Alabama Heads to Rival Tennessee
Oct. 15, 2012
THE GAME: Alabama will play its second straight road game when it heads to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium. This will be the 95th meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Volunteers on the gridiron. Alabama currently leads the series 48-38-7 and has won the previous five contests. Last year’s game in Tuscaloosa resulted in a 37-6 victory for the Tide. The game will be televised by ESPN with kickoff set for 6 p.m. CT. Brad Nessler will serve as the play-by-play announcer, with Todd Blackledge at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Holly Rowe. 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 sixth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school’s 27th head coach on January 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 56-12 record (61-12 before five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to two SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and two national championships. Saban holds a career record of 147-54-1 (152-54-1) 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 13 of his 16 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban’s direction. Saban is the only active coach to win three BCS national championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
RANKINGS: Alabama remains at No. 1 in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls entering the eighth week of the 2012 season. Tennessee is not ranked in either poll.
TENNESSEE: Tennessee won its first two games of the 2012 season, but the Volunteers have since dropped three of their last four contests, all coming against Southeastern Conference competition. Most recently, Tennessee dropped a 41-31 decision to then-No. 19 Mississippi State, thanks to a big first half from the Bulldogs resulting in a 27-14 lead at the break. The Vols were able to narrow the deficit to three points midway through the third quarter before a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including one off a fumble recovery, secured the win for the Bulldogs. As a team, Tennessee leads the SEC and ranks third in the nation in sacks allowed, giving up only .50 per game. In addition, Cordarrelle Patterson leads the league and comes in at No. 2 nationally in kickoff returns, averaging 38.3 yards per return.
NEXT GAME: Alabama returns to the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium next week when it hosts No. 15/16 Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0 SEC). This will be the 97th meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs in a series that dates back to 1896. Alabama currently leads 74-18-3 and has won the previous four games against Mississippi State. Last year’s contest in Starkville resulted in a 24-7 victory for the Tide.
TIDE NO. 1 IN FIRST BCS STANDINGS OF 2012: Alabama is No. 1 in the first BCS Standings release of the 2012 season. The BCS percentage is calculated by averaging the percent totals of the Harris Interactive, USA Today Coaches and six computer rankings. The Crimson Tide garnered a .9761 average, which is nearly .700 higher than Florida, who came in at No. 2 (.9092). Oregon is third with an average of .8993 while Kansas State follows at .8963. Rounding out the top 10 is Notre Dame (.8774), LSU (.7522), South Carolina (.6930), Oregon State (.6808), Oklahoma (.6664) and USC (.5959).
C.J. Mosley Named SEC Defensive Player of the Week: Junior linebacker C.J. Mosley was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week following his performance against Missouri on Oct. 13. Mosley recorded a team-high 12 tackles, nine of which were solo. He added one quarterback sack for a loss of nine yards and also recorded a fumble recovery.
PROTECTING THE FOOTBALL: Alabama is one of three remaining teams that has not thrown an interception. Air Force and Louisiana Tech are the others. It has been nine games since a Crimson Tide quarterback threw an interception, which is the longest streak in the nation by three games. Both Louisiana Tech and Air Force threw interceptions in their final game of the 2011 season.
RED ZONE EFFICIENCY: Alabama enters the Tennessee contest 27-for-28 in its red zone trips, tied for fourth in the nation in that category at 96 percent. The Crimson Tide has scored 21 touchdowns in the red zone in 2012 and kicked six field goals. On the year, Alabama has scored 13 rushing touchdowns and passed for eight inside the 20-yard line.
TOUGH TO SCORE ON: Under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama has traditionally been one of the most difficult teams to score touchdowns against. In 2012, the Tide has allowed its opponents to come away with points on only 50 percent of opportunities in the red zone. Notre Dame and Alabama enter the week tied for first for the most efficient red zone defenses in the nation. The Tide’s defense has surrendered four touchdowns and no field goals this season, while allowing only nine touchdowns by opposing offenses in 2011. UA also led the nation in red zone defense last season, allowing scores just 59 percent of the time. Alabama ranked tied for fourth in 2010 and tied for second in 2009 with both teams allowing a score on 67 percent of opponents’ red zone opportunities.
FIRST HALF SCORING: Alabama has helped its own cause over the last few seasons by leading at halftime. The Tide has either held a lead or been tied entering intermission in 26 straight games. Over that span, UA has outscored the opposition 517-104. The last time the Tide trailed at the half was at South Carolina on October 9, 2010, a game the Tide eventually lost.
INTERCEPTION MARGIN: Over the last four seasons Alabama’s starting quarterbacks have taken care of the football and the Crimson Tide defense has done its part by intercepting opposing quarterbacks. Dating back to the start of the 2009 season, Alabama’s starting quarterbacks have thrown 14 interceptions in 1,098 pass attempts (one interception every 78.4 pass attempts), while the defense has recorded 70 interceptions in 46 games. A Tide starting quarterback has not thrown more than five interceptions in a season over that span while the biggest discrepancy came in 2009 when Greg McElroy threw four picks while the Tide defense tallied 24 interceptions. The Crimson Tide’s current starting quarterback, AJ McCarron, has thrown five interceptions in 508 career attempts, which marks a school and SEC record for quarterbacks with at least 400 pass attempts. McCarron is averaging one interception every 101.6 attempts, which is better than any SEC quarterback (Peyton Manning; 1 every 95 attempts in 1995) has done in any single season (minimum 200 attempts).
FIRST HALF DEFENSIVE YARDS: Alabama allowed only 31 first half yards to Missouri on October 13, the second fewest allowed in a first half this season as the Tide held Florida Atlantic to 23 yards in the opening half. The Missouri game marked the third time this season that UA has held an opponent under 50 total yards in the first half.
YARDS HARD TO COME BY: Since the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has not surrendered yards easily. Over the course of that 20-game span, the Tide defense has not allowed an opposing team to reach 300 total yards. Teams have been held under 200 total yards 12 times, and less than 100 total yards twice. Rushing against the Tide has been even more difficult over that span as teams have been held to under 100 yards 18 times, under 50 yards 10 times and in negative yardage twice.
