Sept. 12, 2011
THE GAME: Alabama returns home to face the North Texas Mean Green on Saturday, September 17, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. This will be the fourth time the teams have met, all of them having occurred in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide leads the series 3-0 and last faced off against the Mean Green in 2009, earning a 53-7 victory. Kickoff for the game is set for 6:38 p.m. CT on the Fox Sports South. Bob Rathbun will serve as the play-by-play announcer, with Tim Couch at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Kristina Akra. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart serving as sideline reporter.
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his fifth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school’s 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 40-11 record (45-11 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 131-53-1 (136-53-1) 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 11 of his 14 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban’s direction. Saban is also the only active coach to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
RANKINGS: In the latest polls released on September 11, Alabama ranks second in both the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches’ Polls.
NORTH TEXAS SERIES: Alabama leads the all-time series with North Texas 3-0. The most recent meeting occurred on Sept. 19, 2009, where the Crimson Tide posted a 53-7 victory over the Mean Green in Tuscaloosa. Alabama and North Texas first met on October 18, 1995, as the 18th-ranked Tide posted a 38-19 win at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The two teams met again on Sept.14, 2002, as the Tide rolled up a 33-7 win in Tuscaloosa.
NEXT GAME: Alabama opens Southeastern Conference play when it returns to Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on the No. 14/13 Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, September 24. It will be the 22nd meeting between the two schools and the 10th trip to Tuscaloosa for the Razorbacks. In last season’s meeting, the Crimson Tide trailed 20-17 in Fayetteville with under five minutes remaining as Robert Lester tallied his second interception setting up the game-winning drive for the Tide. Arkansas is 2-0 on the season with wins over and Missouri State (51-7) and New Mexico (52-3).
Darius Hanks RETURNS: Alabama senior wide receiver Darius Hanks returns to the field for the first time this season after sitting out two games in compliance with the NCAA redshirt rule. The Norcross, Ga., native has started 20 career games – including all 13 last season – and made 58 catches for 822 yards with six touchdowns. Hanks caught 32 balls for 456 yards and three scores last year to average 14.2 yards per catch. He will be a welcome addition to the Tide’s receiving corps that has been led by Marquis Maze, who has caught 12 receptions for 160 yards.
ALABAMA UNDER SABAN IN SEPTEMBER: Alabama has been very successful in the opening month of the season under head coach Nick Saban. Now in his fifth season at Alabama, the Crimson Tide sports a 17-2 record in September following the win at Penn State. Since 2008, Alabama is a perfect 14-0 in September games.
TIDE AT HOME SINCE 2008: Alabama is 21-1 in its last 22 games at Bryant-Denny Stadium, dating back to the start of the 2008 season. During that stretch the Crimson Tide has been extremely stingy on defense and very effective on offense. Some of the most impressive numbers include 49 rushing touchdowns for the Alabama offense while the Crimson Tide defense has surrendered just two rushing touchdowns at home since the beginning of the 2008 season. UA has averaged 181.4 yards of total offense more than its opponents while rushing for 122 more yards per game. Alabama is also outscoring its opponents by 24.6 points per game (33.1 points per game [728 points] to 8.5 points per game ). Below is a look at the numbers for the Crimson Tide during its last 22 games at home:
COACHING STAFF PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: The Alabama coaching staff recognized players of the week each regular season game in 2011. Below is a game-by-game look at the Tide’s players of the week winners.
UA PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (recognized by coaches)
Kent State (announced Sept. 5)
Offense: Barrett Jones, Eddie Lacy
Defense: Courtney Upshaw, DeQuan Menzie
Specialists: Marquis Maze, Will Lowery, Trey Depriest, Vinnie Sunseri
Penn State (announced Sept. 12)
Offense: Mike Williams, William Vlachos
Defense: Mark Barron, C.J. Mosley, Dre Kirkpatrick
Specialists: Trey Depriest, Dee Milliner, Alex Watkins, Vinnie Sunseri
FIRST-TIME STARTERS: Three Alabama players made their first starts for the Crimson Tide in its season opener against Kent State including quarterback AJ McCarron, wide receiver DeAndrew White and defensive end Jesse Williams.
