Tuscaloosa Set for 77th Iron Bowl
Nov. 19, 2012
THE GAME: Alabama plays its final home game of the season against intrastate-rival Auburn on Saturday in the 77th renewal of the Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide has won three of the last four meetings, including a 42-14 win on The Plains a season ago en route to Alabama’s 14th national championship. The Tide is 3-2 against Auburn during head coach Nick Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa. The game will be televised nationally on CBS with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. (CST). Verne Lundquist will serve as the play-by-play announcer, with Gary Danielson at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart serving as sideline reporter.
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his sixth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school’s 27th head coach on January 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 60-13 record (65-13 before five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to two SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and two national championships. Saban holds a career record of 151-55-1 (156-55-1) 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 13 of his 16 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban’s direction. Saban is one of two active coaches (Urban Meyer) to win three BCS national championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
RANKINGS: Alabama jumped to No. 2 in The Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls entering the 13th week of the 2012 season. Auburn is not ranked in either poll.
AUBURN: Auburn is 3-8 on the season and 0-7 in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers opened the season with a pair of losses before picking up their first win of 2012 against Louisiana-Monroe in overtime, 31-28. Since then, Auburn has lost six of its last eight games, all to league opponents. The Tigers hold a 5-1 advantage over the Tide in Bryant-Denny Stadium, including the last matchup in Tuscaloosa, which was played on November 26, 2010 (28-27).
NEXT GAME: Depending on the outcome of the game with Auburn, Alabama will either await word on a possible Southeastern Conference Championship Game berth or its college football record 60th bowl game appearance.
TIDE NO. 2 IN BCS STANDINGS: With then-No. 1 Kansas and then-No. 2 Oregon losing on Saturday, Alabama moved back into the top two of the Bowl Championships Series standings at No. 2. Undefeated Notre Dame holds the top spot with its season finale at Southern California slated for Saturday, Nov. 24. The BCS percentage is calculated by averaging the percent totals of the Harris Interactive, USA Today Coaches’ and six computer rankings. The Crimson Tide garnered a .9333 average, which is .0640 lower than Notre Dame (.9973). Georgia is third at .8763 and Florida is fourth with an average of .8434. Rounding out the top 10 is Oregon (.8318), Kansas State (.7692), LSU (.7308), Stanford (.7077), Texas A&M (.6526) and Florida State (.6363).
10-WIN SEASONS: Alabama reached the 10-win milestone for its fifth consecutive season in 2012, boasting a 10-1 record. The Tide has 32 10-win seasons in 117 seasons, two back of Oklahoma (33) for the most 10-win seasons in college football. Alabama has had seven 10-win seasons since the 2002 season (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012). Tide 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.
FOLLOW ALABMA’S AWARDS CANDIDATES ONLINE: You can follow weekly updates on Alabama’s 2012 awards candidates at www.rolltide.com/candidates/. Scroll over the defense and offense header at the top of the page to select a player. Updates are available on Tuesday morning for cornerback Dee Milliner, linebacker C.J. Mosley and nose guard Jesse Williams on the defensive side of the football and right tackle D.J. Fluker, center Barrett Jones, quarterback AJ McCarron and right guard Chance Warmack on offense.
Jones Earns NFF National Scholar-Athlete Honors: Senior center Barrett Jones has been selected as one of 15 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athletes, which was announced by the NFF and College Hall of Fame on October 24. The honorees comprise the list for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy, recognizing the top scholar-athlete in the nation. Jones is the sixth Alabama football player to be named a NFF National Scholar-Athlete. He joins Johnny Musso (1971), Randy Hall (1974), Steadman Shealy (1979), DeMeco Ryans (2005) and Greg McElroy (2010).
Barrett Jones NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT FOURTH TIME: Senior center Barrett Jones was named to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District IV team for the fourth time in his career. Jones, from Germantown, Tenn., is a three-time Capital One Academic All-American and a two-time first-team selection.
McCarron Finalist for Unitas; SEMifinalist for Davey O’Brien: Junior quarterback AJ McCarron was selected as one of the final five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award. The Davey O’Brien will be announced on December 6 at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN, while the Golden Arm Award is presented on Dec. 7, at The Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel in Baltimore, Md. McCarron ranks third nationally and second in the SEC in passing efficiency while completing 66.8 percent of his passes for 2,291 yards and a school-record 21 touchdowns with two interceptions in 244 attempts this season.
