Nov. 21, 2011
|Game #12 | No. 2/2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC ) at Auburn (7-4, 4-3 SEC)
||Saturday, Nov. 26 | 2:30 p.m. CT
||Auburn, Ala. | Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
||CBS | Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson & Tracy Wolfson
||Crimson Tide Sports Network | Listen Live
| Live Stats
| Game Notes
||Alabama Notes | Opponent Notes
| All-Time Series
||Alabama Leads 40-34-1 | 3-7 at Auburn
RANKINGS: In the latest polls released on November 20, Alabama moved up one spot in the Associated Press rankings and the USA Today Coaches’ poll, coming in at No. 2. The Crimson Tide is also ranked second in the Harris Poll and the Bowl Championship Series standings.
AUBURN SERIES: Saturday’s game marks the 76th meeting between the Crimson Tide and Tigers. Alabama leads the series 40-34-1, but was edged in last season’s meeting, 28-27. Prior to that, the Tide had won two in a row, including a 36-0 decision in 2008 and a 26-21 victory in 2009.
ONE OF THE WINNINGEST CLASSES OF ALL TIME: Alabama’s 2011 senior class has won a school-record 46 games over the past four seasons while losing only six contests. The 46 wins is among the most in college football history and the second-best total in Southeastern Conference history (Florida won 48 games from 2006-09). Nebraska holds the record for senior class wins among BCS schools with the 1997 class posting a 49-2 record with three national championships. Oklahoma (2003), USC (2005 & 2006) and Florida (2009) accumulated 48 wins. Oklahoma’s 2004 senior class was 47-7 with Miami next, going 46-4 from 2000-03. Alabama’s 1994 senior class won 45 games, although officially that total is 37 because of NCAA sanctions. The previous Alabama record was 44 wins for the 1980 senior class that captured national titles in 1978 and 1979. Among non-BCS schools, Boise State’s 2009 senior class shares the record with a 49-4 mark, while the Broncos’ 2010 senior class was 48-5. The 2011 class stands at 47-3. TCU’s current senior class has 44 wins over the last four years.
10-WIN SEASONS: With the win on Saturday against Georgia Southern, Alabama reached the 10-win milestone for the fourth consecutive season. The Tide now has 32 10-win seasons in 117 seasons, tying Oklahoma for the most 10-win seasons in college football. Alabama has had six 10-win seasons since the 2002 season (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010). 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. 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 a 12-7 record in November, with four of those losses coming in 2007. In games played in November, Alabama has outscored its opponents 542-269.
SUCCESS AGAINST THE BEST: Like former teammate Mark Ingram when he won the Heisman Trophy in 2009, junior tailback Trent Richardson has made his mark by playing his best against the Crimson Tide’s top competition. He has rushed for an average of 126.8 yards in four games against top-25 competition. Richardson has faced eight of the nation’s top 50 defenses in 11 games this season, accounting for 13 total touchdowns, 855 rushing yards and 1,062 yards from scrimmage. He has only played one defense ranked below 75th nationally in rushing. No other Heisman Trophy contender has played more than four games against defenses ranked in the top 50. The average rank in total defense Richardson has faced is 39.4, while no other Heisman Trophy contender has an average rank of better than 61.2 and three of the players average rank is in the 80s out of 120 teams.
MOVING UP THE SEC CHARTS: Trent Richardson broke Alabama single-season rushing touchdown record last weekend with his 19th and 20th rushing scores of the season (Shaun Alexander, 19). It also moved him into a tie for second in SEC history with Auburn’s 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton (20 rushing touchdowns in 14 games). Richardson only trails 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, who scored 23 rushing touchdowns that year. That tops UA’s Alexander (19), Georgia’s Garrison Hearst (19), LSU’s LaBrandon Toefield (19), Georgia’s Herschel Walker (18) and LSU’s Charles Scott (18). Mark Ingram had 17 rushing touchdowns when he won the Heisman in 2009, while Auburn’s Bo Jackson had 17 rushing touchdowns in 1985 when he won the award. Richardson now has 34 rushing touchdowns and 40 total touchdowns in his Alabama career, which he shares third place on both lists with Bobby Humphrey.
FINISHING STRONG: Alabama has finished games strong this season. The Crimson Tide has outscored its opponents 308-62 in the final three quarters of games this season after holding an 82-30 edge in the first quarter. The disparity has grown wider over the past nine games where Alabama owns a 54-27 scoring edge in the first quarter and a 261-47 edge in the final three quarters. Alabama has outscored its opposition in the second half of the last nine games by a score of 183-27. Alabama held Mississippi State scoreless until the final quarter, while the Tide 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.