NEWCOMER PRESENCE IN SEASON OPENER: The Crimson Tide saw 18 of its newcomers – nine redshirt freshmen, seven true freshmen and two junior college transfers – make an appearance in its 2011 season opener against Kent State. Among the nine redshirt freshmen were TE Harrison Jones, LB Adrian Hubbard, DL Brandon Ivory, OL Chad Lindsay, OL Austin Shepherd, QB Phillip Sims, RB Blake Sims, TE Brian Vogler and WR DeAndrew White. Alabama’s seven true freshmen included S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, LB Trey Depriest, LB Xzavier Dickson, WR Christion Jones, OL Cyrus Kouandjio, DL Jeoffrey Pagan and DB Vinnie Sunseri. DL Quinton Dial and DL Jesse Williams, who are both junior college transfers, also made an appearance in the season opener.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: The Crimson Tide has had eight players earn preseason All-America accolades from various publications leading up to the start of the 2011 campaign. The list includes Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower, Barrett Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Robert Lester, Trent Richardson, Courtney Upshaw and William Vlachos. Barron was a first-team selection by Phil Steele, Athlon Sports, Lindy’s, Sporting News and Playboy, while Hightower earned first-team honors from Lindy’s, second-team recognition from Phil Steele and third-team distinction from Athlon Sports. Jones was a first-team choice from Phil Steele, Athlon Sports, Lindy’s and Sporting News. Kirkpatrick joined Hightower on the Athlon Sports Third-Team, while Lester made his way to the second team of Phil Steele and Lindy’s. Richardson was a first-team pick on Phil Steele and Playboy and a second-team choice by Athlon Sports, Lindy’s and Sporting News. Upshaw was named to Phil Steele’s Third-Team list as was Vlachos, who also earned third-team recognition from Athlon Sports.
TIDE PLAYERS EARN EARLY ACCOLADES: Twelve Alabama players have been named to 14 different preseason awards watch lists heading into the 2011 season. The players have been recognized before the start of the 2011 season as potentially the top players at their position nationally. Trent Richardson leads the way for the Tide appearing on five of the 14 lists, while Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw were named to four of the lists. Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Robert Lester, Marquis Maze and William Vlachos appeared on three difference lists, and Darius Hanks and Barrett Jones on two. Rounding out the preseason watch nods were Nico Johnson and Michael Williams, making one list apiece. Barron, Hightower, Kirkpatrick and Upshaw are all on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) and are joined by Lester on the Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year) list. Richardson has been named to many of the overall player and running back award watch list that have been announced, including the Doak Walker Award (best running back), the Maxwell Award (most outstanding player) and the Walter Camp Award (player of the year). Lester also appears on the Walter Camp Award list with Richardson. For a complete listing of the preseason watch lists, refer to the chart on page 4.
TWO TIDE PLAYERS NAMED PLAYBOY ALL-AMERICANS: Alabama landed two players on the 2011 Playboy Magazine annual preseason College Football All-America Team. Mark Barron was selected at safety and Trent Richardson at running back. Alabama has had eight Playboy All-Americans in the last four years after Andre Smith was chosen in 2008, Rolando McClain and Javier Arenas were selected in 2009 and Julio Jones and Mark Ingram in 2010.
ALABAMA HAS RECORD NUMBER OF PRESEASON ALL-SEC SELECTIONS: The Tide placed a total of 16 players on the Preseason All-SEC team, which is the most in any year in the league. In addition, Alabama’s nine first-team selections is the highest for any team in a single season beating out the previous high of eight that was set by Alabama in 2010 and Florida in 2009.
11TH ANNUAL HERBIE AWARDS: ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit unveiled his annual “Herbie Awards” prior to the start of the 2011 season. Alabama was well represented, garnering six different accolades. Junior Trent Richardson was named as one of the best running backs while the Tide linebackers were mentioned as one of the best position units in college football. Sophomore linebacker C.J. Mosley was mentioned as a “Name You’ll Know by October” while head coach Nick Saban was named as one of the best defensive minds in the sport. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart made the list of “See You Next Year: College Head Coaches in 2012”. Senior safety Mark Barron was named to the All-Uni Team. Herbstreit also predicted that Alabama will defeat South Carolina to earn the SEC Championship.
NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw five UA players selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Marcell Dareus (third overall to the Buffalo Bills), Julio Jones (sixth overall to the Atlanta Falcons), James Carpenter (25th overall to the Seattle Seahawks) and Mark Ingram (28th overall to the New Orleans Saints). Greg McElroy rounded out the Alabama draft picks by being selected in the seventh round (208th overall) by the New York Jets.