SHELLEY ONE OF FOUR PERFECT KICKERS IN 2012: Senior Jeremy Shelley is one of four kickers across the nation to have yet to miss an extra point or a field goal in 2012. Thus far, Shelley has hit all 30 of his extra point attempts and all seven of his field goals. Four of his field goals have come from the 20-29 yard range, while the other three have come from 30-39 yards. His long on the year is 38.
WINNING BIG: When Alabama wins, it usually does so in impressive fashion. Over its last 19 wins, dating back to the 49-7 victory over Michigan State at the 2011 Capital One Bowl, the Crimson Tide has defeated its opponent by 21 points or more in 16 of those contests. Over that span the Tide has downed 10 of those opponents by more than 30 points and posted more than a 40-point margin of victory five times. In the 19 wins, Alabama has an average margin of victory of 31 points. In addition, the Tide has won its last nine games by at least 19 points.
TURNOVERS LEAD TO POINTS: Alabama has converted the 18 turnovers it has forced in six games this season into 98 points. At the same time, the Crimson Tide has surrendered five turnovers that did not result in points for a 98-0 advantage. Alabama forced three turnovers against Michigan and turned those into 14 points. Against Western Kentucky, Alabama produced 21 points off four Hilltoppers miscues. Alabama capitalized on five Arkansas turnovers for 35 points, followed by another 14 off three interceptions against Mississippi. At Missouri, the Tide scored 14 points off a pair of interceptions. The Tide has a 105-0 edge in points off turnovers if you count the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against LSU.
SCORING STREAK CONTINUES: With its first touchdown of the game at the 14:15 mark of the opening quarter against Missouri, Alabama raised its current total of games in which it scored to 148, the longest streak in program history.
TURNOVER MARGIN: Alabama enters the eighth week of the season tied for first nationally in turnover margin at plus-2.17. The Crimson Tide has forced 18 turnovers – 11 interceptions and seven fumbles – while only giving up five possessions. UA got off to a fast start by picking off Michigan three times in the season opener while losing a fumble for its only turnover this season. Against Western Kentucky, Alabama caused four turnovers, forcing and recovering three fumbles and intercepting a pass. At Arkansas, the Tide won the turnover battle by a 5-0 margin with three fumbles and two interceptions. Alabama added three interceptions in its win against Mississippi and another two interceptions plus a fumble recovery at Missouri. Over the last eight games dating back to the 2011 Auburn game and the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, Alabama holds a 22-6 edge in turnover margin. UA forced a total of 10 fumbles in 2011, recovering seven. In 2012 the Tide has forced 10 and recovered seven in six games.
WILLIAMS ONE OF FOUR NON-PUNTERS FROM DOWN UNDER: Senior defensive lineman Jesse Williams is one of just four Australians playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision in a position other than punter. There are currently 13 punters on FBS rosters from Australia, including two in the Southeastern Conference.
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 2010 and 2011. Saban ranks fourth in winning percentage (73.0 percent) among active coaches who have coached at least 10 years of FBS football. He is the only coach in college football history to win three BCS National Championships and the first to win a BCS National Championship at two different schools.
ALABAMA RANKED 73 STRAIGHT WEEKS BY AP: Alabama has been ranked in the last 73 Associated Press polls, the longest streak in the nation. The streak began with the first poll of the 2008 season. Its No. 1 ranking means Alabama has held the top spot in the AP poll, for at least one week, in each of the past five seasons. The Tide becomes just the second team in the last 50 years to accomplish that feat, joining the Miami Hurricanes, who did it in seven straight years (1986-92). However, it is the first time it has been done in one of college football’s active conferences. Miami was an independent during the first five seasons of the streak and a part of the old Big East (1991-2003) during the final two years.
ALABAMA UNDER SABAN IN OCTOBER: Alabama has been very successful in the second month of the season under head coach Nick Saban. Now in his sixth season at Alabama, the Crimson Tide sports a 16-1 record (18-1 including two vacated victories in 2007) in October. In 17 games over that span, the Crimson Tide has outscored its opponents 572-241 and is 5-1 against ranked opponents. The only October loss under Saban was at No. 19 South Carolina on Oct. 9, 2010, breaking an 11-game winning streak. Alabama has won its last seven games, all against SEC foes, in October since then by an average of 30.6 points.
BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 19-6 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past four seasons and 11-4 against AP top 10 teams. The Crimson Tide won its 2012 season opener against No. 8 Michigan to start the season 1-0 against the AP Top 25. Alabama went 4-1 vs. top 25 teams in 2011 and 5-3 against the AP Top 25 in 2010. Six of the last seven matchups have gone in favor of the Tide, with the only loss coming in a 9-6 overtime defeat to LSU on November 5, 2011.
TOUGH SLATE: Alabama’s 2012 schedule features five teams that were or are currently ranked in the USA Today Coaches’ Top 25 Poll. The Tide opened the 2012 season with then-No. 8 Michigan. Alabama took on then-No. 21 Arkansas on Sept. 15, and will face No. 16 Mississippi State on Oct. 27. The national championship rematch versus No. 6 LSU will take place a week later on Nov. 3, in Baton Rouge, La., while the Tide’s matchup with No. 19 Texas A&M is slated for Nov. 10.
THREE-AND-OUTS: The Alabama defense has been one of the leaders again this season in forcing three-and-outs. The Crimson Tide has forced a three-and-out on 50 percent (36-of-72) of opponents drives this season, averaging 6.0 per contest. Alabama had a season-high of nine three-and-outs against Florida Atlantic, had seven against Arkansas to open SEC play and six at Missouri. (Any drive that was stopped in three plays or less or was four plays and a turnover on downs was used to compile this note).
THREE SELECTED AS LOMBARDI QUARTERFINALISTS: Three Crimson Tide offensive linemen, Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker, were included on the 43rd Annual Rotary Lombardi Award official top 25 (quarterfinalists), the organization announced this week. The Rotary Lombardi Award is given to the nation’s top college lineman or linebacker each season.
SIX NAMED TO MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAM: Phil Steele’s 2012 Midseason All-American team included six Alabama players with four garnering first-team honors. Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack were on the first team along with cornerback Dee Milliner and linebacker C.J. Mosley. D.J. Fluker was named to the second team while quarterback AJ McCarron was a fourth-team choice.