OVER THE LAST 11 GAMES VS. FBS OPPONENTS: Over the last 11 games against opponents from the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, 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.
FINISHING IN THE FOURTH QUARTER: The Crimson Tide has outscored its 10 opponents by a margin of 69 points (90-21) in the fourth quarter while outgaining its opposition 960 yards to just 267 yards on the ground, a difference of 693 yards. The Tide offense has only had to throw 29 passes – completing 20 – while opponents have only completed 45.7 percent of their passes with five interceptions and averaged only 3.0 yards per rush and 3.4 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 sixth nationally in fewest penalties per game, being flagged an average of 4.09 times per game. The Tide also ranks seventh in fewest penalty yards in the country, averaging 34.91 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 1,380 yards on the ground through 11 games. Through 11 games during Mark Ingram’s Heisman Trophy winning season in 2009, he had 1,399 rushing yards. In addition, Richardson has had 236 carries and 20 touchdowns on the ground, while Ingram had 205 carries and 12 touchdowns after 11 games.
ALABAMA RANKED 61 STRAIGHT WEEKS BY AP: Alabama has been ranked in 61 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 57 straight mentions.
TIDE NO. 2 IN BCS RANKINGS: Alabama ranks No. 2 in the latest Bowl Championship Series rankings, .0407 behind No. 1 LSU. The Tigers boast a BCS average of 1.0000 with Alabama at .9491. Arkansas comes in at No. 3 with an .8985 average, .0506 behind the Tide. Oklahoma State dropped to No. 4 (.8408), while Virginia Tech improved to fifth (.7842), Stanford to sixth (.7711), Boise State to No. 7 (.6881), followed by Houston (.6684), Oklahoma (.6526) and Oregon (.6469).
TIDE MOVES UP TO NO. 2 IN THE HARRIS POLL: Alabama ranks No. 2 in the Harris interactive College Football Poll, which was released on Sunday, November 20. 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 2,758 points. LSU is ranked first with 115 first-place votes and 2,875 total points. Arkansas is third with a total of 2,619 points. Stanford, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, Houston, Boise State, Oregon and Oklahoma round out the top 10.
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 46 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 47 wins. The Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.
ALABAMA WINS DISNEY SPIRIT AWARD: The University of Alabama football team will receive the 2011 Disney Spirit Award, given annually by Disney Sports to college football’s most inspirational player or team. Long snapper Carson Tinker will accept the award on behalf of the Crimson Tide squad, which was chosen because of its extraordinary efforts last April to aid tornado victims and help rebuild the Tuscaloosa community, ultimately bringing much needed hope to the area. The Alabama student-athletes immediately reached out to support their community – the same people who have supported them religiously year after year. Linebacker Courtney Upshaw raised nearly $20,000 in relief funds in his hometown of Eufaula, Ala. Offensive lineman Barrett Jones lugged a chain saw around Tuscaloosa to remove debris from homes and yards. And the University of Alabama Athletic Department contributed $1 million to the UA Acts of Kindness Fund, which provides relief to faculty, staff, and students of The University of Alabama that are experiencing hardship. Tinker and his teammates become the 16th recipient of the award.
BARRON A NAGURSKI FINALIST: Alabama safety Mark Barron has been selected as one of five finalists for the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the Football Writers Association of America National Defensive Player of the Year. Barron is joined by LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still. Barron, a senior from Mobile, Ala., is second on the team with 65 total tackles. He has four tackles for loss and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. Barron has also broken up five passes, recovered a fumble against Penn State and recorded a quarterback hurry. He is the Tide’s active leader in career tackles (236), passes defended (34) and interceptions (12). The winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is presented by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club, will be announced on Dec. 12 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C. Former Florida defensive end Jack Youngblood will also be honored with the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award that night.
RICHARDSON NAMED WALTER CAMP SEMIFINALIST: Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson was named one of 15 semifinalists for the 2011 Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. The 15-player list of semifinalists, include nine quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers and two defensive players. A list of five finalists will be announced on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Richardson leads the SEC and ranks second nationally with 1,380 rushing yards. He has 22 total touchdowns to go along with 26 receptions for 322 yards. Richardson is also a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award while being a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
HIGHTOWER, UPSHAW ARE 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’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 ARE 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 IS 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. 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 IS 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 started nine games for the Crimson Tide this season at left tackle and 34 games overall on the offensive line. He graduated in three years with a 4.0 gpa in accounting and is currently working on his master’s 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 cleanup 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.
