ALABAMA FOOTBALL: Crimson Tide Defensive Notebook Here are some notes concerning the Crimson Tide defense heading into the PetroSun Independence Bowl.
The Tide has used 15 different starters on defense this season.
Four defensive players -- Marcus Carter, Simeon Castille, Wallace Gilberry and Rashad Johnson -- have started all 12 games.
Two of the top tacklers on defense are true freshmen.
Linebacker Rolando McClain (Decatur, Ala.) is the fourth-leading tackler with 70 stops this season, while cornerback Kareem Jackson (Macon, Ga.) is fifth with 61 tackles.
The Crimson Tide allowed only 16 points in its first two games this season and did not allow a touchdown in the first seven quarters of the season.
The 16 points were the fewest points allowed in the first two games of the season since 1989. The Crimson Tide allowed only 10 points in back-to-back games to Memphis State (35-7) and Kentucky (15-3) in 1989.
The Crimson Tide has held four of its 12 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing. Western Carolina (76), Vanderbilt (57), Florida State (82) and LSU (89) all rushed for less than 100 yards against Alabama.
The Crimson Tide held Western Carolina to six points in the season opener, the lowest point total by an opponent on opening day since a 41-3 win over Temple on September 7, 1991.
Alabama’s defense held Vanderbilt’s All-SEC wide receiver Earl Bennett to four catches for 53 yards in the Tide’s 24-10 win at Nashville on Sept. 8.
The Crimson Tide also held Vandy quarterback Chris Nickson in check. The junior completed only 5 of 18 passes for 67 yards and threw one interception. He added three rushing attempts for minus-seven yards before being benched in the third quarter.
Alabama held Mississippi State to 215 yards of total offense on Nov. 10, its best defensive effort of the season. The previous low was 232 yards by Vanderbilt on Sept. 8.
Arkansas ran for season-high 301 yards (53 attempts) against the Tide defense.
Arkansas and Georgia (153 yards) rushed for 453 yards in back-to-back games against UA.
Arkansas had 450 total yards in the loss to Alabama, which is the most against UA this season.
Houston is the only team to have a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver against the Tide this season.
Alabama recorded a season-high five sacks in the win over Houston. The Tide had only five sacks in the first five games of the season.
The five sacks against Houston were the most by the Crimson Tide since recording five sacks against Middle Tennessee in the 2005 season opener.
The Crimson Tide defense shut out Tennessee in the second half on Oct. 20.
LSU passed for a season-high 388 yards against Alabama on Nov. 3. Matt Flynn was 24 of 44 for 353 yards and three TDs in the win over the Tide.
Mississippi State completed only nine passes for 100 yards against Alabama on Nov. 10. Both were season-bests by the Tide defense.
Alabama tallied 13 TFLs (-40 yards) in the loss to UL Monroe. Gilberry had four (-12) and Knight added three (-8).
In addition, Mustin (14), Gilberry (10) and Hall (10) combined for 34 tackles in the UL Monroe game.
The defensive line is thin on experience as evidenced by the fact that four freshmen have seen action up front this season.
Alabama’s defense has a three-man front, led by senior defensive end Wallace Gilberry (Bay Minette, Ala.). Gilberry will play his 50th career game for the Crimson Tide at the Independence Bowl.
He is the Tide’s second-leading tackler this season with 72 stops.
He also leads UA with nine sacks, 12 quarterback pressures and 22 tackles for loss.
He has 17 TFLs in his last seven games for the Tide.
He had 18 tackles, four sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in wins over Houston and Ole Miss.
Gilberry was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the week following his performance against Houston on Oct. 6. He had 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two quarterback pressures in the win.
Gilberry had a career-high three sacks against No. 3 LSU, including back-to-back plays in the second quarter.
He had a season-high 10 tackles in the loss to ULM.
He added a career-high four quarterback pressures in the Tide’s win at Vanderbilt on Sept. 8.
In 49 career games, Gilberry has 180 tackles, 20.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss. He has also added four five forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered and three pass breakups.
Sophomore Brandon Deaderick (Elizabethtown, Ky.) starts at the other defensive end position.
He has played in all 12 games and started the last seven games. In 12 games, he has 22 tackles, including two sacks.
Deaderick had a career-high five tackles in the ULM game on Nov. 17.
He recorded four tackles against Florida State (Sept. 29) and added two tackles, one sack (-7) and one pressure against Houston (Oct. 6).