MCCARRON NAMED TOP-15 JOHNNY UNITAS GOLDEN ARM CANDIDATE: Alabama junior quarterback AJ McCarron was named a top-15 candidate for the 2012 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Candidates completing their college eligibility or be a fourth-year junior on schedule to graduate with his class. The quarterbacks are judged on character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities and athletic accomplishments. Alabama quarterback Jay Barker won the award in 1994. McCarron has tossed 12 touchdowns and no interceptions on 132 pass attempts in 2012 while completing 67.4 percent of his passes for 1,170 yards. He has not thrown a pick in a school-record 227 consecutive passes.
VERSUS NONCONFERENCE OPPONENTS UNDER SABAN: Alabama is 24-3 against nonconference opponents under head coach Nick Saban. Alabama has won 17 in a row against non-SEC opposition. During Saban’s tenure, the Tide has outscored those opponents 1,019-309.
NON-OFFENSIVE TDs IN THE SABAN ERA: C.J. Mosley’s 16-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter of Alabama’s 2012 season opener against Michigan marked the 26th non-offensive touchdown of the Nick Saban era. Since Saban took over as Alabama’s head coach, the Crimson Tide has garnered 12 interception returns, seven punt returns, three kickoff returns, two fumble returns and two blocked punt returns for a touchdown.
ALABAMA NO. 2 FOR MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 54 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, a 10-3 mark in 2010 and a 12-1 record in 2011. During that span, the Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.
THE LAST 19 GAMES VS. FBS OPPONENTS: Over the last 19 games against opponents from the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, dating back to the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has allowed only 46.0 rushing yards per game or 920 total rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. The Crimson Tide has allowed 39 rushing yards or less in eight of those 19 games, including two games of negative rushing yards (Michigan State, -48 and Kent State, -9). Only Penn State (107) and LSU (148) have rushed for more than 100 yards. Conversely, Alabama has rushed for 4,094 yards (743 carries) and 54 touchdowns in those 19 games, averaging 215.5 yards per game and 5.51 yards per carry while scoring a touchdown on the ground every 13.8 rushes. Trent Richardson led the way over that span with 1,546 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns on 261 carries for 5.9 yards per tote. Eddie Lacy has now carried 182 times for 1,251 yards (in 18 games) and 16 touchdowns while averaging 6.9 yards per carry.
10-WIN SEASONS: Alabama reached the 10-win milestone for its fourth consecutive season in 2011, finishing the campaign with a 12-1 record. The Tide has 31 10-win seasons in 117 seasons, two back of Oklahoma (33) for the most 10-win seasons in college football. Alabama has had six 10-win seasons since the 2002 season (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011). Tide head coach Nick Saban is the 11th coach in school history to lead his team to a 10-win season. In addition, Saban is the fifth coach in school history to have more than one 10-win season.
PICKING UP SACKS: Alabama has been getting to the quarterback regularly as of late, bringing down the signal caller three or more times in seven of its last eight games. Over that span, the Crimson Tide has tallied 26 sacks and recorded at least one sack in eight straight contests.
CONSECUTIVE SHUTOUTS: With shutout victories against Western Kentucky (35-0) and Arkansas (52-0), the Crimson Tide collected consecutive shutouts for the first time since the 1980 season when Alabama blanked Vanderbilt (41-0) on Sept. 27, and then downed Kentucky (45-0) on Oct. 4.
SCORELESS STREAK: Alabama had held its opponents off the scoreboard until Florida Atlantic scored with 2:49 left in the game. The streak spanned from when Michigan found the end zone with 14 seconds left in the third quarter in the season opener until the late touchdown by the Owls. The span of shutout football reached 192:25 minutes or just under 13 quarters.
ROLLING OUT THE DEFENSE: Under head coach Nick Saban the Alabama defense has proven to be one of the best in the nation. The Crimson Tide led the nation in all five major defensive categories last season and has ranked among the top 10 nationally in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense in each of the last four seasons. The Tide has also ranked inside the top 15 in pass efficiency defense and pass defense in each of the last three seasons. Alabama lost seven starters from last year’s unit with six of those starters in the NFL this season. The Tide enters the Tennessee game with the SEC’s top-ranked scoring defense (7.5 ppg), which also checks in at No. 1 nationally. Alabama also ranks first in the nation in total defense (181.17 ypg), rush defense (55.33 ypg), pass efficiency defense (80.99 rating) and pass defense (125.83 ypg).
DEFENSE LIKES OPPONENT’S SIDE OF THE 50: Since the start of last season, Alabama has allowed 16.9 plays per game (321) on its side of the 50, the fewest in the FBS. Alabama had allowed fewer than 10 such plays in three straight games (LSU in 2011, Michigan and Western Kentucky). No FBS team has more than two such games since the start of last season.
FORCED FUMBLES: The five forced fumbles for the Crimson Tide defense against Arkansas on September 15 were the most in a single game since Alabama forced the same total against South Carolina on Sept. 17, 2005. The Tide has forced at least one fumble in six of its last eight games.
MILLINER EXPERIENCE BOLSTERS TIDE DEFENSE: Alabama junior cornerback Dee Milliner may not be listed as a returning starter, but it is hard to ignore his experience. Milliner boasts 21-career starts in just two and a half years of action at the Capstone. He started 11 games as a freshman in 2010 and then served as the Crimson Tide’s third cornerback in 2011. He made six starts last season and was on the field more than several starters due to the high percentage of nickel and dime defense UA played in 2011. He has played in 31 career games and has six interceptions to go along with 28 pass breakups and 100 career tackles.
MOSLEY TIES SCHOOL MARK FOR INTERCEPTIONS FOR A TD: Junior C.J. Mosley intercepted a pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown against Michigan in the Cowboys Classic. The touchdown was the third interception return for a score for Mosley in his Alabama career, tying Antonio Langham’s (1990-93) school record. Mosley had two touchdown returns in 2010 (vs. Florida and Georgia State).
