Countdown to Kickoff
Wednesday Notebook: Defense and Special Teams



Nov. 25, 2009

TIFFIN'S PRODUCTION AT ALL-TIME HIGH: Alabama senior place-kicker Leigh Tiffin is second nationally in field goals per game at 2.27. He has connected on 25-of-28 field goals this season (89.3 percent). His 25 field goals tie his own school record set in 2007 and currently rank as the fifth most by any SEC kicker in a single season. Tiffin also leads the SEC and ranks eighth nationally in scoring at 9.91 points per game. He has scored 109 points this season, which is second-highest single-season total at UA, trailing his 2007 season (111 points). The 109 points also ranks tied for ninth in the SEC record books. Tiffin has connected on 10 consecutive field goals and 19 of his last 20. He has made an impressive 16 field goals (out of 17) over the last six games.

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

TIFFIN BECOMES UA'S CAREER SCORING LEADER: Tiffin became Alabama's career scoring leader on Nov. 7 with 10 points vs. LSU, passing Philip Doyle (345). He now has 362 career points to rank fifth in SEC history. He is one point behind LSU's Cold David for fourth place, six points behind Florida's Jeff Chandler for third place and nine points back of Tennessee's Jeff Hall for second place.

TIFFIN TIED ON UA'S CAREER FIELD GOALS LIST: Tiffin has tied the Alabama career field goals made record with 78. He converted his only field goal chance - from 41 yards out - against Chattanooga for the 78 of his career, which ties Philip Doyle (78 from 1987-90). Tiffin connected on multiple field goals in four straight games prior to the Mississippi State game. He has made 16 of 17 field goals during the last six games and 10 straight. He surpassed his father, Van Tiffin (59 from 1983-86) against North Texas and then moved past Michael Proctor vs. Mississippi. He is also third on the SEC's career field goals made list, just nine behind Georgia's Billy Bennett (87), who is also the NCAA career leader.

TIFFIN GARNERS NATIONAL ATTENTION: Senior place-kicker Leigh Tiffin keeps making big field goals and the Crimson Tide keeps winning. He ranks second nationally in field goals per game at 2.27 and total field goals with 25. Tiffin also ranks eighth nationally and first in the SEC in scoring with 9.91 points per game. His 109 total points is the second highest in a single season at Alabama, just two points behind his record set in 2007. He has been named a Lou Groza Award "Star of the Week" three times and was a midseason All-American by  On Monday, he was named one of three finalists for the 2009 Lou Groza Award.

BAMA DEFENSE GETTING STRONGER: Alabama's defense only seems to be strengthening down the stretch of the 2009 season, ranking in the top five in every major defensive category. The Crimson Tide leads the nation in total defense (225.64 yards per game) and pass efficiency defense (82.52), while ranking second in rushing defense (70.36 ypg) and scoring defense (9.91 points per game). After holding Chattanooga to 36 yards on 7-of-27 passing, Alabama moved up to fifth nationally in pass defense, allowing 154.64 ypg. The UA defense has surrendered only six touchdowns in seven Southeastern Conferences games this season and has held five SEC teams to single-digit scoring. The Crimson Tide has won six of its seven SEC games by two or more scores. Over the past six games those numbers get even better, with Alabama allowing only three touchdowns and 37 total points in those games (6.17 ppg).

Alabama's SEC Defense
Team                                               TD (s)      Points       Rushing    Passing   Total Offense
Arkansas                                1              7            63          191            254
at Kentucky                             2            20          133          168            301
at Mississippi                           0             3            57          140            197
South Carolina                         0             6            64          214            278
Tennessee                              1            10            74          265            339
LSU                                        2            15            95          158            253
at Mississippi St.ate                  0            3            114           99            213

McCLAIN HEART AND SOUL OF TIDE DEFENSE: Junior middle linebacker Rolando McClain has proven to be the heart and soul of the Tide's defense this season. The Butkus Award finalist not only leads the team in tackles with 84, but is virtually an on-the-field coach for Alabama. McClain is responsible for making all of the defensive calls and is especially proficient at checking the Crimson Tide into the correct play. Almost impossible to block, McClain is either making the tackle or forcing the play into the waiting arms of another Tide defender. The remainder of his stat line: 10.5 tackles for loss (-46 yards), 3.0 sacks (-26 yards), two interceptions (21 return yards), two pass breakups, 11 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. McClain's play has garnered him extensive national recognition. He was the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week after his performance against Kentucky. McClain has also been named a midseason All-American by Sporting News and selected as a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award as well as the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the best defensive player in the nation.