Junior Bobby Greenwood (Prattville, Ala.) and redshirt freshman Milton Talbert (Hattiesburg, Miss.) have also seen action on the defensive line.
Greenwood has played 11 games this season and started the first five games before an injury. He has played as backup the last six games.
He has 18 tackles, including 4.5 stops behind the line this season.
Greenwood has played 36 games and logged 60 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in his three-year career.
He had a season-high four tackles in the win over Arkansas.
Sophomore Lorenzo Washington (Logansville, Ga.) has started 11 of the 12 games at nose guard. He has 34 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and three sacks this season.
He had a career-high five tackles in the loss to LSU on Nov. 3.
He made his first career start against Western Carolina (Sept. 1) and first SEC start at Vanderbilt (Sept. 8).
Redshirt freshman Brian Motley (Autaugaville, Ala.) made his first career start at nose tackle against UL Monroe on Nov. 17.
Motley has played in eight games and has recorded 10 tackles and two TFLs this season.
He missed the first four games of the 2007 season after suffering a fractured ankle on Aug. 27.
Motley had a season-high three tackles against UL Monroe.
He had two tackles each against Florida State and Ole Miss.
True freshmen Josh Chapman (Hoover, Ala.) and Alfred McCullough (Athens, Ala.) have also seen limited action at nose guard.
The linebackers returned only one starter from last year’s squad.
Junior Ezekial Knight (Wedowee, Ala.) and true freshmen Chavis Williams (Dora, Ala.) play the “sam” position.
Knight has played in all 12 games and has 60 tackles, 11 TFLs and three sacks.
He began his career as a wide receiver before switching to defense in 2006.
He made his first career start at linebacker against Vanderbilt (5 tackles) on Sept. 8.
Knight had a career-high nine tackles in the loss to Florida State (Sept. 29), with two TFLs (-9) and one sack (-6) against the Seminoles.
He recorded his first career interception at Ole Miss on Oct. 13 and his 28-yard return set up the Tide’s game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter.
He added his second career interception at No. 3 LSU which led to a second-quarter field goal.
Knight had six tackles, including a career-high three TFLs (-8 yards) against UL Monroe on Nov. 17.
Williams has two tackles in seven games this season.
True freshmen Rolando McClain (Decatur) and sophomore Prince Hall (Riverside, Calif.) share duties at the “mike” linebacker position.
McClain has played in all 12 games with eight starts and earned Freshman All-SEC honors.
He was the Tide’s fourth-leading tackler with 70 tackles this season. He also added 4.5 TFLs, two pass breakups, one sack and one interception.
His best game of the season came in the regular-season finale at Auburn (Nov. 24), where he logged 15 tackles and his first career interception (23 yard return).
He also added 11 tackles against Georgia on Sept. 22 and nine stops against FSU on Sept. 29.
Hall has started three games for the Tide in 2007, including back-to-back games against Mississippi State and UL Monroe.
He is the lone returning starting linebacker. He earned Freshman All-American honors in 2006 and finished the season with 77 tackles and led the Tide with 10 1/2 tackles for loss last season.
In 10 games, he has 57 tackles, one interception and one pass breakup.
He made his first start of the 2007 season against Georgia on Sept. 22, subbing for the injured Darren Mustin.
He responded with a game-high 12 tackles, one shy of his career high at UA. He had 13 tackles in a loss to Mississippi State in 2006.
Hall recorded his first career interception against FSU on Sept. 29.
He added 10 tackles in the loss to ULM.
In 23 games, he has 131 tackles, 11 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
Seniors Darren Mustin (Brentwood, Tenn.), Demarcus Waldrop (Pinson) and Marcel Stamps (Brantley, Ala.) all man the “will” linebacker position.
Mustin has started 11 games this season. He missed the Georgia game with an injury.
He is second on the team with 72 tackles. He has added 7.5 TFLs, one sack, one interception and one pass breakup.
He had a career-high 14 tackles in the loss to UL Monroe.
He recorded eight tackles in the Tide’s 41-17 win over Tennessee on Oct. 20.
His only career interception came against Arkansas on Sept. 15 and set up an Alabama touchdown with a first-and-goal a the Arkansas 9-yard line.
He recorded his first career sack (-6) against Houston on Oct. 6.
Waldrop has played in 48 games and missed his first game at Alabama on Nov. 17 when he sat out against ULM with a groin injury.
Waldrop has 13 tackles and one forced fumble in 11 games.
