Oct. 4, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
Alabama Football Preview - Game Six
No. 1/1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) at No. 19/20 South Carolina (3-1, 1-1 SEC)
Top-ranked Alabama goes on the road for the third time in the past four games with a visit to the No. 19/20 South Carolina Gamecocks at 2:30 p.m. (CDT) on Saturday, October 9, at Williams-Brice Stadium. It will be the 15th meeting between the two schools and fifth trip to Columbia for the Crimson Tide, the first since 2005. South Carolina is 3-1 on the season and 1-1 in the SEC after a 35-27 loss at Auburn on September 25. The game marks the first of six consecutive for the Crimson Tide against SEC opponents that will have a bye prior to playing Alabama. The game will be televised on CBS -- the third consecutive game on CBS for the Tide -- with Verne Lundquist on play-by-play, Gary Danielson as the color analyst and Tracy Wolfson reporting from the sideline. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network with Barry Krauss on the sidelines.
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his fourth season with the Crimson Tide. He was named the school's 27th head coach on January 3, 2007. Saban has compiled a 33-8 record (38-8 including 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 124-50-1 (129-50-1) 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 10 of his 13 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban's direction. Saban is also one of two coaches (Urban Meyer, Florida) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
RANKINGS: Alabama opened the 2010 season ranked first in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' preseason polls and have maintained that ranking. The preseason No. 1 ranking was just the third such honor in school history (1966, 1978 & 2010). South Carolina enters this Saturday's contest ranked 19th in the Associated Press poll and 20th USA Today Coaches rankings. It will be the fourth top 25 foe for the Crimson Tide in the last five games.
SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES: Alabama leads the series with South Carolina, 10-2 (12-2 before NCAA rulings). The two teams have not met at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia since the Crimson Tide posted a 37-14 win over the Gamecocks on Sept. 17, 2005, a game the Tide later vacated. In the last season's meeting at Bryant-Denny Stadium, the Crimson Tide beat the No. 22 Gamecocks 20-6 behind Mark Ingram's 246 yards rushing. Alabama holds a 3-1 series lead in games played in South Carolina with its only loss a 37-36 setback in 2001.
NEXT GAME: Alabama returns home for Homecoming on Saturday, October 16, when the Mississippi Rebels visit Bryant-Denny Stadium. It will be the 90th Homecoming game in school history. The Tide boasts a 75-13-1 record on Homecoming and are currently riding an eight-game winning streak. Alabama leads the series 43-9-2 (on field record 47-9-2 with three vacated wins and one forfeit). The Crimson Tide have walked off the field winners in six straight against the Rebels, dating back to 2003 when Eli Manning led Mississippi to a 42-28 win in Oxford. UA leads the series 22-1 in Tuscaloosa and 32-1-1 in the state of Alabama. Mississippi's only win at Bryant-Denny Stadium was a 22-12 decision in 1988.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama's success on the field over the past two seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has coincided with the Crimson Tide's success in the classroom. After playing the 2010 BCS National Championship Game with 21 players that already had their degrees, the 2010 Crimson Tide begins the season with four players that already have degrees in hand, including Earl Alexander (financial planning), Greg McElroy (business marketing), Brian Motley (general studies) and David Ross (consumer affairs). Over the past three seasons (2008-10) the Crimson Tide has seen 31 players compete for the Crimson Tide after having already graduated.
McELROY APPLIES FOR RHODES SCHOLARSHIP: Alabama senior quarterback Greg McElroy is one of two students at the University of Alabama that have been endorsed by the University. The endorsement allowed McElroy to officially submit his Rhodes application essay (1,000 words) on Monday, October 4. There are 32 Rhodes Scholarships assigned annually to students in the United States. States are grouped into 16 districts for the purpose of making these appointments. The state of Alabama is in the seventh district, which also includes the states of Florida and Tennessee. Two students from district seven will be selected as Rhodes Scholars following the final interview process on November 20.
McELORY NAMED A SEMIFINALIST FOR CAMPBELL TROPHY: Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy has been selected as a semifinalist for the 2010 William V. Campbell Trophy, which is presented by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame and recognizes the best and brightest from the college gridiron. The NFF will announce up to 15 finalists on Thursday, October 28, who will then be recognized as part of the 2010 NFF Scholar-Athlete Class, receiving an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. The Campbell Trophy winner, who will have his scholarship increased to $25,000 and receive a 25-pound bronze trophy, will be announced live at the NFF's Awards Dinner on Dec. 7 at Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. In the classroom, McElroy has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll four times (2007-10), the President's List (4.0 GPA) twice, the Dean's List (3.5-3.99 GPA) four times and is a UA Rhodes Scholar nominee. He is currently pursuing a degree in sports management after finishing his undergraduate degree in marketing in just three years.
STADIUM RENOVATION: The latest expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium raised seating capacity to 101,821, making it one of the five largest on-campus football stadiums in the nation. The expansion is the fourth expansion of the stadium since 1988 and the seventh expansion in the stadium's history. It consists of roughly 9,600 additional seats, 1,700 South Zone Club seats, two corner video boards, an upper concourse with concessions and restrooms, 36 skyboxes, the Crimson Tide Foundation offices, a Donor Hall of Recognition and an outdoor market featuring Zoe's Kitchen, Yogurt Lab and a new university admissions office welcome center. UA's first three home game crowds of 101,821 not only set a school record, but also set a new record for the most spectators to watch a football game in the state of Alabama.
BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 12-2 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past three seasons and 8-2 against AP top-10 teams. UA has reeled off nine straight wins against top 25 teams. The Crimson Tide's 31-6 win over No. 7 Florida was the Tide's second straight win over a top-10 team and third top-25 victory in the past four weeks. Alabama is 3-0 against the AP Top 25 this season.
STREAKING AT BRYANT-DENNY: Alabama has won 17 consecutive games at Bryant-Denny Stadium dating back to the home opener against Tulane in 2008. It is the fourth-longest streak in school history at Bryant-Denny Stadium and is just one shy of the third-place mark. The longest winning streak at Bryant-Denny Stadium is 57 games from Oct. 26, 1963, to Nov. 13, 1982. During the current streak, the Crimson Tide is 9-0 against SEC competition and 4-0 against top 25 teams.
29 STRAIGHT REGULAR SEASON WINS: With the win over Florida, Alabama has reeled off 29 consecutive regular-season victories. The win streak dates back to the 2008 season opener against Clemson. UA's last regular-season loss came at Auburn on Nov. 24, 2007. During that stretch, the Crimson Tide boasts a 31-2 overall record with its only losses coming to Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship Game and Utah in the 2009 Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Tide is also a perfect 18-0 in SEC play over the last two-plus years, becoming just the second team (Florida - 1995 & 1996) in conference history to post back-to-back undefeated 8-0 records since the league split into a divisional format in 1992.
NO. 1 ROLLS ON: With the Crimson Tide's 31-6 win over then-No. 7/7 Florida, in the last 15 years the Associated Press's No. 1-ranked team is 28-0 on its home field against a ranked opponent. That streak dates back to a 36-33 Auburn win at No. 1 Florida in 1994.
START FAST -- FINISH STRONG: One of Alabama's priorities each week is to get off to a fast start and then win the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide's "Start Fast -- Finish Strong" motto has been evident in 2010 with a 59-16 scoring edge in the first quarter and a 31-3 advantage in the fourth quarter. UA has also had a distinct edge in the second half, outscoring opponents by a margin of 65-9 in five games. A season ago, Alabama outscored its opponents 121-32 in the fourth quarter, a margin of 89 points. That number grew to 201-77 in the third and fourth quarters for a margin of 124 points.
ALABAMA HAS MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 31 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, which is the 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 is off to a 5-0 start in 2010 after a win over No. 7 Florida. Alabama has one more win than both Florida and Boise State over the past three seasons.
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 has 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 now has won 18 straight games with the Tide. Saban is one of two coaches (Bob Stoops, Oklahoma) 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 ranks fourth in winning percentage (71.1 percent) among active coaches who have coached at least 10 years of FBS football. Saban is also one of two coaches (Urban Meyer, Florida) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
TOUGH SLATE: Alabama once again has one of the most difficult schedules in the nation with five games against teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches' Poll Preseason Top 25. The Tide beat then-No. 18/14 Penn State on Sept. 11, then-No. 10/11 Arkansas on Sept. 25, and then-No. 7/7 Florida on Oct. 2. Next, Alabama travels to No. 19/20 South Carolina this Saturday.
ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY: Alabama will make its second appearance on ESPN's College GameDay this season on Saturday when the popular pre-game show will be in Columbia for the top 25 showdown between South Carolina and the Crimson Tide. It will mark Alabama's 19th appearance (10-8 record) on ESPN College GameDay and its 10th appearance under head coach Nick Saban (7-2). The 10 appearances in the Saban Era are one better than Florida (9) for the most GameDay appearances since the 2007 season. The Crimson Tide was on four times in 2008 against Clemson, Georgia, LSU and Florida. The Tide then made three appearances during the 2009 season against Virginia Tech and Florida in Atlanta and Texas at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. UA hosted GameDay in Tuscaloosa on September 11 for the Tide's 24-3 win over Penn State. Alabama has hosted GameDay nine times, including six times at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
Crimson Tide Offensive Notes
2010 OFFENSE PUTTING UP NUMBERS:
Alabama returned eight starters from the 2009 offense that put together one of best seasons in school history. The Crimson Tide set a school record with 5,642 yards of total offense, including 3,011 rushing yards (11th in school history) and 2,631 passing yards (5th in school history). The Tide also scored the second-most points in the 115-year history of the program with 448 (32.1 points per game). However, the 2010 Crimson Tide offense is ahead of that pace. Alabama is averaging 464.0 yards of total offense per game to rank 20th nationally and third in the SEC. The rushing offense is ranked 17th at 229.8 yards per game (3rd in the SEC) while the passing offense is 40th at 234.2 yards per game (3rd in the SEC). The Crimson Tide is scoring 37.8 points per game to lead the conference and rank 16th nationally.
