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Wednesday Notebook: Defense and Special Teams



Oct. 21, 2009

ALABAMA NOTEBOOK: The latest installment of the Alabama Football Notebook takes at look at the Crimson Tide defense and special teams, following a 20-6 win against No. 22 South Carolina last Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. The defense has not allowed a touchdown in the last eight quarters, holding Mississippi and South Carolina to combined nine points.  Senior defensive back Marquis Johnson, subbing for the injured Javier Arenas, tied the Alabama single-game record with six pass breakups in the win over South Carolina. The UA defense and special teams are highlighted each Wednesday on
JOHNSON TIES PBU RECORD:  Senior defensive back Marquis Johnson tied the Alabama single-game record with six pass breakups in the win over South Carolina.  Johnson, subbing for the injured Javier Arenas, matched the record of six PBUs set by John Mangum against Vanderbilt on Sept. 30, 1989 and Southwestern Louisiana on Oct. 14, 1989.  Johnson had four pass breakups in the first half and added two more in the final half, including batting down a third down pass from the UA 5-yard line in the final seconds to keep the Gamecocks out of the end zone. Johnson also added two tackles and one quarterback pressure in the game.
NO TDs IN EIGHT QUARTERS: Alabama held South Carolina without a touchdown in its 20-6 win over the No. 22 Gamecocks last weekend. It was the second consecutive game in which the Crimson Tide defense has prevented the opponent from scoring a touchdown.  Overall, Alabama has not allowed a touchdown in its last eight quarters. The last touchdown allowed by Alabama was by Kentucky with 12:52 left in the fourth quarter of a 38-20 win at Lexington on October 3. That span now covers a total of 132:52 of game time since the last touchdown allowed – a 2-yard run by UK’s Alfonso Smith.  Alabama’s current streak of scoreless quarters is the longest since the 2005 season when UA did not allow a touchdown in 17 quarters against Mississippi (last three quarters), Tennessee, Utah State, Mississippi State and LSU (first 2 quarters).
AIR DEFENSE:  While a lot of attention goes to the Alabama’s rushing defense, the Crimson Tide has also limited some very dangerous passing attacks this season.  The Tide boasts the nation’s top overall defense, allowing just 226.57 yards per game, but Alabama also leads the country in pass efficiency defense, surrendering a 83.82 opponent passer rating, ranks tied for seventh in interceptions (10) and ranks 12th in pass defense (163.29 ypg). The Tide limited Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor to just 45 percent passing, 91 yards and an 82.22 passer rating. Arkansas’ Ryan Mallet, who is 12th nationally in passing yards, managed a 34.29 completion percentage and a 76.40 passer rating. Mississippi’s Jevan Snead completed only 32.35 percent of his passes vs. Alabama and threw four interceptions for a 43.41 passer rating while South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia connected on 43.5 percent of his passes with an interception and no touchdowns.  
Opposing QBs                                  Stats vs. Alabama                       Stats for remainder of season
Tyrod Taylor, Va. Tech              9-20-91-0-0 (55.0)                59-98-1063-9-3 (60.2)                                                           
Paul McCall, FIU                       16-32-189-1-0 (50.0)            112-195-1272-10-5 (57.4)
Ryan Mallett, Ark                      12-35-160-1-1 (34.3)             91-152-1486-15-2 (59.9)
Mike Hartline, UK                      17-31-168-1-3 (54.8)             51-81-485-4-3 (62.2)
Jevan Snead, Miss.                   11-34-140-0-4 (32.2)             69-124-968-12-5 (55.6)
Stephen Garcia, USC                 20-46-214-0-1 (43.5)            109-178-1268-9-3 (61.2)
*does not include North Texas who started a backup quarterback
Stats grid: completions, attempts, yards, TDs, INTs, completion percentage.
MCCLAIN, CODY NAMED SEMIFINALISTS FOR LOMBARDI AWARD: Alabama junior linebacker Rolando McClain and senior nose guard Terrence Cody were among the 12 players named semifinalists for the 2009 Rotary Lombardi Award by the Football Writers Association of America. Alabama is one of only two schools with two semifinalists for the coveted Lombardi Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top college football lineman or linebacker. McClain leads the Crimson Tide with 49 total tackles and 32 solo stops. He has 6.5 tackles for loss (-28), two sacks (-19), two interceptions, a pass breakup, a forced fumble and seven quarterback hurries. Cody boasts 15 tackles, including 5.0 tackles for loss (-10) a pass breakup and two quarterback hurries.

FORCING TURNOVERS: Alabama has produced 11 turnovers in the last three games, forcing five turnovers at Mississippi, four at Kentucky and two against South Carolina. The Tide picked off eight passes in those three games and recovered three fumbles. The Crimson Tide ranks 12th nationally in turnover margin (+1.0) this season. The Crimson Tide has forced 64 turnovers in the first 34 games under head coach Nick Saban, an average of 1.88 per game. The Crimson Tide has forced 15 turnovers in the first seven games this season, while the UA offense has only turned the ball over eight times (3 interceptions, 5 fumbles). 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 29 of 34 games under Saban. UA is 23-6 under Saban when they have at least one turnover. Alabama is 3-2 in games without a turnover over the last three seasons.
Alabama senior placekicker Leigh Tiffin is rapidly moving up the Alabama career scoring chart. After the conclusion of the South Carolina game, when he kicked two field goals and scored eight points, the Muscle Shoals, Ala., native has 325 career points. He sits in third place just one point behind Michael Proctor (326) for second place. Tiffin passed his father; Van (312), for third place on the Tide’s all-time career list earlier this season. Leigh is 20 points shy of Phillip Doyle’s school record of 345 points. 
TIFFIN NO. 2 ON UA’S CAREER FIELD GOALS LIST: Senior place-kicker Leigh Tiffin converted two field goals against South Carolina to give him 69 career field goals, second all-time at Alabama. He surpassed his father, Van Tiffin (59 from 1983-86) earlier this season against North Texas and then moved past Michael Proctor vs. Mississippi. Tiffin’s 69 field goals leaves him just nine shy of the school record held by Philip Doyle (78 from 1987-90).