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ALABAMA FOOTBALL: Defensive Notebook



Nov. 5, 2008


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama senior safety Rashad Johnson had one of his better games last week against Arkansas State, tying his career-high with 13 tackles and scoring on a 32-yard interception return. The Sulligent, Ala., earned an ESPN helmet sticker for his performance and the Tide coaching staff named him player of the week on defense and special teams.

HELMET STICKER FOR JOHNSON: Rashad Johnson made Homecoming 2008 one he will remember forever. The senior from Sulligent, Ala., matched his career high with 13 tackles and found the end zone for the first time in his career with a 32-yard interception return. He also registered a career-best 2.5 tackles for loss and broke up his team-high 10th pass of the season.'s Chris Low gave Johnson a helmet sticker for his efforts. Below is what Low had to say about the Tide's free safety.

"Most of the defensive pub this season has gone to nose tackle Terrence Cody and middle linebacker Rolando McClain, but Johnson has been Mr. Steady in the secondary and is also one of the strongest leaders on the team. His 32-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter highlighted another defensive gem by Alabama in its 35-0 win over Arkansas State. The Crimson Tide held the Red Wolves to 158 total yards and sacked quarterback Corey Leonard four times. In its last three games, the Alabama defense has allowed just three touchdowns."

JOHNSON'S INTERCEPTION RETURN TD IS TIDE'S 4TH DEFENSIVE TD THIS SEASON: Safety Rashad Johnson returned his interception of an Arkansas State pass 32 yards for a touchdown with 8:54 remaining in the second quarter. With that touchdown, the Alabama defense has scored four touchdowns this season, including interception returns by Javier Arenas and Justin Woodall at Arkansas (Sept. 20) and a fumble return by Rolando McClain against Kentucky (Oct. 4).

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 40 quarters of football. The UA defense is allowing just 65.6 yards rushing per game and 12.22 points. Ohio State, Northern Illinois, Vanderbilt, Auburn and Clemson are close behind, surrendering just four rushing touchdowns this season.

2008 Fewest Rushing TDs Allowed
2. Ohio State 4
  Northern Illinois 4
  Vanderbilt 4
  Auburn 4
  Clemson 4
7. Texas 5
  USC 5
  Louisville 5
  Tennessee 5
  New Mexico 5
  Minnesota 5

TIDE 2ND NATIONALLY IN RUSHING DEFENSE: The Crimson Tide ranks second nationally in rushing defense eight games into the 2008 season. Alabama opponents have 227 rushing attempts for 590 yards, an average of 65.6 yards per game and 2.60 yards per attempt this season. The top five teams in the nation in terms of rushing defense are No. 1 TCU (38.9), Alabama (65.6 ypg), No. 4 Nevada (69.5 ypg), No. 4 Texas (73.2) and No. 5 Southern California (84.1 ypg). The Crimson Tide defense opened the season in impressive fashion by holding Clemson to zero rushing yards. 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, 36 yards on 21 carries at Tennessee and 91 yards on 37 attempts to Arkansas State.

STOPPING THE RUN: Alabama is 11-2 under Coach Nick Saban when holding opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in a game, including an 8-0 mark in 2008. The Crimson Tide held Clemson (0), Tulane (86), Western Kentucky (42), Arkansas (92), Georgia (50), Kentucky (35), Tennessee (36) and Arkansas State (91) to less than 100 rushing yards in eight of the first nine games of the season. Going back to 2007, the Tide has held nine of their last 10 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 22-game tenure at Alabama, the Tide has held its opponent under 100 yards rushing 13 times.

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 nine 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 112.5 yards per game this season and was held to 93 yards below their season average by Alabama. Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno averages 110.0 yards per game this season, but managed only 34 yards (76 below season average) on nine carries in the loss to Alabama. Arkansas freshman Michael Smith averages 123.4 yards per game this season and managed 91 yards (32 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 Avg. vs. UA Difference
ClemsonJames Davis59.813-47
 C.J. Spiller52.77-46
TulaneAndre Anderson123.432-91
W. KentuckyTyrell Hayden38.69-29
ArkansasMichael Smith123.491-32
GeorgiaKnowshon Moreno110.034-76
KentuckyDerrick Locke43.328-15
MississippiCordera Eason48.86-43
TennesseeArian Foster51.921-31
Arkansas St. Reggie Arnold78.472-6
 Derek Lawson72.124-48

UA AMONG DEFENSIVE LEADERS: Alabama is in the top 15 nationally in four defensive categories after nine games this season. The Crimson Tide ranks fourth nationally in total defense, allowing just 251.4 yards per game. The rushing defense is second in the country, giving up just 65.56 yards per contest, while the scoring defense ranks sixth nationally, allowing just 12.22 points per game, which is second in the SEC (Florida, 11.63). Finally, the pass efficiency defense comes in at No. 14 this week, allowing an efficiency rating of just 101.40 to opposing quarterbacks.