RETURNING HEISMAN WINNER: Running back Mark Ingram returned for his junior season after capturing the school's first Heisman Trophy on the 75th anniversary of the award in 2009. He missed Alabama's opening two games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday, August 31, but returned Sept. 18 at Duke. Ingram rushed for 1,658 yards and 20 total touchdowns in 2009 to become the first Heisman Trophy-winning running back to help his team win a national championship in the same season since Tony Dorsett in 1976. Ingram is also one of six players since 1950 to win the Heisman Trophy and a national championship in the same season and is the first Heisman-winning back to return the following season since Oklahoma's Billy Sims returned for his senior year in 1979. Sims won the 1978 Heisman Trophy, but finished second to Charles White of Southern California in 1979.
INGRAM'S HOT START: On Sept. 18 at Duke, Mark Ingram became the first Bowl Championship Subdivision player to rush for 150 yards on less than 10 carries in the last five years. Ingram, in his first action of the 2010 season, ran for 151 yards on just nine carries and scored two touchdowns. The 16.8 yards per carry was a career high and among the top 10 performances in school history. Ingram actually cracked the 100-yard barrier in the first quarter, on just his third carry after runs of 48, 3 and 50 yards. He went into halftime with 148 yards on seven carries for an average of 21.1 yards per carry.
INGRAM VS. TOP 25 OPPONENTS: Mark Ingram has consistently stepped up his production against top-25 competition during his career at the Capstone. The junior from Flint, Mich., averaged 188.8 rushing and receiving yards vs. the top 25 last season, including 156.8 rushing yards in those games and nine touchdowns. He also had 31 runs of 10 yards or more against ranked foes in 2009. In 2010, Ingram ripped off 157 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in a 24-20 come-from-behind victory at No. 10 Arkansas on Sept. 25. Ingram's 54-yard first-quarter touchdown burst was a showcase of his vision, speed, cut-back ability, vicious stiff-arm and uncanny balance. He then scored two touchdowns and accounted for 66 all-purpose yards in a 31-6 rout of No. 7 Florida.
INGRAM 4TH ON CAREER RUSHING YARDS CHART: Mark Ingram rushed for 47 yards on 12 carries against Florida, moving him up the Alabama career rushing yards chart into a tie for fourth place with 2,741 yards in his career. Shaun Alexander (1996-99) is the Tide's career rushing yards record holder with 3,565 yards.
INGRAM OVER 100: Mark Ingram's 12 100-yard rushing performances in his Alabama career rank him tied for third in Alabama history. Shaun Alexander (15 from 1996-99) and Bobby Humphrey (15 from 1985-88) hold the record.
INGRAM EXPLOSIVE: Junior running back Mark Ingram erased an early Arkansas lead on September 25 with a 54-yard run for a touchdown with 6:21 left in the first quarter last Saturday. That big play continued a trend of explosive runs in early action for Ingram in 2010 as it marked the Heisman winner's fifth rush of more than 20 yards in only his first dozen carries of the season. On September 18 at Duke, Ingram has carries of 50, 48, and 20 yards while gaining 151 yards on only 9 attempts.
INGRAM SHOWS HIS TOUGHNESS: Mark Ingram became well known for his bruising-running style and tackle-breaking second efforts last season. Ingram accounted for 1,075 rushing and receiving yards after contact en route to the Heisman Trophy. Through Ingram's first three games of the 2010 season, Ingram has accounted for 355 yards rushing and 46 yards receiving on five catches. Of his 401 total yards, 165 (41.1 percent) of those yards have come after contact. That style seems to have also become a trademark of Crimson Tide running backs with sophomore Trent Richardson and redshirt freshman Eddie Lacy showing the same skill set early this season. Richardson has accounted for 198 yards after contact of his 545 rushing and receiving yards in 2010 while Lacy has 89 yards after contact this year.
BALL SECURITY: Mark Ingram has also developed an impressive reputation during his 31-game Alabama career as an expert at holding onto the football. The junior has only lost one fumble in 459 career rushing attempts and 44 career receptions and one kickoff return for a total of 504 career touches. He has only put the ball on the ground twice, the first of which at LSU in 2008 was recovered by the Tide and the second was a lost fumble vs. Tennessee in 2009. Ingram went 332 carries into his career before losing his first fumble. Sophomore Trent Richardson has been almost as good, touching the ball 247 times and losing just one fumble while putting it on the ground four times.
Julio Jones MOVES UP CAREER RECEPTIONS LIST: Junior wide receiver Julio Jones caught four passes for 19 yards against Florida, moving him up to fourth on the Alabama career pass receptions list with 125 for 1,842 yards. Jones has caught 24 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns in five games in 2010, averaging 13.4 yards per catch to give the Tide a lethal threat on the outside. His 4.8 receptions per game rank fifth in the SEC while his 64.4 yards per game are seventh in the conference.
McELROY EXTENDS STREAK: Greg McElroy has yet to lose a game as a starting quarterback at Alabama. With the win over Florida, the Southlake, Texas, native has a perfect 19-0 mark over the last two seasons as a starter. Dating back to his senior year at Southlake Carroll High School, McElroy has started 35 games and walked off the field as a winner each time. McElroy's last loss as a starting quarterback was in the eighth grade against Cross Timbers Middle School in Grapevine, Texas. McElroy's 19-0 start to his career is the second best in school history, and he is currently the only Alabama quarterback to have never lost during his career as a starter (minimum 10 starts). It also ranks as the second-longest streak of consecutive wins by a starting quarterback in school history. Jay Barker owns both records, winning the first 22 games of his career from 1991-93.
