Oct. 31, 2011
|Game #9 | No. 2/2 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC ) vs. No. 1/1 LSU (8-0, 5-0 SEC)
||Saturday, Nov. 5 | 7 p.m. CT
||Tuscaloosa, Ala. | Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821)
||CBS | Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson & Tracy Wolfson
||Crimson Tide Sports Network | Listen Live
| Live Stats
| Game Notes
||Alabama Notes | Opponent Notes
| All-Time Series
||Alabama Leads 45-24-5 | 21-15-2 at home
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his fifth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school’s 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 46-11 record (51-11 before five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to two SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and one national championship. Saban holds a career record of 137-53-1 (142-53-1) as a collegiate head coach, while also serving at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU. Saban won his first national championship as head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2003, guiding the Tigers to a 13-1 record that season. Overall, Saban has coached four conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC, 2003 SEC and 2009 SEC) and 11 of his 14 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban’s direction. Saban is also the only active coach to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
NEXT GAME: Alabama travels to Starkville, Miss., to take on Mississippi State on November 12. The meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs will be the 96th in the series that began in the 1896 season. Alabama leads the series 73-18-3, and has won the previous three matchups.
ALABAMA UNDER SABAN IN NOVEMBER: Now in his fifth season at Alabama, head coach Nick Saban has led the Crimson Tide to a 10-6 record in November, with four of those losses coming in 2007. Over that span in games played in November, Alabama has outscored its opponents 467-232.
NO. 1 VS. NO. 2: The clash of No. 1 vs. No. 2 in college football is a rare occurrence and for it to happen in the regular season between conference rivals is almost unprecedented. The Alabama-LSU game will be the first SEC game between No. 1 and No. 2 outside of the SEC Championship Game. There have been 45 previous meetings between the No. 1 team and the No. 2 team in the Associated Press poll before Alabama and LSU square off on Nov. 5. The first of these meetings came on Oct. 9, 1943, when No. 1 Notre Dame defeated No. 2 Michigan, 35-12. But, there have only been 22 regular-season meetings – 24 if you count the 2008 and 2009 SEC Championship Games between Alabama and LSU. The last No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown (outside of the SEC title game) was on Nov. 18, 2006, with No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 Michigan 42-39. It also happened earlier that season with No. 1 OSU defeating No. 2 Texas 24-7. Before that, the last No. 1 vs. No. 2 regular-season clash came 10 years earlier when No. 2 Florida State knocked off No. 1 Florida, 24-21, Nov. 30, 1996. Of the 22 regular-season No. 1 vs. No. 2 meetings outside of conference championship games, only four of those games were between conference foes and the Alabama-LSU game is the first between two teams in the same division of a conference. It is also just the third time that the game has matched two teams with a bye to prepare. The first time it happened was when No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Arkansas met in a Southwest Conference matchup on Dec. 6, 1969, with Texas erasing a 14-0 deficit for a 15-14 win. Nebraska and Oklahoma did it in a Big Eight game on Nov. 25, 1971, and again on Nov. 21, 1987. Ohio State and Michigan were the last conference foes to meet on Nov. 18, 2006. Below is a look at conference games between No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the AP poll.
MORE ON THE SHOWDOWN BETWEEN THE TIDE AND TIGERS: The Alabama-LSU game will be just the ninth game in the history of Bryant-Denny Stadium between teams ranked in the top 10. That number is skewed since a large portion of Alabama’s best games were played at Legion Field in Birmingham before Bryant-Denny was expanded to 83,818 in 1998. Just three of the nine games between top 10 teams came prior to the 1998 expansion. LSU is also just the second No. 1-ranked team to visit Bryant-Denny Stadium, joining Oklahoma, which visited Tuscaloosa in 2003 and defeated an unranked Alabama team, 20-13.
FINISHING STRONG: Alabama has started slowly in the first quarter this season, but has quickly turned things around and finished strong. The Crimson Tide has outscored its opponents 243-25 in the final three quarters of games this season after holding just a 72-30 edge in the first quarter. The disparity has grown even wider over the past six games where Alabama owns a 44-27 scoring edge in the first quarter and a 196-10 edge in the final three quarters. Alabama has outscored its opposition in the second half of the last six games by a score of 142-7, but has not allowed a second-half point in the last four games. Arkansas in week four was the last team to put points on the scoreboard after halftime.
TIDE ON TOP OF THE SEC IN OFFENSE AND DEFENSE: Alabama is currently leading the Southeastern Conference in total offense and total defense as well as scoring offense and scoring defense. The Crimson Tide averages 457.6 yards per game, while limiting opponents to 180.5 yards per outing. Additionally, Alabama scores nearly 40 points per game at 39.4, and at the same time, holds teams to a league, and nation, low of 6.9 points per game. The Tide also leads the league in rusing offense (229.3), rushing defense (44.9), pass efficiency defense (44.9), pass defense (127.3) while ranking second in punt returns (12.7), turnover margin (+0.75), tackles for loss (8.7) and sacks allowed (1.5).
WINNING BIG: Alabama has won its last nine games by 16 or more points dating back to last season’s Capital One Bowl victory over Michigan State. That nine-game streak surpassed the previous mark in the modern era of Crimson Tide football (since 1950). During the current streak, the Tide has beaten the No. 7 Spartans by 42 (49-7), Kent State by 41 (48-7), No. 23 Penn State by 16 (27-11), North Texas by 41 (41-0), No. 14 Arkansas by 24 (28-14), No. 12 Florida by 28 (38-10), Vanderbilt by 34 (34-0), Mississippi by 45 (52-7) and Tennessee by 31 (37-6).
ALABAMA SCORING OUTPUT: The Crimson Tide’s 52 points scored at Mississippi on October 15, marked the most points scored by Alabama in a Southeastern Conference game since Alabama downed Vanderbilt, 59-28, on Sept. 29, 1990.
14 POINTS OR LESS: Alabama has not allowed an opponent to score more than 14 points during the first eight games of the 2011 season and nine straight games dating back to the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State. The 2011 Crimson Tide defense leads the nation in scoring defense, surrendering an average of just 6.9 points per game while recording two shutouts (41-0 vs. North Texas and 34-0 over Vanderbilt). UA is also first nationally in total defense (180.5) and rushing defense (44.9). The last time Alabama held its opponent to 14 points or less for at least nine straight games was 1992 when the Tide did it that many times to open the season. The school record for consecutive games holding an opponent to 14 points or less is 31 from 1960-63. The Crimson Tide did it in the last three games of the 1960 season and all 11 games of the 1961 and 1962 campaigns before the streak ended in the seventh game of the 1963 season when Mississippi State scored 19 in a 20-19 UA win.
APPLYING PRESSURE: Senior jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw has been a regular presence in opposing backfields this season. He is second in the SEC and ranks tied for 12th nationally with 1.4 tackles for loss per game or 11.5 for losses of 54 yards. Upshaw is also tied for eighth in the SEC with .56 sacks per game (4.5 for minus-35 yards) while making 27 total tackles with a team-high seven quarterback hurries. He now has 30 career tackles for loss (-127 yards) and 12.5 sacks (-76 yards), both totals ranking just outside of the top 10 in school history. Alabama is second in the SEC in both tackles for loss (7.6 per game) and sacks (2.1 per game) while ranking 18th nationally in TFLs. UA has recorded 61 tackles for loss this season (-247 yards) and 17 sacks in eight games. By comparison, the Crimson Tide had 75 TFLs and 27 sacks in 13 games a year ago.