TOUGH SLATE: Alabama boasts one of the most difficult schedules in the nation with six games against teams ranked in the USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll top 25. The Tide faced No. 20 Penn State on Sept. 10, where Alabama came out with a 27-11 win. The Tide will also take on No. 13 Arkansas on Sept. 24, No. 17 Florida (Oct. 1), No. 3 LSU (Nov. 5), No. 25 Mississippi State (Nov. 12) and No. 19 Auburn (Nov. 26).
BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 15-5 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past three seasons and 9-3 against AP top 10 teams. UA had reeled off nine straight wins against top 25 teams until the loss at South Carolina. The Crimson Tide’s 31-6 win over No. 7 Florida on October 2, was the Tide’s second straight win over a top 10 team and third top 25 victory in a four-week span. Alabama went 5-3 against the AP Top 25 last season.
ALABAMA HAS SECOND MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 38 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, which is the second most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed that with a perfect 14-0 record in 2009 and a 10-3 mark in 2010. Alabama is one win back of Boise State, with 39 wins. The Crimson Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.
Total Wins (2008-present)
Boise State - 39
ALABAMA - 38
TCU - 37
Florida - 36
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama’s success on the field over the past three seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide’s success in the classroom. The 2011 Crimson Tide begins the season with 11 players that already have degrees in hand, including Hardie Buck (Aug. 2011), Josh Chapman (May 2011), Nick Gentry (Dec. 2010), Brandon Gibson (Dec. 2010), Barrett Jones (Aug. 2011), Phelon Jones (May 2011), Alfred McCullough (May 2011), Morgan Ogilvie (Aug. 2011), Chris Underwood (May 2011), William Vlachos (May 2011) and Alex Watkins (Dec. 2010). Over the past four seasons (2008-11) the Crimson Tide has seen 42 players compete for the Crimson Tide after having already graduated.
RETURNING SUCCESS: Alabama returns 19 starters and 51 lettermen from its 2010 squad that went 10-3, finishing the season ranked 10th in the Associated Press poll and 11th in the USA TODAY Coaches’ poll. Much of last year’s preseason talk was about the Tide’s offense, whereas this year it has been much about the defense. Highlighting the list of returnees in the defensive backfield is senior All-American Mark Barron and junior All-American Robert Lester. Barron was the team’s leader in total tackles with 75, while Lester led Alabama in interceptions with eight. Among the Tide’s returnees up front is senior Courtney Upshaw and junior Dont’a Hightower, who combined for 121 total tackles, 18 tackles for loss, seven sacks and five pass breakups. Upshaw was first on the team in tackles for loss with 14.5 and ranked fifth in the SEC with his seven sacks. As a unit, Alabama’s defense finished the 2010 season ranked third nationally in scoring defense (13.54 ppg), fifth in total defense (286.38) and sixth in pass efficiency defense (103.54).
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 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 (with Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops) in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) 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 followed that up with another 10-win season in 2011. Saban ranks sixth in winning percentage (71.0 percent) among active coaches who have coached at least 10 years of FBS football. He is also the only active coach, and one of only two coaches (with former Florida head coach Urban Meyer) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
NEW HIRES: The Alabama football staff features three new assistants in 2011 with the addition of Mike Groh (wide receivers and recruiting coordinator), Chris Rumph (defensive line) and Jeff Stoutland (offensive line). Groh, a former quarterback at Virginia, joins the Crimson Tide after most recently serving as quarterbacks coach at Louisville. Rumph, a four-year letterman at South Carolina, spent the last five seasons as the defensive ends coach at Clemson, while Stoutland served as Miami’s offensive line coach from 2007-10.
SUNSERI FAMILY OF FOOTBALL: Alabama assistant head coach Sal Sunseri is joined this season by his youngest son Vinnie, who has twice been named one of the Specialists of the Week by the coaching staff. The Sunseri family tree now spans to two major college football programs as his eldest son, Tino, enters his junior season at Pittsburgh. Tino will once again take the reins of the Panther offense as he enters his second season as the starting quarterback and was named the team captain. Sal left his mark on the field as well, earning consensus All-American honors as a senior team captain at Pittsburgh in 1981. In addition, he anchored a Panther defense that led the NCAA in total defense in 1980 and 1981.