McELROY'S SENIOR SEASON STARTING RIGHT: Senior quarterback Greg McElroy has gotten off to an excellent start in 2010, showing a commanding presence as both a leader and playmaker for the Crimson Tide. The Southlake, Texas, native has completed 69.9 percent of his passes for 983 yards and seven touchdowns and three interceptions while ranking 11th nationally in passing efficiency at 166.67.
RICHARDSON JOINS 1,000-YARD CLUB: With 61 rushing yards against Duke on Sept. 18, sophomore running back Trent Richardson became the 51st Crimson Tide player to rush for 1,000 career yards. Richardson now has 1,170 yards on 202 carries over the first 19 games of his Alabama career. Mark Ingram became the 50th player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards last season while Glen Coffee and Terry Grant both eclipsed 1,000 career rushing yards in 2008.
RICHARDSON BACK DEEP: Sophomore Trent Richardson's 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on Sept. 18 at Duke did not make the Alabama all-time top-10 list for longest kickoff returns, but it did mark the first Crimson Tide kickoff return for a touchdown since a 100-yard return for a score by Tyrone Prothro on October 10, 2004. Richardson is second in the SEC and ranks 14th nationally in kickoff returns this season with a 30.91 ypr average. He also ranks 10th nationally in all-purpose yards (885 in five games) at 177.0 per game average. The Alabama school record for all-purpose yards is 2,016 by Bobby Humphrey in 1986, which averaged out to 168.0 yard per game.
A BALANCED ATTACK: Alabama returned to the nation's elite in 2008 with a punishing ground attack that wore down defenses and took shots down the field. In 2009, the Tide brought more balance to the table on offense. UA still had an outstanding ground game and an aerial attack to match with quarterback Greg McElroy. The Tide showed good balance in their offensive numbers, averaging 215.07 rushing yards and 187.93 yards passing per game. In 2010 Alabama might have the best combination of explosiveness and balance in the country. The Crimson Tide has accounted for 2,320 yards of total offense (20th nationally at 464.0 ypg), including 1,171 yards (50.5 percent) in the air and 1,149 (49.5 percent) on the ground. The Tide has thrown 124 total passes (40.3 percent) -- completing 85 (68.5 percent) -- while running the ball 184 times (59.7 percent).
QUICK-STRIKE OFFENSE: Alabama has developed a quick-strike capability in 2010 with 15 scoring drives of less than three minutes and nine of less than 90 seconds. The Crimson Tide have also put together 12 scoring drives of five plays or less, including seven drives of three plays or less.
EXPLOSIVE PLAYS: In first five games of the 2010 season, the Alabama offense has accounted for 51 plays of 15 yards or more, scoring 13 touchdowns within those 51 explosive plays. The Crimson Tide have made 33 passing plays of 15 yards or more with Julio Jones leading the way with 10 15-plus yard pass receptions. Trent Richardson also has 11 explosive plays with seven rushes of 15-plus yards and four receptions. Marquis Maze has five explosive receptions while Mark Ingram had six runs and one pass reception of 15 yards or more in two games, including runs of 54, 50, 48, 20, 19 and 17 yards and a 20-yard reception.
100-YARD RUSHERS AND RECEIVERS: Alabama has had 100-yard rushers in 25 games and 100-yard receivers in nine games over the last three-plus seasons since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. Junior running back Mark Ingram has recorded 12 100-yard rushing games during his career while Trent Richardson has three 100-yard rushing efforts and Eddie Lacy one. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 24-1 in those 25 games with a 100-yard rusher. Junior Julio Jones (5) is the only current player with a 100-yard receiving game. The Duke game on Sept. 18 marked the fifth time under Saban that Alabama has had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game.
MILESTONES VS. DUKE: Alabama's scored 62 points vs. Duke, the most in a game since a 62-0 win over Tulane on Oct. 12, 1991, and the most in a road game since a 62-27 win over Mississippi on Oct. 7, 1989. The 49-point margin of victory is the largest for Alabama since a 52-0 win over Western Carolina on Sept. 18, 2004. Alabama amassed 626 yards of total offense (315 rushing, 311 passing) against Duke, the most since gaining 644 against LSU in Baton Rouge on Nov. 11, 1989 (257 rushing, 387 passing). The 45 points scored in the first half by Alabama was the most scored by the Crimson Tide in any half since Oct. 7, 1989, when Alabama scored 48 points in the first half of a 62-27 victory over Mississippi at Jackson, Miss.
Crimson Tide Defensive Notes
The Alabama defense replaced nine starters from its 2009 national championship-winning defense that finished second nationally in all major defensive categories. The 2010 defense, although still far from complete, has been successful to this point. The Crimson Tide leads the nation in scoring defense, surrendering just 9.0 points per game or 45 total points in five games. UA has allowed a touchdown at home, surrendering just 12 points on four field goals in three game (4.0 ppg). The secondary, which was forced to replace 3 of 4 starters and six of its top seven players, has also fared well in the national rankings with the No. 3 pass efficiency defense (90.72) even after Arkansas' Ryan Mallett threw for 357 yards. The rush defense has not put up the numbers of the past two seasons, but still is just allowing 101.5 yards per game to rank 19th nationally. The Tide's total defense is 20th nationally at 292.4 yards per game, which ranks third in the SEC.
