Alabama Football: Defensive Notebook The Crimson Tide defense is second in the SEC in turnover margin and fourth in rushing defense heading into Saturday's non-conference game with UL Monroe. Junior Rashad Johnson leads the SEC and ranks third nationally with six interceptions this seas
The Crimson Tide returns 24 lettermen and only five starters off last year’s squad.
The 24 lettermen combined for 92 career starts entering the 2007 season opener.
The Tide has used 14 different starters on defense this season.
Five defensive players -- Marcus Carter, Simeon Castille, Wallace Gilberry, Rashad Johnson and Lorenzo Washington -- have started all 10 games.
Two of the top tacklers on defense are true freshmen. Linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive back Kareem Jackson have combined for 105 tackles in nine games.
McClain is third on the team with 54 stops, while Jackson is fifth with 51 tackles.
The Tide ranks fourth in the league in rushing defense (125.3) and scoring defense (22.4), eighth in total defense (353.0) and ninth in pass defense (227.7).
Alabama is second in the SEC and 15th nationally in turnover margin this season at +0.80 per game. The Tide has forced 21 turnovers in 10 games, an average of 2.1 per game.
Alabama has recorded 14 sacks in its last five games, compared to four sacks in the first five games.
UA opponents have been penalized 33 times for 286 yards in the last three games, an average of 11 penalties and 95.3 yards per game.
Mississippi State was penalized eight times for 75 yards on Nov. 10.
LSU was flagged 14 times for 130 yards on Nov. 3. The 130 penalty yards were the most by an Alabama opponent since Southern Miss had 109 penalty yards on Oct. 10, 2005.
Tennessee was penalized 11 times for 81 yards in the 41-17 loss to Alabama.
Alabama has had 16 first downs by penalty in its last three games, including six each against Tennessee and LSU.
The Crimson Tide allowed only 16 points in its first two games this season and did not allow a touchdown in the first seven quarters of the season.
The 16 points were the fewest points allowed in the first two games of the season since 1989. The Crimson Tide allowed only 10 points in back-to-back games to Memphis State (35-7) and Kentucky (15-3) in 1989.
The Crimson Tide has held four of its six opponents to less than 100 yards rushing. Western Carolina (76), Vanderbilt (57), Florida State (82) and LSU (89) all rushed for less than 100 yards against Alabama.
The Crimson Tide held Western Carolina to six points in the season opener, the lowest point total by an opponent on opening day since a 41-3 win over Temple on September 7, 1991.
Alabama’s defense held Vanderbilt’s All-SEC wide receiver Earl Bennett to four catches for 53 yards in the Tide’s 24-10 win at Nashville on Sept. 8.
The Crimson Tide also held Vandy quarterback Chris Nickson in check. The junior completed only 5 of 18 passes for 67 yards and threw one interception. He added three rushing attempts for minus-seven yards before being benched in the third quarter.
Alabama held Mississippi State to 215 yards of total offense on Nov. 10, its best defensive effort of the season. The previous low was 232 yards by Vanderbilt on Sept. 8.
Arkansas ran for season-high 301 yards (53 attempts) against the Tide defense.
Arkansas and Georgia (153 yards) rushed for 453 yards in back-to-back games against UA.
Arkansas had 450 total yards in the loss to Alabama, which is the most against UA this season.
Houston is the only team to have a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver against the Tide this season.
Alabama recorded a season-high five sacks in the win over Houston. The Tide had only five sacks in the first five games of the season.
The five sacks against Houston were the most by the Crimson Tide since recording five sacks against Middle Tennessee in the 2005 season opener.
The Crimson Tide defense shut out Tennessee in the second half on Oct. 20.
LSU passed for a season-high 388 yards against Alabama on Nov. 3. Matt Flynn was 24 of 44 for 353 yards and three TDs in the win over the Tide.
Mississippi State completed only nine passes for 100 yards against Alabama on Nov. 10. Both were season-bests by the Tide defense
The defensive line is thin on experience as evidenced by the fact that four freshmen have seen action up front this season.
Alabama’s defense has a three-man front, led by senior defensive end Wallace Gilberry (Bay Minette, Ala.). Gilberry will play his 48th career game for the Crimson Tide this Saturday against ULM.
He is the Tide’s second-leading tackler this season with 59 stops.
He also leads UA with eight sacks, 12 quarterback pressures and 18 tackles for loss.
He has 13 TFLs in his last five games for the Tide.
Gilberry had a career-high three sacks against No. 3 LSU, including back-to-back plays in the second quarter.
He had 18 tackles, four sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in wins over Houston and Ole Miss.
