Sept. 9, 2009
STIFLING DEFENSE PUTTING UP IMPRESSIVE NUMBERS: Alabama's defense over the past 15 games - or two seasons - has developed a reputation for its toughness and talent.del The Crimson Tide has held 13 teams under 100 yards rushing over the past 15 games, only LSU and Florida in 2008 were able to crack the 100-yard barrier as a team. The Tide has surrendered just 1,102 yards on the ground in the last 15 games, an average of 73.5 yards per game. Also, no individual running back has cracked the 100-yard mark since Mississippi's BenJarvus Green-Ellis went for 131 on Oct. 13, 2007, a span of 21 games. The Alabama defense has also held opponent's total offense under 200 yards in seven of the last 15 games, including a 155-yard effort by Virginia Tech in the 2009 season opener. The complete sub-200-yard games in that span include: Clemson (188); Western Kentucky (158); Tennessee (173); Arkansas State (158); Mississippi State (167); Auburn (170); Virginia Tech (155).
DOMINANT `D': Alabama returned eight starters from a 2008 defense that finished third nationally in total defense, allowing just 263.5 yards per game. The 2009 unit had an excellent debut against Virginia Tech, holding the Hokies to 155 total yards (64 rushing, 91 passing) and 11 first downs. The Tide held Tech to 2-of-12 on third down conversions and racked up five sacks of Hokies' quarterback Tyrod Taylor. In 2008, Alabama finished second nationally in rush defense, surrendering just 74.14 ypg and rank 26th after the opening weekend of 2009.
DEFENSE TOUGH ON THIRD DOWN: The Crimson Tide defense was stifling on third down against Virginia Tech, holding the Hokies to just two conversions on 12 third down attempts (16.7 percent). The defense was even tougher in the second half, forcing Tech into a 0-of-5 performance on third downs. That continues a trend for the Crimson Tide after UA finished third nationally in third down conversion defense in 2008, holding opponents to a 28.14 percent (56 of 199) conversion rate.
GETTING TO THE QUARTERBACK: Pressure on the quarterback was an area of emphasis for the Alabama defense in 2009 and the hard work in the off season was evident against the Hokies in the season opener. The Crimson Tide sacked Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor five times with All-America linebacker Rolando McClain dropping the passer twice in the second half (-19 yards). Marcell Dareus was credited with 1.5 sacks (-8) while Javier Arenas had one sack (-10) and Josh Champman had half of a sack (-1). The five sacks were the most for the Tide in a game since also recording five against Middle Tennessee state on Sept. 3, 2005.
Marcell Dareus HAS BREAKOUT GAME: Sophomore defensive lineman Marcell Dareus had a great fall practice and a breakout game in the season opener against Virginia Tech. He got the start at defensive end after Brandon Deaderick was shot in an attempted robbery the Monday prior to the season opener against Tech. Dareus responded with two total tackles, including 1.5 sacks as he harassed Tech signal-caller Tyrod Taylor into 9-of-20 passing for just 91 yards.
DEADERICK SEES ACTION: Senior defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick completed a miraculous return to the playing field with an appearance in the Crimson Tide's win over Virginia Tech, just 5 days after being shot by an unknown assailant on Monday night, August 31, in Tuscaloosa. Deaderick, who suffered non-life threatening injuries to his left forearm and hip in the incident, was cleared for action by team doctors. He saw his first action on special teams with 6:35 left to play in the first quarter on Virginia Tech's point-after conversion following a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that tied the game at 6-6. Deaderick saw action on defense with 3:00 left in the first quarter. He finished with one solo tackle vs. the Hokies.
SELMAN SHINES: Alabama senior long-snapper had one of his best games in the 2009 season opener against Virginia Tech. Selman recovered a fumble following an Alabama punt attempt that set up go-ahead field goal in the first quarter. In the third quarter, he downed a punt on the 6-yard line that helped the Tide take over field position in the second half.
TIFFIN TIES SINGLE-GAME HIGH WITH 4 FIELD GOALS: Senior place-kicker Leigh Tiffin converted 4-of-5 field goal attempts against Virginia Tech, making good on attempts from 49, 34, 43 and 20 yards. That matched his single-game best at Alabama. (previously achieved vs. Tennessee, Oct. 20, 2007; Mississippi State on Nov. 10, 2007; Clemson on Aug. 30, 2008) and ranks second in Alabama history (6 by Philip Doyle vs. Southwestern Louisiana on Oct. 6, 1990). The four field goals give Tiffin 57 in his Alabama career, ranking him fourth all-time in Crimson Tide history behind Philip Doyle (78 from 1987-90), Michael Proctor (65 from 1992-95) and Tiffin's father, Van Tiffin (59 from 1983-86).
ARENAS BREAKING SPECIAL TEAMS RECORDS: Javier Arenas enters his senior season near or at the top of almost all of the Crimson Tide's punt return records. He is a preseason Playboy All-American as a return specialist and a first-team All-SEC selection at cornerback. He is one of the most dangerous return men in the country and Alabama's career leader in punt returns yards in a game, season and career as well as touchdowns. He is the active NCAA leader in career punt returns for touchdowns and punt return yards in a game. Arenas' 13.5 career yards per punt return also ranks first on the Alabama career chart, just ahead of Harry Gilmer. His six career punt returns for touchdowns also ties the SEC record. His first career punt return for a touchdown came against FIU in 2006.