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 (71.9 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 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 11 games, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to an average of 195.91 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 (84.79 passer efficiency rating), scoring defense (8.36 ppg), rushing defense (74.64 ypg) and pass defense (121.27 ypg).
APPLYING PRESSURE: Senior jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw ranks second in the SEC and is tied for 29th nationally with 1.27 tackles for loss per game or 14 for losses of 66 yards. Upshaw is also tied for fourth in the SEC with .59 sacks per game (6.5 for minus-45 yards) while making 39 total tackles with a team-high 10 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 third in the SEC in tackles for loss (7.73 per game) and third in sacks (2.73 per game) while ranking 20th nationally in TFLs. UA has recorded 78 tackles for loss this season (-304 yards) and 23 sacks in 11 games. By comparison, the Crimson Tide had 75 TFLs and 27 sacks in 13 games a year ago.
UPSHAW SACKS RELF: Linebacker Courtney Upshaw garnered a quarterback sack of Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf in the first possession of the game on Nov. 12. That sack marked the fourth consecutive game in which Upshaw has had a quarterback sack. He had five sacks overall during that four-game span. For his career, Upshaw has 14.5 sacks (-86 yards) to rank 10th in Alabama history.
GAMES WITH AN INTERCEPTION: With two interceptions against LSU on November 5, Alabama has recorded at least one interception in eight of its 11 games this season. The Tide recorded an interception in 11 of the 13 games in 2010, putting together a run of 18 games with a pick in its last 23 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: On Nov. 12 at Mississippi State, Alabama held the Bulldogs 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 11 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 against opponents from the Football Bowl Subdivision. 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: Dre Kirkpatrick’s 55-yard blocked field goal return against Georgia Southern last weekend marked the fourth non-offensive touchdown of the 2011 season and 24th overall since the Nick Saban era began in 2007. 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. Since Saban took over as Alabama’s head coach, the Crimson Tide has garnered 24 non-offensive touchdowns including 10 interception returns, 7 punt returns, 3 kickoff returns, 2 fumble returns and two blocked punt returns 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 47.81 completion percentage through 11 games (142-of-297) to rank first this week. The Tide is also first in the nation in yards per attempt (4.49) while ranking second in yards per completion (9.39).
YARDS AT A PREMIUM: The Alabama defense is allowing an average of 195.91 yards per game entering this week, which ranks first nationally and leads the SEC. The Tide is also surrendering only 3.47 yards per play, which also leads the nation. UA opponents have run 621 plays against the Crimson Tide defense this season and only managed 142 plays – both running and passing – that went for more than five yards, which accounts for just 22.9 percent. On the flip side of that, the Alabama offense has seen 39.0 percent of its plays go for more than five yards (288-of-738). The Tide defense has also given up only 63 plays (10.1 percent) of more than 10 yards and 25 plays of more than 15 yards (4.0 percent). Alabama has allowed only five rushes of more than 20 yards the entire season and only 20 total plays of more than 20 yards (3.2 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 35 times (only counts drives that started in the opponent territory), but of those 35 drives that moved into Alabama territory, the opponent passed the UA 40-yard line 26 times. Of those 26 drives, opponents have managed 78 points (nine touchdowns and five field goals). Opponents are crossing midfield an average of only 3.2 times per game in 2011. Alabama has forced interceptions on three of those drives and punts five other times. The Tide has also blocked two field goals, forced five turnovers on downs and recovered a fumble.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 300: Alabama limited the Mississippi State offense to 131 yards of total offense on Nov. 12. In head coach Nick Saban’s 65-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense 38 times, or 58.5 percent of the time.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 200: During head coach Nick Saban’s last 51 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 117 first downs in 11 games for a an average of 10.6 per contest, which leads the nation. UA has allowed 46 total first downs rushing and 11 have come by penalty. Opposing offenses are converting 25.5 percent of their third-down attempts against Alabama (40-of-157). 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 67 three-and-outs through 11 games or 6.1 per game. The Tide forced Kent State into three-and-outs on 12 of its 17 possessions, marking the most Alabama has forced this season.
GROUND DEFENSE: Limiting opposing running backs to less than 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered only 10 individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season (89 games), a mark that is tied for first in the nation with Boston College. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007 (65 games), Alabama has allowed five players to rush for 100 yards in a game: 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).
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 50. Ohio State entered the season leading that category, but has since given up 10 this season. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has allowed 32 rushing touchdowns while OSU has allowed 38. In 2010, Alabama surrendered only six rushing touchdowns in 13 games and has given up three this season - one at Penn State, one at Mississippi and one against Georgia Southern.
