Football Hosts Georgia Southern in Home Finale
Nov. 14, 2011
THE GAME: Alabama hosts its final home game of the season on November 19 against Georgia Southern. It will be the first meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Eagles. Georgia Southern is ranked third in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision with a 9-1 record. The Eagles spent six weeks as the No. 1 team in the FCS, before suffering their only loss at Appalachian State. Kickoff in Bryant-Denny Stadium is set for 1 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on a pay-per-view basis by the Crimson Tide Sports Network. Chris Stewart will call the action with former Alabama quarterback Tyler Watts as the color analyst and Tom Roberts reporting from the sideline. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Roberts serving as sideline reporter.
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 January 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 47-12 record (52-12 not including 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 138-54-1 (143-54-1) 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.
RANKINGS: In the latest polls released on November 13, Alabama moved up one spot in the Associated Press rankings and the USA Today Coaches’ poll, coming in at No. 3. The Crimson Tide is also ranked third in the Harris Poll and the Bowl Championship Series standings. Georgia Southern comes in at No. 3 on the Football Championship Subdivision Top 25.
Georgia Southern SERIES: Saturday’s game marks the first meeting between the Crimson Tide and Eagles.
NEXT GAME: Alabama concludes the 2011 regular season against Auburn with the 76th Iron Bowl on Saturday, November 26, at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Alabama leads the series 40-34-1, but was edged in last season’s meeting, 28-27. The game will be televised on CBS with Verne Lundquist on play-by-play, Gary Danielson as the color analyst and Tracy Wolfson reporting from the sideline.
SENIOR CLASS WINS RECORD: Alabama will be looking to set a new senior class wins record on Saturday against Georgia Southern. The 2011 senior class has won 45 games since the start of the 2008 season and has equaled the mark of the 1994 senior class, which won 45 games (on the field) from 1991-94. The 2011 senior class won 12 games in 2008, 14 games and a national championship in 2009 and 10 games in 2010. The Crimson Tide has captured nine wins in 10 games this season. The 1994 senior class won 11 games in 1991, 13 wins and a national title in 1992, nine games (eight of which were later forfeited by NCAA action) in 1993 and 12 in 1994.
10-WIN SEASONS: Alabama goes in search of its 10th win of the 2011 campaign on Saturday against Georgia Southern. The Crimson Tide has won at least 10 games in each of the past three seasons and will be looking to make it four in a row vs. the Eagles. Alabama will be looking for its 32nd 10-win season in 117 seasons of football. Alabama currently has 31 10-win seasons, ranking second in college football behind Oklahoma, which has reached the 10-win plateau 32 times. Alabama will be looking for its sixth 10-win season since the 2002 season (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010). Alabama head coach Nick Saban is the 11th coach in school history to lead his team to a 10-win season. In addition, Saban is the fifth coach in school history to have more than one 10-win season. Alabama also ranks third nationally in 11-win seasons with 14. Oklahoma also leads that category with 20, while Penn State is second with 15.
ALABAMA UNDER SABAN IN NOVEMBER: In his fifth season at Alabama, head coach Nick Saban has led the Crimson Tide to an 11-7 record in November, with four of those losses coming in 2007. In games played in November, Alabama has outscored its opponents 497-248.
FINISHING STRONG: Alabama has finished games strong this season. The Crimson Tide has outscored its opponents 273-41 in the final three quarters of games this season after holding a 72-30 edge in the first quarter. The disparity has grown wider over the past eight games where Alabama owns a 44-27 scoring edge in the first quarter and a 226-26 edge in the final three quarters. Alabama has outscored its opposition in the second half of the last eight games by a score of 162-20. Alabama held Mississippi State scoreless until the final quarter, while the Tide and and LSU both had three second half points before the Tigers kicked a field goal in overtime to win it. Prior to the LSU game, the Tide had not allowed a point in the second half since the Arkansas game in week four.
