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ALABAMA FOOTBALL: Special Teams Notebook



Sept. 18, 2008

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - A record-setting return specialist, a 2008 Lou Groza Award candidate and a punt-free game are highlighted in this week's Crimson Tide Special Teams Notebook. previews the Alabama special teams each Thursday during the 2008 season.

PUNT FREE: Alabama did not attempt a punt in its 41-7 win over Western Kentucky Saturday, Sept. 13 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide scored on seven of its 11 offensive possessions in the win and also had two turnovers, one missed field goal and ran out the clock at the end of the game. The last time Alabama did not punt in a game came in a 33-7 win over North Texas on Sept. 14, 2002, in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

ARENAS 7th in PUNT RETURNS: Junior return specialist Javier Arenas is seventh in the nation with a 23.11-yard punt return average through the first three games of the season.  He had five returns for an Alabama single-game record 147 punt return yards, including an 87-yard touchdown, in the win over Tulane on Sept. 6.  The 87-yard punt return was the longest of his career and fifth-longest in school history.   He is one of 15 Football Bowl Subdivision players with a punt return for a touchdown this season, with a minimum of 1.2 returns per game. As a team, Alabama is 15th nationally in the latest NCAA rankings with a 19-yard punt return average.

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 yards vs. Florida International (Oct. 28, 2006); 86 yards vs. Oklahoma State (Independence Bowl) (Dec. 28, 2006); 61 yards vs. LSU (Nov. 3, 2007) and 87 yards vs. Tulane (Sept. 6, 2008)

Palmer's Career Punt Return Touchdowns: 56 yards vs. Vanderbilt (Sept. 28, 1991); 69 yards vs. Tulane (Oct. 12, 1991);
90 yards vs. LSU (Nov. 11, 1991), 52 yards vs. Colorado (Blockbuster Bowl) (Dec. 28, 1991) and 63 yadrs vs. Louisiana Tech (Sept. 26, 1992).  *The NCAA does not recognize bowl statistics prior to the 2003 season.

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.

TIFFIN ON LOU GROZA WATCH: Alabama place-kicker Leigh Tiffin was named to the 2008 Lou Groza College Place-Kicker Award watch list 00by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission. Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2007 season and 2008 preseason expectations. Tiffin was outstanding in the opener against Clemson, hitting on 4-of-5 field goals, including a career-long 54-yarder. Tiffin has made 25 of his last 31 field goal attempts dating back to the Georgia game last year. His 54-yarder ranks third in Alabama history, exceeded only by a 57-yarder by his father, Van Tiffin, against Texas A&M in 1985 and a 55-yarder by Ryan Pflugner against Arkansas in 1998. Pflugner's kick joins Leigh Tiffin's as the longest made field goals in Tide history kicking without the benefit of a kicking tee. He set the Alabama single-season record for points as a sophomore in 2007 with 111 and led the SEC and tied for third nationally with 1.92 field goals per game.

TIFFIN PROVING TO BE TOP KICKER: Alabama junior place-kicker Leigh Tiffin ranks tied for eighth in this week's NCAA statistical rankings and first in the SEC in field goals made at 2.00 per game. The Crimson Tide kicker has hit on 6-of-8 field goals (.750) and is a perfect 9 for 9 on extra-point attempts. He ranks tied for fourth in the SEC and tied for 45th in the NCAA in scoring at 9.00 points per game.