McCarron Named Semifinalist for Maxwell Award: Junior quarterback AJ McCarron was selected as one of the 16 finalists for the 76th Maxwell Award for the collegiate player of the year, the Maxwell Football Club announced on Oct. 29. The winner will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN on Dec. 6.
Dee Milliner ONE OF THREE FINALISTS FOR THE BRONKO NAGURAKI AWARD: Junior defensive back Dee Milliner was selected as one of five finalists for the 2012 Bronko Naguraki Award. Joining Milliner, vying for the honor of college football’s National Defensive Player of the Year is South Carolina sophomore end Jadeveon Clowney, Georgia junior linebacker Jarvis Jones, Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o and Florida State junior end Bjoern Werner.
Milliner & Mosley Semifinalists for Bednarik Award: Junior defensive back Dee Milliner and junior linebacker C.J. Mosley were both named semifinalists for the 18th Chuck Bednarik Award, presented by Cracker Barrel for the most outstanding defensive player of the year, the Maxwell Football Club announced on Oct. 29. Milliner has 45 total tackles on the season, including 4.0 for loss and 1.5 sacks. He has hauled in two interceptions, broken up 14 passes, forced a fumble and blocked a kick. Mosley leads the Crimson Tide in total tackles with 89 this season. He has recorded six tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, two pass breakups, forced fumble and fumble recovery. The winner will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN on Dec. 6.
SCORING STREAK CONTINUES: With Eddie Lacy’s seven-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against Western Carolina on November 17, Alabama raised its current total of consecutive games in which it scored to 153 – the longest streak in program history.
RED ZONE EFFICIENCY: Alabama enters the Auburn game 44-for-47 in its red zone trips, tied for second in the nation in that category at 94 percent. The Crimson Tide has scored 35 touchdowns in the red zone in 2012 and kicked nine field goals. On the year, UA has scored 25 rushing touchdowns and passed for 10 inside the 20-yard line.
TOUGH TO SCORE ON: Under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama has traditionally been one of the most difficult teams to score touchdowns against. In 2012, the Tide has allowed its opponents to come away with points on only 61 percent of opportunities in the red zone (14 of 23). Alabama is tied for the third-most efficient red zone defense in the nation. The Tide’s defense has surrendered 11 touchdowns and three field goals this season from inside the red zone while allowing opposing offenses to enter the red zone only 23 times in 11 games. Overall, UA has surrendered 13 touchdowns and five field goals on defense this season. UA only allowed nine touchdowns by opposing offenses all of last season and just six touchdowns and two field goals inside the red zone. UA also led the nation in red zone defense last season, allowing scores just 59 percent of the time (10-of-17). Alabama ranked tied for fourth in 2010 and tied for second in 2009 with both teams allowing a score on 67 percent of opponents’ red zone opportunities.
INTERCEPTION MARGIN: Over the last four seasons, Alabama’s starting quarterbacks have thrown 16 interceptions in 1,217 pass attempts (one interception every 76.1 pass attempts), while the defense has recorded 73 interceptions in 51 games. The Tide’s current starting quarterback, AJ McCarron, has thrown seven interceptions in 620 career attempts; on pace to set school and SEC records for quarterbacks with at least 600 pass attempts (Tim Tebow 1 every 62.2 attempts). McCarron is averaging one interception every 88.6 attempts in his career. In 2012, McCarron has thrown a pick every 122 attempts (2 in 244 attempts), which is on pace to be better than any SEC quarterback (Peyton Manning; 1 every 95 attempts in 1995) has done in any season (minimum 200 attempts).
YARDS HARD TO COME BY: Since the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has not surrendered yards easily. Over that 25-game span, the Tide defense has allowed just three opposing teams to reach 300 total yards (341 by Georgia Southern in 2011, 435 by LSU and 418 by Texas A&M in 2012). Teams have been held under 200 total yards 13 times, and less than 100 total yards twice. Rushing against the Tide has been even more difficult over that span as teams have been held to under 100 yards 20 times, under 50 yards 11 times and in negative yardage twice.