14 POINTS OR LESS: Alabama has not allowed an opponent to score more than 14 points during the 2011 season (10 games) and 11 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 7.1 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 (181.4), rushing defense (51.9), pass efficiency defense (84.21) and pass defense (129.5). The last time Alabama held its opponent to 14 points or less for at least 10 straight games was 1975-76 when the Tide did it in 14 straight games. The school record for consecutive games holding an opponent to 14 points or less is 31 from 1960-63. The 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.
IN SEARCH OF HISTORY: The last time a college football team went the entire season without allowing more than 14 points was Oklahoma’s 1974 national championship team. That Oklahoma team went 11-0 that year and strung together 15 straight games of not allowing more than 14 points, encompassing the final two games of the 1973 season and the first two of the 1974 campaign. Alabama has done it 10 times this season and held Michigan State to just seven points in the 2011 Capital One Bowl to close out the 2010 season.
APPLYING PRESSURE: Senior jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw ranks second in the SEC and is tied for 17th nationally with 1.4 tackles for loss per game or 14 for losses of 66 yards. Upshaw is also tied for fourth in the SEC with .65 sacks per game (6.5 for minus-45 yards) while making 35 total tackles with a team-high nine quarterback hurries. He now has 32.5 career tackles for loss (-139 yards) and 14.5 sacks (-86 yards). His 32.5 TFLs ties him with DeMeco Ryans for 11th in school history while his 14.5 sacks ranks him 10th. Alabama is second in the SEC in tackles for loss (7.6 per game) and third in sacks (2.5 per game) while ranking 13th nationally in TFLs. UA has recorded 75 tackles for loss this season (-295 yards) and 23 sacks in 10 games. By comparison, the Crimson Tide had 75 TFLs and 27 sacks in 13 games a year ago.
LONG DRIVES: Alabama is tied for sixth nationally with four drives of 90 yards or longer. California, Georgia Tech, Southern Miss, Texas Tech, and Utah State have had five drives of 90 yards or more, while the Crimson Tide is joined by BYU, Illinois, Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State, Oregon and Central Michigan with four. Arkansas, Baylor, Louisiana Tech and Virginia Tech 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 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, Upshaw Named Finalists for Lombardi Award: Alabama linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw have been selected as finalists for the 42nd Rotary Lombardi Award, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker or interior lineman. Hightower and Upshaw are joined by Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly and Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin as finalists. The selection of two players from the Alabama team marks just the sixth time in the 42-year history of the award there have been two finalists from one team. One of the players from the same school has received the award four of the six times this has occurred. Hightower and Upshaw are the eighth and ninth Crimson Tide players to be named finalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award. They are also the third and fourth Alabama players selected as finalists in the last four years, joining Terrence Cody in 2009 and Andre Smith in 2008. Former All-American linebacker Cornelius Bennett is the only Alabama player to win the Lombardi Award, capturing the honor in 1986.
Richardson A Semifinalist for Doak Walker Award: Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson has been named a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the nation’s top running back. Richardson, a native of Pensacola, Fla., has rushed for 1,078 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Richardson’s selection as a semifinalist is the fourth straight for an Alabama running. Glen Coffee (2008) and Mark Ingram (2009 & 2010) were also semifinalists. Ingram was a finalist in 2009. Members of the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will cast their votes to determine the 2011 finalists. On Monday, November 21, three finalists will be named, and a second vote by the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will determine the recipient. The 2011 Doak Walker Award recipient will be announced live on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, December 8, on ESPN.
JONES, GIBSON & WILLIAMS NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones, wide receiver Brandon Gibson and defensive lineman Jesse Williams were selected to the Capital One Academic All-District IV team. Jones graduated from the University of Alabama in just three years this past August with a degree in accounting and a 4.0 grade point average. He is a three-time first-team All-District IV selection and a two-time Capital One Academic All-American, earning first-team honors in 2010. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in accounting. Gibson, a senior athletically, has already earned his undergraduate degree in public relations and is currently working on a master’s degree in sports administration. He was selected to the 2010 SEC Academic Honor Roll. Williams joined the Tide program in January of this year and quickly made an impact. He has a 3.66 grade point average in financial planning and is on track to graduate on time. He earned an associate’s degree at Western Arizona Community College in December of 2010. Members of the CoSIDA Academic All-District IV Team are eligible for CoSIDA Academic All-America recognition.
