Sept. 3, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
RollTide.com will break down the Alabama offense, defense and special teams throughout the 2008 season. The Crimson Tide defense will be featured each Wednesday during the year. Here is today’s look at the UA defense heading into Saturday’s home opener with Tulane.
TIDE DEFENSE PUTS CLAMPS ON TIGERS: The Crimson Tide’s young defense had an impressive debut against Clemson’s high-powered offense, holding the Tigers to zero yards rushing and 188 yards of total offense. It was the first time an Alabama opponent did not gained any net yards on the ground since Hawai’i posted -12 rushing yards on Nov. 30, 2002, in Honolulu. The 188 yards of total offense was the fewest since FIU managed just 176 in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 28, 2006 (135 passing, 40 rushing).
DEFENSIVE STARTERS: The Crimson Tide’s starting lineup against Clemson consisted of two seniors, six juniors, two sophomores and one true freshman. Bobby Greenwood and Rashad Johnson were the only two seniors in the starting lineup, while Dont’a Hightower earned a start as a true freshman. The starting unit also consisted of five first-time starters, including nose guard Terrence Cody, linebackers Cory Reamer, Dont’a Hightower and Brandon Fanney and defensive back Justin Woodall.
YOUTH AT LINEBACKER: Three of the Tide’s four starting linebackers made their first career start in the season opener against Clemson. The first-time starters included juniors Cory Reamer and Brandon Fanney and true freshman Dont’a Hightower. The veteran of the group is sophomore Rolando McClain, who has 14 career games and 10 starts under his belt in his brief career with at Alabama.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Junior defensive back Marquis Johnson, McClain and Cody earned Player of the Week honors this week after their performances against Clemson last Saturday night. Johnson and McClain were named Defensive Player of the Week by the Alabama coaching staff, while Cody was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week. Johnson had five tackles – four solo – with an interception while McClain added three stops and one pass breakup. Cody had four tackles – two solos – and was effective in the Tide’s run defense against the Tigers.
Rashad Johnson: A former walk-on, Rashad Johnson is one of the top rated defensive backs in the SEC. He led the league with six interceptions in 2007 and was named to the 2008 Bronco Nagurski Trophy watch list and Jim Thorpe Award watch list. In 37 career games, Johnson has 135 tackles and six interceptions. Johnson led UA with 94 tackles last season and was named first-team preseason All-SEC by the SEC Coaches and the Associated Press. He was a second-team preseason All-SEC by Athlon’s Sports, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and College Football Preview. Johnson is ranked as the No. 9 free safety nationally by Lindy’s. He earned his degree in Criminal Justice in August. Johnson was given the Mal Moore Leadership Award following spring practice. Editor’s note: The Alabama offense is featured each Tuesday, while the special teams’ notebook runs each Thursday on RollTide.com