SHELLEY LONE PERFECT KICKER IN 2012: Senior Jeremy Shelley is the only kicker in the nation yet to miss an extra point or a field goal in 2012. Thus far, Shelley has hit all 53 of his extra point attempts and all 10 of his field goals. Five of his field goals have come from the 20-29 yard range, while the other five have come from 30-39 yards. His long on the year is 38. The Tide did have one unsuccessful PAT conversion, but that play was credited as a team miss after a mishandled snap.
TURNOVERS = POINTS: Alabama has converted the 24 turnovers it has forced in 11 games this season into 132 points. At the same time, the Crimson Tide has surrendered 12 turnovers that have resulted in 24 points for a 132-24 advantage. Alabama forced three turnovers against Michigan and turned those into 14 points. Against Western Kentucky, Alabama produced 21 points off four Hilltoppers miscues. Alabama capitalized on five Arkansas turnovers for 35 points, followed by another 14 off three interceptions against Mississippi. At Missouri, the Tide scored 14 points off a pair of interceptions and then tallied 13 points on two turnovers at Tennessee, while the Vols got three points off of one Alabama turnover. The Tide collected 14 points off two turnovers against Mississippi State. UA did not force a turnover at LSU or vs. Texas A&M, and allowed a touchdown to the Tigers following a fumble and to the Aggies following a fumble and an interception. UA turned on Western Carolina fumble into seven points. Alabama has a 139-24 edge in points off turnovers when including the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against LSU.
TURNOVER MARGIN: Alabama enters the 13th week of the season tied for 13th nationally in turnover margin at plus-1.09. The Crimson Tide has forced 24 turnovers (14 interceptions and 10 fumbles) while only giving up 12 possessions. Over the last 13 games, dating back to the 2011 Auburn game and the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, Alabama holds a 28-13 edge in turnover margin. UA forced a total of 10 fumbles in 2011, recovering seven. In 2012 the Tide has forced 12 and recovered 10 in 11 games.
THREE-AND-OUTS: The Alabama defense has been one of the leaders again this season in forcing three-and-outs. The Crimson Tide has forced a three-and-out on 45.0 percent (59-of-131) of opponents drives this season, averaging 5.4 per contest. Alabama had a season-high of nine three-and-outs against Florida Atlantic, had seven against Arkansas to open SEC play and Western Carolina, six at Missouri and Tennessee and five against Mississippi State. (Any drive that was stopped in three plays or less or was four plays and a turnover on downs was used to compile this information).
BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 21-7 against The Associated Press top 25 over the past five seasons and 12-4 against AP top 10 teams. The Crimson Tide is 3-1 against the AP top 25 in 2012, with victories over No. 8 Michigan, No. 13 Mississippi State and No. 6 LSU and a loss to No. 15 Texas A&M. Alabama went 4-1 vs. top 25 teams in 2011 and 5-3 against the AP top 25 in 2010. Seven of the last nine matchups have gone in favor of the Tide, with one loss coming in a 9-6 overtime defeat to LSU on November 5, 2011, and a 29-24 loss to Texas A&M in 2012.
ALABAMA TIED FOR MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 58 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, tied for the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed that with a perfect 14-0 record in 2009, a 10-3 mark in 2010 and a 12-1 record in 2011. Alabama is 10-1 this season. During that span, the Tide also has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.
ALABAMA UNDER SABAN IN NOVEMBER: In his sixth season at Alabama, head coach Nick Saban has led the Crimson Tide to a 15-8 record in November, with four of those losses coming in 2007. In games played in November, Alabama has outscored its opponents 678-329.
WILLIAMS ONE OF FOUR NON-PUNTERS FROM DOWN UNDER: Senior defensive lineman Jesse Williams is one of just four Australians playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision in a position other than punter. There are currently 13 punters on FBS rosters from Australia.
MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICANS: ESPN.com and SI.com announced their midseason All-America teams, and offensive linemen Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack and cornerback Dee Milliner were named to both squads while linebacker C.J. Mosley was named to the SI.com defensive first team. D.J. Fluker garnered second team SI.com offensive honors.
JONES NAMED SENIOR CLASS FINALIST: Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones (Germantown, Tenn.) is one of 10 NCAA® Football Bowl Subdivision student-athletes selected as finalists for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate football. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.
