Wednesday Notebook: Defense and Special Teams

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Nov. 11, 2009

McCLAIN HEART AND SOUL OF TIDE DEFENSE: Junior middle linebacker Rolando McClain has proven to be the heart and soul of the Tide’s defense and one of the top linebackers in the country. He not only leads the team in tackles with 66, but is the on-field coach for the Tide defense.  McClain is responsible for making all of the defensive calls and is especially proficient at checking the Crimson Tide into the correct play. The remainder of his stat line reads: 7.0 tackles for loss (-28 yards), 2.0 sacks (-19 yards), two interceptions (21 return yards), one pass breakup, eight quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. McClain’s play has garnered him extensive national recognition. He was the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week after his performance against Kentucky. McClain has also been named a midseason All-American by The Sporting News and selected as a semifinalist for the Lombardi and Butkus Awards as well as the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the best defensive player in the nation.

AIR DEFENSE: Alabama’s defense has smothered almost every aspect of opponent offense in 2009, and while a lot of the attention goes to the Tide’s suffocating rushing defense, Alabama has also limited some very dangerous passing attacks. The Tide boasts the nation’s No. 4 overall defense, allowing just 242.22 yards per game, but Alabama also ranks third in the country in pass efficiency defense, surrendering a 90.43 opponent passer rating. The Tide is tied for 16th in interceptions (12) and ranks 17th in pass defense (174.00 ypg). The Tide limited Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor to just 45 percent passing, 91 yards and an 82.22 passer rating. Arkansas’ Ryan Mallet, who is 12th nationally in passing yards, managed a 34.29 completion percentage and a 76.40 passer rating. Mississippi’s Jevan Snead completed only 32.35 percent of his passes vs. Alabama and threw four interceptions for a 43.41 passer rating while South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia connected on 43.5 percent of his passes with an interception and no touchdowns. LSU quarterbacks completed just 51.9 percent of their passes and threw on interceptions.  

Opposing Quarterbacks vs. Alabama
                                                C-A-Yds     Comp Pct. TD-INT     QB Rating 
Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech            9-20-91     45.00       0-0          83.22
Paul McCall, Florida International  16-32-189   50.00       1-0          109.93
Nathan Tune, North Texas            16-23-126  69.56       1-0          129.93
Ryan Mallett, Arkansas                12-35-160   34.29       1-1          76.40
Mike Hartline, Kentucky                17-31-168  54.84       1-3          91.65
Jevan Snead, Mississippi              11-34-140  32.35       0-4          43.41
Stephen Garcia, South Carolina     20-46-214  43.48       0-1          78.21
Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee    21-36-265  58.33       1-1          123.78
J. Jefferson/J. Lee, LSU                14-27-158  51.85       1-1          105.82

TIFFIN BECOMES UA’S CAREER SCORING LEADER: Alabama senior placekicker Leigh Tiffin became Alabama’s career scoring leader on Nov. 7 with 10 points vs. LSU. He now has 347 career points passing Phillip Doyle, who had 345 points in his Alabama career. Tiffin passed his father; Van (312), for third place on the Tide’s all-time in the career list earlier this season and then passed Michael Proctor (325) vs. Tennessee. He is sixth on the SEC’s career scoring chart, just six points behind Georgia’s Kevin Butler (253, 1981-84) for fifth place.

TIFFIN NO. 2 ON UA’S CAREER FIELD GOALS LIST: Tiffin keeps inching closer to the Alabama career field goals made record. He converted three field goals against Tennessee to give him 76 for his career, which is second all-time at Alabama. Tiffin has connected on multiple field goals in four straight games and is 14 for 15 during those four games. He surpassed his father, Van Tiffin (59 from 1983-86) earlier this season against North Texas and then moved past Michael Proctor vs. Mississippi. Tiffin’s 76 field goals leaves him just two shy of the school record held by Philip Doyle (78 from 1987-90). He is also fourth on the SEC’s career field goals made list, just 11 behind Georgia’s Billy Bennett (87).

TIFFIN GARNERS NATIONAL ATTENTION: Tiffin keeps making big field goals and the Crimson Tide keeps winnings. He leads the nation in field goals per game at 2.56 and total field goals with 23, which ranks as the third-most in a single season in school history. Tiffin also ranks sixth nationally and first in the SEC in scoring with 10.44 points per game. His 94 total points is tied for the sixth highest in a single season at Alabama, just 17 points behind his record set in 2007. He has been named a Lou Groza Award “Star of the Week” three times and was a midseason All-American by CBSsports.com. Earlier this week, he was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, which is presented annually to the best kicker in college football.

