mississippi State was second with six while Mississippi had five and Kentucky had four. The Crimson Tide's 12 honorees equaled the total number of Arkansas (3), Tennessee (3), Florida (2), Georgia (2), Auburn (1), Vanderbilt (1) and LSU (0) combined. Alabama freshmen that made the list include: Kenny Bell, Chris Bonds, D.J. Fluker, Nico Johnson, Kendall Kelly, Eddie Lacy, A.J. McCarron, William Ming, Kevin Norwood, Trent Richardson, Chance Warmack and Kellen Williams.

SABAN AMONG THE BEST: Head coach Nick Saban's arrival in Tuscaloosa led to the Crimson Tide's rapid rise up the national rankings. That success in such a short period of time has impacted the Tide's record book. Saban produced the largest win increase from year one to year two in school history as Alabama went from seven wins in 2007 to 12 wins in 2008. He is one of two coaches (Bob Stoops, Oklahoma) in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football to have coached 10 years and never suffered through a losing season. Saban achieved more firsts in 2009 with back-to-back 10-win seasons and his first undefeated campaign. He ranks fourth in winning percentage (70.3 percent) among active coaches who have coached at least 10 years of FBS football. Saban is also one of two coaches (Urban Meyer, Florida) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.

INGRAM SHOWS HIS TOUGHNESS: Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, has proven to be very difficult to bring down on first contact throughout his Alabama career. A year ago, he gained an astonishing 1,075 yards after contact on 279 touches (249 rushes, 30 receptions). Ingram gained 53.7 percent of his total yards after contact in 2009 (1,002 of 1,864). He reeled off a season-best 167 total yards after contact against South Carolina on 24 rushes and two receptions. He also broke the 100-yard barrier on yards after contact vs. Virginia Tech (115), and LSU (107).

BALL SECURITY: Mark Ingram has also developed an impressive reputation during his 28-game Alabama career as an expert at holding on to the football. The junior has only lost one fumble in 414 career rushing attempts and 39 career receptions for a total of 453 career touches. He has only put the ball on the ground twice (at LSU in 2008 and vs. Tennessee in 2009), the first of which was recovered by the Tide and the second was a lost fumble vs. Tennessee in 2009. Ingram went 332 carries into his career before losing his first fumble.

A BALANCED ATTACK: Alabama returned to the nation's elite in 2008 with a punishing ground attack that wore down defenses and took shots down the field. In 2009, the Tide brought more balance to the table on offense. UA still had an outstanding ground game and an aerial attack to match with quarterback Greg McElroy. The Tide showed good balance in their offensive numbers, averaging 215.07 rushing yards and 187.93 yards passing per game. But with eight returning starters in 2010, the Crimson Tide offense has a chance to be one of the most explosive in school history. Alabama returns its starting quarterback, Greg McElroy, who has never lost a game at UA as the starting quarterback. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner at running back in Mark Ingram as well as his backup Trent Richardson, who joined Ingram as a 2010 first-team preseason All-SEC selection make up the Tide backfield. The wide receiver position returns Julio Jones, Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks while the offensive line returns three starters, including its left tackle, center and right guard.

McELROY ON THE MARK: Quarterback Greg McElroy was impressive in his first season as the Crimson Tide's starting quarterback completing 60.9 percent (198 of 325) of his passes for 2,508 yards and 17 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He boasted a 140.55 passing efficiency rating, which ranked 28th nationally and fourth in the SEC. He has won his last 30 starts at quarterback, going 16-0 as a high school senior in 2005 and 14-0 for the Tide in 2009. With just four interceptions in 325 attempts last season, McElroy set the school record for lowest interception percentage at 1.2 percent or one interception every 81.25 attempts. It was also the second-lowest mark in SEC history, just behind Tennessee's Peyton Manning.