DEFENSIVE RANKINGS: The Crimson Tide defense was No. 1 in all five major defensive categories a season ago and has been near the top of the rankings throughout the 2012 season. Alabama leads the nation in scoring defense (10.09 ppg), while ranking second in total defense (240.09 ypg). Alabama is third rush defense (75.64 ypg), fourth in pass defense (164.45 ypg) and seventh pass efficiency defense (101.18). The Tide also ranks tied for third in red zone defense (allowing scores on 14-of-23 trips inside the Tide’s 20-yard line) and second in fewest first downs allowed per game (13.73).
MILLINER THIRD NATIONALLY IN CAREER PASSES DEFENDED: Junior Dee Milliner ranks third nationally with 30 pass breakups during his three years at the Capstone. His 30 career passed defend are third in the Tide career record book while is 14 this season ranks tied for fifth.
LESTER GETS 13TH CAREER INTERCEPTION: In Alabama’s win over Mississippi State, senior safety Robert Lester picked off his 13th career pass, which ranks eighth in Alabama history. The Mississippi State game marked the second consecutive game in which Lester had intercepted a pass.
MILLINER EXPERIENCE BOLSTERS TIDE DEFENSE: Junior cornerback Dee Milliner may not be listed as a returning starter, but it is hard to ignore his experience. Milliner, who is turning in an All-America-caliber season, boasts 26-career starts in his three years of action at the Capstone. He started 11 games as a freshman in 2010 and then served as the Crimson Tide’s third cornerback in 2011, making six starts last season, and was on the field more than several starters due to the high percentage of nickel and dime defense UA. He has started 10 games in 2012 and played in 36 career contests. Milliner has six interceptions to go along with 30 pass breakups and 127 career tackles. He is tied for eighth in the nation in passes defended at 1.60 per game (14 PBU, 2 INT).
MOSLEY TIES SCHOOL MARK FOR INTERCEPTIONS FOR A TD: Junior C.J. Mosley intercepted a pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown against Michigan in the season opener, his third interception return for a score in his Alabama career, tying Antonio Langham’s (1990-93) school record. Mosley had two touchdown returns in 2010 (vs. Florida and Georgia State). He has five career interceptions with picks against LSU in the 2011 BCS Allstate National Championship Game and one at Tennessee in 2012.
10 POINTS OR LESS: Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to 10 points or less 39 times since the start of the 2007 season with the most recent occurrence coming on November 17, against Western Carolina (49-0), which was the sixth this year. The Tide has also shut three opponents out this year (Western Kentucky, Arkansas and Western Carolina). Alabama was successful in holding opponents under 10 points in nine games in 2011. In 2010, the Tide held opponents to 10 points or less eight times and limited opponents to that mark seven times in 2008 and 2009. In 2007, Alabama posted two games in which it held opponents to that mark. Alabama has shutout opponents eight times during the Saban tenure.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 300: In head coach Nick Saban’s 78-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense 51 times, or 65.4 percent of the time.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 200: During head coach Nick Saban’s last 65 games at the Capstone, the Crimson Tide defense has held the opposing offense to less than 200 yards of total offense 25 times, including four times in 2012. Alabama accomplished the feat eight times in 2011. The Tide held Kent State to 90 yards and LSU to just 92 yards BCS Championship Game, which marked the second and third times 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.
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 57. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has allowed 39 rushing touchdowns, while Ohio State is second, allowing 52. Alabama has surrendered seven rushing touchdowns in 2012.
RUSHING DEFENSE: Limiting opposing running backs to less than 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered only 11 individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season, a mark that leads the nation. Since head coach Nick Saban’s arrival, the Tide has allowed just six players to rush for more than 100 yards in a game: LSU’s Jeremy Hill (107 yards), Georgia Southern’s Dominique Swope (153 yards), 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).
PICKING UP SACKS: Alabama has been getting to the quarterback regularly as of late, bringing down the signal caller three or more times in nine of its last 13 games. Over that span, the Crimson Tide has tallied 35 sacks and recorded at least one sack in 12 of those 13 games. Alabama has 28 sacks in 11 games this year, which ranks tied for 25th nationally (2.55 per game) and fifth in the SEC.