10 POINTS OR LESS: Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to 10 points or less 38 times since the start of the 2007 season with the most recent occurrence coming on Oct. 13, at Missouri. Alabama was successful in holding opponents under 10 points in nine games in 2011. In 2010, the Tide held opponents to 10 points or less eight times and limited opponents to that mark seven times in 2008 and 2009. In 2007, Alabama posted two games in which it held opponents to that mark. Alabama has shutout opponents eight times during the Saban tenure.
FIRST HALF DEFENSE: The Crimson Tide has allowed seven points or less in 22 of its last 23 first halves of play against opponents from the Football Bowl Subdivision. Over that span, Alabama surrendered just three points or less on 12 occasions, including nine shutouts.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 300: In head coach Nick Saban’s 73-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense 45 times, or 61.6 percent of the time.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 200: During head coach Nick Saban’s last 60 games at the Capstone, the Crimson Tide defense has held the opposing offense to less than 200 yards of total offense 24 times. Alabama accomplished the feat eight times in 2011. The Tide held Kent State to 90 yards and LSU to just 92 yards BCS Championship Game, which marked the second and third times 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 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.
RUSHING DEFENSE: Limiting opposing running backs to less than 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered only 10 individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season, a mark that leads the nation. Since head coach Nick Saban’s arrival, the Tide has allowed just five players to rush for more than 100 yards in a game: Georgia Southern’s Dominique Swope (153 yards), 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).
TOUGH SLEDDING ON THE GROUND: Alabama leads the nation in giving up the fewest rushing touchdowns since the start of the 2005 season, surrendering only 53. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has allowed 35 rushing touchdowns, while Ohio State is second, allowing 50. In 2010, Alabama surrendered only six rushing touchdowns in 13 games and gave up three in 2011 - one at Penn State, one at Mississippi and one against Georgia Southern. In 2012, Michigan’s Denard Robinson was able to run the ball in from six yards for a touchdown, while Mississippi got one each from Jeff Scott and Randall Mackey.
QUICK STRIKE: On Oct. 13, at Missouri, Alabama scored on its second play of the game as junior Eddie Lacy ran for a career-long 73-yard touchdown just 45 seconds into the contest. The score is the fastest on the season and the third time this year the Crimson Tide has scored in under two minutes. The touchdown was the fastest score to start a game for Alabama since Terry Grant scampered 47 yards to pay dirt just 22 seconds into the season opener against Western Carolina (Sept. 1, 2007).
MCCARRON PASSING TOUCHDOWNS: Over the last nine games, junior quarterback AJ McCarron has been finding the end zone at a frequent rate, totaling 18 over that span. In six of the last nine games, McCarron has thrown two or more touchdowns, including two more against Mississippi. The signal caller has thrown two or more in four of the six games this season, equaling his multi-passing touchdown otal from last season.
McCARRON STARTS FAST: Quarterback AJ McCarron has tossed 12 touchdowns in the first six games this season. No other Alabama quarterback has thrown for that many to start a season. The school record for touchdowns in the first five games of a season was Greg McElroy (2009) and Andrew Zow (1999) with nine, while the most in six games is was also nine (McElroy, 2009; Zow, 1999; Walter Lewis; 1983). Ten of McCarron’s touchdown passes occurred within the first four games making him the first Alabama quarterback to throw for 10 touchdowns in a four-game stretch. The previous record was nine by Gary Hollingsworth (1989) and John Parker Wilson in 2007.
McCARRON PASSES WITHOUT AN INTERCEPTION: AJ McCarron continues to build his school record of passes without an interception. After passing Brodie Croyle’s mark of 190 passes against Mississippi, McCarron now sports a streak of 227 passes without an interception after the win at Missouri.
McCARRON EQUALS CAREER HIGH: Quarterback AJ McCarron tied a career high with four touchdown passes against Western Kentucky on Sept. 8, to become the first quarterback in school history with multiple four-touchdown passing performances. In his last five games, McCarron has thrown 12 touchdowns with no interceptions.
AJ EFFICIENT IN PASSING GAME: Quarterback AJ McCarron is ranked No. 5 nationally while leading the Southeastern Conference in passing efficiency with a 171.88 mark. McCarron has tossed 12 touchdowns without a turnover this season.
RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS: With Eddie Lacy’s rushing touchdown against Missouri, Alabama has scored a rushing touchdown in 23 of its last 25 games. Alabama has found the end zone on the ground in five games this season, in 12 of the 13 games in 2011, and the final six contests in 2010.
TOUCHDOWN TANDEM: Alabama receivers Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones became the first Tide tandem in over 60 years to catch two touchdowns each in the same game, as they achieved the feat on September 8, against Western Kentucky. The two touchdowns were career firsts for Jones, while Norwood hauled in his second and third career touchdown grabs. Back on November 11, 1950 versus Southern Mississippi, seven touchdown passes were thrown; three were caught by Al Lary and two by Ed Lary, in a 53-0 rout.
McCARRON AND BELL CONNECT FOR CAREER HIGHS: On the fourth play of Alabama’s game against Florida Atlantic, AJ McCarron connected with Kenny Bell for an 85-yard touchdown, which tied for the fifth longest touchdown pass in school history. The 85-yard strike was also career highs for both McCarron and Bell.
LACY BREAKS AWAY: Junior running back Eddie Lacy eclipsed the 100-yard mark on just his sixth carry of the game against Missouri on Oct. 13. The 100-yard performance was the second on the season for the Geismar, La., native and the fourth of his career. The bulk of his yards came on a career-high 73-yard score, the longest run for the Crimson Tide since Trent Richardson found the endzone against Mississippi on Oct. 15, 2011. Lacy entered the half with 143 yards on 10 carries. Lacy finished with a career-high 177 yards and tied a career high with three rushing touchdowns.
LACY RACES FOR 100 YARDS: Junior running back Eddie Lacy tallied 106 yards on 15 carries in the first half against Florida Atlantic. In addition to 100-yard outings against FAU and Missouri, Lacy eclipsed 100 yards was against North Texas on September 17, 2011, when he tallied 161 yards on nine carries. In his first game in a Crimson Tide uniform, Lacy ran for 111 yards on 13 carries in the 2010 season opener against San Jose State on Sept. 4, 2010.