GROUND DEFENSE: The Crimson Tide has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in an astonishing 39 games, dating back to Oct. 13, 2007, when Mississippi's BenJarvus Green-Ellis went for 131 yards. That is the longest streak in the nation, 11 games more than second-place Ohio State (28 games). Alabama was one of three teams not to allow a 100-yard rusher in 2009 and is the only team not to surrender a 100-yard rusher in 2008, 2009 or 2010. Over the last three seasons, the Crimson Tide held 27 opponents to under 100-yards rushing.
FORCING TURNOVERS: Alabama's ability to produce turnovers in recent years has fueled the Crimson Tide's success. The Crimson Tide is off to a decent start in 2010 with 13 turnovers and six giveaways (plus-7) in the first five games. UA has intercepted 11 passes and recovered two fumbles for a +1.40 turnover margin that ranks tied for eighth nationally and first in the SEC.
Alabama has forced 93 turnovers in 46 games under head coach Nick Saban (an average of 2.02 per game) while forcing 44 turnovers over the last 19 games (2.32 per game). The Tide finished the 2009 season ranked fourth nationally in turnover margin at plus-19 (1.36 per game). The UA offense only turned the ball over 12 times (5 interceptions, 7 fumbles) in 2009. Alabama forced 24 turnovers in 2007 for a plus-4 turnover ratio and then recorded 25 turnovers and ended the season with a plus-6 turnover margin in 2008. Alabama has recorded at least one turnover in 41 of 46 games under Saban. UA is 35-6 under Saban when gaining at least one turnover. Alabama is 3-2 in games without a turnover over the last three seasons.
DEFENSE TOUGH ON THIRD DOWN: Third down defense has been crucial for Alabama over the past three seasons. The Crimson Tide is strong once again in 2010, allowing just 18 third down conversions in 69 attempts (26.09 percent) to rank fifth nationally. UA allowed just two third-down conversions in 10 attempts at Arkansas and three in 13 vs. Florida for a third-down efficiency percentage of 21.74 in SEC play. The Crimson Tide defense was strong on third down in 2009, ranking sixth nationally and allowing a 29.90 conversion rate (58 for 194). The Crimson Tide finished third nationally in third down conversion defense in 2008, holding opponents to a 28.14 percent (56 of 199) conversion rate.
LESTER LEADS SEC IN INTERCEPTIONS: Sophomore safety Robert Lester made two huge interceptions against Arkansas that helped the Crimson Tide complete the come-back win in Fayetteville and preserve their undefeated season. The native of Foley, Ala., now has four interceptions this season to lead the SEC and rank tied for third nationally at .80 per game. Fellow sophomore Dre Kirkpatrick is close behind with three picks (one in each of the last three games) on the season to rank tied for 14th nationally and tied for third in the SEC at .60 per game. As a team, Alabama is second in the SEC with 11 interceptions.
POINTS HARD TO COME BY AGAINST TIDE: Alabama has surrendered only three touchdowns in 2010 and a total of 45 points in 20 quarters this season (five games). The Tide allowed a field goal to both San Jose State in the opener and to Penn State on Sept. 11 before giving up 13 points (all in the second quarter) at Duke. Once SEC play started, the Tide surrendered 20 points at No. 10 Arkansas (the Razorbacks were averaging over 35 points per game entering the contest) and just two field goals to No. 7 Florida. The Crimson Tide leads the nation in scoring defense at 9.0 points per game in 2010 after finishing second in scoring defense last season at 11.7 points per game. Over the last 33 games (start of the 2008 season), UA has allowed just 409 points or 12.39 points per game.
HIGHTOWER RETURNS: Sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower returns for his third 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 ACL 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 has 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 106 career tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and nine quarterback hurries. Hightower has 26 tackles, two pass breakups and three quarterback hurries in 2010.
BARRON MAKING PRESENCE KNOWN: Safety Mark Barron is one of the most prominent safeties in the nation. The Mobile, Ala., native was a first-team All-SEC player a year ago, leading the league with seven interceptions while garnering third-team All-America honors. He registered 76 tackles to rank second on the Alabama defense in 2009. Barron led the SEC -- along with teammate Marquis Johnson -- in passes defended with 18 (11 PBU, 7 INT) and ranked tied for sixth nationally with 1.29 passes defended per game.
In 2010, Barron is off to a strong start as the leader of the Crimson Tide secondary. He leads the team with 31 tackles while recording one interception, tow sacks (-15), one forced fumble, one quarterback hurry and four pass breakups.
MOSLEY NABS A PICK 6: True freshman linebacker C.J. Mosley intercepted a Florida pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to give Alabama a 31-6 lead over the Gators, the first interception of Mosley's Alabama career and the first interception return for a touchdown in 2010. It marked Alabama's first interception return for a touchdown since Marcell Dareus returned an interception of a Texas pass 28 yards for a score in the BCS Championship Game on January 7, 2010. Mosley now has 18 tackles on the season with a team-high six pass breakups and a quarterback hurry.
