Wednesday Notebook: Defense and Special Teams

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Nov. 18, 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 this season. He not only leads the team in tackles with 77, but is the on-field coach for Alabama. McClain is responsible for making all of the defensive calls and is especially proficient at checking the Crimson Tide into the correct play. In addition to his 77 stops, McClain has added 10.0 tackles for loss (-45 yards), 3.0 sacks (-26 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 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.

Mark Barron MAKING PRESENCE KNOWN: Alabama sophomore safety Mark Barron is making a strong bid for first-team All-SEC recognition with his performance in the first 10 games this season.  Barron is tied for third nationally while leading the SEC with six interceptions. He also has 60 tackles to rank second on the Alabama team, which ranks in the top three of almost every defensive category in the nation. Barron is tied for the SEC lead in passes defended with teammate Marquis Johnson with 15 (9 PBU, 6 INT). The 1.50 passes defended per game are also tied for third nationally.

GROUND DEFENSE:  The Crimson Tide has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in an astonishing 30 games, dating back to Oct. 13, 2007, when Mississippi’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis went for 131 yards.  That is the longest streak in the nation, nine games more than second-place Ohio State (21 games). Alabama is one of six teams not to allow a 100-yard rusher in 2009 and they are the only team not to surrender a 100-yard rusher in 2008 or 2009. As a team, the Crimson Tide has held 20 teams under 100 yards rushing over the past 24 games with only LSU and Florida in 2008 and Kentucky and Mississippi State in 2009, able to crack the 100-yard barrier as a team.

Teams That Have Not Allowed a 100-Yard Rusher in 2009
Team                 Streak                               Last time it happened (Team)
Alabama             30                         Oct. 13, 2007 (Mississippi)
Ohio State           21                         Sept. 13, 2008 (USC)
Penn State          14                         Nov. 8, 2008 (Iowa)
Nevada                10                         Dec. 30, 2008 (Maryland)
Oklahoma St.       10                         Dec. 30, 2008 (Oregon)
Texas                  10                         Jan. 5, 2009 (Ohio State

NCAA RANKINGS:  Alabama ranks second nationally in rushing defense (72.8 ypg), scoring defense (10.9 ppg) and pass efficiency defense (88.27 rating).  The Tide also ranks third in total defense (239.3 ypg), eighth in turnover margin (+10), 11th in passing defense (166.5 ypg) and 15th in sacks (2.8 per game). 

SEC RANKINGS: The Crimson Tide leads the league in rushing defense and ranks second in total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, turnover margin and sacks.  The Tide is also fifth in the league in pass defense.

TIFFIN’S PRODUCTION AT ALL-TIME HIGH: Alabama senior place-kicker Leigh Tiffin leads the nation in field goals per game at 2.40. He has connected on 24-of-27 field goals this season (88.9 percent). His 24 field goals are one shy of his own school record of 25 set in 2007 and currently ranks as the seventh most by any SEC kicker in a single season. Tiffin also leads the SEC and ranks eighth nationally in scoring at 10.10 points per game. He has scored 101 points this season, which is third-highest single-season total at UA, trailing his 2007 season (111 points) and his 2008 season (106 points). Tiffin has connected on nine consecutive field goals and 18 of his last 20. He has made an impressive 15 field goals (out of 16) over the last five games.

Kicking Points in a Season 
Points  Player (FGs, PATs)                                              Year
111        Leigh Tiffin (25 FGs, 36 PATs)                 2007
106        Leigh Tiffin (20 FGs, 46 PATs)                 2008
101        Leigh Tiffin (24 FGs, 29 PATs)                 2009
100        Philip Doyle (22 FGs, 34 PATs)                1989
97          Philip Doyle (24 FGs, 25 PATs)                1990
97          Michael Proctor (22 FGs, 31 PATs)            1993

TIFFIN BECOMES UA’S CAREER SCORING LEADER: Tiffin became Alabama’s career scoring leader on Nov. 7 with 10 points vs. LSU, passing Philip Doyle (345). He now has 354 career points to rank fifth in SEC history. He is 14 points behind Florida’s Jeff Chandler for fourth place. 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.

TIFFIN NO. 2 ON UA’S CAREER FIELD GOALS LIST: Tiffin keeps inching closer to the Alabama career field goals made record. He converted his only field goal chance - from 39 yards out - at Mississippi State to give him 77 for his career, which is second all-time at Alabama and one back of Philip Doyle (78 from 1987-90). Tiffin connected on multiple field goals in four straight games prior to the MSU game. He has made 15 of 16 field goals during the last five 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. He is also fourth on the SEC’s career field goals made list, just 10 behind Georgia’s Billy Bennett (87) and tied for third in SEC history.