Sept. 11, 2008
ALABAMA FOOTBALL: Special Teams Notebook
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – 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 game with Western Kentucky.
ARENAS BREAKS 61-YEAR OLD RECORD: Javier Arenas gained 147 punt return yards on five punt returns (29.4-yard average), against Tulane on Sept. 6, setting an Alabama single-game record for punt return yards. The old mark of 122 yards was set by Harry Gilmer against Georgia on October 25, 1947, in a 17-7 Alabama victory in Athens. Arenas accomplished virtually that entire total in the first half before leaving the game with an injury suffered on his first punt return of the third quarter.
ARENAS GOES THE DISTANCE: Javier Arenas returned a Tulane punt 87 yards for a touchdown with 10:45 left in the first quarter to put Alabama in front, 7-0. That return, the fifth-longest punt return in Alabama history, was Arenas’ fourth punt return for a touchdown, tying David Palmer’s (1991-93) school record. Palmer actually had a fifth punt return for a touchdown against Colorado in the 1991 Blockbuster Bowl that came prior to the NCAA recognizing bowl statistics. Arenas has had two punt returns of more than 80 yards in his career, including an 86-yarder vs. Oklahoma State in the 2006 Independence Bowl.
Arenas’ Career Punt Return Touchdowns
65........... Florida International (Oct. 28, 2006)
86........... Oklahoma State (Independence Bowl) (Dec. 28, 2006)
61........... LSU (Nov. 3, 2007)
87........... Tulane (Sept. 6, 2008)
Palmer’s Career Punt Return Touchdowns
56........... Vanderbilt (Sept. 28, 1991)
69........... Tulane (Oct. 12, 1991)
90........... LSU (Nov. 9, 1991)
*52 ......... Colorado (Dec. 28, 1991)
63........... Louisiana Tech (Sept. 26, 1992)
*The NCAA does not recognize bowl statistics prior to the 2003 season.
ARENAS 7th in PUNT RETURNS: Junior return specialist Javier Arenas is seventh in the nation with a 24.29-yard punt return average through the first two games of the season. He has seven returns for 170 yards and one touchdown in the Tide’s wins over Clemson and Tulane. He is one of 10 Football Bowl Subdivision players with a punt return for a touchdown this season, with a minimum of 1.2 returns per game.
NCAA Punt Return Leaders PR YDS TD AVG
1. Brandon Tate, North Carolina 3 142 1 47.33
2. Tony Carter, Florida State 2 72 1 36.00
3. T.Y. Hilton, Florida International 3 96 1 32.00
4. B.J. Hill, Ball State 3 90 0 30.00
5. Kevin Jones, Arkansas State 4 98 0 24.50
6. Robert Dunn, Auburn 7 171 1 24.43
7. Javier Arenas, Alabama 7 170 1 24.29
8. D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt 5 119 0 23.80
9. Otis Wiley, Michigan State 5 113 0 22.60
10. Joe Burnett, UCF 7 154 0 22.00
UA 11th IN PUNT RETURNS: The Crimson Tide ranks 11th nationally in punt returns after the first two weeks of the 2008 season. Alabama has nine punt returns for 194 yards, an average of 21.56 yards per return this season. North Carolina leads the nation with a 47.33-yard average on three returns in its lone game of the year.
PUNT RETURNS TIMES TWO: Alabama and Kansas State are the only two Football Bowl Subdivision teams with two punt returns for touchdowns this season. The Crimson Tide had both returns in its 20-6 win over Tulane on Sept. 6. Junior return specialist Javier Arenas gave the Tide a 7-0 lead with an 87-yard punt return in the first quarter. Later in the quarter, junior Roy Upchurch blocked a punt at the Tulane 23-yard line and junior Chris Rogers returned the ball 17 yards for the Tide’s second punt return of the game and a 13-0 lead with 3:15 left in the opening quarter. Kansas State’s Ernie Pierce and Chris Carney have each scored a touchdown off a blocked bunt this season for the Wildcats.
HELMET Sticker No. 2: For the second straight week ESPN.com’s Chris Low awarded Alabama a helmet sticker. After week one, the Crimson Tide offensive line garnered a helmet sticker for their dominant performance against Clemson. In week two, the Tide’s special teams was selected after Javier Arenas totaled a school-record 147 yards in punt returns, including an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown and Roy Upchurch blocked a punt that Chris Rogers returned 17 yards for a touchdown. The following is an excerpt from his story on ESPN.com:
“Without the kicking game, Alabama would have been in real trouble. The Crimson Tide scored their first two touchdowns on special teams, an 87-yard punt return by Javier Arenas and a blocked punt and 17-yard return for a touchdown by Chris Rogers. Arenas’ return was as pretty as you’ll ever see. He broke at least four tackles and then turned on the jets, as Alabama held off Tulane, 20-6.”
TIFFIN PROVING TO BE TOP KICKER: Alabama junior place-kicker Leigh Tiffin ranks tied for ninth in this week’s NCAA statistical rankings. The Crimson Tide kicker is averaging 2.0 field goals per game after hitting four field goals in the season opener against Clemson.
Editor’s note: The Alabama special teams will be featured each Thursday, while the offensive notebook runs on Tuesday and the defensive notebook runs on Wednesday.