LONG DRIVES: Alabama is tied for third nationally with four drives of 90 yards or longer. Both Texas Tech and Utah State have had five drives of 90 yards or more, while the Crimson Tide is joined by Georgia Tech, New Mexico and Illinois with four. Arkansas, Southern Mississippi and Middle Tennessee all have three drives or 90 yards or longer. Alabama’s first 90-yard drive of the season came on the road at No. 12 Florida when the Tide went 92 yards on a drive that started at the 12:25 mark of the fourth quarter. Trent Richardson finished off the 5:27 drive that lasted 11 plays with a 36-yard touchdown run. UA then had a 12-play, 94-yard drive against Vanderbilt that resulted in a one-yard Richardson touchdown. The Mississippi game featured two drives of 90+ yards with Richardson accounting for all 92 yards on two plays, a 16-yard effort on the opening play and a 76-yard touchdown run. Later, Jalston Fowler closed out a 98-yard drive in the fourth quarter against the Rebels with a 69-yard run.
HIGHTOWER, JONES AND UPSHAW NAMED SEMIFINALISTS FOR THE LOMBARDI AWARD: Alabama has three of the 12 semifinalists for the 2011 Rotary Lombardi Award including junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower, senior offensive tackle Barrett Jones and senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw. Stanford is the only other team with multiple semifinalists with offensive guard David DeCastro and offensive tackle Jonathan Martin. Also making the list of semifinalists are Vinny Curry (Marshall), Melvin Ingram (South Carolina), Matt Kalil (USC), Luke Kuechly (Boston College), Whitney Mercilus (Illinois), Manti Te’o (Notre Dame) and Jerel Worth (Michigan State). The coveted Lombardi Award is given annually to the nation’s top college football lineman (offense or defense) who, in addition to outstanding performance and ability, best exemplifies the discipline of Vince Lombardi.
SABAN ON BRYANT COACH OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is one of 20 on the initial Bryant Coach of the Year list. The award honors excellence in coaching while also helping to raise funds to fight heart disease.
BARRON, HIGHTOWER ARE LOTT QUARTERFINALISTS: Senior defensive back Mark Barron and junior lineback Dont’a Hightower were named quarterfinalists for the Lott Trophy, which recognizes the nation’s Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year that exemplifies both athletic performance and personal character attributes.
HIGHTOWER AND UPSHAW NAMED SEMIFINALISTS FOR THE BUTKUS AWARD: Junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower and senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw were each selected as one of 12 semifinalists for the 27th annual Butkus Award, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker.
HIGHTOWER NAMED LOTT IMPACT PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower was recognized for his strong play on the defensive side of the ball in the 37-6 win over rival Tennessee on October 22 as he was named the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week. In recognition of Hightower’s performance, the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, sponsors of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, will make a $1,000 donation to the general scholarship fund at Alabama.
HIGHTOWER EARNS SEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS: In addition to his Lott IMPACT Player of the Week honor following his stellar performance against Tennessee on October 22, junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week. Hightower had an overpowering game, recording seven tackles, one sack and three quarterback hurries plus being credited with breaking up two passes. He also tallied his first career interception, adding a 29-yard return.
ESPN.com MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICANS: Alabama was well represented on the ESPN.com Midseason All-America team, as compiled by Mark Schlabach. The Crimson Tide had five players recognized on the list (2 offense, 3 defense), more than any other team in the country. On offense, Trent Richardson earned the nod at running back while Barrett Jones was recognized for his versatility on the offensive line. Defensively, Courtney Upshaw, DeQuan Menzie and Mark Barron led the way for the Tide.
OVER THE LAST NINE GAMES: Over the last nine games, dating back to the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has allowed just 34.56 rushing yards per game or 311 total rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. The Crimson Tide has allowed 28 rushing yards or less in five of those nine games, including two games of negative rushing yards (Michigan State, -48 and Kent State, -9). Only Penn State has rushed for more than 100 yards, going for 107. Conversely, Alabama has rushed for 2,109 yards (352 carries) and 33 touchdowns in those nine games, averaging 234.3 yards per game and 5.99 yards per carry while scoring a touchdown on the ground every 10.7 rushes. Trent Richardson has led the way over that span with 1,031 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns on 159 carries for 6.5 yards per tote. Eddie Lacy has carried 63 times for 551 yards (just eight games) and seven touchdowns while averaging 8.8 yards per carry.
TIDE NO. 2 IN BCS RANKINGS: Alabama stands firmly in the No. 2 spot of the Bowl Championship Series rankings, .0143 behind No. 1 LSU. The Tigers boast a BCS average of .9734 with Alabama at .9591. Oklahoma State comes in at No. 3 with a .9310 average, .0281 behind the Tide and .0695 ahead of No. 4 Stanford (.8615). Boise State rounds out the top five at .8522 with Oklahoma (.7760) in sixth, Arkansas (.7033) seventh, Oregon (.6916) eighth, South Carolina (.6177) ninth and Nebraska (.6156) 10th.
TIDE NO. 2 IN THE HARRIS POLL: Alabama remains at No. 2 in the Harris interactive College Football Poll. The Harris Poll is comprised of former coaches, players and administrators along with current and former media members. It is a component of the BCS rankings along with the coaches poll and six computer rankings. The Crimson Tide garnered 2,775 points, including 21 first-place votes. LSU is ranked first with 93 first-place votes and 2,853 total points. Oklahoma State is third with a total of 2,594 points. Stanford is fourth and Boise State fifth. Oregon, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska and Clemson round out the top 10.
FINISHING IN THE FOURTH QUARTER: After letting three games slip away in the fourth quarter last season, Alabama put an emphasis on finishing strong in 2011. That emphasis has paid dividends so far with an impressive edge in several categories in the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide has outscored its eight opponents – including three top 25 teams – by a margin of 61 points (69-8) in the fourth quarter while outgaining its opposition 730 yards to just 135 yards on the ground, a difference of 595 yards. The Tide offense has only had to throw 18 passes – completing 13 – while opponents have only completed 44.1 percent of their passes with five interceptions and averaged just 2.2 yards per rush and 2.9 yards per play.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: The Crimson Tide has beaten its eight opponents this season by an average of 32.5 points per game. It is the largest margin of victory in the Nick Saban era at Alabama and the third-largest margin in college football this season. It is also tied with Stanford for the largest margin of victory in FBS football in 2011. Wisconsin is third nationally averaging 29.1 more points per game than its opponents, but the Badgers have two losses. The previous best for Alabama was last season when the Tide outscored its opponents by an average of 22.2 points per game after winning by an average of 20.4 ppg in 2009. The Tide has outscored its opponents by an average of 18.0 points over Saban’s 62 games at the Capstone. Below is a list of the top five teams nationally in margin of victory.
DISCIPLINE SHOWS: Alabama’s disciplined approach to football is evident in its ability to play a clean football game. The Crimson Tide ranks second nationally in fewest penalties per game, being flagged an average of just 3.38 times per game. The Tide also ranks third in fewest penalty yards in the country, averaging 29.50 per contest. UA leads the SEC in fewest penalties per game and ranks second behind Kentucky in penalty yards per game (27.86).