HIGHTOWER SELECTED AS LOTT TROPHY SEMIFINALIST: Alabama junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower is one of eight players in the country to be named a Lott IMPACT Trophy semifinalist by the Pacific Club this week. Hightower is the third semifinalist in as many years. Rolando McClain was a finalist in 2009 and Mark Barron was a semifinalist in 2010. Hightower, a native of Lewisburg, Tenn., leads the team with 55 tackles from his spot a mike linebacker. He has six tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks while ranking second on the team with eight quarterback hurries. Hightower has also intercepted one pass and returned it 29 yards while also breaking up two passes. Sponsored by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation in Newport Beach, Calif., the award is given to the player who exhibits the same characteristics Lott embodied during his distinguished career: integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.
Barrett Jones NAMED FINALIST FOR WUERFFEL TROPHY: Junior offensive lineman Barrett Jones has been named a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, given annually to the college football player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement. He has started all nine games for the Crimson Tide this season at left tackle and 34 games overall on the offensive line. He is an integral part of the Tide’s offensive success this season with the Crimson Tide averaging 439.56 yards per game to rank 23rd nationally in total offense and 21st in rushing at 214.44 ypg. He graduated in three years with a 4.0 gpa in accounting and is currently working on his masters degree in accouting. He is a two-time Academic All-American. Jones is also well known in the Tuscaloosa community and beyond for his efforts in the community. He was regularly in the community assisting in clean-up efforts following the April 27th tornado and has made trips to Haiti each of the past two spring breaks helping the clean up following the January 2010 earthquake.
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.
HIGHTOWER & UPSHAW SEMIFINALISTS FOR 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.
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 11 GAMES: Over the last 11 games, dating back to the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has allowed only 42.8 rushing yards per game or 471 total rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. The Crimson Tide has allowed 28 rushing yards or less in six of those 11 games, including two games of negative rushing yards (Michigan State, -48 and Kent State, -9). Only Penn State (107) and LSU (148) have rushed for more than 100 yards. Conversely, Alabama has rushed for 2,428 yards (427 carries) and 36 touchdowns in those 11 games, averaging 220.7 yards per game and 5.68 yards per carry while scoring a touchdown on the ground every 11.9 rushes. Trent Richardson has led the way over that span with 1,247 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns on 214 carries for 5.8 yards per tote. Eddie Lacy has carried 79 times for 666 yards (in 10 games) and nine touchdowns while averaging 8.4 yards per carry.
TIDE NO. 3 IN BCS RANKINGS: Alabama remains at No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, .0834 behind No. 1 LSU. The Tigers boast a BCS average of .9933 with Alabama at .9099. Oklahoma State comes in at No. 2 with a .9642 average, .0543 in front of the Tide. Oregon moved up to No. 4 (.8755), while Oklahoma improved to fifth (.8400), Arkansas to sixth (.7974), Clemson to No. 7 (.6935), followed by Virginia Tech (.6755), Stanford (.6747) and Boise State (.5959).
TIDE MOVES UP TO NO. 3 IN THE HARRIS POLL: Alabama ranks No. 3 in the Harris interactive College Football Poll, which was released on Sunday, November 13. 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 2,620 points. LSU is ranked first with 115 first-place votes and 2,875 total points. Oklahoma State is second with a total of 2,750 points. Oregon, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Stanford, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Houston round out the top 10.
FINISHING IN THE FOURTH QUARTER: Alabama emphasises finishing strong. That emphasis has paid dividends so far with an impressive edge in several categories in the fourth quarter (includes overtime). The Crimson Tide has outscored its nine opponents by a margin of 62 points (83-21) in the fourth quarter while outgaining its opposition 887 yards to just 195 yards on the ground, a difference of 692 yards. The Tide offense has only had to throw 28 passes – completing 19 – while opponents have only completed 47.8 percent of their passes with five interceptions and averaged just 2.4 yards per rush and 3.2 yards per play.