TIDE TO WEAR TWO HELMET DECALS: The Alabama football team is sporting more than just crimson on its helmets in 2011. The Crimson Tide wears a houndstooth pattern decal and a number 77 decal on all of its helmets this season. The houndstooth decal represents the memory of the devastation created by the tornado that hit the Tuscaloosa community on April 27 and the 77 decal is in memory of the late Aaron Douglas.
DEFENSE MAKES A STATEMENT: Alabama’s defense entered the season as one of the more impressive units on paper in the country, and Kirby Smart’s bunch quickly proved they know how to make it translate to the field. The Crimson Tide held Kent State to minus-9 yards rushing and just 90 yards of total offense. Following the second week of play, Alabama ranks third in the nation in pass efficiency defense with a 60.12 passer efficiency rating and is fifth in total defense (170.5 ypg).
17 POINTS ALLOWED OVER THE LAST 12 QUARTERS: In the 12 quarters of play spanning last week’s game at Penn State, the 2011 season opener against Kent State, and the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has allowed a total of 17 points.
STOUT DEFENSIVE OUTING: The Alabama defense limited Penn State to 250 total yards (106 rushing, 144 passing) on Saturday, Sept. 10. In Saban’s 56-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense 31 times, or 55.4 percent of the time.
STINGY FIRST QUARTER DEFENSE: Alabama opponents have had a tough time scoring in the first quarter as the Crimson Tide has not allowed a touchdown in the opening quarter since Tauren Poole found pay dirt for Tennessee on Oct. 23, 2010. The streaks spans seven games and includes four shutout first quarters. The opening drive field goal by Penn State on Saturday broke a four-game first quarter scoreless streak by opponents.
BARRON NAMED SEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior safety Mark Barron was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 12, after copping two turnovers for Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 10, at Penn State. First, he stopped a Nittany Lion drive in the third quarter with an interception at the Alabama 9-yard line. That interception, Barron’s first of the 2011 season, is the 11th of his Alabama career. That total ranks Barron 11th in Alabama history for interceptions in a career. Antonio Langham (1990-93) is the Alabama career record holder with 19 interceptions. Later, in the fourth quarter, Barron scooped up a loose ball caused by cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick to end another Penn State drive at the Crimson Tide 35-yard line.
DePRIEST MAKES HIS PRESENCE FELT EARLY: True freshman linebacker Trey Depriest started on special teams and saw reserve action at linebacker in the Tide’s season opener against Kent State. He led the team in tackles while making his presence felt literally throughout the stadium with multiple bone-jarring hits. He was named the co-SEC Freshman of the Week for his efforts.
THREE AND OUT: Alabama led the nation in defensive three-and-outs in 2009 with 5.61 per game and then ranked 10th nationally last season with 4.08 per game. The 2011 season got off to a great start as the Crimson Tide forced Kent State to three-and-out on it first six possessions and eight of its nine first-half possessions. Overall, the Golden Flashes’ offense was forced into three-and-outs on 11 of its 17 possessions in the game. UA did not surrender a first down until midway through the second quarter and only six for the game, including four on the final two KSU drives of the game with the Tide’s third stringers in the game.
NOWHERE TO RUN: Alabama held Michigan State and Kent State to negative yards rushing in back-to-back games. The Tide limited the Spartans to minus-48 yards in last season’s finale and then held Kent State to minus-9 yards in the 2011 opener. In those two games, Alabama’s defense accounted for minus-57 yards rushing on 51 attempts for an -1.11 yards per carry average and no rushing touchdowns. On the other side of that, the Tide offense churned out 458 yards on the ground and 11 rushing touchdowns. In Saban’s 56-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 100 rushing yards 33 times, or 58.9 percent of the time.
FIRST DOWN STICK HARD TO FIND: Alabama’s defense also proved very stingy when it came to first downs in the season opener against Kent State, allowing the Golden Flashes to compile just six total first downs and convert just 4-of-20 (20 percent) third downs and 1-of-4 fourth-down conversions (25 percent). The Tide allowed just one rushing first down and a single first down to KSU in the entire first half. In fact, four of the six Kent State first downs came on the Golden Flashes final two drives of the fourth quarter. The six first downs allowed are the second fewest in the Nick Saban era (2007-present) – UA gave up just five to Chattanooga in 2009. The Crimson Tide has held opponents to nine first down or less eight times dating back to the start of the 2008 season.