In 47 career games, Gilberry has 167 tackles, 19.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss. He has also added four five forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered and three pass breakups.
Gilberry was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the week following his performance against Houston on Oct. 6. He had 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two quarterback pressures in the win.
He added a career-high four quarterback pressures in the Tide’s win at Vanderbilt on Sept. 8.
Sophomore Brandon Deaderick (Elizabethtown, Ky.) starts at the other defensive end position.
He has played in all 10 games and started the last five games. In 10 games, he has 16 tackles, including two sacks.
He recorded a season-high four tackles against Florida State (Sept. 29) and added two tackles, one sack (-7) and one pressure against Houston (Oct. 6).
Junior Bobby Greenwood (Prattville, Ala.) and redshirt freshman Milton Talbert (Hattiesburg, Miss.) have also seen action on the defensive line.
Greenwood has played nine games this season and started the first five games before an injury. He has played as backup the last four games.
He has 17 tackles, including four stops behind the line this season.
Greenwood has played 33 games and logged 59 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 7 sacks in his three-year career.
He had a season-high four tackles in the win over Arkansas.
Sophomore Lorenzo Washington (Logansville, Ga.) has started all 10 games at nose guard. He has 29 tackles, three TFLs and two sacks this season.
He had a career-high five tackles in the loss to LSU on Nov. 3.
He made his first career start against Western Carolina (Sept. 1) and first SEC start at Vanderbilt (Sept. 8).
Redshirt freshman Brian Motley (Autaugaville, Ala.) has played the last six games as Washington’s backup. He missed the first four games of the season with a fractured ankle he suffered on Aug. 27.
He has seven tackles and one TFL this season. He had two tackles each against Florida State and Ole Miss.
True freshmen Josh Chapman (Hoover, Ala.) and Alfred McCullough (Athens, Ala.) have also seen action at nose guard.
The linebackers returned only one starter from last year’s squad.
Junior Ezekial Knight (Wedowee, Ala.) and true freshmen Chavis Williams (Dora, Ala.) play the “sam” position.
Knight has played in all 10 games and is sixth on the team with 48 tackles.
He has also added 7.5 TFLs, three sacks, three pass breakups, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He began his career as a wide receiver before switching to defense in 2006.
He made his first career start at linebacker against Vanderbilt (5 tackles) on Sept. 8.
Knight had a career-high nine tackles in the loss to Florida State (Sept. 29), with two TFLs (-9) and one sack (-6) against the Seminoles.
He recorded his first career interception at Ole Miss on Oct. 13 and his 28-yard return set up the Tide’s game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter.
He added his second career interception at No. 3 LSU which led to a second-quarter field goal.
Williams has two tackles in six games this season.
True freshmen Rolando McClain (Decatur) and sophomore Prince Hall (Riverside, Calif.) share duties at the “mike” linebacker position.
McClain has played in all 10 games with seven starts and is making a name for himself around the SEC.
The true freshman is third on the team with 54 tackles. He has added 4 1/2 TFLs, two pass breakups and one sack.
McClain led UA in tackles in three of the first five games, including a career-high 11 tackles against Georgia on Sept. 22. He also had nine tackles against FSU on Sept. 29.
Hall is the lone returning starting linebacker. He earned Freshman All-American honors in 2006 and finished the season with 77 tackles and led the Tide with 10 1/2 tackles for loss last season.
In nine games, he has 47 tackles, one interception and one pass breakup.
He made his first start of the 2007 season against Georgia on Sept. 22, subbing for the injured Darren Mustin.
He responded with a game-high 12 tackles, one shy of his career high at UA. He had 13 tackles in a loss to Mississippi State in 2006.
Hall recorded his first career interception against FSU on Sept. 29.
In 22 games, he has 121 tackles, 10 1/2 TFLs, two sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
Seniors Darren Mustin (Brentwood, Tenn.), Demarcus Waldrop (Pinson) and Marcel Stamps (Brantley, Ala.) all man the “will” linebacker position.
Mustin has started nine games this season. He missed the Georgia game with an injury.
He is fourth on the team with 51 tackles. He has added four TFLs, one sack and one interception.
He recorded a season-high eight tackles in the Tide’s 41-17 win over Tennessee on Oct. 20.
His only career interception came against Arkansas on Sept. 15 and set up and Alabama touchdown with a first-and-goal a the Arkansas 9-yard line.
He recorded his first career sack (-6) against Houston on Oct. 6.
Waldrop has never missed a game in his UA career and will look to play his 48th career game against ULM.