EXPLOSIVE PLAYS: Explosive plays are a staple of one of the nation’s most balanced and proficient offenses. The Crimson Tide coaching staff defines explosive plays as passes over 15 yards and runs over 12 yards. Alabama has 60 pass plays in 11 games this season of 15 yards or longer, including 35 of over 20 yards by quarterback AJ McCarron. Freshman Amari Cooper leads the receivers with 19 explosive receptions. On the ground, the Tide has 54 rushes of 12 yards or more, with T.J. Yeldon boasting a team-high 21 while Eddie Lacy is just behind with 17.
McCARRON SETS SINGLE-SEASON PASSING TD MARK: AJ McCarron’s 21 touchdown passes is a new Alabama single-season record. He tossed a 29-yard strike to Christion Jones on Nov. 17 set the mark. He surpassed the previous record of 20, set by Greg McElroy in 2010. McElroy’s mark was set in 13 games that season; McCarron moved past it in 11 games.
McCARRON MOVING UP ON CAREER TD PASSES LIST: With a touchdown pass against Western Carolina on Nov. 17, AJ McCarron now has 40 career touchdown passes. That total ranks third in Alabama history behind only John Parker Wilson (47 - 2005-08) and Brodie Croyle (41 - 2002-05).
McCARRON PASSING TOUCHDOWNS: Over the last 13 games, junior quarterback AJ McCarron has been finding the end zone at a frequent rate, totaling 27 scoring tosses over that span. In eight of the last 14 games, McCarron has thrown two or more touchdowns. The signal caller has thrown two or more in six of the 11 games this season, setting a new career high in multi-passing touchdown games. He has equaled his career high of four touchdowns twice during the span, against Western Kentucky and at Tennessee.
TWO-MINUTE DRILL: On November 3, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron displayed another weapon in his arsenal in a 21-17 comeback win over No. 5 LSU – the two-minute drill. He led the Crimson Tide on a pair of two-minute drives, one at the end of each half. He went a combined 7-for-8 passing for 109 yards and two touchdowns – one rushing and one passing. The drive at the end of the first half began at the 1:08 mark and went 54 yards on eight plays with McCarron running it in from nine yards out. The game-winning drive was even more impressive, covering 72 yards (5 plays) in just 49 seconds. McCarron found T.J. Yeldon on a screen pass that covered the final 28 yards and gave Alabama the win.
EFFICIENT IN PASSING GAME: AJ McCarron ranks third nationally in passing efficiency with a 172.44 mark. He has tossed 21 touchdowns with just two interceptions this season (244 pass attempts). He is completing 66.8 percent of his passes for 2,291 yards.
Amari Cooper HAVING STELLAR FRESHMAN CAMPAIGN: Freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper is turning in a fantastic freshman season with a team-best 40 receptions for 658 yards and six touchdowns. The six receiving touchdowns is tied the fourth-most in a single season in school history. The Alabama freshman record for receptions and yards is held by Julio Jones in 2008, catching 58 passes for 924 yards.
RUSHING TO SUCCESS: Alabama rushed 300 yards in a win over Western Carolina on Nov. 17. Alabama is 47-0 since the start of the 2008 season when the Tide rushes for at least 150 yards. The Crimson Tide averages 84.57 yards per game (592 yards) in its seven losses since 2008 with the highest rushing total during those losses coming against Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship Game with 136 yards.
LACY LEADS RUSHING ATTACK: Junior running back Eddie Lacy has 870 yards rushing on 146 attempts in 2012 for an average of 6.0 yards per carry. He had a breakout game at Missouri on October 13 when he eclipsed the 100-yard mark on just his sixth carry of the game on the way to a career-high 177 yards while matching his career high with three rushing touchdowns. The 100-yard performance was the second of the season for the Geismar, La., native and the fourth of his career. A significant chuck of his yards came on a career-long 73-yard score, the longest run for the Crimson Tide since Trent Richardson found the end zone from 78 yards out against Mississippi on Oct. 15, 2011.
A BALANCED ATTACK: Alabama has had one of the most balanced offenses in the nation over the past four years. That trend is continuing again in 2012 as the Crimson Tide has collected 2,303 yards rushing in addition to 2,410 yards passing, a difference of just 107 yards. Since the 2009 season, Alabama has passed for 11,233 while rushing for 10,480, a difference of just 753 yards.