GROUND DEFENSE: The Crimson Tide has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in an astonishing 31 games, dating back to Oct. 13, 2007, when Mississippi's BenJarvus Green-Ellis went for 131 yards. That is the longest streak in the nation, nine games more than second-place Ohio State (21 games). Alabama is one of six teams not to allow a 100-yard rusher in 2009 and is the only team not to surrender a 100-yard rusher in 2008 or 2009. As a team, the Crimson Tide has held 20 teams under 100 yards rushing over the past 24 games with only LSU and Florida in 2008 and Kentucky and Mississippi State in 2009 able to crack the 100-yard barrier as a team.

Teams That Have Not Allowed a 100-Yard Rusher in 2009
Team                                   Streak                 Last time it happened (Team)
Alabama                        31                  Oct. 13, 2007 (Mississippi)
Ohio State                     22                  Sept. 13, 2008 (USC)
Penn State                     15                  Nov. 8, 2008 (Iowa)
Nevada                          11                  Dec. 30, 2008 (Maryland)
Oklahoma State              11                  Dec. 30, 2008 (Oregon)
Texas                            11                  Jan. 5, 2009 (Ohio State)

DEFENSE TOUGH ON THIRD DOWN: The Crimson Tide defense has been strong on third down in 2009, ranking sixth nationally and allowing a 28.57 conversion rate (44 for 154). Alabama's performance at Mississippi on October 10 was something special. UA did not allow the Rebels a single third-down conversion as UM went 0 for 9. UA held Virginia Tech to just two conversions on 12 third down attempts (16.7 percent). Florida International was just 7 for 17 (41.1%) on third down while North Texas could only muster a success rate of 28.5 percent (4 for 14). The Tide opened SEC play by limiting Arkansas to 2 for 14 on third down (14.3 percent) and then held Kentucky to 4 of 13 (30.8 percent). No. 9 LSU converted just 5 of 14 (35.7 percent) in the Tide's 24-15 win and Mississippi State managed just a mere 15.4 percent conversion rate (2 for 13). Chattanooga was 3 for 13 on third down (23.08) in a 45-0 loss. That continues a trend for the Crimson Tide after finishing third nationally in third down conversion defense in 2008, holding opponents to a 28.14 percent (56 of 199) conversion rate.

FORCING TURNOVERS: Alabama has produced 19 turnovers in the last seven games, forcing five turnovers at Mississippi, four at Kentucky, two against South Carolina, one vs. Tennessee, one vs. LSU, three at Mississippi State and three against Chattanooga. The Tide has picked off 16 passes in those seven games and recovered three fumbles. The Crimson Tide ranks fifth nationally in turnover margin at plus-1.18 per game. Alabama has forced 72 turnovers in 38 games under head coach Nick Saban, an average of 1.89 per game, forcing 23 turnovers in 11 games this season, while the UA offense has only turned the ball over 10 times (4 interception, 6 fumbles) in 2009. Alabama forced 24 turnovers in 2007 for a plus-4 turnover ratio and then recorded 25 turnovers and ended the season with a plus-6 turnover margin in 2008. Alabama has recorded at least one turnover in 33 of 38 games under Saban. UA is 27-6 under Saban when gaining at least one turnover. Alabama is 3-2 in games without a turnover over the last three seasons. Alabama has won 18 straight games in which it picks off a pass.

ARENAS NEARING SEC & NCAA PUNT RETURN YARDAGE RECORD: Senior cornerback and return specialist Javier Arenas is quickly sneaking up on the all-time great punt returners in college football history. He has already broken all of the Crimson Tide punt return records and the SEC punt returns for touchdowns (7) record, and now has his sights set on other SEC and NCAA records as well. He is the NCAA active leader in career punt returns, yards, touchdowns, returns per game and yards per game. Arenas, who has 1,658 career punt return yards on 119 returns, is just 39 punt return yards away from breaking Lee Nalley's long-standing SEC record of 1,695 (102 returns for a 14.4 ypr average). Arenas set the SEC punt returns for touchdowns record (7) with a 66-yard return against Chattanooga. Nalley set that record from 1947-49 and it stood for 54 years as the NCAA record until Texas Tech's Wes Welker broke it in 2003. Welker finished his Tech career with 1,761 punt return yards and Arenas needs 104 yards to break his record and become the NCAA's all-time leader in punt return yards.