Sept. 16, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - A record-setting quarterback, two 1,000-yard rushers and the best third down percentage in the Southeastern Conference are all highlighted in this week’s Crimson Tide Offensive Notebook. RollTide.com previews the Alabama offense each Tuesday during the 2008 season.
John Parker Wilson SHINES AGAINST RAZORBACKS: Alabama senior quarterback John Parker Wilson has turned in two solid outings in his career against the Arkansas Razorbacks. In two starts, Wilson has completed 40-of-65 passes (61.5 percent) for 570 yards with seven touchdowns and just two interceptions. That computes to a 165.58 pass efficiency rating. Wilson’s first career SEC road start came at Arkansas on Sept. 23, 2006, in the Tide’s 24-23 double-overtime loss. He completed 16-of-20 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns, including a 78-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Hall, the 10th longest TD pass in school history. The 80 percent completion percentage is the third-highest single-game total in school history with a minimum of 15 completions. Last year, Wilson completed 24-of-45 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns, both career highs, in the Tide’s 41-38 come-from-behind win. He directed Alabama on a game-winning drive, completing 7-of-9 passes for 52 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown strike to Matt Caddell with eight seconds left on the clock.
WILSON BREAKING RECORDS FOR TIDE: Wilson became Alabama’s all-time leader in pass completions against Clemson on Aug. 30. Wilson found UA tight end Nick Walker for a five-yard completion in the second quarter to pass Brodie Croyle’s record of 488 set from 2002-05. Wilson now has 528 career completions. Wilson also surpassed the Alabama career pass attempts mark vs. Clemson and now has 932, exceeding Croyle’s 869. His four touchdown passes this season tied him with Croyle atop the career list at 41. Wilson also captured the school record for career plays vs. Tulane (1,110) and then surpassed the career total yards mark vs. Western Kentucky (6,321). Wilson isn’t too far behind Alabama’s career passing yards record heading into Saturday’s game at Arkansas with 6,119 yards, he needs 264 passing yards to become the Crimson Tide’s all-time leading passer, ahead of Croyle’s 6,382 yards.
1,000-YARD RUSHERS: Alabama junior running back Glen Coffee and sophomore running back Terry Grant are both on the verge of 1,000 career rushing yards. In 24 games, Coffee has 214 attempts for 966 yards (4.5 per carry) and four touchdowns. He is 34 yards shy of joining the Tide’s 1,000-yard career rushing club in his UA career. Grant has 194 rushing attempts for 949 yards (4.9 per carry) and nine touchdowns. He needs 51 yards to crack the 1,000-yard barrier at Alabama.
BALANCED ATTACK: The Alabama offense has been a model of consistency through the first three games of the 2008 season. The Crimson Tide has rolled up 1,148 yards of total offense with 53.9 percent (619 yards) coming on the ground and 46.1 percent (529 yards) through the air. The Tide has rushed for five touchdowns while John Parker Wilson has thrown four scoring strikes. UA has attempted 86 passes this season, which accounts for 40.2 percent of the plays run, while running the ball 125 times for the other 59.2 percent of the plays.
3RD DOWN SUCCESS: The Alabama offense has been efficient at converting third downs in 2008. The Crimson Tide leads the SEC and is tied for ninth nationally, converting 54.8 percent of their third-down opportunities. UA was especially good at converting third downs against Clemson and Western Kentucky. The Tide converted 11 of 17 (64.7 percent) third-down chances against the Tigers in the season opener and then made good on 64.3 percent (9 of 14) of their third-down plays against Western Kentucky. Alabama is also 3 for 3 in fourth-down situations this season.
LONG DIVES: Long methodical scoring drives have been a big part of Alabama’s SEC-best 34:00 minutes of possession time per game this season. Alabama had seven drives that lasted at least 10 plays while consuming at least four minutes of the clock. The Crimson Tide has had three 14-play drives and two drives that consumed more than eight minutes of the clock.
Plays Yards Time Result Opponent
10 27 5:17 Field Goal Clemson
14 83 8:16 Touchdown Clemson
14 67 6:52 Touchdown Clemson
14 78 8:54 Field Goal Clemson
11 77 4:41 Touchdown Tulane
11 63 4:21 Touchdown Western Kentucky
11 54 5:03 Field Goal Western Kentucky
TIME OF POSSESSION: Alabama has played ball control offense in 2008 and leads the Southeastern Conference in time of possession at 34:00 per game, a full 38 seconds per game more than second-place Kentucky (33:22). The Crimson Tide played a pretty good game of keep away inside the Georgia Dome in a commanding 34-10 win over then-No. 9 Clemson. The Crimson Tide had possession of the ball for an amazing 41:13. UA ran 80 plays compared to just 48 by the Tigers. Alabama then played ball control in the fourth quarter of its win over Western Kentucky and held the ball for 13:19 in the final 15 minutes. The Crimson Tide ran 24 plays for 125 yards in the final quarter compared to Western Kentucky’s three plays and five total yards. For the game, UA had the ball for 37:21 to 22:39 for the Hilltoppers.
CHANGING FRONTS: The Alabama offensive line has struggled to stay intact over the past two seasons. For various reasons, the Crimson Tide has started nine different combinations along the offensive front over the last 16 games. Alabama started six different combinations during the 2007 season and has had a different offensive line in all three games of the 2008 season. Two weeks ago Andre Smith missed his first career start at left tackle so Mike Johnson moved over to left tackle and David Ross made his first career start at left guard for Johnson. Last week, Marlon Davis missed the WKU game with a strained hamstring, so Ross started his second straight game, this time at right guard with Smith back at left tackle and Johnson at left guard.
TIGHT END PRODUCTION: The Crimson Tide has made full use of their talented tight ends early in the 2008 season. Alabama has completed 13 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns to its tight ends with Nick Walker hauling in 11 passes for 96 yards and both touchdowns while Travis McCall has two catches 11 yards. Walker has made four third down catches that resulted in first downs while five of his 11 grabs have gone for first downs and two more for touchdowns.
THIS AND THAT: Sophomore receiver Earl Alexander had three catches for 50 yards in the win over Western Kentucky … Sophomore tight end Preston Dial (8 yards) and sophomore receiver Darius Hanks (18 yards) both recorded their first catch of the season against WKU … Freshman Mark Ingram scored two rushing touchdowns against the Hilltoppers and leads UA with three TDs this season … Redshirt freshman Marquis Maze had two catches for 25 yards, both season-highs, against WKU.