DISCIPLINE SHOWS: Alabama’s disciplined approach to football is evident in its ability to play a clean football game. The Crimson Tide ranks third nationally in fewest penalties per game, being flagged an average of 3.9 times per game. The Tide also ranks eighth in fewest penalty yards in the country, averaging 34.9 per contest. UA leads the SEC in fewest penalties per game and in penalty yards per game.
ALABAMA CONTINUES SUCCESS ON THE ROAD: Alabama’s win at Mississippi State continued a trend of road success by the Crimson Tide in recent seasons. Including the win over the Bulldogs, Alabama has a 15-2 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. In 24 games away from Tuscaloosa since 2008, Alabama is 20-4, 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 with 1,205 yards on the ground through 10 games. Through 10 games during Mark Ingram’s Heisman Trophy winning season in 2009, he had 1,297 rushing yards. In addition, Richardson has had 204 carries and 18 touchdowns, while Ingram had 194 carries and 10 touchdowns after 10 games.
ALABAMA RANKED 60 STRAIGHT WEEKS BY AP: Alabama has been ranked in 60 straight Associated Press polls, 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 56 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 (27-11 win), then-No. 12 Arkansas (38-14 win), and then-No. 12 Florida (38-10 win). The Tide fell, 9-6, in overtime against No. 1 LSU (Nov. 5).
BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 17-6 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past three seasons and is 9-4 against AP top 10 teams. UA had reeled off nine straight wins against top 25 teams until at loss at South Carolina in 2010. The Crimson Tide’s 31-6 win over No. 7 Florida in 2010 was the Tide’s second straight win over a top 10 team and third top 25 victory in a four-week span. The Crimson Tide is 3-1 vs. top-25 teams in 2011. Alabama went 5-3 against the AP Top 25 last season.
ALABAMA HAS 2ND MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 45 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, 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 46 wins. The Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS 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 10-win seasons in 2010 and 2011. Saban is currently fifth in winning percentage (71.8 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.
Helmet Decals: The Alabama football team is sporting more than crimson on its helmets in 2011. The Crimson Tide is wearing a houndstooth pattern decal and a number 77 decal on 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).
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.
DEFENSE MAKES A STATEMENT: Through 10 games, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to an average of 181.4 total yards of offense, ranking Alabama first in the nation in total defense. The Tide also ranks first nationally in the remaining defensive categories, including pass efficiency (84.21 passer efficiency rating), scoring defense (7.1 ppg), rushing defense (51.9 ypg) and pass defense (129.5 ypg).
UPSHAW SACKS RELF: Linebacker Courtney Upshaw garnered a quarterback sack of Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf in the first possession of the game last week. That sack marked the fourth consecutive game in which Upshaw has had a quarterback sack. He has five sacks overall during that four-game span. For his career, Upshaw has 14.5 sacks (86 yards) to rank 10th in Alabama history.
FIRST TD ALLOWED IN 14 QUARTERS: Mississippi State’s touchdown with 12:03 left in the fourth quarter last week was the first touchdown allowed by the Alabama defense in 14 quarters of play, spanning all the way back to the first quarter of the Tide’s win at Mississippi on October 15 in Oxford. It also is the first touchdown allowed by Alabama in the second half of a game in six games, since the Arkansas game on September 24.
GAMES WITH AN INTERCEPTION: With two interceptions against LSU on November 5, Alabama has recorded at least one interception in eight of its 10 games this season. The only games the Tide did not record a pickoff was against North Texas (Sept. 17) and at Mississippi State (Nov. 12). Alabama recorded an interception in 11 of the 13 games in 2010, putting together a run of 18 games with a pick in its last 22 outings. Eight different Tide players have tallied an interception in 2011, with Dee Milliner and Mark Barron leading the way with two.