ALABAMA CONTINUES SUCCESS ON THE ROAD: Alabama’s win at Mississippi on October 15 continued a trend of road success by the Crimson Tide in recent seasons. Including the win over the Rebels, Alabama has a 14-2 mark in true road games since 2008. The Tide posted a 3-2 mark last season on the heels of identical 4-0 records in 2008 and 2009. Alabama has outscored its opponents 549-251 over that span. In all games away from Tuscaloosa since 2008, Alabama is 19-4, including a 10-4 mark against ranked opponents.
RICHARDSON/INGRAM COMPARISON: Junior running back Trent Richardson has had a solid season running the ball in the 2011 collecting 989 yards on the ground through eight games. Through eight games during Mark Ingram’s Heisman Trophy winning season in 2009, he had 1,004 rushing yards. In addition, Richardson has had 149 carries for 17 touchdowns, while Ingram had 153 carries and eight touchdowns after eight games.
VLACHOS, RICHARDSON AND UPSHAW HONORED BY THE SEC: Alabama senior center William Vlachos was honored by the SEC as its Offensive Lineman of the Week following the Crimson Tide’s 38-10 victory at Florida on October 1. Vlachos received the highest grade on the line and did not allow a sack or a pressure, making critical line calls in pass protection. In addition to Vlachos, junior running back Trent Richardson and senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw made the Other Outstanding Performances list as Richardson tallied a career-best 181 rushing yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns, while Upshaw recorded four tackles, three for losses including a sack, and returned an interception for a touchdown against the Gators.
TIDE AT HOME SINCE 2008: Alabama is 25-1 in its last 26 games at Bryant-Denny Stadium, dating back to the start of the 2008 season. During that stretch the Crimson Tide has been extremely stingy on defense and very effective on offense. Some of the most impressive numbers include 59 rushing touchdowns for the Alabama offense, while the Crimson Tide defense has surrendered only two rushing touchdowns at home over that span. UA has averaged 195.8 yards of total offense more than its opponents while rushing for 127.1 more yards per game. Alabama is also outscoring its opponents by 25.8 points per game (33.8 points per game [878 points] to 8.0 points per game ). Below is a look at the numbers for the Crimson Tide during its last 25 games at home:
ALABAMA RANKED 58 STRAIGHT WEEKS BY AP: Alabama has been ranked in 58 straight Associated Press polls, which is the longest streak in the nation. The streak began with the first poll of the 2008 season. Boise State holds the next longest streak with 54 straight mentions.
TOUGH SLATE: Alabama boasts one of the most difficult schedules in the nation with four games against teams ranked in the USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll Top 25. The Tide has already faced then-No. 20 Penn State, where Alabama came out with a 27-11 win, then-No. 12 Arkansas, winning 38-14, and then-No. 12 Florida, taking home a 38-10 victory. The Tide will also take on No. 1 LSU (Nov. 5). Additionally, Auburn is receiving votes in the poll.
BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 17-5 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past three seasons and 9-3 against AP top 10 teams. UA had reeled off nine straight wins against top 25 teams until at loss at South Carolina in October of 2010. The Crimson Tide’s 31-6 win over No. 7 Florida on October 2, 2010, was the Tide’s second straight win over a top 10 team and third top 25 victory in a four-week span. Alabama went 5-3 against the AP Top 25 last season.
ALABAMA HAS SECOND MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 44 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, which is the second most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed that with a perfect 14-0 record in 2009 and a 10-3 mark in 2010. Alabama is one win back of Boise State, with 45 wins. The Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.
NEWCOMERS CONTRIBUTE IN 2011: The Crimson Tide has seen 18 of its newcomers (nine redshirt freshmen, seven true freshmen and two junior college transfers) make appearance thus far in the 2011 season. Among the nine redshirt freshmen were TE Harrison Jones, LB Adrian Hubbard, DL Brandon Ivory, OL Chad Lindsay, OL Austin Shepherd, QB Phillip Sims, RB Blake Sims, TE Brian Vogler and WR DeAndrew White. Alabama’s seven true freshmen included S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, LB Trey DePriest, LB Xzavier Dickson, WR Christion Jones, OL Cyrus Kouandjio, DL Jeoffrey Pagan and DB Vinnie Sunseri. DL Quinton Dial and DL Jesse Williams, who are both junior college transfers, have also contributed for Alabama this season.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: Eight Crimson Tide players earned preseason All-America honors from various publications prior to the 2011 season. The list includes Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower, Barrett Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Robert Lester, Trent Richardson, Courtney Upshaw and William Vlachos. Barron was a first-team selection by Phil Steele, Athlon Sports, Lindy’s, Sporting News and Playboy, while Hightower earned first-team honors from Lindy’s, second-team recognition from Phil Steele and third-team distinction from Athlon Sports. Jones was a first-team choice from Phil Steele, Athlon Sports, Lindy’s and Sporting News. Kirkpatrick joined Hightower on the Athlon Sports third team, while Lester made his way to the second team of Phil Steele and Lindy’s. Richardson was a first-team pick on Phil Steele and Playboy and a second-team choice by Athlon Sports, Lindy’s and Sporting News. Upshaw was named to Phil Steele’s third team list as was Vlachos, who also earned third-team recognition from Athlon Sports.
TIDE PLAYERS EARN EARLY ACCOLADES: Twelve Alabama players were named to 14 different preseason awards watch lists heading into the 2011 season. The players were recognized before the start of the 2011 season as potentially the top players at their position nationally. Trent Richardson led the way for the Tide appearing on five of the 14 lists, while Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw were named to four of the lists. Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Robert Lester, Marquis Maze and William Vlachos appeared on three difference lists, and Darius Hanks and Barrett Jones on two. Rounding out the preseason watch nods were Nico Johnson and Michael Williams, making one list apiece. Barron, Hightower, Kirkpatrick and Upshaw were on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) and were joined by Lester on the Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year) list. Richardson was named to many of the overall player and running back award watch lists announced, including the Doak Walker Award (best running back), the Maxwell Award (most outstanding player) and the Walter Camp Award (player of the year). Lester also appeared on the Walter Camp Award list with Richardson. For a complete listing of the preseason watch lists, refer to the chart on page 4.
TWO TIDE PLAYERS NAMED PLAYBOY ALL-AMERICANS: Alabama landed two players on the 2011 Playboy Magazine annual preseason College Football All-America Team. Mark Barron was selected at safety and Trent Richardson at running back. Alabama has had eight Playboy All-Americans in the last four years after Andre Smith was chosen in 2008, Rolando McClain and Javier Arenas were selected in 2009 and Julio Jones and Mark Ingram in 2010.
RECORD NUMBER OF PRESEASON ALL-SEC SELECTIONS: The Tide placed a total of 16 players on the Preseason All-SEC team, which is the most in any year in the league. In addition, Alabama’s nine first-team selections is the highest for any team in a single season beating out the previous high of eight that was set by Alabama in 2010 and Florida in 2009.
11th Annual Herbie Awards: ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit unveiled his annual “Herbie Awards” prior to the season. Alabama garnered six different accolades. Junior Trent Richardson was named as one of the best running backs while the Tide linebackers were mentioned as one of the best position units in college football. Sophomore linebacker C.J. Mosley was mentioned as a “Name You’ll Know by October” while head coach Nick Saban was named as one of the best defensive minds in the sport. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart made the list of “See You Next Year: College Head Coaches in 2012”. Senior safety Mark Barron was named to the All-Uni Team. Herbstreit also predicted that Alabama will defeat South Carolina to earn the SEC Championship.
NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw five UA players selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, including first round picks Marcell Dareus (third overall to the Buffalo Bills), Julio Jones (sixth overall to the Atlanta Falcons), James Carpenter (25th overall to the Seattle Seahawks) and Mark Ingram (28th overall to the New Orleans Saints). Greg McElroy rounded out the Alabama draft picks by being selected in the seventh round (208th overall) by the New York Jets.
NFL IMPACT: Alabama has been a feeder system for the National Football League in recent years and the start of the 2011 NFL campaign proved no different. All four Crimson Tide first round picks (Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones, Mark Ingram and James Carpenter) earned the start in week one for their respective teams. The four rookie starters were second among all schools as Wisconsin had five former players start in their pro debuts. In all, 12 rookies earned the start in their first game from the Southeastern Conference.
SABAN AMONG THE BEST: Head coach Nick Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa led to the Crimson Tide’s rapid rise up the national rankings. That success in such a short period of time impacted the Tide’s record book. Saban produced the largest win increase from year one to year two in school history as Alabama went from seven wins in 2007 to 12 wins in 2008. He is one of two coaches (with Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops) in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to have coached 10 years and never suffered through a losing season. Saban achieved more firsts in 2009 with back-to-back 10-win seasons and his first undefeated campaign. He followed that up with another 10-win season in 2011. Saban is currently sixth in winning percentage (71.9 percent) among active coaches who have coached at least 10 years of FBS football. He is also the only active coach, and one of only two coaches (with former Florida head coach Urban Meyer) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
NEW HIRES: The Alabama football staff features three new assistants in 2011 with the addition of Mike Groh (wide receivers and recruiting coordinator), Chris Rumph (defensive line) and Jeff Stoutland (offensive line). Groh, a former quarterback at Virginia, joined the Crimson Tide after most recently serving as quarterbacks coach at Louisville. Rumph, a four-year letterman at South Carolina, spent the last five seasons as the defensive ends coach at Clemson, while Stoutland served as Miami’s offensive line coach from 2007-10.
SUNSERI FOOTBALL FAMILY: Alabama assistant head coach Sal Sunseri is joined this season by his youngest son, Vinnie, who has been named one of the Specialists of the Week by the coaching staff four times this season. The Sunseri family tree now spans to two major college football programs as his eldest son, Tino, is in his junior season at Pittsburgh. Tino is in his second season as the starting quarterback and was named a team captain. Sal left his mark on the field as well, earning consensus All-American honors as a senior team captain at Pittsburgh in 1981. In addition, he anchored a Panther defense that led the NCAA in total defense in 1980 and 1981.
Helmet Decals: The Alabama football team is sporting more than just crimson on its helmets in 2011. The Crimson Tide wears a houndstooth pattern decal and a number 77 decal on all of its helmets this season. The houndstooth decal represents the memory of the devastation created by the tornado that hit the Tuscaloosa community on April 27 and the 77 decal is in memory of the late Aaron Douglas, a Tide offensive lineman who passed away in May.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama’s success on the field under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide’s success in the classroom. The 2011 Crimson Tide began the season with 11 players that already have degrees in hand, including Hardie Buck (Aug. 2011), Josh Chapman (May 2011), Nick Gentry (Dec. 2010), Brandon Gibson (Dec. 2010), Barrett Jones (Aug. 2011), Phelon Jones (May 2011), Alfred McCullough (May 2011), Morgan Ogilvie (Aug. 2011), Chris Underwood (May 2011), William Vlachos (May 2011) and Alex Watkins (Dec. 2010). Over the past four seasons (2008-11) the Crimson Tide has seen 42 players compete after having already graduated.
RETURNING SUCCESS: Alabama returned 19 starters and 51 lettermen from its 2010 squad that went 10-3, finishing the season ranked 10th in the Associated Press poll and 11th in the USA TODAY Coaches’ poll. Much of last year’s preseason talk was about the Tide’s offense, whereas this year it has been much about the defense. Highlighting the list of returnees in the defensive backfield is senior All-American Mark Barron and junior All-American Robert Lester. Barron was the team’s leader in total tackles with 75, while Lester led Alabama in interceptions with eight. Among the Tide’s returnees up front is senior Courtney Upshaw and junior Dont’a Hightower, who combined for 121 total tackles, 18 tackles for loss, seven sacks and five pass breakups. Upshaw was first on the team in tackles for loss with 14.5 and ranked fifth in the SEC with his seven sacks. As a unit, Alabama’s defense finished the 2010 season ranked third nationally in scoring defense (13.54 ppg), fifth in total defense (286.38) and sixth in pass efficiency defense (103.54).
DEFENSE MAKES A STATEMENT: Through eight games, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to an average of 180.50 total yards of offense, ranking Alabama first in the nation in total defense. The Tide also ranks in the top two in the remaining defensive categories, including pass efficiency (first - 83.63 passer efficiency rating), scoring defense (first - 6.88 ppg), rushing defense (first - 44.88 ypg) and pass defense (second - 135.63 ypg). Alabama also leads the SEC in all of the above categories.
GAMES WITH AN INTERCEPTION: With one interception against Tennessee on October 22, Alabama has recorded at least one interception in seven of its eight games this season. The only game the Tide did not record a pickoff was against North Texas (Sept. 17). Alabama recorded an interception in 11 of the 13 games in 2010, putting together a run of 17 games with a pick in its last 20 outings. Eight different Tide players have tallied an interception in 2011, with Dee Milliner leading the way with two.
10 POINTS OR LESS: In its last game, Alabama held Tennessee to 6 points. Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to 10 points or less 30 times since the start of the 2007 season, including six times in eight games this season. Last season, Alabama held opponents to 10 points or less eight times and limited opponents to that mark seven times in 2009 and 2008. In 2007, the Tide posted two games in which it held opponents to that mark.
FIRST HALF DEFENSE: Yielding only 6 points in the first half against Tennessee on October 22, Alabama has allowed seven points or less in 12 of its last 13 first halves of play. Over that span, the Crimson Tide has surrendered just three points or less on seven occasions, including four shutouts. UA had a streak of nine straight games before allowing 10 points in the first half to Florida on October 1.
TIDE SPENDS EVENING IN MISSISSIPPI BACKFIELD: Alabama registered a season-best 14 tackles for loss and five sacks in a 52-7 SEC win at Mississippi on Oct. 15. The Crimson Tide accounted for minus-52 yards with Nico Johnson and Courtney Upshaw leading the way with two TFL each. Upshaw also recorded a season-best two sacks to give him the team lead with 3.5 on the year. It is the most tackles for loss in a single game for Alabama during Nick Saban’s tenure at the Capstone, a span of 61 games. The previous high was 13 tackles for loss against Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 17, 2007.
SHUTOUT: Alabama’s win over Vanderbilt on October 8, marked the second shutout win for the Crimson Tide in 2011 (with a 41-0 win over North Texas on Sept. 17), and the first SEC shutout victory for the Tide since a 36-0 win over Auburn on Nov. 29, 2008. It also marks Alabama’s first shutout win over Vanderbilt since a 20-0 win on Sept. 11, 1997, and marked the 13th time Alabama has shutout the Commodores in the series.
