Alabama BCS National Championship Game Notes
Dec. 19, 2011
GAME 13: Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) vs. LSU (13-0, 8-0 SEC)
THE GAME: The Alabama Crimson Tide will face the LSU Tigers in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game on Monday, January 9, 2012, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. The Tide will be making its second appearance in the BCS National Championship Game, while the Tigers are making the trip for the third time. Most recently, Alabama defeated Texas, 37-21, in the 2010 contest, while LSU was a 38-24 winner over Ohio State in the 2008 game also played in New Orleans. The game will be televised on ESPN with Brent Musburger on play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit as the color analyst and Erin Andrews reporting from the sideline. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart serving as sideline reporter.
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his fifth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school’s 27th head coach on January 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 49-12 record (54-12 not including five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to two SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and one national championship. Saban holds a career record of 140-54-1 (145-54-1) as a collegiate head coach, while also serving at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU. Saban won his first national championship as head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2003, guiding the Tigers to a 13-1 record that season. Overall, Saban has coached four conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC, 2003 SEC and 2009 SEC) and now his 12th of 15 teams will be playing in a postseason bowl game with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban’s direction. Saban is also the only active coach to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
RANKINGS: In the latest polls released on December 4, Alabama stands at No. 2 in the Associated Press rankings and the USA Today Coaches’ poll, as well as the Harris Poll and the Bowl Championship Series standings. LSU is first on all four surveys.
LSU SERIES: This will be the 76th meeting between the Crimson Tide and Tigers and second of the season. The Tide and Tigers met earlier this season, on November 5 in Tuscaloosa, with LSU taking a 9-6 verdict over Alabama in a game that needed an overtime period to decide a victor. Overall, the Tide leads the Tigers in the series 45-25-5 with the two teams splitting the last four meetings, including a 27-21 overtime victory in 2008 and a 24-15 win in 2009.
ONE OF THE WINNINGEST CLASSES OF ALL TIME: Alabama’s 2011 senior class has won a school-record 47 games over the past four seasons while losing only six contests. The 47 wins is among the most in college football history and the second-best four-year 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 49-3. TCU’s current senior class has 46 wins over the last four years.
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 and following December graduation Alabama will have 22 players with their degrees, including Brandon Gibson, who has completed both this undergraduate (Dec. 2010) and graduate (Dec. 2011) degrees. Undra Billingsley (Dec. 2011), John Michael Boswell (Dec. 2011), Hardie Buck (Aug. 2011), Josh Chapman (May 2011), Nick Gentry (Dec. 2010), Jerrell Harris (Dec. 2011), Dont’a Hightower (Dec. 2011), Barrett Jones (Aug. 2011), Chris Jordan (Dec. 2011), Phelon Jones (May 2011), Darius Hanks (Dec. 2011), Robert Lester (Dec. 2011), Brandon Lewis (Dec. 2011), Marquis Maze (Dec. 2011)Alfred McCullough (May 2011), DeQuan Menzie (Dec. 2011), Morgan Ogilvie (Aug. 2011), Chris Underwood (May 2011), Courtney Upshaw (Dec. 2011), William Vlachos (May 2011) and Alex Watkins (Dec. 2010). Over the past four seasons (2008-11) the Crimson Tide has seen 54 players compete after having already graduated.
10-WIN SEASONS: With a win against Georgia Southern on Nov. 19, 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 season 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.
ANOTHER 11-WIN SEASON FOR THE TIDE: Alabama’s victory in the Iron Bowl was the Crimson Tide’s 15th 11-win season in the program’s illustrious history. It marked the third time in the last four years the Tide has won at least 11 games (12 in 2008 and 14 in 2009) in a season. The 15 11-win seasons is the second-most in college football history behind Oklahoma’s 20. Nebraska is third on the list with 12 11-win seasons with its last coming in 2001.