10 POINTS OR LESS: In its last game, Alabama held Mississippi State to seven points. Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to 10 points or less 32 times since the start of the 2007 season, including eight times in 10 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: With a shutout of Mississippi State in the first half, Alabama has allowed seven points or less in 13 of its last 14 first halves of play. Over that span, the Crimson Tide has surrendered just three points or less on eight occasions, including five shutouts. UA had a streak of nine straight games before allowing 10 points in the first half to Florida on Oct. 1.
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 one of the best in the nation in limiting completions from opposing quarterbacks. The Crimson Tide has held opponents to a meager 48.62 completion percentage through 10 games (141-of-290) to rank second this week. The Tide is also first in the nation in yards per attempt (4.47) while ranking second in yards per completion (9.18).
YARDS AT A PREMIUM: The Alabama defense is allowing an average of only 181.4 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 also leads the nation. UA opponents have run 575 plays against the Crimson Tide defense this season and only managed 127 plays – both running and passing – that went for more than five yards, which accounts for just 22.1 percent. On the flip side of that, the Alabama offense has seen 38.1 percent of its plays go for more than five yards (255-of-670). The Tide defense has also given up only 57 plays (9.9 percent) of more than 10 yards and 20 plays of more than 15 yards (3.8 percent). Alabama has allowed only one rush of more than 20 yards the entire season and only 15 total plays of more than 20 yards (2.6 percent).
HOLDING THEIR GROUND: Crossing midfield against the Crimson Tide defense has not been an easy task in the 2011 season. Alabama opponents have crossed the 50-yard line only 29 times (only counts drives that started in the opponent territory), but of those 29 drives that moved into Alabama territory, the opponent passed the UA 40-yard line only 20 times. Of those 20 drives, opponents have managed 57 points (six touchdowns and five field goals). Opponents are crossing midfield an average of only 2.9 times per game in 2011. Alabama has forced interceptions on three of those drives and punts five other times. The Tide has also blocked one field goal, forced four turnovers on downs once and recovered a fumble.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 300: Last time out, Alabama limited the Mississippi State offense to 131 yards of total offense. In head coach Nick Saban’s 64-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense 38 times, or 60.3 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 six times (Kent State: 90; North Texas: 169; Vanderbilt: 190; Mississippi: 141; Tennessee: 155; Mississippi State: 131).
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 200: During head coach Nick Saban’s last 50 games at the Capstone, the Crimson Tide defense has held the opposing offense to less than 200 yards of total offense 19 times. Alabama has accomplished the feat six 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, Tennessee to 155 yards, and Mississippi State to 131. 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 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.
FIRST DOWN CHAINS TOUGH TO MOVE: Alabama’s defense has surrendered only 103 first downs in 10 games for a an average of 10.3 per contest, which leads the nation. UA has allowed 33 total first downs rushing and 11 have come by penalty. Opposing offenses are converting 25.7 percent of their third-down attempts against Alabama (38-of-148). 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) as UA gave up just five to Chattanooga in 2009. The Crimson Tide has held opponents to nine first downs or less 13 times dating back to the start of the 2008 season and most recently against Mississippi State on November 13 (nine).
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 trend continues in 2011 as the Crimson Tide has tallied a nation-best 66 three-and-outs through 10 games or 6.6 per game. 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, three against LSU and six at Mississippi State.
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 (88 games), a mark that leads the nation. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007 (64 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. Ohio State entered the season leading that category, but has given up eight this season. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has allowed 31 rushing touchdowns while OSU has allowed 36. 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 Mississippi State to 12 rushing yards on 70 carries last Saturday. In head coach Nick Saban’s 64-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 100 rushing yards 40 times, or 62.5 percent of the time.
STIFLING DEFENSE: The Alabama defense has stifled opponents in 2011, allowing just seven touchdowns in 10 games to lead the nation with just .7 touchdowns per game. A big part of that success can be attributed to allowing just 10.3 first downs per game, which also leads the nation.
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 tackles for loss each. Upshaw recorded a season-best two sacks. 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 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.