FORCING TURNOVERS: Alabama's ability to produce turnovers in recent years has fueled the Crimson Tide's success. The Crimson Tide finished the season ranked fourth nationally in turnover margin at plus-19 (1.36 per game). Alabama has forced 80 turnovers in 41 games under head coach Nick Saban (an average of 1.95 per game) while forcing 31 turnovers in 14 games this past season. The UA offense only turned the ball over 12 times (5 interceptions, 7 fumbles) in 2009. Alabama forced 24 turnovers in 2007 for a plus-4 turnover ratio and then recorded 25 turnovers and ended the season with a plus-6 turnover margin in 2008. Alabama has recorded at least one turnover in 36 of 41 games under Saban. UA is 30-6 under Saban when gaining at least one turnover. Alabama is 3-2 in games without a turnover over the last three seasons.

DEFENSE TOUGH ON THIRD DOWN: Third-down defense has also been a stable for the over the past two seasons. The Crimson Tide defense was strong on third down in 2009, ranking sixth nationally and allowing a 29.90 conversion rate (58 for 194). The Crimson Tide finished third nationally in third down conversion defense in 2008, holding opponents to a 28.14 percent (56 of 199) conversion rate.

HIGHTOWER RETURNS: Sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower returns for this third season at the Capstone as the man in the middle of Nick Saban and Kirby Smart's complex defensive scheme. Hightower received a medical redshirt for the 2009 season after suffering a torn ACL in the fourth game of the season against Arkansas. An amazingly quick recovery returned him to the practice field with full contact during spring drills. Hightower, who played will linebacker during his first two years at UA, will now move over to fill the mike linebacker role left by the departed Buktus Award winner Rolando McClain, who was the eighth overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. Hightower should also see time with his hand in the dirt on passing downs to take advantage of his pass-rushing skills. The Lewisburg, Tenn., native has 80 career tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and eight quarterback hurries.

BARRON MAKING PRESENCE KNOWN: Safety Mark Barron enters the 2010 season as one of the most prominent safeties in the nation. The Mobile, Ala., native was a first-team All-SEC player a year ago, leading the league with seven interceptions while garnering third-team All-America honors. He registered 76 tackles to rank second on the Alabama defense. Barron led the SEC - along with teammate Marquis Johnson - in passes defended with 18 (11 PBU, 7 INT) and ranked tied for sixth nationally with 1.29 passes defended per game.

SEASON OPENERS: Alabama has compiled a 91-21-3 all-time record in season openers, including an eight-game winning streak. Dating back to the 1977 season, Alabama is 28-4 in its last 32 season openers and the Tide has posted a 16-2 opening day record since 1991. The 2010 season marks the 11th consecutive year the Tide has opened the season with a non-conference opponent. The Tide is opening the season in Tuscaloosa for the first time since Saban's first game at Alabama against Western Carolina in 2007.

COACH SABAN IN SEASON OPENERS: Coach Saban is 11-3 in his collegiate career in season openers, including a 3-0 mark at Alabama. He led Alabama to a 52-6 win over Western Carolina on Sept. 1, 2007, in his inaugural game with the Crimson Tide, a 34-10 win over Clemson in 2008 and a 34-24 victory over Virginia Tech in 2009 with both the 2008 and 2009 games being played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Saban won his very first collegiate game on Sept. 8, 1990, as he led Toledo to a 20-14 win over Miami (Ohio). He was 3-2 in season openers at Michigan State and 4-1 in season openers at LSU.

SEASON OPENERS BY HEAD COACH: Coach Nick Saban 3-0 in season openers at the Capstone. Coach Frank Thomas (1931-46) is the school's most successful coach on opening day, compiling a 13-0-2 record in his 15 season openers with the Crimson Tide. Legendary coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant (1958-82) is the school's winningest coach, logging 18 opening day wins in his 25-year career. Bryant's record in Alabama season openers was 18-6-1 (.740), including a six-game winning streak to close out his career.

SEASON OPENERS BY OPPONENTS: The Crimson Tide will open with San Jose State for the first time in school history. UA has opened the season with 54 different opening day opponents with the Crimson Tide's most common opening day opponent being Howard (now Samford). Alabama has also played five current SEC teams on opening day, compiling a 14-8-1 (.630) record against Mississippi, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Florida and LSU. The Tide has not opened the season with an SEC opponent since a 28-17 win at Vanderbilt in 1999.

