ALABAMA FOOTBALL: Defensive Notebook

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Nov. 26, 2008

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -  The Alabama defense is third in the nation in rushing defense this season and has held nine of its first 11 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing.  Read about the Tide defense each week on RollTide.com.

UA AMONG DEFENSIVE LEADERS: Alabama is in the top seven nationally in four defensive categories after 11 games this season. The Crimson Tide ranks third nationally in total defense, allowing 255.64 yards per game. The rushing defense is also third in the country, giving up just 75.09 yards per contest, while the scoring defense ranks sixth nationally, allowing just 12.55 points per game, which is second in the SEC (Florida, 12.0). The pass efficiency defense comes in at No. 7 this week, allowing an efficiency rating of just 97.71 to opposing quarterbacks. The pass defense also moved up this week to No. 27, allowing 180.55 yards per game.

Rashad Johnson A DIFFERENCE-MAKER IN THE SECONDARY: Alabama free safety Rashad Johnson has turned his play up a notch over the last five games. Beginning with the Mississippi game on Oct. 18 and continuing at Tennessee (Oct. 25), vs. Arkansas State (Nov. 1), at LSU and vs. Mississippi State last Saturday, Johnson has performed at a consistently high level. During that five-game stretch, the senior has five interceptions that have resulted in 34 points for the Crimson Tide, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns. He also has 38 total tackles (25 solo), five tackles for loss (-15), one sack (-7), two pass breakups and one forced fumble during that stretch. Overall, he ranks tied for 12th nationally in interceptions (.45 per game) and tied eighth in passes defended (1.36 per game). His 68 total tackles rank second on the team while his five TFL are third. Johnson's three interceptions against LSU tied the single-game school record while his two interception returns for touchdowns (one vs. Arkansas State and one at LSU) ties the Tide's single-season record.

STOPPING THE RUN: Alabama is 12-2 under Coach Nick Saban when holding opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in a game, including a 9-0 mark in 2008. The Tide held Clemson (0), Tulane (86), Western Kentucky (42), Arkansas (92), Georgia (50), Kentucky (35), Tennessee (36), Arkansas State (91) and Mississippi State (35) to less than 100 rushing yards in nine-of-11 games this season. Going back to 2007, the Tide has held 10 of their last 12 opponents below 100 yards rushing with Colorado amassing just 75 yards in the 2007 Independence Bowl. Alabama was 3-2 last year when opponents failed to reach 100 rushing yards in a game. In Coach Saban's 24-game tenure at Alabama, the Tide has held its opponent under 100 yards rushing 14 times.

TOUGH TO FIND THE END ZONE: Alabama has allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns in the country. The Crimson Tide has allowed three touchdowns on the ground this season with two coming at LSU and one at Georgia. The UA defense is allowing just 75.1 yards rushing per game and 12.6 points. Auburn is second nationally, allowing just four rushing touchdowns, while Tennessee is for third, surrendering five rushing touchdowns this season.

TIDE 3RD NATIONALLY IN RUSHING DEFENSE: The Crimson Tide ranks third nationally in rushing defense 11 games into the 2008 season. Alabama opponents have 295 rushing attempts for 826 yards, an average of 75.1 yards per game and 2.80 yards per attempt this season. The top five teams in the nation in terms of rushing defense are No. 1 TCU (48.7), No. 2 Nevada (64.5 ypg), Alabama, No. 4 Texas (82.5 ypg) and No. 5 South Florida (89.4 ypg). The Crimson Tide defense opened the season in impressive fashion by holding Clemson to zero rushing yards. In the Crimson Tide's second game Alabama held Tulane to 86 rushing yards on 32 attempts, then allowed just 42 yards on 22 carries vs. Western Kentucky, 92 yards on 31 rushes at Arkansas, 50 yards on 16 carries at Georgia, 35 yards on 20 attempts to Kentucky, 36 yards on 21 carries at Tennessee, 91 yards on 37 attempts to Arkansas State and 35 yards on 22 carries to Mississippi State.

Game-By-Game Rushing Stats (Attempts-Yards): Clemson (14-0), Tulane (32-86), Western Kentucky (22-42), Arkansas (31-92), Georgia (16-50), Kentucky (20-35), Mississippi (34-158), Tennessee (21-36), Arkansas State (37-91), LSU (46-201) and Mississippi State (22-35).

RUNNING ON THE TIDE IS TOUGH: Running has been tough against the UA defense this season, as evidenced by the fact that no running back has surpassed the 100-yard barrier and all 11 opponents' leading rushers have fallen significantly short of their season run totals when playing Alabama. Here is a look at the Tide's opposing running backs this season and how they have fared against Alabama, compared to their season totals.

Opponent          Leading Rusher            Season Avg.         vs. Alabama    Difference
Clemson         James Davis               57.6                 13                 -44.6
                     C.J. Spiller                  52.4                 7                   -45.4 
Tulane            Andre Anderson          127.6               32                  -95.6
W. Kentucky    Tyrell Hayden             33.9                  9                  -24.9
Arkansas         Michael Smith            112.4                91                 -21.4
Georgia           Knowshon Moreno      113.1                34                  -79.1
Kentucky         Derrick Locke              43.3                 28                 -15.3
Mississippi       Cordera Eason            55.0                  6                   -49.0
Tennessee      Arian Foster                51.1                 21                  -30.1
Arkansas State Reggie Arnold            89.0                 72                   -17.0
                      Derek Lawson            62.9                 24                   -38.9
LSU                 Charles Scott            107.1                92                    -6.3
Mississippi St.   Anthony Dixon          77.5                  26                  -51.5