Sept. 4, 2008
ALABAMA FOOTBALL: Special Teams Notebook
RollTide.com will break down the Alabama offense, defense and special teams throughout the 2008 season. The Crimson Tide special teams will be featured each Thursday during the year. Here is today’s look at the UA special teams heading into Saturday’s home opener with Tulane.
SPECIALISTS RETURN: Alabama returned all four specialists this season, including kicker Leigh Tiffin, punter P.J. Fitzgerald, return man Javier Arenas and snapper Brian Selman. Fitzgerald, who also serves as the Tide’s holder on extra points and field, has made 27 consecutive starts for the Tide. Arenas is the Tide’s deep threat on punt and kickoff returns. He averaged 15.4 yards per punt return last season and has three career TDs to his credit.
TIFFIN ON LOU GROZA WATCH: Tiffin was named to the 2008 Lou Groza College Place-Kicker Award watch list this week by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission. Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2007 season and 2008 preseason expectations. Tiffin was outstanding in the opener against Clemson, hitting on 4-of-5 field goals, including a career-long 54-yarder, and finished the game with 14 points. Tiffin has made 23 of his last 28 field goal attempts dating back to the Georgia game last year. He set the Alabama single-season record for points as a sophomore in 2007 with 111 and led the SEC and tied for third nationally with 1.92 field goals per game.
TIFFIN BOOTS CAREER-LONG FIELD GOAL Tiffin connected on four of five field goals in the victory over Clemson. He opened the scoring with a career-long 54-yard field goal in the first quarter and extended the Alabama lead to 6-0 midway through the period with a 21-yard field goal, and capped the first half with a 34-yard field goal for a 23-3 Tide lead. He added a 26-yarder in the fourth period to give the Tide a 34-10 lead. With those successful attempts, Tiffin has made 23 of his last 28 field goal attempts dating back to the Georgia game last year. His 54-yarder ranks third in Alabama history, exceeded only by a 57-yarder by his father, Van Tiffin, against Texas A&M in 1985 and a 55-yarder by Ryan Pflugner against Arkansas in 1998. Pflugner’s 55-yard field goal and Tiffin’s 54-yard field goal are the longest two kicks in school history without the benefit of a kicking tee.
STAR OF STARS: Tiffin also earned the “Star of Stars” award from the 2008 Lou Groza National Collegiate Place Kicker Award. Tiffin scored 14 points in the Crimson Tide’s win over Clemson and converted 4 of 5 field goal attempts, including a career-long 54-yarder for the first points of the 2008 season. The 54-yard field goal was the longest among Football Bowl Subdivision teams this past weekend. He also tallied kicks of 21, 34 and 26 yards in the win.
TIDE SCORES ON OPENING POSSESSION: Alabama scored on its first possession against Clemson as Leigh Tiffin connected on a 54-yard field goal for a 3-0 Alabama lead, marking the third consecutive season opener in which the Tide has taken the opening possession to a score. Last year, running back Terry Grant scored on a 47-yard run on the game’s first play. In 2006, Alabama scored on a field goal by Leigh Tiffin against Hawaii. In 14 games under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama has scored on its first possession 10 times (4 touchdowns, 6 field goals).
Editor’s note: The Alabama offense is featured each Tuesday, while the defensive notebook runs each Wednesday on RollTide.com