NOWHERE TO RUN: Alabama held Mississippi State to 12 rushing yards on 70 carries on Nov. 12. In head coach Nick Saban’s 65-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 100 rushing yards 40 times, or 61.5 percent of the time.
STIFLING DEFENSE: The Alabama defense has stifled opponents in 2011, allowing just 10 touchdowns in 11 games to lead the nation with just .9 touchdowns per game. A big part of that success can be attributed to allowing just 10.6 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 65 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 11th on the team with 23 tackles in 11 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.
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 8.4 more points per game in 2011 (35.5 ppg) than it did in 2007 (27.1 ppg) and 62.9 more yards per game in total offense.
LONG DRIVES: Alabama is tied for second nationally with five drives of 90 yards or longer. Georgia Tech has had seven drives of 90 yards or more, while the Crimson Tide is joined by Utah State, Texas Tech, Southern Miss, California, and BYU with five. 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. The Tide’s most recent 90-yard drive came against Georgia Southern last week on Alabama’s final possession of the game. Alabama went 92 yards over 15 plays that ended in a four-yard pass from AJ McCarron to Brad Smelley for a touchdown.
IMPRESSIVE GROUND ATTACK: Alabama has scored 29 rushing touchdowns this season, ranking the Crimson Tide fifth nationally and first in the Southeastern Conference in that category. Alabama has scored 49 total touchdowns this season.
RICHARDSON HAVING BIG YEAR: Junior running back Trent Richardson is seventh nationally and leading the Southeastern Conference with 125.5 rushing yards per game and ranks fifth on the Alabama career rushing yards list with 2,831 yards, 430 yards shy of surpassing his former teammate Mark Ingram (3,261) for the No. 4 spot. He is sixth nationally in scoring at 12.0 points per game. Richardson leads the Crimson Tide with 1,380 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns (22 total touchdowns). He is the 16th Alabama back to surpass 2,000 yards rushing in a career and just the third player in SEC history to rush for 20 touchdowns in one season (Tim Tebow with 23 in 2007 and Cam Newton with 20 in 2010).
RICHARDSON ON RECORD PACE: Trent Richardson has found the end zone 22 times (20 rushing), the second-highest single-season total in school history behind SEC-record-holder Shaun Alexander (24 in 1999). 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 one rushing and one receiving score against Arkansas. With the two scores against Florida, one vs. Vanderbilt, a career-best four at Mississippi, pair against Tennessee, one against Mississippi State and three total touchdowns vs. Georgia Southern, Richardson pushed his career total to 34 touchdowns on the ground and 41 overall. The 41 touchdowns (34 rushing, 6 receiving, 1 kickoff return) ranks third on the Alabama career list. 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 a 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 586 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 522 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 1,152 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 eight 100-yard efforts in 11 games this year. The eight 100-yard rushing games is the second most in school history (9 by Mark Ingram, 2009). 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. Richardson had 175 yards and three total scores vs. Georgia Southern. 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 175 yards rushing, junior running back Trent Richardson moved into the top five of Alabama’s single-season rushing yardage list with, 1,380 yards. He is in fifth place, just three yards behind Glen Coffee and Shaun Alexander, who are tied for third. Mark Ingram holds the Alabama single-season record with 1.658 yards in 2009, which Richardson trails by 278 yards.
RICHARDSON MOVING UP IN RUSHES: Trent Richardson has moved into eighth in career rushes at Alabama with 493. He is just 42 carries away from Sherman Williams in seventh place with 535 carries. Shaun Alexander (1996-99) holds the Alabama record with 727 rushing attempts. Richardson’s 236 carries in 2011 is also the fourth most in a single season in school history. Alexander’s 302 carries in 1999 is the school record.
SMELLEY COMES UP BIG ON SENIOR DAY: Senior tight end Brad Smelley had a career night against Georgia Southern last week recording a career-high tying four receptions for a career-best 58 yards. The Tuscaloosa native was also responsible for two of the Crimson Tide’s four offensive touchdowns.
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. McCarron is now four completions away from tying Brodie Croyle with 182 for eighth 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 three, 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 1,826. 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 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 52 for 609 yards (11.7 yard average) and one touchdown. He also has 29 punt returns for 363 yards, with an average of 12.5 yards per return, ranking 11th 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 134 careers starts. Center William Vlachos leads the line with 38 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 and last week against Georgia Southern with a sprained ankle. Chance Warmack has started the last 24 games at left guard and D.J. Fluker started 20 games at right tackle. Anthony Steen has had 11 starts, while he shares the position with Alfred McCullough, who has started seven 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-six times in 33 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 now also reached 12 100-yard rushing efforts, sophomore Eddie Lacy with two and sophomore Jalston Fowler with one. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 32-1 in those 33 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
TIDE RECORDS FIRST BLOCKED FIELD GOAL FOR A TOUCHDOWN SINCE 2003: Junior Dont’a Hightower blocked a Georgia Southern field goal attempt in the first quarter last week that was picked up by junior Dre Kirkpatrick and returned for a 55-yard touchdown. The last time Alabama blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown was on Nov. 29, 2003, at Hawai’i, with Chris James recording the block and Roman Harper returning the ball 73 yards for the score.
