ALABAMA FOOTBALL: Defensive Notebook
Oct. 29, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama is in the top 20 nationally in four defensive categories after eight games this season. The Tide is second in rushing defense (62.4 rushing yards per game), fifth in total defense (263.1 total yards), 10th in scoring defense (13.75 points per game) and 18th in pass efficiency defense (103.27 opponent QB rating). Check out this week's notebook on RollTide.com.
STOPPING THE RUN: Alabama is 10-2 under Coach Nick Saban when holding opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in a game, including a 7-0 mark in 2008. The Crimson Tide held Clemson (0), Tulane (86), Western Kentucky (42), Arkansas (92), Georgia (50), Kentucky (35) and Tennessee (36) to less than 100 rushing yards in seven of the first eight games of the season. Going back to 2007, the Tide has held eight of their last nine 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 21-game tenure at Alabama, the Tide has held its opponent under 100 yards rushing 12 times.
TIDE 2ND NATIONALLY IN RUSHING DEFENSE: The Crimson Tide ranks second nationally in rushing defense eight games into the 2008 season. Alabama opponents have 190 rushing attempts for 499 yards, an average of 62.4 yards per game and 2.63 yards per attempt this season. The top five teams in the nation in terms of rushing defense are No. 1 TCU (31.2), Alabama (62.4), No. 3 Texas (69.3), No. 4 Nevada (69.5) and No. 5 Louisville (75.1). The Crimson Tide defense opened the season in impressive fashion by holding Clemson to zero rushing yards. The duo was held to 20 rushing yards on 12 attempts. In the Crimson Tide's second game Alabama held Tulane to 86 rushing yards on 32 attempts, then allowed just 42 yards on 22 carries vs. Western Kentucky, 92 yards on 31 rushes at Arkansas, 50 yards on 16 carries at Georgia, 35 yards on 20 attempts to Kentucky and 36 yards on 21 carries at Tennessee.
Alabama Rushing Defense Game-By-Game (Rushes-Yards): Clemson (14-0), Tulane (32-86), Western Kentucky (22-42), Arkansas (31-92), Georgia (16-50), Kentucky (20-35), Mississippi (34-158) and Tennessee (21-36).
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 eight 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 113 yards per game this season and was held to 93 yards below their season average by Alabama. Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno averages 115.6 yards per game this season, but managed only 34 yards (-81.6 below season average) on nine carries in the loss to Alabama. Arkansas freshman Michael Smith averages 131.4 yards per game this season and managed 91 yards (40.4 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.
Opponent Leading Rusher Season Total vs. Alabama Difference
TOUGH TO FIND THE END ZONE: Alabama has allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns in the country. The Crimson Tide allowed their first and only rushing touchdown of the season at Georgia and has allowed just one rushing TD in the last 36 quarters of football. The UA defense is allowing just 62.4 yards rushing per game and 13.7 points. Florida State, Louisville and Clemson are close behind, surrendering just three rushing touchdowns this season.
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 six of eight games this season (no turnovers vs. Tulane and Tennessee). The Crimson Tide recorded a season-high four turnovers, all interceptions, in its 49-14 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 10 turnovers this season, but only four have directly led to points. Western Kentucky, Arkansas and Mississippi all scored one touchdown following an Alabama turnover this season while Tennessee kicked a field goal.
TIDE TIDBITS: The Tide defense has shut out the opposition in 17 of 32 quarters this season ... In addition, the UA defense has the opposition to a field goal or less in 23 of 32 quarters ... Junior defensive back Justin Woodall is second in the SEC and 12th nationally with 0.50 interceptions per game ... Woodall has four interceptions this season to lead the Crimson Tide and one "pick" in three straight games against Tulane, Western, Kentucky and Arkansas ... Sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain is 15th in the SEC with 6.5 tackles per game.