NON-OFFENSIVE TDs IN THE SABAN ERA: Courtney Upshaw’s 45-yard interception return at Florida on October 1, was Alabama’s second interception return of the 2011 season, and the second in two weeks along with DeQuan Menzie’s 25-yard interception return for a score against Arkansas. The score against the Gators was Alabama’s third non-offensive touchdown of 2011 and the 23rd overall since the Nick Saban Era began in 2007. Since Saban took over as Alabama head coach, the Crimson Tide has garnered 23 non-offensive touchdowns including 10 interception returns, 7 punt returns, 3 kickoff returns, 2 fumble returns and 1 blocked punt return for a touchdown.
COMPLETIONS HARD TO COME BY: The Alabama defense has been the best in the nation in limiting completions from opposing quarterbacks. The Crimson Tide has held opponents to a meager 48.15 completion percentage through seven games (117-of-243). The Tide is also first in the nation in yards per attempt at 4.47 ypa while ranking third in yards per completion at 9.27.
YARDS AT A PREMIUM: The Alabama defense is allowing an average of only 180.50 yards per game entering this week, which ranks first nationally and leads the SEC. The Tide is also surrendering only 3.15 yards per play, which leads the nation. UA opponents have run 458 plays against the Crimson Tide defense this season and only managed 119 plays – both running and passing – that went for more than five yards, which accounts for just 26.0 percent. On the flip side of that, the Alabama offense has seen 44.8 percent of its plays go for more than five yards (243-of-542). The Tide defense has also given up only 50 plays (10.9 percent) of more than 10 yards and 24 plays of more than 15 yards (5.2 percent).
HOLDING THEIR GROUND: Crossing midfield against the Crimson Tide defense has not been an easy task in the first eight games of the 2011 season. Alabama opponents have crossed the 50-yard line only 24 times (only counts drives that started in the opponent territory), but of those 24 drives that moved into Alabama territory, the opponent passed the UA 40-yard line only 16 times. Of those 24 drives, opponents have managed 47 points (five touchdowns and four field goals). Alabama has forced interceptions on three of those drives and punts four other times. The Tide has also blocked one field goal, forced three turnovers on downs once and recovered a fumble.
STOUT DEFENSIVE OUTING: The Alabama defense turned in another strong defensive effort in the win over Mississippi on October 15. The Crimson Tide held the Rebels to 141 total yards (28 rushing, 113 passing). In Saban’s 62-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense 37 times, or 59.7 percent of the time. The Tide has not allowed more than 251 yards (Penn State) in a single game this season and has limited the opponent to less than 200 yards five times (Kent State – 90 yards; North Texas – 169 yards; Vanderbilt – 190 yards; Mississippi – 141 yards; Tennessee – 155).
FIRST DOWN CHAIN TOUGH TO MOVE: Alabama’s defense has also proven to be very stingy when it comes to allowing first downs, surrendering just 79 first downs in eight games for a an average of 9.9 per contest. UA has allowed just 21 total first downs rushing and seven have come by penalty. Opposing offenses are converting just 26.45 percent of their third-down attempts against Alabama (32-of-121). The Crimson Tide gave up a season-low six against Kent State and again against Tennessee. The six first downs allowed were the second fewest in the Nick Saban era (2007-present) – UA gave up just five to Chattanooga in 2009. The Crimson Tide has held opponents to nine first downs or less 12 times dating back to the start of the 2008 season and most recently against Tennessee on October 22 (six).
YARDS HARD TO COME BY: During Nick Saban’s last 48 games at the Capstone, the Crimson Tide defense has held the opposing offense to less than 200 yards of total offense 18 times. Alabama has accomplished the feat five times thus far this season, limiting Kent State to 90 total yards, North Texas to 169 total yards, Vanderbilt to 190 total yards, Mississippi to 141 yards and Tennessee to 155 yards. The 90 yards against Kent State also marked the second time a Saban defense has limited its opponent to less than 100 yards of total offense. Alabama’s best came in 2009 when they held Chattanooga to just 84 yards of total offense. The Tide held opponents under 200 yards three times in 2010, four times in 2009 and six times in 2008.
THREE AND OUT: Alabama led the nation in defensive three-and-outs in 2009 with 5.61 per game and then ranked 10th nationally last season with 4.08 per game. The 2011 season is off to an even better start with a nation-best 57 three-and-outs through eight games. The Tide forced Kent State into three-and-outs on 12 of its 17 possessions. UA then forced Penn State to three three-and-outs in week two and North Texas into eight. Alabama opened SEC play by recording seven three-and-outs against Arkansas followed by six at Florida, five against Vanderbilt, six at Mississippi and 10 against Tennessee, making for an average of 7.13 per game.
GROUND DEFENSE: Limiting opposing running backs to less than 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered only nine individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season (86 games), a mark that leads the nation. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007 (62 games), Alabama has allowed four players to rush for 100 yards in a game: Tennessee’s Tauren Poole (117 yards), Mississippi’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis (131 yards), Houston’s Anthony Alridge (100 yards) and Arkansas’ Darren McFadden (195 yards).
TOUGH SLEDDING ON THE GROUND: Alabama leads the nation in giving up the fewest rushing touchdowns since the start of the 2005 season, surrendering only 49. The Buckeyes entered the season leading that category, but have since given up four this season, including two in a loss to Nebraska. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has allowed 31 rushing touchdowns while OSU has allowed 32. In 2010, Alabama surrendered only six rushing touchdowns in 13 games and has given up two this season - one at Penn State and one at Mississippi.
NOWHERE TO RUN: Alabama held Tennessee to 92 rushing yards on 32 carries last time out. In head coach Nick Saban’s 62-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 100 rushing yards 39 times, or 62.9 percent of the time. The 92 yards on the ground by the Volunteers marks the seventh time in eight games this season that the opposition has been held under 100 yards.
BARRON HONORED FOR OUTING AT PENN STATE: Senior safety Mark Barron was named the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week on September 14. Barron totaled seven tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery and both of his take-aways thwarted Penn State drives inside Crimson Tide territory. The interception ended a Penn State drive at the UA 9-yard line in the third quarter and the fumble recovery stopped the Nittany Lions at the Alabama 35-yard line in the fourth quarter. The interception was the 11th of Barron’s career. He was also named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts at Penn State.
DePRIEST MAKING AN IMPACT: True freshman linebacker Trey DePriest has started on special teams and seen reserve action at linebacker for the Crimson Tide this season. He was named the co-SEC Freshman of the Week for his efforts against Kent State where he led the team in tackles with 10 while making his presence felt literally throughout the stadium with multiple bone-jarring hits. DePriest has also been twice named a Specialist of the Week by the Alabama coaching staff and is third on the team with 17 tackles in five games this year.
RETURNING CAPTAINS: Senior safety Mark Barron and junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower are the third set of captains to return to the position for a second season since Alabama first began naming multiple team captains in 1956. In 2002, both Jarret Johnson and Tyler Watts were second-year leaders, while Antoine Caldwell and Rashad Johnson repeated in 2008.
HIGHTOWER RETURNS: Junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower returns for his fourth season at the Capstone as the man in the middle of Alabama’s complex defensive scheme. Hightower received a medical redshirt for the 2009 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the fourth game of the season against Arkansas. An amazingly quick recovery returned him to the practice field with full contact during spring drills. Hightower split time between the Mike and Will linebacker spots in 2010 while also seeing time with his hand in the dirt on passing downs to take advantage of his pass-rushing skills. The Lewisburg, Tenn., native has 158 career tackles with 12.0 tackles for loss and 17 quarterback hurries. Hightower leads the team in 2011 with 25 tackles in four games with a career-best 4.5 tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries.