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 the Alabama single-season rushing touchdown record against Georgia Southern on Nov. 19, 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 41 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 336-69 in the final three quarters of games this season after holding a 96-37 edge in the first quarter. The disparity has grown wider over the past 10 games where Alabama owns a 68-34 scoring edge in the first quarter and a 289-54 edge in the final three quarters. Alabama has outscored its opposition in the second half of the last 10 games by a score of 201-34. Alabama held Mississippi State scoreless until the final quarter, while the Tide and 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 12 GAMES VS. FBS OPPONENTS: Over the last 12 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 45.8 rushing yards per game or 549 total rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. The Crimson Tide has allowed 28 rushing yards or less in six of those 12 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 2,641 yards (462 carries) and 37 touchdowns in those 12 games, averaging 220.1 yards per game and 5.72 yards per carry while scoring a touchdown on the ground every 12.5 rushes. Trent Richardson has led the way over that span with 1,450 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns on 241 carries for 6.0 yards per tote. Eddie Lacy has carried 83 times for 672 yards (in 11 games) and nine touchdowns while averaging 8.1 yards per carry.
DISCIPLINE SHOWS: Alabama’s disciplined approach to football is evident in its ability to play a clean football game. The Crimson Tide ranks third nationally in fewest penalties per game, being flagged an average of 4.00 times per game. The Tide also ranks fourth in fewest penalty yards in the country, averaging 33.67 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 Auburn continued a trend of road success by the Crimson Tide in recent seasons. Including the win over the Tigers, Alabama has a 16-2 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 25 games away from Tuscaloosa since 2008, Alabama is 21-4, including an 11-4 mark against ranked opponents.
FINISHING IN THE FOURTH QUARTER: The Crimson Tide has outscored its 11 opponents by a margin of 84 points (105-21) in the fourth quarter while outgaining its opposition 1,048 yards to just 320 yards on the ground, a difference of 728 yards. The Tide offense has only had to throw 29 passes – completing 20 – while opponents have only completed 47.5 percent of their passes with five interceptions and averaged only 3.0 yards per rush and 3.5 yards per play.
RICHARDSON/INGRAM COMPARISON: Junior running back Trent Richardson has had a solid season running the ball in 2011 with 1,583 yards on the ground through 12 games. Through 12 games during Mark Ingram’s Heisman Trophy winning season in 2009, he had 1,429 rushing yards. In addition, Richardson has had 263 carries and 20 touchdowns on the ground, while Ingram had 221 carries and 12 touchdowns after 12 games.
ALABAMA RANKED 63 STRAIGHT WEEKS BY AP: Alabama has been ranked in the last 63 consecutive 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 59 straight mentions.
TIDE NO. 2 IN BCS STANDINGS: Alabama ranks No. 2 in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings, .0581 behind No. 1 LSU. The Tigers boast a BCS average of 1.0000 with Alabama at .9419. Oklahoma State comes in at No. 3 with a .9333 average, .0086 behind the Tide. Stanford came in at No. 4 (.8476), while Oregon moved up to fifth (.7901). Finishing out the top 10 is Arkansas (.7687), Boise State (.7408), Kansas State (.6827), South Carolina (.6553) and Wisconsin (.6374).
TIDE STANDS AT NO. 2 IN THE HARRIS POLL: Alabama ranks No. 2 in the Harris interactive College Football Poll, which was released on Sunday, December 4. 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 2,723 points. LSU is ranked first with 115 first-place votes and 2,875 total points, while Oklahoma State is third with 2,654 points. Stanford, Oregon, Boise State, Arkansas, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Kansas State complete the rest of 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 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).
ALABAMA HAS SECOND MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 47 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 two wins back of Boise State, with 49 wins. The Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.
BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 17-6 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past four seasons and is 9-4 against AP top 10 teams. The Crimson Tide is 3-1 vs. top 25 teams in 2011. Alabama went 5-3 against the AP Top 25 last season.
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 (72.1 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.
NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw five UA players selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, including first round picks Marcell Dareus (third overall to the Buffalo Bills), Julio Jones (sixth overall to the Atlanta Falcons), James Carpenter (25th overall to the Seattle Seahawks) and Mark Ingram (28th overall to the New Orleans Saints). Greg McElroy rounded out the Alabama draft picks by being selected in the seventh round (208th overall) by the New York Jets.