Crimson Tide Opponent Notes
UPSHAW HAS BIG NIGHT:
Junior Jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw
had an impressive outing for the Crimson Tide against Florida as he was credited with seven tackles, including four for losses, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups. Upshaw's performance keynoted a strong defensive effort by Alabama, which posted eight tackles for loss with three interceptions and one quarterback sack. Upshaw, who has battled a high-ankle sprain since the Penn State game, has now recorded 14 tackles on the season with a team-best five tackles for loss, two pass breakups and a sack.
ALABAMA-SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES: Alabama leads the series with South Carolina, 10-2 (12-2 before NCAA vacations and forfeits). The Crimson Tide and Gamecocks first met on Oct. 9, 1937, with the Tide posting a 20-0 win. In fact, the first three games in the series were all shutout wins for Alabama. The Crimson Tide beat the Gamecocks 29-0 in 1942 and 55-0 in 1945. Alabama made its first trek to Columbia during the 1946 season and came away with a 14-6 victory. The two teams would not meet again until a three-game series in 1965, 1966 and 1967. The Crimson Tide won all three games, including shutout wins in 1966 (24-0) and 1967 (17-0). Alabama and South Carolina will be meeting for the just eighth time since the Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1992. Alabama has won five of the first seven meetings in SEC play. The Crimson Tide posted a 48-7 homecoming win during the 1992 season and followed with a 17-6 win in Columbia in 1993. The Crimson Tide and Gamecocks split a home-and-home series in 2001-02. Alabama posted a 27-17 win in Tuscaloosa, before dropping a 37-36 shoot-out in Columbia in 2001. The Gamecocks extended their series winning streak to two games with a 20-6 win over the Tide in Tuscaloosa in 2004. Alabama won the next year, 37-14, in Columbia. The Tide won last season's contest 20-6, in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has won three of the four meetings with South Carolina in Columbia.
SABAN VS. SOUTH CAROLINA: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 3-0 in his collegiate career against South Carolina, with two wins coming while he was head coach at LSU before last year's 20-6 victory with the Crimson Tide. Saban led the Tigers to a 38-14 win over the Gamecocks on Oct. 19, 2002, in Baton Rouge and a 33-7 win on Oct. 18, 2003, in Columbia.
SABAN VS. SPURRIER: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 1-2 all-time against Steve Spurrier. Spurrier's two wins over Saban came during Spurrier's last two seasons at Florida before departing for the Washington Redskins, which coincided with Saban's first two seasons at LSU. In their first meeting, Spurrier's Gators took a 41-9 victory over Saban's Tigers in Gainesville on Oct. 7, 2000. The next season saw a similar result with Florida beating LSU, 44-15, on Oct. 6, 2001, in Baton Rouge. Last year's Crimson Tide 20-6 victory over the Gamecocks marked Saban's first win over Spurrier and the first meeting between the two head coaches at their current programs.
SPURRIER VS. ALABAMA: South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is 6-5 in his career against Alabama, with nine of those meetings taking place while he was the head coach at Florida from 1990-2001. Spurrier was 6-3 against the Tide as the Gators' head coach, posting regular season wins in 1990, 1991 and 1998 and three wins in the SEC Championship Game (1993, 1994 and 1996). UA picked up two wins in the SEC Championship Game (1992 and 1999) and one regular season win (1999). The Crimson Tide won two games during the 1999 SEC Championship season, beating Florida, 40-39, in overtime on Oct. 2 in Gainesville and 34-7 in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Dec. 4. Spurrier is 0-2 against Alabama since becoming the head coach at South Carolina. The Crimson Tide beat the Gamecocks 37-14 during the 2005 season in Columbia and won 20-6 last year in Tuscaloosa.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONS: Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Les Miles and Urban Meyer are the four active SEC coaches to win a national championship. Saban led LSU to the BCS National Championship in 2003 and won his second with the Crimson Tide last season. Spurrier guided Florida to a 12-1 ledger and the school's first national title in 1996. Meyer has two national titles in his six years in Gainesville. Miles lead LSU to a national championship with a 12-2 campaign in 2007. All four head coaches will match up with at least two other national champion coaches this season.
SOUTH CAROLINA NATIVES: The Alabama football roster lists only two players from the state of South Carolina, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Chris Bonds, a native of Columbia (Richland Northeast HS) and true freshman John Fulton, a native of Manning (Manning HS).
ALABAMA-SOUTH CAROLINA TIES: There are several ties to the Alabama-South Carolina coaching staffs heading into Saturday's Alabama-South Carolina game. South Carolina assistant coach in charge of defense, Ellis Johnson served two coaching stints at Alabama under Gene Stallings (1990-93) and Mike DuBose (1997-2000). South Carolina defensive coordinator and secondary coach Lorenzo Ward played and coached at Alabama. Ward played for Bill Curry and Gene Stallings and earned his bachelor's degree in physical education in 1991. He later served as a graduate assistant coach under Stallings in 1991 and 1993.