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.
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 204 career tackles with 16.0 tackles for loss and 25 quarterback hurries. Hightower leads the team in 2011 with 55 tackles in nine games with a career-best 6.0 tackles for loss and eight 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 215 career tackles and has ranked second and first, respectively, among Crimson Tide players in total stops the past two seasons. Barron has 26 pass breakups over the past three seasons and 12 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 46 total stops while recording two interceptions and five pass breakups.
OFFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT UNDER McELWAIN: Since offensive coordinator Jim McElwain’s arrival in 2008, Alabama has improved in points per game, rushing yards and passing yards. The Crimson Tide is currently averaging 7.4 more points per game in 2011 (34.5 ppg) than it did in 2007 (27.1 ppg) and 60.4 more yards per game in total offense.
IMPRESSIVE GROUND ATTACK: Alabama has scored 27 rushing touchdowns this season, ranking the Crimson Tide fifth nationally and first in the Southeastern Conference in that category. Alabama has scored 37 total touchdowns this season.
RICHARDSON HAVING BIG YEAR: Junior running back Trent Richardson is seventh nationally and leading the Southeastern Conference with 120.5 rushing yards per game and ranks sixth on the Alabama career rushing yards list with 2,656 yards, 85 yards shy of surpassing Johnny Musso (1969-71) for the No. 5 spot. He is sixth nationally in scoring at 11.4 points per game. Richardson leads the Crimson Tide with 1,205 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns (19 total touchdowns). He is the 16th Alabama back to surpass 2,000 yards rushing in a career.
RICHARDSON ON RECORD PACE: Trent Richardson has been scoring touchdowns at an alarming rate to start the 2011 season. Through 10 games, Richardson has found the end zone 19 times, the third-highest single-season total in school history behind Shaun Alexander (24 in 1999) and Mark Ingram (20 in 2009). He opened the year with three touchdowns against Kent State and followed that up with two more at Penn State. Richardson scored three touchdowns against North Texas and added another against Arkansas. With the two scores against Florida, one vs. Vanderbilt, a career-best four at Mississippi, pair against Tennessee and one against Mississippi State, Richardson pushed his career total to 32 touchdowns on the ground and 38 overall. The 38 touchdowns (32 rushing, 5 receiving, 1 kickoff return) ranks tied for fourth on the Alabama career list (Johnny Musso). Shaun Alexander (1996-99) is the Alabama career leader with 50 career touchdowns and Mark Ingram (2008-10) is second with 46.
RICHARDSON SETS CAREER BEST: 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 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 (10.8 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 four top 25 teams and is averaging 126.8 rushing yards per game against the likes of then-No. 23 Penn State (111 yards), then-No. 14 Arkansas (126 yards), then-No. 12 Florida (181 yards) and No. 1 LSU (89 yards). Richardson has also netted 211 yards receiving on 15 receptions against top 25 competition this year. He has four rushing and one receiving touchdowns in those games with 718 yards of total offense, an average of 179.5 yards per game.
BALL SECURITY: Trent Richardson has continued a pattern of Alabama running backs holding onto the football. Richardson has lost one fumble in 553 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 against Mississippi. Richardson has not lost a fumble in 489 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 only three fumbles dating back to the start of the 2009 season, a span of 1,113 touches. The Crimson Tide’s main tandem of running backs has lost just seven fumbles in five years.
RICHARDSON HAMMERS HIS WAY PAST 100: Trent Richardson had a streak of six straight 100-yard rushing games earlier this season and has seven 100-yard efforts in 10 games this year. 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 did 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 got back on track again with 127 yards and a score at Mississippi State, including 88 yards in the second half and 71 yards in the fourth quarter. 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 IMPACTING RUSHING LISTS: With 127 yards rushing, junior running back Trent Richardson moved into the top 10 of Alabama’s single-season rushing yardage list with, 1,205 yards. He moved into eighth place on the single-season list. Mark Ingram holds the Alabama single-season record with 1.658 yards in 2009.
