Oct. 22, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama ranks fourth nationally in stopping the run. See how opponents' leading rushers have fared against the Tide in this week's defensive notebook on RollTide.com.
RUNNING ON THE TIDE IS TOUGH: Running has been tough against the Crimson Tide defense this season, as evidenced by the fact that no running back has surpassed the 100-yard barrier and all seven opponents' leading rushers have fallen significantly short of their season run totals when playing Alabama. The Crimson Tide held Clemson's vaunted tandem of James Davis and C.J. Spiller to 20 rushing yards in the season-opening win in Atlanta. The Clemson duo averages 141 yards per game this season and was held to 121 yards below their season average by Alabama. Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno averages 108.8 yards per game this season, but managed only 34 yards (74.8 below season average) on nine carries in the loss to Alabama. Arkansas freshman Michael Smith averages 131.8 yards per game this season and managed 91 yards (40.8 yards below season average) on 19 rushing attempts against Alabama. Here is a look at the Tide's opposing running backs this season and how they have fared against Alabama, compared to their season totals. (see chart on page 5)
Opponent Leading Rusher Season vs. Alabama
Clemson James Davis 66.7 13
C.J. Spiller 52.3 7
Tulane Andre Anderson 142.0 32
W. Kentucky Bobby Rainey 32.3 11
Arkansas Michael Smith 131.8 91
Georgia Knowshon Moreno 108.8 34
Kentucky Derrick Locke 43.2 28
Mississippi Brandon Bolden 46.0 25
STOPPING THE RUN: Alabama is 9-2 under Coach Nick Saban when holding opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in a game, including a 6-0 mark in 2008. The Crimson Tide held Clemson (0), Tulane (86), Western Kentucky (42), Arkansas (92), Georgia (50) and Kentucky (35) to less than 100 rushing yards in the first six games of the season. Going back to 2007, the Tide has held seven of their last eight opponents below 100 yards rushing with Colorado amassing just 75 yards in the 2007 Independence Bowl. Alabama was 3-2 last year when opponents failed to reach 100 rushing yards in a game. In Coach Saban's 20-game tenure at Alabama, the Tide has held opponents under 100 yards rushing 11 times.
TIDE 4th NATIONALLY in RUSHING DEFENSE: The Crimson Tide ranks fourth nationally in rushing defense seven games into the 2008 season. Alabama opponents have 169 rushing attempts for 463 yards, an average of 66.1 yards per game and 2.74 yards per attempt this season. The top five teams in the nation in terms of rushing defense are No. 1 TCU (21.0), No. 2 Texas (48.1 ypg), No. 3 Georgia (61.0 ypg), No. 4 Alabama and No. 5 Nevada (73.4 ypg). The Crimson Tide defense opened the season in impressive fashion by holding Clemson to zero rushing yards.
POINTS OFF TURNOVERS: The Alabama defense has forced 15 turnovers this season and 10 of those turnovers have resulted in points for the Crimson Tide. The offense has scored seven times, including three touchdowns and four field goals. The defense has three touchdowns as well, including interception returns by Javier Arenas and Justin Woodall at Arkansas (Sept. 20) and a fumble return by Rolando McClain against Kentucky (Oct. 4). Alabama has forced at least one turnover in every game this season, with the exception of the Tulane (Sept. 6) game. The Crimson Tide recorded a season-high four turnovers, all interceptions, in its 45-14 win at Arkansas (Sept. 20) and converted three of those turnovers into 21 points. Alabama also scored 10 points off three turnovers in the 24-20 win over Mississippi (Oct. 18) and scored six points off two turnovers in its 34-10 season-opening win over Clemson (Aug. 30). By comparison, Alabama has nine turnovers this season, but only three have directly led to points. Western Kentucky, Arkansas and Ole Miss all scored one touchdown following an Alabama turnover this season.
UA AMONG DEFENSIVE LEADERS: Alabama is in the top 20 nationally in the four major defensive categories after seven games this season. The Crimson Tide ranks 16th nationally in total defense, allowing just 276.0 yards per game. The rushing defense is fourth in the country, giving up just 66.14 yards per contest, while the scoring defense ranks 14th nationally, allowing just 14.43 points per game, which is fourth in the SEC. Finally, the pass efficiency defense comes in at No. 17 this week, allowing an efficiency rating of just 102.58 to opposing quarterbacks.
TIDE TIDBITS: Alabama is second in rushing defense, fourth in scoring defense and sixth in total defense in the SEC this season ... Justin Woodall is seventh in the league with 0.57 interceptions per game ... Sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain is sixth in the SEC with 6.86 tackles per game.