Waldrop has 12 tackles and one forced fumble in 10 games.
He had two tackles and recovered an on-side kick on the opening kickoff to earn Alabama Special Teams Player of the Game honors against Tennessee on Oct. 20.
In 47 games, he has 71 career tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two pass breakups and one pressure.
Senior Keith Saunders (Willingboro, N.J.) and sophomore Brandon Fanney (Morristown, Tenn.) man the “jack” linebacker position.
Saunders, who played defensive end last season, made the move to linebacker this season. He has 28 tackles in 10 games, including a season-high 10 tackles in the win over Arkansas.
Overall, Saunders has 53 tackles, 4 1/2 TFLs and two sacks in 39 career games for the Tide.
Fanney has played eight games and logged seven tackles this season, including five in the season opener against Western Carolina.
The Alabama secondary returned the most experience among the UA defenders, with two seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup.
Senior Simeon Castille (Birmingham) is the starting left corner back. He has played in 45 career games, second only to Gilberry and Waldrop among UA defenders.
He was a First-Team All-SEC selection last season and a preseason First-Team All-SEC honoree this year.
In 10 games this season, Castille is sixth on the team with 48 tackles. He leads the team with eight pass breakups.
In his four-year career, Castille has recorded 161 career tackles to lead all UA defenders. He has added 31 pass breakups and 12 interceptions to also lead the Tide.
He recorded his first interception of the season against Houston (Oct. 6) when he picked off Case Keenum’s pass in the end zone on the game’s final play. Castille also had six tackles against the Cougars.
Senior Eric Gray (Trinity, Ala.) and sophomore Marquis Johnson (Sarasota, Fla.) and serve as Castille’s backups.
Gray has two tackles in eight games this season.
Johnson had four tackles, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery in seven games this season. He has missed the last three games while serving a University suspension for impermissible receipt of textbooks.
True freshman Kareem Jackson (Macon, Ga.) has taken over the starting duties at right cornerback.
Jackson has played 10 games and made nine starts. He is the Tide’s fourth-leading tackler with 51 stops. He has also added four pass breakups, three interceptions, one forced fumble and one blocked kick.
He has three interceptions on the season, including two against Tennessee on Oct. 20.
He had eight tackles against Florida State (Sept. 29) and Houston (Oct. 6).
Jackson turned in a season-high nine tackles in the win at Ole Miss on Oct. 13.
He was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for his performance against Tennessee on Oct. 20. In the win over the Vols, Jackson had six tackles, two interceptions and two pass break ups.
He added his third interception of the season (51-yard return) and one blocked field goal against No. 3 LSU. His interception set up a touchdown that gave the Tide a 20-17 lead in the second quarter.
Jackson preserved that lead when he blocked Colt David’s field goal attempt on the last play of the first half.
Junior Lionel Mitchell (Stone Mountain, Ga.) has played in eight games, with seven starts.
He has 25 tackles in seven games. He also has one interception and one pass break up.
He has recorded 52 tackles and four interceptions in 22 career games. Mitchell had four interceptions (TD) and 131 interception return yards in 2006, which ranks fourth all-time at UA.
Senior Marcus Carter (Ft. Payne, Ala.) is the Tide’s starting strong safety. Like Castille, Carter also has a wealth of experience and will play in his 46th against ULM.
In 10 games, Carter has 44 tackles, including 1.5 TFLs. He had a career high six tackles against Arkansas on Sept. 15.
In 45 career games, Carter has 79 tackles and 2.5 TFLs.
He is backed up by sophomores Ali Sharrief (Stevenson, Ala.) and Chris Rogers (Lakeland), and both are also prominent special teams players.
Sharrief has 18 tackles in 10 games.
Junior Rashad Johnson (Sulligent, Ala.) is the starter at free safety. He leads Alabama with 69 tackles and six interceptions through 10 games.
Johnson leads the SEC and ranks third nationally with six interceptions and 0.6 interceptions per game.
He has an interception in four of his last five games.
Johnson has also added six pass breakups, five TFLs, one sack and one forced fumble.
He had a career-high nine tackles against Houston (Oct. 6), Ole Miss (Oct. 13) and LSU (Nov. 3).
Johnson added eight tackles against Western Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia.
He has 110 tackles in 33 career games for the Tide. He has also added 6.5 TFLs, six interceptions, six pass breakups and four forced fumbles.
Sophomore Javier Arenas (Tampa, Fla.) is Johnson’s backup. Arenas has played in all 10 games and has 18 tackles and one TFL.
He made his first career start as nickel back against No. 3 LSU and had a career-high four tackles and his first career TFL.