Crimson Tide General Notes
Much of the talk in the preseason was about Alabama`s high-powered offense, and the offensive side of the football is where the Crimson Tide returns the biggest portion of its players from last year's BCS National Championship team. UA features 10 total returning starters and 39 lettermen this season, but eight of those returning starters are on the offensive side of the football with two on defense. The offense returns 84 percent of the rushing yards from last season (2,526 of 3,011). Greg McElroy
, who took 94 percent of the snaps at quarterback last season, returns with five of his top six receivers from 2009 (Jones, Ingram, Maze, Hanks and Richardson).
TIDE PLAYERS EARN EARLY ACCOLADES: Ten Alabama players were named to 15 different preseason awards watch lists prior into the 2010 season. The players were recognized before the start of the 2010 season as potentially the top players at their position nationally.
Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower and Greg McElroy appeared on four watch lists. Barron, Dareus and Hightower were on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player), as well as the Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year). McElroy was named to every major quarterback award watch list announced, including the Manning Award (top quarterback), Davey O'Brien Award (top quarterback) and the Unitas Golden Arm Award (top senior quarterback). McElroy was also named to the Maxwell Award (most outstanding player) watch list.
Crimson Tide offensive stars Mark Ingram and Julio Jones were prominent in watch lists as well. Jones appeared on the lists for the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver) and the Maxwell Award, while Ingram appeared on watch lists for the Walter Camp Award (player of the year), the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award (best running back). Last year as a sophomore, Ingram ran for a school single season record 1,658 yards in route to winning the school's first ever Heisman Trophy.
TWO TIDE PLAYERS NAMED PLAYBOY ALL-AMERICANS: Alabama landed two players on the 2010 Playboy Magazine annual preseason College Football All-America Team. Mark Ingram was selected as a running back and Julio Jones was picked at wide receiver. Alabama has now had six Playboy All-Americans in the last three years after Andre Smith was chosen in 2008 and Rolando McClain and Javier Arenas were selected in 2009. This is Julio Jones' second straight year on the Playboy All-America team.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: The Crimson Tide had six players earn preseason All-America accolades from various publications prior to the 2010 campaign. The list includes Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower, Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones and Julio Jones. Both Ingram and Julio Jones were selected to the Playboy Preseason All-America Team.
McELROY WINS ANSON MOUNT: Senior quarterback Greg McElroy was selected as the winner of the Anson Mount Student-Athlete Award by Playboy when the publication named its preseason All-America team. Playboy will send a check for $5,000 to the University of Alabama's general scholarship fund in McElroy's name.
COACHING STAFF PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: The Alabama coaching staff recognized six players of the week following a 31-6 win over No. 7 Florida. Left guard Chance Warmack and wide receiver Darius Hanks were selected on offense while Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron garnered defensive accolades. Trent Richardson and John Fulton were the special teams player of the week.
Warmack played one of his best games to date as he cleared running lanes and gave the quarterback time in the pocket as the Tide offense marched up and down the field on the Gators in the first half. Hanks caught three passes for a team-best 33 yards and was key to the Tide moving the chains.
Upshaw was nearly unblockable from his Jack linebacker spot, recording seven total tackles, a career-best four tackles for loss (-7), two pass deflections and a fumble recovery. Barron led the team with 11 tackles -- 9 solo -- with one sack (-8) and two pass breakups.
On special teams, Richardson was honored for the third straight week. The sophomore made two tackles on kickoff coverage and returned three kickoffs for 58 yards. Fulton had one solo stop on special teams.
Trent Richardson leads the way through five games with five player of the week awards.
SEC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Alabama has garnered four SEC Player of the Week this season. Trent Richardson's 144-yard effort in Alabama's 24-3 win over No. 18/14 Penn State earned him SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors in week two. Robert Lester was then selected as the SEC Defensive Player of the Week at No. 10/11 Arkansas when he made seven tackles and intercepted Hogs quarterback Ryan Mallett twice. The Tide received two accolades after a 31-6 thrashing of Florida as Chance Warmack was selected as the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week while Courtney Uphaws' seven-tackle, four-TFL performance earned him SEC Defensive Player of the Week.
INGRAM AT&T ESPN ALL-AMERICA PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Mark Ingram's 184-yard, two-touchdown effort in the Crimson Tide's 24-20 comeback win at No. 10 Arkansas on September 25 earned him the AT&T ESPN All-America Player of the Week. Ingram rushed for 157 yards on 24 carries while scoring two touchdowns and catching two passes for 27 yards. The 2010 AT&T ESPN All-America Player of the Week and Player of the Year are chosen by the fans. Each week, four finalists are selected by ESPN analysts. The fans then decide the winner by voting online. Each weeks winners are then in the running for the All-America Player of the Year. Ingram now has 308 yards and four touchdowns in two games this season. He is averaging 9.3 yards per rush and 167.5 rushing and receiving yards per game in 2010.