BARRON RETURNS: Senior safety Mark Barron is one of the most prominent safeties in the nation. The Mobile, Ala., native is a two-time first-team All-SEC player while garnering third-team All-America honors in 2009 and first-team All-America recognition in 2010. He has 175 career tackles and has ranked second and first, respectively, among Crimson Tide players in total stops the past two seasons. Barron has 19 pass breakups over the past three seasons and 11 interceptions. In 2010, Barron was the leader of the Tide secondary. He finished as the Tide’s top tackler 75 stops while missing the bowl game with a torn pectoral muscle. This year, he is second on the team with 22 total stops while recording one interception and two pass breakups.
OFFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT UNDER McELWAIN: Since offensive coordinator Jim McElwain’s arrival in 2008, Alabama has improved each season in points per game, rushing yards and passing yards. The Crimson Tide is currently averaging 12.3 more points per game in 2011 (39.4 ppg) than it did in 2007 (27.1 ppg) and 83.8 more yards per game in total offense.
20 POINTS IN 27 STRAIGHT GAMES: Alabama has scored at least 20 points in 27 straight games dating back to the 2009 Tennessee game The 27-game streak of scoring at least 20 points is the longest in school history. The Tide strung together 16 consecutive games of 20 or more points during the 1973 and 1974 seasons. UA also had 12-game streaks in 1944-46 and 1982-83. During UA’s current 27-game streak, Alabama has outscored its opponents 974-304 for an average score of 36.1-11.3 Alabama has also posted 18 games of at least 30 points in the streak as well as nine games of 40-plus points, three games of 50-plus points and two games in the 60s. The Tide has actually scored at least 20 points in 34 of its last 35 games and 41 of its last 43 games. Below is a look at the longest stretches of games where the Crimson Tide scored at least 20 points.
MAZE ECLIPSES 100 YARDS RECEIVING: With 106 yards on five catches against Tennessee, on October 22, senior wide receiver Marquis Maze eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark for the second time this season. He tallied his first career 100-yard receiving game in the season opener against Kent State (8 catches, 118 yards).
MAZE MOVES UP CAREER RECEIVING LIST: Senior wide receiver Marquis Maze moved up the career receiving list on the strength of five catches for 106 yards against Tennessee on October 22. Maze is now seventh on the career receiving yards list with 1,699. He passed David Palmer (1991-93), who had 1,611 yards. D.J. Hall (2004-07) holds the record with 2,923 receiving yards. Maze’s 69-yard reception in the first quarter was the longest of the season for Maze and the second longest (80, Arkansas, Sept. 26, 2009) of his career.
BELL HAULS IN FIRST CAREER TOUCHDOWN: Sophomore wide receiver Kenny Bell caught his first career touchdown in the win against Tennessee. Bell’s catch came in the third quarter when he snagged a 39-yard pass from AJ McCarron. Bell became the 13th different player to score for the Tide this season and the fifth different UA receiver to record their first career touchdown this year.
McCARRON THROWS FOR CAREER BEST: Sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron threw for a career-best 284 yards in Alabama’s win over Tennessee. He finished the night 17-of-26 passing with one passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. The sophomore ignited the Tide in the second half, throwing for 162 yards on 9-of-11 passing with two scores. McCarron completed his first eight passes of the second half, going a perfect 7-for-7 in the third quarter.
McCARRON’S STREAK ENDS: Sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron threw his first interception against Tennessee on October 22, after compiling a streak of 152 attempts since his last miscue. It is the third-longest streak in school history. He went six straight games without a pick. Brodie Croyle holds the school record of 190 consecutive passes without an interception with Jay Barker (155) second.
RICHARDSON HONORED BY SEC, AGAIN: Junior running back Trent Richardson earned his second Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week nod on October 17, after a solid performance at Mississippi where he led Alabama with a career-high 183 rushing yards and four touchdowns. His 76-yard touchdown run in the third quarter against the Rebels was also the longest of his career.
SCORING VARIETY: Alabama has found the end zone in a variety of ways in its first four SEC contests this season. The Crimson Tide threw for two touchdowns against Arkansas, rushed for one touchdown and returned a punt and an interception for scores. DeQuan Menzie returned an interception 25 yards for a score, while Marquis Maze returned a punt 83 yards. AJ McCarron tossed two touchdown passes, while Eddie Lacy rushed for a touchdown. At Florida, Trent Richardson rushed for a pair of touchdowns, McCarron and Lacy also tacked on one rushing touchdown apiece, and Courtnew Upshaw returned an interception 45 yards for the score. In the win against Vanderbilt, Alabama had four passing touchdowns from McCarron to DeAndrew White twice and Brad Smelley and Darius Hanks each for one, while Richardson tacked on one rushing TD. Most recently at Mississippi, Richardson accounted for four of the Tide’s seven touchdowns. The remained three touchdowns were collected by Jalston Fowler, who had two rushing, and Brandon Gibson, who caught a 10-yard pass from McCarron.
GIBSON CATCHES FIRST CAREER TOUCHDOWN: Alabama senior wide receiver Brandon Gibson caught his first career touchdown in the win over Mississippi on October 15. Gibson became the 12th different player to score for the Crimson Tide in 2011.
RICHARDSON HAMMERS HIS WAY PAST 100: Junior running back Trent Richardson recorded his sixth straight 100-yard rushing game at Mississippi on October 15, with a career-best 183 yards on 17 carries. The six straight 100-yard outings equaled Shaun Alexander school record of six consecutive during the 1999 season. Alexander had at least 100 yards in his first six games of the season while Richardson has done it in games 2-7 of the 2011 season. Siran Stacy (1989) and Sherman Williams (1993) both had five in a row in 1993. Richardson’s first 100-yard effort came at Happy Valley against No. 23 Penn State, rushing for 111 yards. He followed with a 167-yard, three-touchdown performance against North Texas and a 126-yard effort vs. Arkansas. He totaled 181 yards and two touchdowns at Florida and 107 yards and a score against Vanderbilt. Richardson then set a career-high in rushing yards for the third time this season with 183 yards and a career-best four touchdowns. He also went over the century mark at Tennessee in 2010 (119 yards), vs. Penn State in 2010 (144 yards), vs. Florida International in 2009 (118 yards) and against Texas in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game (2009 season).
RICHARDSON HAVING BIG YEAR: Trent Richardson is in the top seven nationally and leading the Southeastern Conference with 123.62 yards per game and 10th on the Alabama career rushing yard list with 2,440 yards and is 47 yards shy of surpassing Sherman Williams for the No. 9 spot. He is tied for second nationally in scoring at 13.50 points per game. Richardson leads the Crimson Tide with 989 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns (18 total touchdowns). He is the 16th Alabama back to surpass 2,000 yards rushing in a career.