YARDS HARD TO COME BY: For the 14th time during Nick Saban’s last 42 games at the Capstone, the Crimson Tide defense held the opposing offense to less than 200 yards of total offense. The 90 yards against Kent State also marked the second time a Saban defense has limited its opponent to less than 100 yards of total offense. Alabama’s best came in 2009 when they held Chattanooga to just 84 yards of total offense. The Tide held opponents under 200 yards three times in 2010, four times in 2009 and six times in 2008. In Saban’s entire 55-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense 30 times, or 54.5 percent of the time.
GROUND DEFENSE: Keeping the opposing running back under 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered just nine individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season (81 games), a mark that ranks second nationally behind Boston College (8). Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007 (56 games), Alabama has allowed four players to rush for 100 yards in a game: Tennessee’s Tauren Poole (117 yards), Mississippi’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis (131 yards), Houston’s Anthony Alridge (100 yards) and Arkansas’ Darren McFadden (195 yards).
Fewest 100-yard Rushers Allowed (FBS teams since 2005)
1. Boston College - 8
2. ALABAMA - 9
3. Ohio State - 10
4. Boise - 12
5. Penn State - 18
TOUGH SLEDDING ON THE GROUND: Alabama has surrendered the second-fewest rushing touchdowns in the nation since the start of the 2005 season, giving up only 48. Ohio State leads the nation allowing 47 during that time span. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has given up 30 rushing touchdowns while OSU has allowed 27. In 2010, Alabama surrendered just six rushing touchdowns in 13 games and has given up one this season in the final minutes against Penn State.
RETURNING CAPTAINS: Senior safety Mark Barron and junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower are the third set of captains to return to the position for a second season since Alabama first began naming multiple team captains in 1956. In 2002, both Jarret Johnson and Tyler Watts were second-year leaders, while Antoine Caldwell and Rashad Johnson repeated in 2008.
HIGHTOWER RETURNS: Junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower returns for his fourth season at the Capstone as the man in the middle of Alabama’s complex defensive scheme. Hightower received a medical redshirt for the 2009 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament 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 split time between the Mike and Will linebacker spots in 2010 while also seeing time with his hand in the dirt on passing downs to take advantage of his pass-rushing skills. The Lewisburg, Tenn., native has 149 career tackles with 10.0 tackles for loss and 17 quarterback hurries. Hightower finished second on the team in 2010 with 69 tackles, three pass breakups and nine quarterback hurries in 2010.
BARRON RETURNS: Senior safety Mark Barron is one of the most prominent safeties in the nation. The Mobile, Ala., native is a two-time first-team All-SEC player while garnering third-team All-America honors in 2009 and first-team All-America recognition in 2010. He has 169 career tackles and has ranked second and first, respectively, among Crimson Tide players in total stops the past two seasons. Barron has 24 pass breakups over the past two seasons and 10 interceptions. In 2010, Barron was the leader of the Tide secondary. He finished as the Tide’s top tackler 75 stops while missing the bowl game with a torn pectoral muscle. He also recorded three interceptions, two sacks (-15), 3.0 tackles for loss (-19), one forced fumble, two quarterback hurries and six pass breakups.
AJ CONSISTENT AND EFFICIENT AT QB: Alabama sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron showed excellent decision making in an efficient performance in his first road start on September 10 at No. 23 Penn State. The native of Mobile, Ala., connected on 19-of-31 passing for 163 yards and a touchdown. He did not throw an interception or take a sack as the Tide beat the Nittany Lions, 27-11. McCarron has started both of Alabama’s games this season at quarterback, completing 61.1 percent of his passes for 389 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He ranks 65th national and ninth in the SEC with a 126.44 passing efficiency rating.
FIRST ROAD START … FIRST ROAD WIN: Making just his second-career start at quarterback, AJ McCarron recorded his first road win and it came at one of the most intimidating venues – Beaver Stadium – in college football against one of the most tradition-rich program – Penn State. McCarron’s initial success on the road for the first time follows in the footsteps of his predecessor, Greg McElroy, who defeated No. 7 Virginia Tech 34-24 in his first start away from home at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in 2009. He then won his first true road contest at Kentucky later that season, 38-20. McElroy finished his career 11-2 away from Bryant-Denny (includes neutral site games).