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 28.5 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.
ALABAMA-AUBURN SERIES: The Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers meet in the 76th Iron Bowl on Saturday, Saturday, November 26, at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. Alabama holds a 40-34-1 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. 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. Last season, the Tigers came back late to win the game, 28-27, in Tuscaloosa.
MORE SERIES LORE: Just about everyone knows of the rich history and tradition associated with the Alabama-Auburn series, but some people may not be aware that the rivalry was discontinued for more than 40 years in the first half of the 20th century. A few seemingly minor disagreements between the teams resulted in the series being cancelled in 1908. It was not resumed until the 1948 season. Though there are myths about fighting and other violence necessitating a dismissal of the series, the truth is that the only problems between the two teams emerged over the referee and per diem money for the players. In winning the 1906 game, Alabama used an offensive formation that Auburn head coach Mike Donahue declared illegal. After Alabama implemented a similar formation in 1907, Auburn insisted that their next meeting be officiated by an umpire from outside the South. Alabama thought this request to be unnecessary and that became the first matter of disagreement between the two schools. The second conflict, which was over per diem, essentially amounted to $33. Each team was allowed 22 players on its roster. Auburn wanted each player to receive $3.50, while Alabama thought the amount should be only two dollars. After arguing for several months over these two matters, the teams finally reached a compromise and decided not to play in 1908. By this point, however, their schedules had been set for the season, and neither team’s opponents were willing to move. Alabama suggested playing the game after Thanksgiving, but Auburn’s Board of Trustees would not allow them to play beyond the holiday. Thus, the game was not played in 1908, and it was not placed on the schedule the following year. Attempts to revive the game in 1911, 1919, 1932 and 1944 all failed. Finally, in the spring of 1948, behind the initiative of Alabama President John Galilee, an agreement was reached to resume the series in Birmingham that fall. Prior to the game, student body presidents Gilis Cammock of Alabama and Willie Johns of Auburn participated in a symbolic “burying of the hatchet” ceremony at Woodrow Wilson Park in Birmingham. The two teams rekindled their rivalry at Legion Field on December 4, 1948, and have played annually since then.
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 27th 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 38th time in history. The Crimson Tide is 26-11 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 2011 Alabama-Auburn game will be the 37th televised game in the series, dating back to the series’ first televised game in 1964. Alabama owns an 19-17 record in the previous 36 TV games. The Alabama-Auburn game is being televised for the 18th consecutive year. CBS Sports will televise its 13th Iron Bowl this season.
SABAN VERSUS AUBURN: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 4-5 in his career against the Auburn Tigers. Saban made his Alabama debut in the Nov. 24, 2007, Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Saban was 2-3 against the Tigers while the head coach at LSU from 2000-04.
IRON BOWL COACHING RECORDS: Former Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant holds the Iron Bowl record for most games coached (25) and most wins (19). Here is a look at the all-time Iron Bowl coaching records entering the 2011 season.
CROSSING ENEMY LINES: Auburn alumnus G.H. Harvey is the only person to serve as head football coach at both Auburn and Alabama. He coached Auburn to a 3-0-2 record in his lone season with the Tigers in 1893, included in that record was a 40-16 win over Alabama on Nov. 30 at Montgomery’s Riverside Park. Harvey also served as head coach at Alabama during the 1901 season, compiling 2-1-2 record, which included a 17-0 loss to Auburn in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 15, 1901. Harvey’s combined coaching record with Auburn and Alabama was 5-1-4 in 10 games as head coach. Bill “Brother” Oliver, who played at Alabama in 1960s and then later served as an assistant coach under Bryant and Stallings at Alabama, was Auburn’s interim head coach in 1998. Oliver took over midway through the season for Terry Bowden, who resigned in October, and coached the Tigers to a 2-3 record, including a 31-17 loss to the Crimson Tide.
39 NATIONAL TV GAMES IN LAST 50 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 47-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 47-3 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. Over the last three years, Alabama has had more NFL first round picks than any other school (seven).
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.
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. For a complete listing of the preseason watch lists, refer to the chart on page 4.
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 five 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.