SEASON OPENERS BY SITE: Alabama has played its season opener in 18 different cities in its 116-year history of football. The 2010 season opener with San Jose State is the first in Tuscaloosa since an opening-day route of Western Carolina in 2007. The most common venue for an Alabama season opener is on the UA campus in Tuscaloosa, where the Tide has opened the season 50 times and compiled a 47-2-1 record. The Tide is 17-1-1 in season openers at Bryant-Denny Stadium (circa 1929) UA has opened the past two seasons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, with wins over Clemson (34-10) and Virginia Tech (34-24). The Tide has also opened the season 29 times in Birmingham and has posted a 24-4-1 record in those games.

ALABAMA VS. WAC: Alabama has compiled a 6-4 (.600) record against the current WAC field. San Jose State marks the fourth WAC opponent Alabama has faced. The Tide's last meeting with a WAC opponent came in the season opener in 2006, ironically the first game after the north end zone expansion was completed, when Alabama defeated Hawai'i 25-17 in Tuscaloosa. UA will be opening the south end zone against the Spartans. Alabama has also faced Louisiana Tech (2-3) and Utah State (2-0). While Alabama had a winning record against Louisiana Tech the program had to forfeit the game later as part of an NCAA infraction penalty. The Crimson Tide have outscored their WAC opponents 309-148 in the 10 games played.

SABAN VS. WAC: In Saban's 14 years of collegiate coaching, he has only faced an opponent from the current WAC field twice, both during his tenure at LSU. The Tigers defeated Utah State on Sept. 8, 2001, (31-14) and Louisiana Tech on Nov. 1, 2003 (49-10). Alabama has not faced a WAC opponent since Saban's arrival in Tuscaloosa.

OPENING-DAY SCORING SPREE: Alabama has scored 302 points in its last eight season openers, an average of 37.8 points per game in wins over Middle Tennessee (39-34), South Florida (40-17), Utah State (48-17), Middle Tennessee (26-7), Hawai'i (25-17), Western Carolina (52-6), Clemson (34-10) and Virginia Tech (34-24). Alabama's 52-6 win over Western Carolina in 2007 were the most points scored by the Tide in a season opener since a 66-0 win over California at Legion Field to open the 1973 season. The Tide scored 40 points in back-to-back openers in 2003 and 2004, marking the first time since 1941-42 the Crimson Tide had hung 40 points on the board on opening night. Alabama has scored 40 or more points in its season opener 26 times, but only eight times since World War II. The record for most points in a season opener was an 89-0 win over Delta State in 1951.

NEW HIRES: The Alabama football staff features a new face in 2010 with the promotion of Jeremy Pruitt to assistant coach of the secondary. Pruitt joined the Alabama staff as Director of Player Development in 2007 after a successful stint as an assistant coach at Alabama high school powerhouse Hoover. At Hoover, he served for three seasons as defensive backs coach with the final two as the defensive coordinator. He tutored a defense that helped the Bucs reach the Class 6A State Championship in 2004, 2005 and 2006, winning titles in 2004 and 2005. Pruitt served as an assistant coach under his father, Dale Pruitt, at Fort Payne High School from 2001-03.

TOP AIDES: Alabama's coaching staff has a wealth of knowledge across all levels of football. The nine-man Crimson Tide staff features a former head coach at the Bowl Subdivision level in Bobby Williams (Michigan State). The staff also has six coaches that have spent time as assistant coaches in the NFL in Bo Davis (Dolphins), Jim McElwain (Raiders), Joe Pendry (19 years with multiple teams), Kirby Smart (Dolphins), Sal Sunseri (Panthers) and Bobby Williams (Lions and Dolphins). Alabama's coaching staff boasts 40-plus years of combined NFL coaching experience.

CRIMSON TIDE PLAYERS ON NFL ROSTERS: The Alabama football program was well represented in the NFL during the 2010 season with former players and coaches dotting league rosters. The Tide has 45 former players and coaches working in the NFL this season. Roman Harper is the only Alabama player on the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. The Crimson Tide has 32 current NFL players. There are 13 former UA players and/or coaches serving as assistant coaches in the NFL this season, including Sylvester Croom (St. Louis), Freddie Kitchens (Arizona) and Richard Williamson (Carolina).


 

 

     
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