Countdown to Kickoff
Bama Leads Nation in Three Defensive Categories


Sunday, October 24, 2004

DeMeco Ryans

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Alabama defense, coming off an impressive performance at No. 11 Tennessee on Saturday,  now leads the nation in three defensive categories, including total defense, passing defense and pass efficiency defense.

Alabama led the nation in passing defense and pass efficiency defense and remained in the top spot after its performance at Tennessee.  The Crimson Tide ranked third in total defense entering the UT game, but after holding the Vols to 195 total yards leaped over NC State and Wisconsin into the top spot.

Through eight games, Alabama has allowed just 221.6 yards per games en route to a 5-3 overall record.  The Crimson Tide had allowed just 106.6 passing yards per game and opponents have compiled an 83.3 rating this season.

In addition, Alabama leads the SEC with the lowest third down conversion percentage as opponents have made just 22.8 percent (23-for-101) of its third downs this season.

The Crimson Tide held Tennessee just 195 total yards in Saturday's 17-13 loss at Knoxviille.  Tennessee entered the game averaging more than 400 yards per game.  UT is the third straight opponent with less than 200 total yards.  Overall, Bama has held five opponents below 200 yards this year.

Tennessee managed just 132 passing yards in the win over Alabama, the seventh straight opponent to pass for less than 200 yards against UA this season.  Utah State (205) is the only team to break the 200-yard barrier through the air this season.  The Bama defense also held UT to 63 rushing yards (34 attempts), marking the fourth time this season an opponent had failed to rush for 100 yards against UA.

Junior linebacker DeMeco Ryans (Bessemer) recorded his first career interception as he picked off an Erik Ainge pass at the UT the 4-yard line with 7:48 left in first quarter.

Senior linebacker Cornelius Wortham (Calhoun City, Miss.) added his first career interception as he picked off an Ainge pass at the Alabama two-yard line in the third quarter.  Alabama has at least one interception in six of the eight games this season.

The UA linebackers had 21 total tackles and two interceptions in the loss at Tennessee.

On offense, Alabama continues to lead the SEC with 226 rushing yards per game despite only 105 yards in the loss at UT.  Senior Ray Hudson continues to lead the SEC with 106.3 rushing yards per game, while sophomore Kenneth Darby ranks fifth with 91.6 yards per game.

Alabama also leads the SEC in time of possession (33:59) for the third straight week.

For the third straight week, Alabama leads the nation with a 32.6 kickoff return average.

The Alabama coaching staff named Kenneth Darby (offense), DeMeco Ryans (defense) and Brian Bostick (special teams) as its players of the week for the Tennessee game.

According to Alabama Athletic Trainer Rodney Brown, sophomore fullback Tim Castille (Birmingham) underwent an MRI (right knee) on Sunday and the results would not be known until Monday.