RICHARDSON HAMMERS HIS WAY PAST 100: Junior running back Trent Richardson turned in a two-touchdown, 111-yard outing at Happy Valley against Penn State for the fifth 100-yard rushing game of his career. It was his second 100-yard rushing game against Penn State after going for a career-high 144 yards against the Nittany Lions last season. He has scored five touchdowns in two games to rank tied for sixth nationally in scoring. Richardson also went over the century mark at Tennessee in 2010 (119 yards), vs. Florida International in 2009 (118 yards) and against Texas in the BCS National Championship Game.
MAZE MAKES A STATEMENT: Senior wide receiver/return specialist Marquis Maze is one of the key components in replacing All-America wide receiver Julio Jones, and Maze showed exactly what he is capable of in the 2011 season opener against Kent State. The senior enjoyed a big day against the Golden Flashes, setting personal single-game bests in receiving and returns. His 27-yard return of a punt set up the Crimson Tide at the KSU 36-yard line from where the Tide marched to its first touchdown of the season. Maze scored Alabama’s second touchdown to conclude the Tide’s second offensive possession, grabbing a pass from AJ McCarron for a 24-yard touchdown catch for a 14-0 lead. For the game, Maze returned eight punts for 96 yards (12-yard average), returned a kickoff for 39 yards, and caught eight passes for 118 yards for a total of 253 all-purpose yards. The receiving totals are single-game highs for Maze at Alabama, exceeding his prior high of six catches against LSU in 2009 and 96 yards against Florida in 2009.
Barrett Jones DOES IT ALL ON CRIMSON TIDE OFFENSIVE LINE: Junior All-American Barrett Jones has started at right guard the past two seasons, but added a few responsibilities to his résumé this spring and fall. He started his first career game at left tackle against Kent State while also seeing snaps at left guard and center. A candidate for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award, Jones has now started 27 games at the Capstone.
O-LINE EXPERIENCE A KEY: Alabama enters Saturday’s game with one of the most experienced offensive lines in the nation. The Crimson Tide return four starters from last year’s unit and a combined 86 careers starts. Center William Vlachos leads the line with 29 career starts, making every start dating back to the 2009 season opener. Tackle/guard Barrett Jones is close behind with 27 starts, missing only two games late last season (Georgia State & Auburn) with a sprained ankle. Chance Warmack has started the last 15 games at left guard and D.J. Fluker started 11 games at right tackle. Anthony Steen is the newcomer to the group with just four starts, including the 2011 opener against Kent State and two games last season in place of an injured Jones.
NEW QUARTERBACKS MAKING STARTS IN THE FBS: Alabama is one of 27 FBS schools that had a quarterback making his first start during the 2011 season. In addition to Alabama, two other SEC programs will placed a newcomer at the QB position including Auburn and Mississippi.
100-YARD RUSHERS AND RECEIVERS: Twenty seven times in 26 different games Alabama has had rushers exceed 100 yards and the Tide has had 14 100-yard receivers in 14 games since head coach Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. Former running back Mark Ingram recorded 12 100-yard rushing games during his career, while junior Trent Richardson has five 100-yard rushing efforts and sophomore Eddie Lacy has produced one. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 26-1 in those 27 games that produced a 100-yard rusher. Marquis Maze (1) and Trent Richardson (1) are the only current players with a 100-yard receiving game. The Tennessee game on Oct. 23, 2010, marked the sixth time under Saban that Alabama has had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
MAZE SETS PUNT RETURN RECORD: Senior wide receiver and return specialist Marquis Maze totaled a career-best 253 all-purpose yards vs. Kent State while also leading all receivers with 118 yards on a career-best eight catches. But he etched his name in the Alabama record book with a game-high tying eight punt returns for 96 yards. The 96 yards was also the seventh-most in a single game in UA history. Maze also added one kickoff return for 39 yards.
THE ALABAMA/NORTH TEXAS SERIES: Alabama leads the all-time series with North Texas 3-0. The most recent meeting occurred on Sept. 19, 2009, where the Crimson Tide posted a 53-7 victory over the Mean Green in Tuscaloosa. Alabama and North Texas first met on October 18, 1995, as the 18th-ranked Tide posted a 38-19 win at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The two teams met again on Sept.14, 2002, as the Tide rolled up a 33-7 win in Tuscaloosa.