LACY AND YELDON: Running backs Eddie Lacy (177) and T.J. Yeldon (144) combined to rush for 321 yards and five touchdowns against Missouri on Oct. 13. The two became the first rushing duo to score two or more rushing touchdowns in the same game since Trent Richardson (4) and Jalston Fowler (2) combined for six against Mississippi on Oct. 15, 2011. That was also the last time a duo rushed for more than 100 yards apiece.
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. In 2010 Alabama again had excellent balance as the Crimson Tide accounted for a school-record 5,773 yards of total offense (22nd nationally at 444.1 ypg), including 3,395 yards (58.8 percent) in the air and 2,378 (41.2 percent) on the ground. The Tide threw 362 total passes (43.7 percent) - completing 253 (69.9 percent) - while running the ball 467 times (56.3 percent). In 2011, Alabama’s offense once again showed itself as being one of the most balanced teams in the nation, by tallying 2,797 yards (215.2 yards per game) in the air and 2,788 yards (214.5 yards per game) on the ground, totaling 5,585 yards last season. Thus far in 2012, the balance continues as Alabama has collected 1,303 yards rushing in addition to 1,235 yards passing.
YELDON FIRST TRUE FRESHMAN TO GO OVER 100 IN DEBUT: Running back T.J. Yeldon became the first Alabama true freshman to rush for more than 100 yards in his debut in the win over Michigan, finishing the game with 111 yards on 11 carries and one rushing touchdown. Yeldon added 26 yards receiving for a total of 137 all-purpose yards. Yeldon is the seventh Alabama running back to crack the century mark since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007 and his 111-yard outing was the 38th 100-yard rushing performance in Saban’s 68 games at the Capstone. Mark Ingram was the last true freshman to gain at least 95 yards in his debut, running for 96 yards against Clemson in the 2008 opener at the Georgia Dome.
FINISHING STRONG: Over the last 20 games, dating back to the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State on January 1, 2011, the Crimson Tide has outscored its opponents 556-101 in the final three quarters of games after holding a 189-37 edge in the first quarter. The disparity is even wider over the last 16 games where Alabama owned a 159-41 scoring edge in the first quarter and a 509-106 edge in the final three quarters. Alabama outscored its opposition in the second half of its last 17 games by a score of 295-58.
BALL PROTECTION: The Alabama offense has protected the football better than any team in the country over the last five years. In 60 games, the Crimson Tide has turned the ball over just 62 times (35 fumbles, 27 interceptions) for an average of 1.03 turnovers per game, better than Ohio State’s second best average of 1.19 per game (70 turnovers, 59 games). Since 2009, that mark is even better as the Tide has turned the ball over just 43 times in 46 games (0.93 per game). Individually since 2009, UA starting quarterbacks have thrown an impressively-low 14 interceptions in 1,104 attempts (1 INT for every 78.9 attempts). The top two running backs in the rotation dating back to the 2009 season have only lost a fumble five times. Over the 60-game span, the Tide’s top two running backs have recorded 1,231 touches, losing the ball just once in every 246.2 carries.
NORWOOD BREAKS OUT: Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood started his junior season right where he left off from his four-catch, 78-yard performance at last year’s BCS National Championship Game. Norwood has been a go-to guy in 2012, amassing 179 yards on nine receptions while adding two touchdowns. In his last six games, the Mississippi native has caught 13 passes for 257 yards with two touchdowns. Norwood has caught a pass in 12 career games, which are all wins for the Crimson Tide.
Barrett Jones: VERSATILITY ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE: Senior All-American Barrett Jones started at right guard in 2009 and 2010, but added a few responsibilities to his résumé in the 2011 season. He started at left tackle and also saw snaps at left guard, right tackle and center last year. The winner of the Outland Trophy, Jones has started 42 games at the Capstone, including 25 at right guard, 11 at left tackle and six at center. Jones is listed among the top centers in the nation and a candidate for the Rimington Trophy. In addition to being named the Outland Trophy winner, Jones also received the ARA Sportsmanship Award and the Wuerffel Trophy for his commitment to the community and academics.
O-LINE EXPERIENCE A KEY: The Alabama offensive line has been one of the most recognized and skilled groups in the country. Preseason magazines, including Athlon Sports and Phil Steele, rank Alabama’s offensive line as the No. 1 unit in the country. Six games into the 2012 season, the line represents 125 starts, with senior center Barrett Jones claiming 42 of those starts. Chance Warmack has made 32 starts at left guard, while D.J. Fluker has 28 starts at right guard. Junior Anthony Steen has 17 at right guard while the newest addition, Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle, now has six starts to his credit.
100-YARD RUSHERS AND RECEIVERS: Forty-one times in 37 different games Alabama has had rushers exceed 100 yards, and the Tide has had 15 100-yard receivers in 15 games since head coach Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. Former running back Mark Ingram recorded 12 100-yard rushing games during his career, while Trent Richardson reached 13 100-yard rushing efforts. Current back Eddie Lacy has four 100-yard games, while T.J. Yeldon has two. Jalston Fowler, who is out for the season, also has one. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 36-1 in those 37 games that produced a 100-yard rusher. 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
KICKOFF RETURN FOR A TOUCHDOWN: Christion Jones answered a Mississippi touchdown on Sept. 29 with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the first by a Crimson Tide player since Trent Richardson found the end zone at Duke on Sept. 18, 2010. The 99-yard return for a score tied for the eighth longest in school history.
FOSTER DIALS IN FROM DEEP: With his career-long 52-yard field goal against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 22, Cade Foster became the first Alabama kicker since Neal Thomas in 2000 to connect on three 50-plus yard field goals in the same season. His 52-yard strike was the longest by a Tide kicker since Leigh Tiffin hit from 52 yards against Utah in the Sugar Bowl on January 2, 2009.
KICKOFF PROWESS: Alabama kicker Cade Foster recorded five touchbacks in the first half against Arkansas and six against Florida Atlantic on September 22. On Sept. 29, against Mississippi, Foster collected a career-high seven touchbacks. Six games into the 2012 season the Crimson Tide has already exceeded the entire amount tallied from last season, totaling 27 thus far. Kickoffs have been moved up to the 35 yard line this season.