RICHARDSON ON RECORD PACE: Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson has been scoring touchdowns at an alarming rate to start the 2011 season. Through eight games, Richardson has found the end zone 18 times. Richardson opened the year with three touchdowns against Kent State and followed that up with two more at Penn State. Richardson scored three touchdowns for Alabama against North Texas and added another against Arkansas. With the two scores against Florida, one vs. Vanderbilt, a career-best four at Mississippi and a pair against Tennessee, Richardson pushes his career total to 31 touchdowns on the ground and 37 overall. The 37 touchdowns (31 rush, 5 rec., 1 ret.) ranks fifth, one behind Johnny Musso on the Alabama career list. Shaun Alexander is the all-time leader at Alabama with 50 career touchdowns with Mark Ingram second with 46.
RICHARDSON SETS CAREER BEST: Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson has set his career high in rushing three times this season. He first went for 167 yards on 11 carries against North Texas, breaking his previous best of 144 vs. Penn State in 2010. He then rushed for 181 yards on a career-high 29 carries in a win at No. 12 Florida. The 181 yards is the most by an Alabama back against Florida in the series history, surpassing Billy Jackson’s 147 yards against the Gators in 1978. Richardson then accomplished the feat for a third time with 183 yards on just 17 carries (10.76 ypc) at Mississippi with a career-high four touchdowns.
RICHARDSON VS. THE TOP 25: Trent Richardson has excelled against the nation’s best competition in the 2011 season. He has faced three top-25 teams in five games and is averaging 139.3 rushing yards per game against the likes of then-No. 23 Penn State (111 yards), then-No. 14 Arkansas (126 yards) and then-No. 12 Florida (181 yards). Richardson also netted 131 yards receiving on 10 receptions against top-25 competition this year. He has four rushing and one receiving touchdowns in those games with 549 yards of total offense.
BALL SECURITY: Junior running back Trent Richardson has continued a pattern of Alabama running backs holding onto the football. Holding the ball high and tight is a principle of running backs coach Burton Burns that has been highly successful during his five years at Alabama. Richardson has lost just one fumble in 487 career touches. His only lost fumble came in the sixth game of his freshman season (2009), losing the ball at the end of a seven-yard run in Oxford against Mississippi. Richardson has not lost a fumble in 423 touches, which spans a portion of the last three seasons. In fact, Alabama’s rotation of its top-two running backs (Ingram/Richardson, 2009-10; Richardson/Lacy, 2011) has lost just three fumbles dating back to the start of the 2009 season, a span of 1,033 touches. If you go back to the start of Coach Burn’s tenure at the Capstone, the Crimson Tide’s main tandem of running backs has lost just seven fumbles in five years.
IMPRESSIVE GROUND ATTACK: Alabama has now scored 27 rushing touchdowns this season ranking the Crimson Tide tied for second nationally and first in the Southeastern Conference in that category. Alabama has scored 37 touchdowns this season total.
AJ CONSISTENT AND EFFICIENT AT QB: Alabama sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron has shown excellent decision making after the first eight games of the 2011 season. The native of Mobile, Ala., has connected on 134-of-200 passing (67.00 percent) for 1,664 yards and 10 touchdowns. McCarron has started all eight of Alabama’s contests this season at quarterback. He ranks 20th nationally and second in the SEC with a 150.39 passing efficiency rating.
ALABAMA AERIAL ATTTACK: Alabama went to the air against Vanderbilt with sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron leading the charge with a career-best game. McCarron completed a career-high 23 passes on a career-best 30 attempts. He also tossed a career high in touchdowns with four. Senior wide receiver Marquis Maze caught a career-best nine balls for 93 yards. Sophomore DeAndrew White also tallied a career-high in touchdowns (2) and yards (52).
McCARRON TOSSES 4 TDs IN A GAME: Sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron threw four touchdowns against Vanderbilt. The four touchdowns in a single game ties Mike Shula (Memphis State, Oct. 26, 1985) and John Parker Wilson (Arkansas, Sept. 15, 2007) for the second most in school history. Gary Hollingsworth threw a school-record five touchdowns at Mississippi on Nov. 4, 1989.
THREE ROAD STARTS = THREE ROAD WINS: Making only his second-career start at quarterback, AJ McCarron recorded his first road win and it came at one of the most intimidating venues in college football – Beaver Stadium – against one of the most tradition-rich programs – Penn State. McCarron’s initial success on the road followed the footsteps of his predecessor, Greg McElroy, who defeated No. 7 Virginia Tech 34-24 in his first start away from home at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in 2009. McElroy then won his first true road contest at Kentucky later that season, 38-20. McElroy finished his career 11-2 away from Tuscaloosa (includes neutral site games). McCarron also joined McElroy in registering a win over Arkansas in his first SEC start. On October 1, McCarron went into another hostile environment in his first SEC road contest where he guided the Tide to a 38-10 victory at Florida. Most recently, McCarron directed Alabama to a 52-7 decision at Mississippi.
SMELLEY, WHITE GRAB FIRST CAREER TOUCHDOWNS: Senior tight end Brad Smelley hauled in his first career touchdown when he caught an AJ McCarron pass for six yards for the first score of the game in the first quarter against Vanderbilt on October 8. Redshirt freshman receiver DeAndrew White also caught his first career touchdown when he snared a high pass at the back of the end zone late in the second quarter against the Commodores, before catching another in the third quarter. Smelley and White became the ninth and 10th players, respectively, to score this season. Senior Darius Hanks also joined the action against Vanderbilt, recording his first touchdown of the season to become the 11th different player to score in 2011.
MAZE SETS CAREER HIGHS: Alabama senior wide receiver Marquis Maze tallied a career-high nine catches against Vanderbilt. The nine catches were the most by an Alabama player since Julio Jones caught 10 passes against Auburn (Nov. 26, 2010).
Maze Nominated for GEICO Play of the Year: Senior Marquis Maze’s 83-yard punt return against Arkansas on September 24, earned a nomination for the GEICO Play of the Year. The punt return for a touchdown was the first of his career and the longest return of his career. The punt return was the first for a touchdown for Alabama since Javier Arenas found the end zone against Chattanooga on Nov. 21, 2009. The return also marked the 10th longest return for a touchdown in Alabama history.
JONES AND RICHARDSON HONORED BY THE SEC: Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson and junior offensive lineman Barrett Jones were named SEC Offensive Player of the Week and SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week, respectively, following the Crimson Tide’s 38-14 victory over Arkansas on September 24. Richardson rushed for a game-high 126 yards on 17 carries, marking his third-straight 100-yard game, and also caught three passes for a game-best 85 yards. Jones received the highest grade on the Alabama offensive line and helped lead a balanced Tide attack that led to 197 rushing yards and 200 passing yards.
Darius Hanks RETURNS: Alabama senior wide receiver Darius Hanks returned to the field on September 17, for the first time this season after sitting out two games in compliance with the NCAA redshirt rule. In 2011, he has 18 receptions for 230 yards.
MAZE MAKES A STATEMENT: Senior wide receiver/return specialist Marquis Maze is one of the key components in replacing All-America wide receiver Julio Jones, and Maze has shown his ability. The senior enjoyed a big day in the season opener against Kent State, setting personal single-game bests in receiving and returns. For the game, Maze returned eight punts for 96 yards (12-yard average), returned a kickoff for 39 yards, and caught eight passes for 118 yards for a total of 253 all-purpose yards. The receiving yard total is a single-game high for Maze at Alabama, exceeding his prior high of 96 yards against Florida in 2009. On the season, Maze leads the Crimson Tide in receptions with 39 for 482 yards (12.4 yard average) and one touchdown. He also has 26 punt returns for 338 yards, with an average of 13.0 yards per return, ranking 11th nationally.