RICHARDSON CRACKS TOP 10 IN CAREER RUSHES: Trent Richardson has moved into ninth in career rushes at Alabama with 461. He is just eight carries away from Ricky Moore (1981-84) in eighth place with 469 carries. Richardson has rushed the ball 204 times in 2011. Shaun Alexander (1996-99) holds the Alabama record with 727 rushing attempts.
McCARRON MOVES UP COMPLETIONS LIST: Quarterback AJ McCarron moved into the top 10 of the Alabama single-season list for pass completions in the first half against Mississippi State on November 12. McCarron’s 6-yard completion to Marquis Maze in the first quarter, McCarron’s third pass completion of the game, moved him past Freddie Kitchens (152 completions in 1996) into 10th place with 153 this season. McCarron’s seventh pass completion of the game – a 6-yard pass to DeAndrew White late in the second quarter – tied him with Scott Hunter (157 in 1969) in ninth place. John Parker Wilson holds the Alabama record with 255 completions in 2007.
NORWOOD ENJOYS CAREER NIGHT: Sophomore wide receiver Kevin Norwood had a career-best receiving yardage night against Mississippi State on November 12, with two catches for 60 yards, including a career-long 38-yard catch in the third quarter. His previous single-game yardage game was a 36-yard outing against Penn State in 2010. His career-high for catches in a game is 3, accomplished earlier this season against Penn State.
MAZE MOVES UP CAREER RECEIVING LIST: Senior wide receiver Marquis Maze moved up the career receiving list on the strength of six catches for 61 yards against LSU on Nov. 5. Maze is seventh on the Alabama career receiving yards list with 1,782. 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 versus the Tigers 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 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 do so 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.
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.
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.
FOUR ROAD STARTS = FOUR 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. McCarron, then, directed Alabama to a 52-7 decision at Mississippi, and most recently helped the Tide to a 24-7 win at Mississippi State.
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 49 for 565 yards (11.5 yard average) and one touchdown. He also has 28 punt returns for 359 yards, with an average of 12.8 yards per return, ranking 10th 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 nine 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 started 34 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 129 careers starts. Center William Vlachos leads the line with 37 career starts, making every start dating back to the 2009 season opener. Tackle/guard Barrett Jones is close behind with 34 starts, missing only two games late last season (Georgia State & Auburn) and most recently at Mississippi State with a sprained ankle. Chance Warmack has started the last 23 games at left guard and D.J. Fluker started 19 games at right tackle. Anthony Steen is the newcomer to the group with 10 starts while he shares the position with Alfred McCullough, who has started six 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.
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.
100-YARD RUSHERS AND RECEIVERS: Thirty-five times in 32 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 11 100-yard rushing efforts, sophomore Eddie Lacy with two and sophomore Jalston Fowler with one. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 31-1 in those 32 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 28.7 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.
39 NATIONAL TV GAMES IN LAST 49 GAMES: Alabama’s contest at Mississippi State on Nov. 12, marked the 39th nationally-televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. This season Alabama has played on CBS three times, while having one game on ABC, two games on ESPN2 and one game each on ESPN on ESPNU. 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 46-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 46-3 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 3-3 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).
ALABAMA’S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 189-126-4 (.599) all-time record in 318 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts.
OVERTIME RECORD: Alabama is 4-8 (.333) all-time in overtime games. In its last overtime game, the Crimson Tide lost to LSU 9-6 at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 5, 2011. Alabama has lost seven of its last 10 overtime games. The Crimson Tide is 4-7 (.363) in overtime games against SEC teams. Alabama is 2-5 (.286) in overtime home games. The Crimson Tide is 3-5 (.375) in single-overtime games.
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.
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.
FIRST-TIME STARTERS: Five Alabama players have made their first starts for the Crimson Tide this season: wide receiver Kenny Bell, quarterback AJ McCarron, linebacker Alex Watkins, wide receiver DeAndrew White and defensive end Jesse Williams.
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.
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.
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.