Robert Lester BRINGING HOME THE HARDWARE: Alabama free safety Robert Lester collected some hardware following his seven-tackle, two-interception performance in a 24-20 comeback win at Arkansas last Saturday. He was named the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week and the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week. Lester's second interception of the game set up the Crimson Tide's winning touchdown when he returned a Ryan Mallett pass 33 yards to the Arkansas 12-yard line late in the fourth quarter. His other interception was a second-quarter grab in the end zone to halt a Razorback drive. He will be added to the 2010 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List.
25 NATIONAL TV GAMES IN LAST 33 GAMES: The South Carolina game will be broadcast on CBS and will be the Crimson Tide's 25th nationally televised game since the start of the 2008 season. In 2010, Alabama has had two games CBS, one game on ESPN and one on ABC. 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.
ALABAMA 33-1 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 33-1 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban, including a 26-game winning streak. The only loss came against LSU in 2007 when UA held a 20-17 halftime lead before losing, 41-34, on Nov. 3, 2007, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. 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 last Saturday's 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.
DOUBLE-DIGIT DEFICIT: Alabama's 13-point deficit in the third quarter at Arkansas on Sept. 25 was the second-largest deficit overcome by Alabama under head coach Nick Saban. When Arkansas led, 17-7, at halftime, it marked the first time Alabama has trailed by at least 10 points at intermission since Utah led the Crimson Tide by 11 points, 21-10, at halftime of the 2009 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on January 2, 2009, in an eventual 31-17 loss by the Tide. The Tide trailed Arkansas by 13 points (7-20) in the third quarter before going on a 17-0 run to end the game. Below is a summary of the largest deficits faced by Alabama since head coach Nick Saban took over the program in 2007.
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.
ALABAMA'S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 175-122-4 (.588) all-time record in 301 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts.
NEW HIRES: The Alabama football staff features a new face in 2010 with the promotion of Jeremy Pruitt to assistant coach of the secondary. Pruitt joined the Alabama staff as Director of Player Development in 2007 after a successful stint as an assistant coach at Alabama high school powerhouse, Hoover. At Hoover, he served for three seasons as defensive backs coach with the final two as the defensive coordinator. He tutored a defense that helped the Bucs reach the Class 6A State Championship in 2004, 2005 and 2006, winning titles in 2004 and 2005. Pruitt served as an assistant coach under his father, Dale Pruitt, at Fort Payne High School from 2001-03.
TOP AIDES: Alabama's coaching staff has a wealth of knowledge across all levels of football. The nine-man Crimson Tide staff features a former head coaches at the Bowl Subdivision level in Bobby Williams (Michigan State). The staff also has six coaches that have spent time as assistant coaches in the NFL in Bo Davis (Dolphins), Jim McElwain (Raiders), Joe Pendry (19 years with multiple teams), Kirby Smart (Dolphins), Sal Sunseri (Panthers) and Bobby Williams (Lions and Dolphins). Alabama's coaching staff boasts 40-plus years of combined NFL coaching experience.
NICK'S KIDS: At Michigan State, head coach Nick Saban and his wife Terry started the "Nick's Kids" Foundation, which the Sabans have continued in Tuscaloosa. Since their arrival at the University of Alabama, the Sabans have helped raise over $1.5 million - including over $450,000 this year - for "Nick's Kids" and made a total of more than 140 donations to children's charities throughout the state of Alabama.
NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw seven players selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Rolando McClain (eighth overall to the Oakland Raiders) and Kareem Jackson (20th overall to the Houston Texans). Alabama also had two more second-round picks in cornerback Javier Arenas (Kansas City Chiefs) and nose guard Terrence Cody (Baltimore Ravens). Offensive guard Mike Johnson went in the third round to the Atlanta Falcons while cornerback Marquis Johnson (St. Louis Rams) and Brandon Deaderick (New England Patriots) were taken in the seventh round. The Tide had eight more players sign free agent contracts, including Colin Peek (Atlanta), Eryk Anders (Cleveland), Lorenzo Washington (Dallas), Justin Woodall (Chicago), Cory Reamer (New York Jets), Leigh Tiffin (Cleveland) and P.J. Fitzgerald (New Orleans).
CRIMSON TIDE PLAYERS ON NFL ROSTERS: The Alabama football program was well represented in the NFL during the 2010 season with former players and coaches dotting league rosters. The Tide has 39 former players and coaches working in the NFL this season. Roman Harper is the only Alabama player on the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. The Crimson Tide has 28 current NFL players. There are 13 former UA players and/or coaches serving as assistant coaches in the NFL this season, including Sylvester Croom (St. Louis), Freddie Kitchens (Arizona) and Richard Williamson (Carolina).
FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Alabama's 2009 freshman class did more than just excel on the football field, the Crimson Tide placed 12 rookies on the 2010 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll, by far the highest total in the SEC -- double the second-place team. Mississippi State was second with six while Mississippi had five and Kentucky had four. The Crimson Tide's 12 honorees equaled the total number of Arkansas (3), Tennessee (3), Florida (2), Georgia (2), Auburn (1), Vanderbilt (1) and LSU (0) combined. Alabama freshmen that made the list include: Kenny Bell, Chris Bonds, D.J. Fluker, Nico Johnson, Kendall Kelly, Eddie Lacy, A.J. McCarron, William Ming, Kevin Norwood, Trent Richardson, Chance Warmack and Kellen Williams.