Sept. 17, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The nation’s top rated rushing defense is featured in this week’s Crimson Tide Defensive Notebook. RollTide.com previews the Alabama defense each Wednesday during the 2008 season.
TIDE TOPS COUNTRY IN RUSHING DEFENSE: The Crimson Tide leads the nation in rushing defense after the first three games of the 2008 season. Alabama opponents have 68 rushing attempts for 128 yards, an average of 42.7 yards per game and 1.88 yards per attempt this season. The top five teams in the nation in terms of rushing defense are No. 2 Florida State (43.0 ypg), TCU (43.3 ypg), Indiana (45.5 ypg), while LSU and Louisville are tied for fifth at 48 yards per game. The Crimson Tide defense opened the season in impressive fashion by holding Clemson to zero rushing yards in the season opener. The Tigers featured the tailback tandem of C.J. Spiller and James Davis, who were held in check all night by the Tide defense. The duo was held to 20 rushing yards on 12 attempts. In the Crimson Tide’s second game, Alabama held Tulane to 86 rushing yards on 32 attempts and then last week allowed just 42 yards on 22 carries.
UA AMONG SCORING DEFENSE LEADERS: Alabama ranks ninth nationally in scoring defense as the Crimson Tide has allowed 7.7 points per game in wins over Clemson, Tulane and Western Kentucky. The Tide’s first three opponents have scored 23 combined points, marking the fewest points allowed after three games since the 1979 season. The Crimson Tide defense held Georgia Tech (6), Baylor (0) and Vanderbilt (3) to nine combined points through the first three games and allowed 67 points the entire season. The Alabama defense has allowed only 16 points this season, as one of the two touchdowns scored against the Tide this season came on a kickoff return by Clemson to open the second half.
STOPPING THE RUN: Alabama is 6-2 under Coach Nick Saban when holding opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in a game, including a 3-0 mark in 2008. The Crimson Tide has held Clemson (0), Tulane (86) and Western Kentucky (42) to less than 100 rushing yards total in the first three games this season. Alabama was 3-2 last year when opponents failed to reach 100 rushing yards in a game.
TIDE DEFENSE PUTS CLAMPS ON TIGERS: The Crimson Tide’s young defense had an impressive debut against Clemson’s high-powered offense, holding the Tigers to zero yards rushing and 188 yards of total offense. It was the first time an Alabama opponent had not gained any net yards on the ground since Hawai’i posted -12 rushing yards on Nov. 30, 2002, in Honolulu. The 188 yards of total offense was the fewest since FIU managed just 176 in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 28, 2006 (135 passing, 40 rushing).
THIS AND THAT: Junior cornerback Javier Arenas had a career high seven tackles and his first career sack (-12) in the win over Western Kentucky … Junior nose guard Terrence Cody has one TFL in each of his first three games at Alabama … Cody had one TFL (-4), one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, which led to an Alabama TD in the win over WKU last week … Juniors Marquis Johnson and Ali Sharrief earned their first career starts last week as the Crimson Tide opened the game with six defensive backs against Western Kentucky … Johnson recorded his first career TFL (-4) in the game for the Tide … Senior preseason All-American free safety Rashad Johnson had seven tackles in the win over Western Kentucky and matched his career high with two pass breakups … Freshman linebacker Courtney Upshaw had seven tackles and one TFL (-1), both career highs in the win over Western Kentucky.