YELDON SHINES IN DEBUT SEASON: Running back T.J. Yeldon is second on the team with 827 yards rushing on 121 carries with nine touchdowns and a 6.7 yards per carry average. Yeldon became the first Alabama true freshman to rush for more than 100 yards in his debut in the win over Michigan, finishing the game with 111 yards on 11 carries and one rushing touchdown. Yeldon gained 144 yards at Missouri and followed that with 129 yards at Tennessee. He is the seventh Alabama running back to crack the century mark since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007. Mark Ingram was the last true freshman to gain at least 95 yards in his debut, running for 96 yards against Clemson in the 2008 opener at the Georgia Dome.
BALL PROTECTION: The Alabama offense has protected the football better than any team in the country over the last five years. In 65 games, the Crimson Tide has turned the ball over just 69 times (40 fumbles, 29 interceptions) for an average of 1.06 turnovers per game, better than Ohio State’s second best average of 1.22 per game (77 turnovers, 63 games). Since 2009, that mark is even better as the Tide has turned the ball over just 50 times in 51 games (0.98 per game). Individually since 2009, UA starting quarterbacks have thrown an impressively-low 16 interceptions in 1,220 attempts (1 INT for every 76.3 attempts). The top two running backs in the rotation dating back to the 2009 season have only lost a fumble seven times. Over the 65-game span, the Tide’s top two running backs have recorded 1,336 touches, losing the ball just once in every 190.8 carries.
Barrett Jones: VERSATILITY ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE: Senior All-American Barrett Jones started at right guard in 2009 and 2010, but added a few responsibilities to his résumé in the 2011 season. He started at left tackle and also saw snaps at left guard, right tackle and center last year. The winner of the Outland Trophy, Jones has started 47 games at the Capstone, including 25 at right guard, 11 at left tackle and 11 this season at center. Jones is listed among the top centers in the nation and a candidate for the Rimington Trophy, Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award. In addition to being named the 2011 Outland Trophy winner, Jones also received the ARA Sportsmanship Award and the Wuerffel Trophy for his commitment to the community and academics.
O-LINE EXPERIENCE A KEY: The Alabama offensive line has been one of the most recognized and skilled groups in the country. Preseason magazines, including Athlon Sports and Phil Steele, rank Alabama’s offensive line as the No. 1 unit in the country. Eleven games into the 2012 season, the line represents 150 starts, with senior center Barrett Jones claiming 47 of those starts. Chance Warmack has made 37 starts at left guard, while D.J. Fluker has 33 starts at right guard. Junior Anthony Steen has 22 at right guard while the newest addition, Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle, now has 11 starts to his credit.
Special Teams Notes
KICKOFF RETURN FOR A TOUCHDOWN: Christion Jones answered a Mississippi touchdown on Sept. 29, with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the first by a Crimson Tide player since Trent Richardson found the end zone from 91 yards at Duke on Sept. 18, 2010. The 99-yard return for a score tied for the eighth longest in school history.
FOSTER DIALS IN FROM DEEP: With his career-long 52-yard field goal against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 22, Cade Foster became the first Alabama kicker since Neal Thomas in 2000 to connect on three 50-plus yard field goals in the same season. His 52-yard strike was the longest by a Tide kicker since Leigh Tiffin hit from 52 yards against Utah in the Sugar Bowl on January 2, 2009.
KICKOFF PROWESS: Alabama kicker Cade Foster recorded five touchbacks in the first half against Arkansas and six against Florida Atlantic on September 22. On Sept. 29, against Mississippi, Foster collected a career-high seven touchbacks while recording three at Missouri, four at Tennessee and three vs. Western Carolina. Eleven games into the 2012 season the Crimson Tide has already exceeded the entire amount tallied from last season, totaling 37 thus far. Kickoffs have been moved up to the 35 yard line this season.
MANDELL HAVING BIG SEASON: In his third season as Alabama’s punter, junior Cody Mandell is enjoying his finest season for the Crimson Tide. He is averaging 43.9 yards per punt this season on 39 attempts. He has placed 13 of his 39 punts inside the opposing team’s 20-yad line and has had 11 punts of more than 50 yards, including a season-long 61-yarder against Mississippi State and a 60-yarder against Texas A&M. Mandell is within range of compiling one of Alabama’s top 10 seasons for punting average. He needs to averaged 41.9 yards per punt and have a minimum of 50 attempts to make the single-season top 10.