TENNESSEE SERIES: Alabama leads the series with Tennessee, 48-38-7, in a series that dates back to the 1901 season. The Crimson Tide has won the last five meetings and seeks its sixth straight series win for the first time since a seven-game winning streak from 1986-92. Alabama posted a resounding 41-17 win over the Tennessee on Oct. 20, 2007, in Tuscaloosa and followed that up with a 29-9 win in 2008 in Knoxville. The most thrilling game in the Saban era came in 2009 as a UT field goal was blocked by the hand of Terrence Cody, denying Tennessee a game winning field goal as time expired, giving Alabama a 12-10 victory. In 2011, the Tide dominated the Vols by posting a 41-10 victory on the road, while last season’s game resulted in a 37-6 victory for Alabama at home. The first meeting took place Nov. 28, 1901, in Birmingham, when the two schools played to a 6-6 deadlock. Alabama posted an 8-1-1 record in the first 10 meetings with Tennessee, including eight shutouts, before the series was halted from 1915-27. The series resumed on Oct. 20, 1928, the first of 66 consecutive meetings on the third Saturday in October, with Tennessee claiming a 15-13 win in Tuscaloosa. Alabama won 11 consecutive games (1971-81) over Tennessee to gain the upper hand in the series. The Tide and Vols have met every year since 1928, with the exception of the 1943 season when neither school fielded a football team due to World War II. Tennessee posted a seven-game winning streak (1995-2001) over Alabama, marking the Vols longest winning streak in series history, also the longest by any opponent against Alabama. The Tide snapped that streak with a 34-13 win in Knoxville in 2002.
SABAN-TENNESSEE COACHING STAFF CONNECTION: Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, as well as several of Dooley’s assistants, are no stranger to Nick Saban. Dooley spent seven years under Saban, joining him on his inaugural staff at LSU. Dooley wore several hats under Saban, coaching running backs, tight ends and special teams at different points over a seven-year span and served as recruiting coordinator at LSU in what became three of the most influential signing classes in the Tigers’ school history. Following the 2011 season, Dooley added three former members of the Tide to his staff, naming Sal Sunseri defensive coordinator, Derrick Ansley cornerbacks coach and Nick Gentry administrative intern for the defense.
THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER: For 66 years the annual Alabama-Tennessee game had been simply referred to as “The Third Saturday in October.” Alabama and Tennessee first played on the traditional third Saturday date Oct. 20, 1928. The tradition continued through the 1994 season. In 1995, the Southeastern Conference realigned its conference football schedule, putting an end to the 66-year tradition. The Oct. 14, 1995, game was played on the second Saturday in October. Since 1996, Alabama and Tennessee will have met on the third Saturday in October seven times, including the 2006, 2007 and now 2012 games. The 2008, 2009 and 2011 games took place on the fourth Saturday in October. The series became so popular that the late Al Browning, former sports editor of the Tuscaloosa News and Knoxville News-Sentinel, wrote a book entitled “Third Saturday in October”, recapping each game of this tradition-rich football series.
SABAN VERSUS THE VOLS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban has compiled a 7-1 (.875) career record against Tennessee. He is 5-0 in his career at Alabama, including a 41-17 win in 2007, a 29-9 in 2008, a 12-10 win in 2009, a 41-10 victory in 2010 and a 37-6 win in 2011. Saban is one of eight Alabama coaches to win his first game against Tennessee, joining W.B. Blount (1903), Jack Leavenworth (1905), J.W.H. Pollard (1906), D.V. Graves (1912), Red Drew (1947), Bill Curry (1987) and Gene Stallings (1990). During his stint at LSU, Saban faced Tennessee twice. On Sept. 30, 2000, Saban led LSU to a 38-31 overtime win over Tennessee at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. The following year, on Sept. 29, Tennessee posted a 26-18 overtime win over LSU at Neyland Stadium. LSU beat Tennessee, 30-21, on Dec. 8, 2001, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to win the SEC Championship.
UA/UT SERIES RANKINGS: History shows that when Alabama and Tennessee meet on the gridiron at least one team will be residing in the current Associated Press or USA Today Coaches poll. This year is no exception as Alabama is ranked No. 1 in this week’s AP poll. The 2012 season marks the fifth-straight year the Crimson Tide has faced the Volunteers ranked among the top ten teams in the country. In 2010, the seventh-ranked Crimson Tide dominated Tennessee, 41-10, while top-ranked Alabama narrowly escaped in 2009’s 12-10 victory. In 2008, No. 2 Alabama beat Tennessee 29-9 in Knoxville. Prior to that game, the last time UA faced UT when ranked as high as No. 2 in the polls came in 1993 when the two teams played to a 17-17 tie at Legion Field. The Vols are unranked while playing Alabama for only the fifth time since 2000. At least one team has been ranked, in one poll or the other, every year since 1959, with the exception of 1968, 1984 and 2000. Since 1939, the highest ranked team has compiled a 48-9-2 record in the Alabama-Tennessee series.
ALABAMA-TENNESSEE TV RESULTS: The 2012 game marks the 35th televised game in series history. The Alabama-Tennessee game has been televised every year since 1989. The Crimson Tide owns a 19-13-2 record over the Volunteers in televised games.
LAST TIME ALABAMA TRAILED: Despite only trailing for one play when Mississippi scored 1:20 into the second quarter, it was the first time Alabama had done so in regulation since Tennessee opened the scoring with a field goal with 3:58 left in the first quarter last season (October 22, 2011). That streak spanned over nine complete games or 40 quarters. After trailing to Mississippi, Alabama scored 21 unanswered points to end the half.
46 NATIONAL TV APPEARANCES IN 61 GAMES: Alabama’s appearance on ESPN this weekend will mark the 46th nationally-televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. In 2011, Alabama played on CBS four times, while having one game on ABC, two games on ESPN and ESPN2 with one game on ESPNU. 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 broadcasted two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcasted nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.
TIDE 55-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 55-3 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 3-3 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 three wins when tied at halftime came at LSU on Nov. 8, 2008, (a 27-21 victory), at Auburn with a 26-21 win on Nov. 27, 2009 and against Tennessee on Oct. 22, 2011 (a 37-6 victory).