North Texas (3-0-0)
Date Result Site Score Total
Oct. 28, 1995 W H 38-19 38-19
Sept. 14, 2002 W H 33-7 71-26
Sept. 19, 2009 W H 53-7 127-33
Oct. 18, 1995 – Alabama 38, North Texas 19: Alabama scored four second half touchdowns en route to a 38-19 win over North Texas, the Tide’s 19th consecutive non-conference win. Alabama generated 465 yards of offense, including 246 passing yards to secure the win, despite four turnovers. Quarterbacks Brian Burgdorf (10-13-136, 1 TD) completed 18-of-23 passes. The Tide running attack was solid as Brian Steger (19-97) and Dennis Riddle (17-80-1) carried the load on the ground. Cedric Samuel’s 15-yard interception return in the second quarter tied the game at 7-7, and Michael Proctor’s 31-yard field goal gave Alabama a 10-7 halftime lead. Burgdorf threw a pair of touchdown passes to Toderick Malone (50 yards) and Chad Key (7 yards) in the second half, while Ed Scissum and Riddle added rushing touchdowns. North Texas had 274 yards of total offense, but generated only 14 yards on the ground. The Tide defense recorded four sacks, six tackles for loss, eight quarterback pressures and forced three turnovers.
Sept. 14, 2002 – Alabama 33, North Texas 7: Alabama’s offense piled up 534 total yards in a 33-7 win over North Texas. The Crimson Tide ran for 336 yards and added 198 passing yards as Shaud Williams (7-93-1) and Ray Hudson (7-82-0) combined for 175 rushing yards, and four different UA players tallied a rushing touchdown. Ahmaad Galloway and Santonio Beard scored second quarter touchdowns as the Tide held a 19-7 lead at halftime. Williams and quarterback Brodie Croyle added second half touchdowns for the Tide. The Alabama defense limited North Texas to 143 total yards (50 rushing, 93 passing). Cornelius Wortham led all tacklers with 12 stops and one tackle for loss.
Sept. 19, 2009 – Alabama 53, North Texas 7: Alabama racked up five rushing touchdowns and surrendered only seven first downs to North Texas in the 53-7 victory. Sophomore Mark Ingram, freshman Trent Richardson and junior Terry Grant each ran for more than 75 yards and at least one score as the Crimson Tide accumulated 262 yards on the ground. Junior quarterback Greg McElroy completed 13-of-15 passes, tying the school record for completion percentage in a game at 86.67 percent, for 177 yards and two touchdowns. McElroy also rushed for a touchdown on a two-yard scramble.
SABAN VERSUS NORTH TEXAS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban will be facing the Mean Green for the second time in his career with the first coming two seasons ago. In that meeting, the Crimson Tide posted a 53-7 win over North Texas in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
ALABAMA VERSUS SUN BELT CONFERENCE: Alabama is 19-1 all time against Sun Belt Conference teams. The Crimson Tide posted a 2-0 record against Sun Belt foes during the 2008 and 2009 seasons facing Western Kentucky and Arkansas State in 2008 and Florida International and North Texas in 2009. Alabama’s only loss to a Sun Belt Conference team came on Nov. 17, 2007, when Louisiana-Monroe handed Alabama a 21-14 setback in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama vs. the Sun Belt Conference:
Arkansas State - 2-0
Florida International - 2-0
Louisiana-Monroe - 1-1
Louisiana-Lafayette - 8-0
Middle Tennessee - 2-0
North Texas - 3-0
Western Kentucky - 1-0
33 NATIONAL TV GAMES IN LAST 43 GAMES: Alabama’s contest at Penn State on Sept. 10, marked the 33rd nationally-televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. In 2010, Alabama had five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, two games on ESPN2, one on ABC and one on ESPNU. In 2009, UA played two games on ABC, including the BCS National Championship Game, and six games on CBS while ESPN broadcast two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcast nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.