He had two tackles and recovered an on-side kick on the opening kickoff to earn Alabama Special Teams Player of the Game honors against Tennessee on Oct. 20.
In 48 games, he has 72 career tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two pass breakups and one pressure.
Senior Keith Saunders (Willingboro, N.J.) and sophomore Brandon Fanney (Morristown, Tenn.) man the “jack” linebacker position.
Saunders, who played defensive end last season, made the move to linebacker this season. He has 31 tackles in 12 games.
He had a career-high 10 tackles in the win over Arkansas on Sept. 15.
Overall, Saunders has 58 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and two sacks in 42 career games for the Tide.
Fanney has played 10 games and logged seven tackles this season, including five in the season opener against Western Carolina.
The Alabama secondary returned the most experience among the UA defenders, with two seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup.
Senior Simeon Castille (Birmingham) is the starting left corner back. He has played in 47 career games, second only to Gilberry and Waldrop among UA defenders.
In 12 games this season, Castille is fifth on the team with 61 tackles. He also leads UA with 10 pass breakups.
In his four-year career, Castille has recorded 174 career tackles, 27 pass breakups and 12 interceptions to also lead the Tide.
He recorded his first interception of the season against Houston (Oct. 6) when he picked off Case Keenum’s pass in the end zone on the game’s final play. Castille also had six tackles against the Cougars.
Senior Eric Gray (Trinity, Ala.) and sophomore Marquis Johnson (Sarasota, Fla.) and serve as Castille’s backups.
Gray has two tackles in 10 games this season.
Johnson had four tackles, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery in eight games this season.
True freshman Kareem Jackson (Macon, Ga.) has taken over the starting duties at right cornerback.
Jackson has played 12 games and made 11 starts to earn Freshman All-SEC accolades.
He is the Tide’s fifth-leading tackler with 61 stops. He has also added five pass breakups, three interceptions, one forced fumble and one blocked kick.
He has three interceptions on the season, including two against Tennessee on Oct. 20.
He had eight tackles against Florida State (Sept. 29) and Houston (Oct. 6).
Jackson turned in a season-high nine tackles in the win at Ole Miss on Oct. 13.
He was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for his performance against Tennessee on Oct. 20. In the win over the Vols, Jackson had six tackles, two interceptions and two pass break ups.
He added his third interception of the season (51-yard return) and one blocked field goal against No. 3 LSU. His interception set up a touchdown that gave the Tide a 20-17 lead in the second quarter.
Jackson preserved that lead when he blocked Colt David’s field goal attempt on the last play of the first half.
Junior Lionel Mitchell (Stone Mountain, Ga.) has played in 10 games, with seven starts. He has 29 tackles and one pass break up.
He has recorded 56 tackles and four interceptions in 24 career games.
Mitchell had four interceptions (TD) and 131 interception return yards in 2006, which ranks fourth all-time at UA.
Senior Marcus Carter (Ft. Payne, Ala.) is the Tide’s starting strong safety. Like Castille, Carter also has a wealth of experience and will play in his 48th game at the Independence Bowl.
In 12 games, Carter has 47 tackles, including 1.5 TFLs.
He had a career high six tackles against Arkansas on Sept. 15.
In 47 career games, Carter has 82 tackles and 2.5 TFLs.
He is backed up by sophomores Ali Sharrief (Stevenson, Ala.) and Chris Rogers (Lakeland), and both are also prominent special teams players.
Sharrief has 20 tackles and one TFL in 12 games. Rogers has nine tackles in eight games.
Junior Rashad Johnson (Sulligent, Ala.) is the starter at free safety. He leads Alabama with 81 tackles and six interceptions through 12 games.
Johnson is the SEC co-leader and ranks fifth nationally with six interceptions this year.
Johnson has also added seven pass breakups, five TFLs, one sack and one forced fumble.
He had a career-high nine tackles against Houston (Oct. 6), Ole Miss (Oct. 13) and LSU (Nov. 3).
Johnson added eight tackles against Western Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia.
He has 117 tackles in 34 career games for the Tide. He has also added 6.5 TFLs, six interceptions, six pass breakups and four forced fumbles.
Sophomore Javier Arenas (Tampa, Fla.) is Johnson’s backup. Arenas has played in 11 games and has 20 tackles and one TFL.
He made his first career start as nickel back against No. 3 LSU and had a career-high four tackles and his first career TFL.
He suffered a high ankle sprain in the loss to ULM and his status for the Auburn is unknown at this time.