MILLINER ADDED TO BEDNARIK WATCH LIST: Alabama junior defensive back Dee Milliner was added to the Chuck Bednarik watch list. Milliner has played in five games this season, totaling 14 tackles, two interceptions and nine pass breakups. He leads the nation in passes defended at 2.75 per game. Milliner was selected as the Walter Camp, Bednarik, Thorpe and SEC Defensive Player of the Week after his performance against Michigan to open the season.
JONES CONTINUES OFF THE FIELD ACCOLADES: Alabama senior center Barrett Jones continues to be recognized for his countless service across the globe. Jones was named to the 2012 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and then later he was named a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. Jones has been a staple of service across the world as he has gone on two mission trips to Haiti and one to Nicaragua, aiding in the Tuscaloosa tornado cleanup efforts and regularly visiting sick children in the hospital. Last season, he garnered the ASA Sportsmanship award and the Wuerffel Trophy.
WARMACK EARNS SEC HONORS: Senior guard Chance Warmack was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week on Monday, Sept. 17, following his performance against Arkansas. Warmack led an Alabama offensive line that totaled 438 yards in a 52-0 win over the Razorbacks. He posted the line’s highest grade at 91 percent with no pressures, no sacks allowed and zero penalties. In addition, the line did not allow a sack in the game nor did it have a turnover. The Crimson Tide averaged 5.0 yards per rush and 6.7 yards per play on offense in the rout.
ACCOLADES FOR MILLINER: Honors and accolades poured in for Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner following his outstanding performance in the Crimson Tide’s 41-14 win over then-No. 8 Michigan at Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 1. The junior from Millbrook, Ala., was named the Walter Camp Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week, the Chuck Bednarik Defensive Player of the Week, the Jim Thorpe Award Defensive Back of the Week and the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. He recorded five total tackles, a career-best four pass breakups and one interception, which he returned 35 yards to the Michigan 17-yard line, setting up the Tide’s third score of the first quarter and a 21-0 lead. In addition, Milliner helped limit the Wolverines to just 268 yards of total offense.
MILLINER AND YELDON HONORED BY THE SEC: Junior Dee Milliner and freshman T.J. Yeldon were both recognized by the Southeastern Conference following the first week of play as Milliner was named the Defensive Player of the Week and Yeldon the Co-Freshman of the Week. Milliner collected four pass breakups, an interception and five tackles against Michigan, while Yeldon had 11 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown versus the Wolverines.
TRUE FRESHMEN IN ACTION: Alabama has had 10 true freshmen make their debuts so far this season, including defensive back Landon Collins, wide receiver Amari Cooper, running back Kenyan Drake, linebacker Denzel Devall, linebacker Tyler Hayes, defensive lineman Darren Lake, linebacker Dillon Lee, linebacker Reggie Ragland, defensive back Geno Smith and running back T.J. Yeldon. Alabama has also had 11 redshirt freshmen – tight end Brent Calloway, quarterback Phillip Ely, tight end Malcolm Faciane, running back Dee Hart, center Ryan Kelly, defensive lineman LaMichael Fanning, defensive end D.J. Pettway, wide receivers Marvin Shinn, defensive back Bradley Sylve, defensive back Jabriel Washington and receiver Danny Woodson Jr. Junior college transfer Deion Belue also started and played his first two games with the Crimson Tide.
CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE: Alabama returned 43 lettermen from the 2011 National Championship team, but the Crimson Tide also boasts 21 players who played on both 2009 and 2011 championship teams. Looking a little deeper you find the Tide had eight players that saw action for both 2009 and 2011 teams. There were also three players that started at least two games in both 2009 and 2011, including Barrett Jones, Michael Williams and Nico Johnson. Below is a list of the 21 current players that were on both of Coach Saban’s national championship teams at Alabama.
CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICANS: Since head coach Nick Saban became the Alabama head coach in 2007, he has had a knack for developing young recruits into All-Americans. In his five years at UA, Saban has produced the most consensus All-Americans in the nation with 11. Saban’s consensus All-Americans include Antoine Caldwell (center, 2008), Andre Smith (offensive line, 2008), Terrence Cody (defensive line, 2008 and 2009), Rolando McClain (linebacker, 2009), Mark Ingram (running back, 2009), Mike Johnson (offensive line, 2009), Javier Arenas (cornerback, 2009), Mark Barron (safety, 2011), Dont’a Hightower (linebacker, 2011), Barrett Jones (offensive line, 2011) and Trent Richardson (running back, 2011). Second in the same time period is Oklahoma with nine, while Florida has registered seven in that five-year period.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama’s success on the field over the past five seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide’s success in the classroom. The 2012 squad features six players that already have degrees in hand, including Barrett Jones (August, 2011), Robert Lester (December, 2011), William Ming (May, 2012), Damion Square (May, 2012), Carson Tinker (August, 2012) and Michael Williams (May, 2012). Over the past five seasons (2008-12) Alabama has seen 58 players compete for the Crimson Tide after having already graduated.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: The Crimson Tide has had eight players earn a total of 15 preseason All-America accolades from various publications leading up to the start of the 2012 campaign. The list includes D.J. Fluker, Barrett Jones, Nico Johnson, Robert Lester, Dee Milliner, C.J. Mosley, Chance Warmack and Jesse Williams. Fluker was a first-team selection by Phil Steele and second team honoree from Sports Illustrated, while Jones was a first-team selection by Phil Steele, Athlon Sports, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated. Johnson was named to the third-team by Phil Steele, and Lester was a third-team selection by Phil Steele and a second-team pick Lindy’s. Milliner was tabbed as a third-team selection by Phil Steele, while Mosley received second-team honors from Phil Steele. Warmack picked up a first-team pick by Phil Steele and Sports Illustrated and a third-team selection by Athlon Sports. Williams rounded out the Tide’s eight selections with a second-team tab by Phil Steele.
RETURNING SUCCESS: Alabama returns 12 starters and 43 lettermen from its 2011 squad that won the BCS National Championship, finishing with a record of 12-1. Much of last year’s preseason talk was about the Tide’s experienced defense, whereas this year it has been much about the veteran offense. Highlighting the list of returnees on the offensive line is senior All-American and Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones, along with senior Chance Warmack and juniors D.J. Fluker and Anthony Steen.
