ALABAMA FOOTBALL: Special Teams Notebook Sophomore return specialist Javier Arenas was the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after recording 164 all-purpose yards in last week's win over Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide leads the SEC and ranks 9th nationally with a 16.97-yard punt return avera
ALABAMA SPECIAL TEAMS
Alabama returns all but one of its specialists from last season.
The Crimson Tide’s special teams have shown marked improvement during the first seven games of the 2007 season.
Alabama leads the SEC and ranks 9th nationally with 16.97-yard punt return average.
Sophomore Javier Arenas (Tampa, Fla.) is the Crimson Tide’s top return specialist.
Arenas is second in the SEC and 12th nationally with a 16.06-yard punt return average this season. In seven games, he has 16 punt returns for 257 yards, including a 69-yard return against Vanderbilt on Sept. 8. In 20 career games, he has 47 punt returns for 543 yards (11.6 average) and two touchdowns. He had a 65-yard punt return against Florida International and an Alabama bowl record 86-yard punt return against Oklahoma State in 2006.
The Alabama career record for most punt returns is three for touchdowns held by Harry Gilmer.
Arenas has 14 kickoff returns for 317 yards (22.6 average) this season. His best game came at Ole Miss (Oct. 13), where he had four returns for 93 yards.
He was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week against Ole Miss (Oct. 13), where he had 164 all-purpose yards (93 KOR and 71 PR) against the Rebels.
Junior Jonathan Lowe (Phenix City, Ala.) is the backup to Arenas. Lowe has nine kickoff returns for 224 yards (17.6 average) this season. He made his Alabama debut with a 23-yard kickoff return and a 17-yard punt return against Western Carolina on Sept. 1
Sophomore Leigh Tiffin (Muscle Shoals, Ala.) is the Crimson Tide’s starting kicker, handling all kickoffs, field goal and extra point attempts. Tiffin is tied for third in the SEC in field goals per game (1.57) and tied for 7th in scoring (8.0). He leads the SEC with four field goals of 40 or more yards this season. He is 4-of-7 from 40-49 yards and his 57.1 percent accuracy from that distance ranks fifth in the league.
Tiffin is 23-for-23 in extra points this season and 35-of-36 in his two-year career. Tiffin is 11-of-17 on field goal attempts this season and has been successful on seven of his last nine attempts. He has converted 19-of-30 career field goal attempts for the Tide.
He appeared in five games last season and hit 8-of-13 field goals and 12-of-13 extra point attempts.
His father, Van (1983-86), was an All-American kicker at Alabama in 1986 and set the UA record with 135 consecutive career extra points.
Sophomore Andrew Friedman (Fairhope, Ala.) made his 2007 season debut with his first career extra point attempt against Arkansas on Sept. 15. He has now played in four career games at UA.
Senior Jamie Christensen (Norcross, Ga.), who has also handled kickoffs the last three years, has yet to see action this season after an early season quad injury. Christensen has hit 29 of 42 career field goal attempts and 40 of 42 career extra points. He also has three-game winning field goals to his credit, beating Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas Tech during the 2006 season.
Sophomore punter P.J. Fitzgerald (Coral Springs, Fla.) is back for his second year as the Crimson Tide’s punter and holder. Fitzgerald has punted 37 times for 1,434 yards (38.8 average), including a career-high 58-yard punt at Vanderbilt on Sept. 8. He had a career-high 10 punts in the loss to Florida State, including two that traveled more than 50 yards. Fitzgerald punted 10 times for a 40-yard average against Houston on Oct. 6.
He ranks second in the SEC with 12 punts inside the 20-yard line.
In 19 career games, Fitzgerald has 94 punts for 3,610 yards (38.4 average). He has 28 punts inside the opponents 20-yard line He punted 57 times for 2,176 yards (38.2 average) last year.
The Crimson Tide is breaking in its third long snapper in as many years this season as they replace last year’s snapper Luke Spaulding. Junior Brian Selman (Vestavia Hills, Ala.) has handled all snapping duties this year.