ALABAMA-AUBURN SERIES: The Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers meet in the 77th Iron Bowl on Saturday, November 24, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Alabama holds a 41-34-1 lead in a series that dates back to the 1893 season. The Crimson Tide and Tigers first met on Feb. 22, 1893, at Birmingham’s Lakeview Park with the Tigers claiming 32-22 victory in the inaugural meeting. In recent meetings, Alabama snapped a six-game series losing streak with a 36-0 win in 2008 in Tuscaloosa and followed that up with a come-from-behind 26-20 win in Auburn in 2009 on its way to the school’s 13th national championship. In 2010, the Tigers came back late to win the game, 28-27, in Tuscaloosa while the 2012 meeting results in a 42-14 for the Crimson Tide in Auburn.
UA-AU WINNER GETS “FOY TROPHY”: On July 13, 1948, the two circles of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society from Alabama and Auburn, joined together to sponsor a trophy devoted to sportsmanship between the two universities. The ODK-James E. Foy V Sportsmanship Trophy is a tradition which symbolizes the good relationship between the two schools. Originally the trophy was displayed in Birmingham in Loveman’s store window the week prior to the football game between the two universities. Then, in a parade preceding the game, the trophy would be carried in a convertible with the Omicron Delta Kappa presidents from each school on either side. The parade was stopped in the 1960s but the trophy has continued to be awarded every year. The trophy is now awarded to the winner at halftime of the Alabama-Auburn basketball game on the winner’s home court. The trophy remains in their care until the next year’s presentation takes place. In January 1978, the trophy was dedicated to Dean James E. Foy V upon his retirement as the Dean of Student Affairs at Auburn University. He began serving in that position in 1950 after serving as Assistant Dean of Students at the University of Alabama.
IRON BOWL RANKINGS: For the 28th time since 1980, at least one team is ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 entering the annual Iron Bowl. Neither team was ranked in 1982, 1998 and 2003. Alabama is No. 2 in the current AP poll and is ranked entering the Iron Bowl for the 39th time in history. The Crimson Tide is 27-11 against the Tigers when ranked in the AP poll. Auburn has been ranked a total of 26 times in Iron Bowl history and has compiled a 19-8 record when ranked in the AP Top 25. The highest ranked team owns a 41-10 record in the series since 1955.
TELEVISED GAMES: The 2012 Alabama-Auburn game will be the 38th televised game in the series, dating back to the series’ first televised game in 1964. Alabama owns a 20-17 record in the previous 37 TV games. The Alabama-Auburn game is being televised for the 19th consecutive year. CBS Sports will televise its 14th Iron Bowl this season.
SABAN VERSUS AUBURN: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 5-5 in his career against the Auburn Tigers. Saban is 3-2 in Iron Bowl games as the head coach at Alabama. His LSU teams went 2-3 against Auburn from 2000-04.
50 NATIONAL TV APPEARANCES IN 66 GAMES: Alabama’s appearance on CBS this weekend is the 50th nationally-televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. The Tide has played eight nationally televised games in 2012, with one game on ABC, four on CBS and three on ESPN. In 2011, Alabama played on CBS four times, while having one game on ABC, two games on ESPN and ESPN2 with one game 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 broadcasted two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcasted nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.
ALABAMA’S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 200-127-4 (.610) all-time record in 331 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts.
TIDE 59-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 59-3 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 3-6 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 (a 37-6 victory).
FRESHMEN IN ACTION: Alabama has had 11 true freshmen debut so far this season, including defensive back Landon Collins, wide receiver Amari Cooper, linebacker Denzel Devall, running back Kenyan Drake, linebacker Tyler Hayes, wide receiver Cyrus Jones, defensive lineman Darren Lake, linebacker Dillon Lee, linebacker Reggie Ragland, defensive back Geno Smith and running back T.J. Yeldon. Alabama has also had 11 redshirt freshmen – tight end Brent Calloway, quarterback Phillip Ely, tight end Malcolm Faciane, running back Dee Hart, center Ryan Kelly, defensive lineman LaMichael Fanning, defensive end D.J. Pettway, wide receivers Marvin Shinn, defensive back Bradley Sylve, defensive back Jabriel Washington and receiver Danny Woodson Jr. Junior college transfer Deion Belue also started and played his first seven games with the Crimson Tide.
CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE: Alabama returned 43 lettermen from the 2011 National Championship team, but the Crimson Tide also boasts 21 players that played on both 2009 and 2011 championship teams. Looking a little deeper you find the Tide had eight players that saw action for both 2009 and 2011 teams. There were also three players that started at least two games in both 2009 and 2011, including Barrett Jones, Michael Williams and Nico Johnson. Below is a list of the 21 current players that were on both of Coach Saban’s national championship teams at Alabama.
CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICANS: Since head coach Nick Saban became the Alabama head coach in 2007, he has had a knack for developing young recruits into All-Americans. Now in his sixth season at UA, Saban has produced the most consensus All-Americans in the nation with 11. Saban’s consensus All-Americans include Antoine Caldwell (center, 2008), Andre Smith (offensive line, 2008), Terrence Cody (defensive line, 2008 and 2009), Rolando McClain (linebacker, 2009), Mark Ingram (running back, 2009), Mike Johnson (offensive line, 2009), Javier Arenas (cornerback, 2009), Mark Barron (safety, 2011), Dont’a Hightower (linebacker, 2011), Barrett Jones (offensive line, 2011) and Trent Richardson (running back, 2011). Second in the same time period is Oklahoma with nine, while Florida has registered seven in that five-year period.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama’s success on the field over the past five seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide’s success in the classroom. The 2012 squad features six players that already have degrees in hand, including Barrett Jones (August, 2011), Robert Lester (December, 2011), William Ming (May, 2012), Damion Square (May, 2012), Carson Tinker (August, 2012) and Michael Williams (May, 2012). Over the past five seasons (2008-12) Alabama has seen 58 players compete for the Crimson Tide after having already graduated.
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 Alabama, the Sabans have helped raise more than $2.5 million for “Nick’s Kids” that has been distributed to more than 150 charities and organizations throughout the state of Alabama.
GAMEDAY COACHING DUTIES FOR CRIMSON TIDE IN 2012: The Crimson Tide’s assistants will be split between the coaches’ booth and the sideline in 2012. Nussmeier, Burton Burns, Jeremy Pruitt and Thompson will be in the booth, while Kirby Smart, Chris Rumph, Jeff Stoutland, Bobby Williams and Mike Groh are on the sideline.
SCHOLARSHIP SENIORS: Alabama is tied for fourth in the nation with the fewest number of scholarship seniors as the Crimson Tide features nine heading into the 2012 campaign. The Crimson Tide was one of four teams in the No. 1 spot until long snapper Carson Tinker was awarded a scholarship by head coach Nick Saban on August 20.
FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Over the past three years, Alabama has had a total of 29 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll recipients, which is a league best. The Crimson Tide was No. 1 in honorees for the 2009-10 season (12) and the 2010-11 season (11). Alabama placed six rookies on the 2011-12 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll including HaHa Clinton-Dix (Criminal Justice), Phillip Ely (Pre-Business), Ryan Kelly (Pre-Business), Cyrus Kouandjio (Pre-Business), Wilson Love (Pre-Business) and Vinnie Sunseri (Pre-Business).
NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw eight former UA players selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Trent Richardson (third overall to the Cleveland Browns), Mark Barron (seventh overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Dre Kirkpatrick (17th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals) and Dont’a Hightower (25th overall to the New England Patriots). Courtney Upshaw was next to go in the second round, and 35th overall pick, to the Baltimore Ravens. The Tide had two drafted in the fifth round with Josh Chapman going to the Indianapolis Colts as the 136th overall pick and DeQuan Menzie to the Kansas City Chiefs as the 146th overall pick. Rounding out the 2012 NFL draft for Alabama was Brad Smelley, who went in the seventh round as the 247th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns. Over the past two seasons, the Tide has had a combined eight first round draft picks, ranking Alabama fourth in most players selected over a two-year span. In the common draft era The Tide also came in a No. 4 on the most defensive players selected in the first round over a three-year span with six.