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 Alabama, the Sabans have helped raise more than $2.5 million for “Nick’s Kids” that has been distributed to more than 150 charities and organizations throughout the state of Alabama.
ALABAMA’S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 196-126-4 (.607) all-time record in 326 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts.
OVERTIME RECORD: Alabama is 4-8 (.333) all-time in overtime games. In its last overtime game, the Crimson Tide lost to LSU 9-6 at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 5, 2011. Alabama has lost seven of its last 10 overtime games. The Crimson Tide is 4-7 (.363) in overtime games against SEC teams. Alabama is 2-5 (.286) in overtime home games. The Crimson Tide is 3-5 (.375) in single-overtime games.
NEW HIRES: Nick Saban made two new additions to his coaching staff following the 2011 season. Taking over the offensive coordinator role for the departed Jim McElwain (newly hired head coach at Colorado State) is Doug Nussmeier. Nussmeier joins the Crimson Tide staff after three seasons at Washington where his offensive unit improved statistically each year. His offense scored 30 or more points in nine of 13 games last season, while the unit’s 57 touchdowns and 431 points were good enough for second in Washington football history. Returning to the Capstone for his second stint on Coach Nick Saban’s coaching staff is Lance Thompson. Thompson returns to coach the outside linebackers after spending three years at Tennessee.
TOP AIDES: For the second consecutive year, the Alabama coaching staff was ranked No. 1 in the Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com Top 10 Football Coaching Staffs list. Following the Tide was Oregon, Virginia Tech, Texas, LSU, Ohio State, Boise State, South Carolina, Michigan State and Oklahoma State. 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 four coaches that have spent time as assistant coaches in the NFL in Mike Groh (Jets), Doug Nussmeier (Rams), Kirby Smart (Dolphins) and Bobby Williams (Lions and Dolphins).
GAMEDAY COACHING DUTIES FOR CRIMSON TIDE IN 2012: The Crimson Tide’s assistants will be split between the coaches’ booth and the sideline in 2012. Nussmeier, Burton Burns, Jeremy Pruitt and Thompson will be in the booth, while Kirby Smart, Chris Rumph, Jeff Stoutland, Bobby Williams and Mike Groh are on the sideline.
TIDE PLAYERS EARN EARLY ACCOLADES: Twelve Alabama players have been named to 15 different preseason awards watch lists heading into the 2012-13 season. The players have been recognized before the start of the 2012 season as potentially the top players at their position nationally. Jesse Williams leads the way for the Tide appearing on five of the 14 lists, while AJ McCarron, Barrett Jones and Nico Johnson were named to four of the lists. Robert Lester and C.J. Mosley appeared on three difference lists, and Eddie Lacy, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack on two. Rounding out the preseason watch nods were Michael Williams, Dee Milliner and Jeremy Shelley, making one list apiece. Nico Johnson, Robert Lester, C.J. Mosley and Jesse Williams are all on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) and are joined by Dee Milliner on the Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year) list. Lacy 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) and the Maxwell Award (most outstanding player). AJ McCarron joins him on the Maxwell watch list, and was also selected to the Manning Award (top quarterback) and the O’Brien Award (nation’s best quarterback). McCarron and Barrett Jones were tabbed for the Walter Camp Award (player of the year), while Jones is also nominated for the Outland Award (best interior lineman) and the Rotary Lombardi Award (best lineman or linebacker).
ALABAMA LANDS 12 ON ALL-SEC TEAM: The Tide placed a total of 12 players on the media’s Preseason All-SEC team which was voted on at SEC Football Media Days by 222 media voters. Twelve selections rank the Crimson Tide second in the SEC in selections behind LSU (13). The coaches’ preseason All-SEC team voted 11 Crimson Tide players onto the three teams, which was tied with LSU for the most players selected. Alabama’s Barrett Jones was selected to the preseason All-SEC team for the third season, this time at center.
SCHOLARSHIP SENIORS: Alabama is tied for fourth in the nation with the fewest number of scholarship seniors as the Crimson Tide features nine heading into the 2012 campaign. The Crimson Tide was one of four teams in the No. 1 spot until long snapper Carson Tinker was awarded a scholarship by head coach Nick Saban on August 20.
FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Over the past three years, Alabama has had a total of 29 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll recipients, which is a league best. The Crimson Tide was No. 1 in honorees for the 2009-10 season (12) and the 2010-11 season (11). Alabama placed six rookies on the 2011-12 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll including HaHa Clinton-Dix (Criminal Justice), Phillip Ely (Pre-Business), Ryan Kelly (Pre-Business), Cyrus Kouandjio (Pre-Business), Wilson Love (Pre-Business) and Vinnie Sunseri (Pre-Business).
NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw eight former UA players selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Trent Richardson (third overall to the Cleveland Browns), Mark Barron (seventh overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Dre Kirkpatrick (17th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals) and Dont’a Hightower (25th overall to the New England Patriots). Courtney Upshaw was next to go in the second round, and 35th overall pick, to the Baltimore Ravens. The Tide had two drafted in the fifth round with Josh Chapman going to the Indianapolis Colts as the 136th overall pick and DeQuan Menzie to the Kansas City Chiefs as the 146th overall pick. Rounding out the 2012 NFL draft for Alabama was Brad Smelley, who went in the seventh round as the 247th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns. Over the past two seasons, the Tide has had a combined eight first round draft picks, ranking Alabama fourth in most players selected over a two-year span. In the common draft era The Tide also came in a No. 4 on the most defensive players selected in the first round over a three-year span with six.
CRIMSON TIDE PLAYERS ON NFL ROSTERS: The Alabama football program is well represented in the NFL in the 2012 season with former players and coaches dotting league rosters. The Tide has 47 former players and coaches working in the NFL this season. The Crimson Tide has 31 current NFL players in addition to 16 former UA players and/or coaches serving as assistant coaches in the NFL this season. Over the last four years, Alabama has had more NFL first round picks than any other school (11), including four in each of the past two drafts.