SEC Career Total Points Scored by Kicking
1.   409— Billy Bennett, Georgia (87 FGs, 148 PATs)   2000-03
2.  371— Jeff Hall, Tennessee (61 FGs, 188 PATs)  1995-98
3.  368— Jeff Chandler, Florida (67 FGs, 167 PATs)  1997-2001
4.  363— Colt David, LSU (201 PATs, 54 FGs)    2005-09
5.  353— Kevin Butler, Georgia (77 FGs, 122 PATs)  1981-84
6.  347— Leigh Tiffin, Alabama (118 PATs, 73 FGs)  2006-
7.  339— Philip Doyle, Alabama (78 FGs, 105 PATs)  1987-90
8.  326— Michael Proctor, Alabama (65 FGs, 131 PATs)  1992-95
9.  325— James Wilhoit, Tennessee (148 PAT, 59 FG, 50 games) 2003-06
10.  317— John Becksvoort, Tennessee (52 FGs, 161 PATs)  1991-94

SEC Career Points Scored
1.  409— Billy Bennett, Georgia (148 PAT, 87 FGs, 50 games) 2000-03
2.  371— Jeff Hall, Tennessee (188 PAT, 61 FGs, 46 games)  1995-98
3.  369— Colt David, LSU (201 PATs, 54 FGs, 1 TD, 52 games )  2005-09
4.  368— Jeff Chandler, Florida (67 FGs, 167 PATs, 46 games) 1997-2001
5.  353— Kevin Butler, Georgia (122 PAT, 77 FGs, 44 games 1981-84
6.  347— Leigh Tiffin, Alabama (118 PATs, 73 FGs, 40 games) 2006-
7.  345— Philip Doyle, Alabama (105 PAT, 78 FGs, 1 TD, 43 games) 1987-90
8.  326— Michael Proctor, Alabama (131 PAT, 65 FGs, 47 games) 1992-95
9.  325— James Wilhoit, Tennessee (148 PAT, 59 FG, 50 games) 2003-06
10.  318— Kevin Faulk, LSU (53 TDs, 41 games)   1995-98

ARENAS NEARING SEC & NCAA PUNT RETURN YARDAGE RECORD: Senior cornerback and return specialist Javier Arenas is quickly sneaking up on the all-time great punt returners in college football history. He has already broken all of the Crimson Tide punt return records, and now has his sights set on the SEC and NCAA records as well. He is the NCAA active leader in career punt returns, yards, touchdowns, returns per game and yards per game. Arenas, who has 1,590 career punt return yards on 112 returns, is just 106 punt return yards away from breaking Lee Nalley’s long-standing SEC record of 1,695 (102 returns for a 14.4 ypr average). Nalley set that record from 1947-49 and it stood for 54 years as the NCAA record until Texas Tech’s Wes Welker broke it in 2003. Welker finished his Tech career with 1,761 punt return yards and Arenas needs 172 yards to break his record and become the NCAA’s all-time leader in punt return yards.

NCAA CAREER PUNT RETURN YARDS
1. 1,761 Wes Welker (Texas Tech) (152 returns)  2000-03
2. 1,695 Lee Nalley (Vanderbilt) (109 returns)  1947-49
3. 1,677 Ryne Robinson (Miami-Ohio) (121 returns)  2003-06 
4. 1,646 David Allen (Kansas State) (103 returns)  1997-2000
5. 1,599 Steve Breaston (Michigan) (127 returns)  2003-06
6. 1,590 Javier Arenas (Alabama) (116 returns)  2006-Present
7. 1,471 Leodis McKelvin (Troy) (112 returns)  2004-07
8. 1,424 Antonio Perkins (Oklahoma) (113 returns)  2001-04 
9. 1,347 Jim Leonhard (Wisconsin) (105 returns)  2001-04
10. 1,333 Greg Myers (Colorado State) (000 returns) 1992-95

SEC CAREER PUNT RETURN YARDS
1. 1,695 Lee Nalley (Vanderbilt) (109 returns)  1947-49
2. 1,590 Javier Arenas (Alabama) (116 returns)  2006-Present
3. 1,332 Tony James (Mississippi State) (121 returns) 1989-92
4. 1,253 Damien Gray (Georgia) (114 returns)  2000-03
5. 1,229 Brandon James (Florida) (104 returns)  2006-Present
6. 1,170 Thomas Bailey (Auburn) (125 returns)  1991-94
7. 1,163 Bobby Majors (Tennessee) (117 returns)  1969-71  
8. 1,142 Junie Hovious (Mississippi) (117 returns)  1938-41
9. 1,126 Domanick Davis (LSU) (94 returns)  1999-02
10 1,119 Harry Gilmer (Alabama) (83 returns)  1944-47