TIDE 40-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 40-3 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban. Alabama had a 28-game winning streak snapped in 2010 against LSU. The first two losses came against LSU with the last loss to Auburn in 2010. In 2007, UA held a 20-17 halftime lead before losing, 41-34, on Nov. 3, 2007, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In 2010, UA led 10-3 at the half before the Tigers rallied for a 24-20 win at Tiger Stadium. The Tide lost 28-27 to Auburn to close out the 2010 season after leading 24-7 at the half. The Crimson Tide is 3-5 under Saban when trailing at halftime and 2-2 when tied at halftime. The three wins when trailing at the half came in a 34-24 win over No. 7 Virginia Tech on Sept. 5, 2009, in Atlanta; a 24-15 victory over No. 9 LSU on Nov. 7, 2009; and a 24-20 win at Arkansas on Sept. 25, 2010 . Alabama’s two wins when tied at halftime came at LSU on Nov. 8, 2008, (a 27-21 victory) and at Auburn with a 26-21 win on Nov. 27, 2009.
HUGE CROWDS: On Saturday, Sept. 10, at Penn State, Alabama played before the largest crowd ever to witness a Crimson Tide football game as 107,846 fans packed Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. The Crimson Tide has played in nine games away from home that saw the attendance figure eclipse 100,000, with all but Saturday’s game being played at Neyland Stadium against Tennessee.
Top 5 Attendance Totals at Alabama Football Games
107,846 – at Penn State (Sept. 10, 2011)
107, 722 – at Tennessee (Oct. 26, 2002)
107, 709 – at Tennessee (Oct. 21, 2000)
107, 289 – at Tennessee (Oct. 24, 1998)
107, 017 – at Tennessee (Oct. 23, 2004)
106, 700 – at Tennessee (Oct. 26, 1996)
ALABAMA CONTINUES SUCCESS ON THE ROAD: Saturday’s win over Penn State continued a trend of road success by the Crimson Tide in recent seasons. Including Saturday’s win, Alabama has a 12-2 mark in true road games since 2008. The Tide posted a 3-2 mark last season on the heels of identical 4-0 records in 2008 and 2009. Alabama has outscored its opponents 459-234 over that span. In all games away from Tuscaloosa since 2008, Alabama is 17-4, including a 9-4 mark against ranked opponents.
FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Alabama’s 2010 freshman class did more than just excel on the football field, the Crimson Tide placed 11 rookies on the 2011 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll, by far the highest total in the SEC - more than double the second-place team. Mississippi State was second with five, while Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee each had four. Florida and Georgia placed three representatives on the list apiece, and Arkansas, LSU and Vanderbilt all had two members of the honor roll, respectively. Mississippi rounded out the list with one. Alabama freshmen that made the list include: Cade Foster, Jalston Fowler, Corey Grant, Adrian Hubbard, Harrison Jones, Arie Kouandjio, C.J. Mosley, Nick Perry, Brian Vogler, DeAndrew White and Jay Williams. The 2009 freshman class was equally impressive placing 12 on the list, which again was more than double the next-highest SEC institution.
TOP AIDES: Alabama’s coaching staff was ranked No. 1 in the Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com Top 10 Football Coaching Staffs list. Following the Tide was Oklahoma, TCU, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Iowa, South Carolina, Penn State, Boise State and Wisconsin. Alabama’s leadership on the sidelines and in the booth has a wealth of knowledge across all levels of football. The nine-man staff features a former head coach at the Bowl Subdivision level in Bobby Williams (Michigan State). The staff also has five coaches that have spent time as assistant coaches in the NFL in Mike Groh (Jets), Jim McElwain (Raiders), Kirby Smart (Dolphins), Sal Sunseri (Panthers) and Bobby Williams (Lions and Dolphins).
CRIMSON TIDE PLAYERS ON NFL ROSTERS: The Alabama football program is well represented in the NFL as it starts the 2011 season with former players and coaches dotting league rosters. The Tide has 38 former players and coaches working in the NFL this season. Charlie Peprah is the only Alabama player on the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. The Crimson Tide has 25 current NFL players. There are 13 former UA players and/or coaches serving as assistant coaches in the NFL this season.
ALABAMA’S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 182-125-4 (.589) all-time record in 311 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts.
OVERTIME RECORD: Alabama is 4-7 (.364) all-time in overtime games. In its last overtime game, the Crimson Tide defeated LSU 27-21 at Tiger Stadium on Nov. 8, 2008. Alabama has lost six of its last nine overtime games. The Crimson Tide is 4-6 (.400) in overtime games against SEC teams. Alabama is 2-4 (.333) in overtime home games. The Crimson Tide is 3-4 (.429) in single-overtime games.