Barrett Jones DOES IT ALL ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE: Junior All-American Barrett Jones has started at right guard the past two seasons, but added a few responsibilities to his résumé this spring and fall. He started all four games this season at left tackle and has also seen snaps at left guard, right tackle and center. A candidate for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award, Jones has now started 33 games at the Capstone.
O-LINE EXPERIENCE A KEY: Alabama has one of the most experienced offensive lines in the nation. The Crimson Tide return four starters from last year’s unit and a combined 115 careers starts. Center William Vlachos leads the line with 35 career starts, making every start dating back to the 2009 season opener. Tackle/guard Barrett Jones is close behind with 33 starts, missing only two games late last season (Georgia State & Auburn) with a sprained ankle. Chance Warmack has started the last 21 games at left guard and D.J. Fluker started 17 games at right tackle. Anthony Steen is the newcomer to the group with nine starts.
100-YARD RUSHERS AND RECEIVERS: Thirty-four times in 31 different games Alabama has had rushers exceed 100 yards, and the Tide has had 15 100-yard receivers in 15 games since head coach Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. Former running back Mark Ingram recorded 12 100-yard rushing games during his career, while junior Trent Richardson has 10 100-yard rushing efforts, sophomore Eddie Lacy with two and sophomore Jalston Fowler with one. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 30-1 in those 31 games that produced a 100-yard rusher. Marquis Maze (2) and Trent Richardson (1) are the only current players with a 100-yard receiving game. The Tennessee game on Oct. 23, 2010, marked the sixth time under Saban that Alabama has had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game.
Special Teams Notes
MAZE RETURNS KICKOFF for 70 YARDS At florida: Alabama senior wide receiver and return specialist Marquis Maze had another stellar special teams performance in the Crimson Tide’s 38-10 win at Florida on October 8. Towards the end of the first quarter, Maze returned a kickoff for 70 yards, his longest kickoff return of the season, setting up an Alabama touchdown to tie the game at 10-10. Maze leads the team with an average of 29.8 yards per kick return.
MAZE’s 83-YARD PUNT RETURN FOR A TD: Alabama senior wide receiver and return specialist Marquis Maze took the first Crimson Tide opportunity of the second half against Arkansas for a touchdown on an 83-yard punt return. The punt return for a touchdown is the first of his career and the longest return of his career. The punt return was the first for a touchdown for Alabama since Javier Arenas found the end zone against Chattanooga on Nov. 21, 2009. The return also marked the 10th longest return for a touchdown in Alabama history.
MAZE SETS PUNT RETURN mark: Alabama senior wide receiver and return specialist Marquis Maze totaled a career-best 253 all-purpose yards vs. Kent State while also leading all receivers with 118 yards on a career-best eight catches. But he etched his name in the Alabama record book with a game-high tying eight punt returns for 96 yards. The 96 yards was also the seventh-most in a single game in UA history. Maze also added one kickoff return for 39 yards.
37 NATIONAL TV GAMES IN LAST 47 GAMES: Alabama’s contest against Tennessee on October 22, marked the 37th nationally-televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. In 2010, Alabama had five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, two games on ESPN2, one on ABC and one on ESPNU. In 2009, UA played two games on ABC, including the BCS National Championship Game, and six games on CBS while ESPN broadcast two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcast nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.
TIDE 45-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 45-3 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban. Alabama had a 28-game winning streak snapped in 2010 against LSU. The first two losses came against LSU with the last loss to Auburn in 2010. In 2007, UA held a 20-17 halftime lead before losing, 41-34, on Nov. 3, 2007, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In 2010, UA led 10-3 at the half before the Tigers rallied for a 24-20 win at Tiger Stadium. The Tide lost 28-27 to Auburn to close out the 2010 season after leading 24-7 at the half. The Crimson Tide is 3-5 under Saban when trailing at halftime and 2-2 when tied at halftime. The three wins when trailing at the half came in a 34-24 win over No. 7 Virginia Tech on Sept. 5, 2009, in Atlanta; a 24-15 victory over No. 9 LSU on Nov. 7, 2009; and a 24-20 win at Arkansas on Sept. 25, 2010 . Alabama’s three wins when tied at halftime came at LSU on Nov. 8, 2008, (a 27-21 victory), at Auburn with a 26-21 win on Nov. 27, 2009 and against Tennessee on Oct. 22, 2011 (37-6 victory).
HUGE CROWDS: On September 10, at Penn State, Alabama played before the largest crowd ever to witness a Crimson Tide football game as 107,846 fans packed Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. The Crimson Tide has played in nine games away from home that saw the attendance figure eclipse 100,000, with all but Saturday’s game being played at Neyland Stadium against Tennessee.
FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Alabama’s 2010 freshman class did more than just excel on the football field, the Crimson Tide placed 11 rookies on the 2011 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll, by far the highest total in the SEC - more than double the second-place team. Mississippi State was second with five, while Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee each had four. Florida and Georgia placed three representatives on the list apiece, and Arkansas, LSU and Vanderbilt all had two members of the honor roll, respectively. Mississippi rounded out the list with one. Alabama freshmen that made the list include: Cade Foster, Jalston Fowler, Corey Grant, Adrian Hubbard, Harrison Jones, Arie Kouandjio, C.J. Mosley, Nick Perry, Brian Vogler, DeAndrew White and Jay Williams. The 2009 freshman class was equally impressive placing 12 on the list, which again was more than double the next-highest SEC institution.
TOP AIDES: Alabama’s coaching staff was ranked No. 1 in the Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com Top 10 Football Coaching Staffs list. Following the Tide was Oklahoma, TCU, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Iowa, South Carolina, Penn State, Boise State and Wisconsin. Alabama’s leadership on the sidelines and in the booth has a wealth of knowledge across all levels of football. The nine-man staff features a former head coach at the Bowl Subdivision level in Bobby Williams (Michigan State). The staff also has five coaches that have spent time as assistant coaches in the NFL in Mike Groh (Jets), Jim McElwain (Raiders), Kirby Smart (Dolphins), Sal Sunseri (Panthers) and Bobby Williams (Lions and Dolphins).
CRIMSON TIDE PLAYERS ON NFL ROSTERS: The Alabama football program is well represented in the NFL as it starts the 2011 season with former players and coaches dotting league rosters. The Tide has 38 former players and coaches working in the NFL this season. Charlie Peprah is the only Alabama player on the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. The Crimson Tide has 25 current NFL players. There are 13 former UA players and/or coaches serving as assistant coaches in the NFL this season.
ALABAMA’S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 188-125-4 (.597) all-time record in 316 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts.
OVERTIME RECORD: Alabama is 4-7 (.364) all-time in overtime games. In its last overtime game, the Crimson Tide defeated LSU 27-21 at Tiger Stadium on Nov. 8, 2008. Alabama has lost six of its last nine overtime games. The Crimson Tide is 4-6 (.400) in overtime games against SEC teams. Alabama is 2-4 (.333) in overtime home games. The Crimson Tide is 3-4 (.429) in single-overtime games.
NICK’S KIDS: At Michigan State, head coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, started the Nick’s Kids Foundation, which the Sabans have continued in Tuscaloosa. Since their arrival at the University of Alabama, the Sabans have helped raise more than $2 million for “Nick’s Kids” that has been distributed to more than 150 charities and organizations throughout the state of Alabama.