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.
ALABAMA WINS DISNEY SPIRIT AWARD: The University of Alabama football team received 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. 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.
TRENT RICHARDON BECOMES FIRST TIDE PLAYER TO WIN DOAK WALKER: Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson became the first Crimson Tide player in school history to earn the prestigious Doak Walker Award. Richardson earned the honor at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show, held at the Atlantic Dance Hall on the Disney’s Boardwalk. Richardson, a native of Pensacola, Fla., was named a Walter Camp All-American just before learning that he was tabbed the top running back in the country. The junior has also been named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a SEC first-team honoree. He also garnered first team AFCA All-American honors. The powerful back is fifth in the nation in rushing yards per game, averaging 131.92, and has scored 23 touchdowns this season, ranking him fifth in scoring at 11.5 points per game. This season, Richardson set the Alabama record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 20. That number also ties him for second most in a season in SEC history.
Barrett Jones WINS OUTLAND TROPHY: Alabama junior offensive tackle Barrett Jones became the third Crimson Tide player in school history to hoist the Outland Trophy. The Germantown, Tenn., native anchors the Alabama offensive line from his left tackle position. He has started 35 career games, including 10 at left tackle in 2011. He has also helped the Tide rank 15th nationally and first in the SEC in rushing (219.83), while blocking for the league’s No. 2 scoring offense at 36.0 points per game. Jones has already been named a Walter Camp and AFCA All-American on top of earning All-SEC first team accolades and the Jacobs Blocking Trophy. Jones joins former Crimson Tide offensive linemen and National Football League first round picks Chris Samuels (1999) and Andre Smith (2008) as Outland Trophy winners.
Barrett Jones WINS THE WUERFFEL TROPHY: Junior offensive lineman Barrett Jones was selected as the winner of the 2011 Wuerffel Trophy, given annually to the college football player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement. He started 10 games for the Crimson Tide this season at left tackle and 35 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.
ALABAMA GARNERS SEVEN FIRST-TEAM ALL-AMERICANS: With three of the five All-America teams recognized by the NCAA announced at the time the bowl guide went to print, Alabama had already set a school record with seven first team All-Americans. The NCAA recognizes teams from the Football Writers Assocation of America, Walter Camp, the American Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press and Sporting News. Running back Trent Richardson, offensive tackle Barrett Jones and safety Mark Barron have appearned as first-team selections on the FWAA, AFCA and Walter Camp team. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower was named to the AFCA and Walter Camp teams while fellow linebacker Courtney Upshaw was tabbed by the FWAA and cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick (FWAA) and DeQuan Menzie (AFCA) were also recognized. Center William Vlachos was named a second-team Walter Camp All-American.
BARRON A NAGURSKI FINALIST: Alabama safety Mark Barron was 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 was 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 66 total tackles. He has four tackles for loss and is tied for second on the team 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 (237), passes defended (34) and interceptions (12).
RICHARDSON NAMED WALTER CAMP FINALIST: Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson was one of five finalists for the 2011 Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. The five-player list of finalists, include three quarterbacks, one running back and one defensive player. Richardson leads the SEC and ranks second nationally with 1,583 rushing yards. He has 23 total touchdowns to go along with 27 receptions for 327 yards.
HIGHTOWER, UPSHAW WERE FINALISTS FOR LOMBARDI AWARD: Alabama linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw were finalists for the 42nd Rotary Lombardi Award, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker or interior lineman. Hightower and Upshaw were 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.
HIGHTOWER FINALIST FOR LOTT TROPHY: Alabama junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower was one of four players in the country to be named a Lott IMPACT Trophy finalist. 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.
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 FINALISTS FOR BUTKUS AWARD: Junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower and senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw were two of six finalists in the running for the 27th annual Butkus Award, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker.
JONES EARNS ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA HONORS; GIBSON & WILLIAMS ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones earned his third Capital One Academic All-America honor in 2011, earning first-team honors for the second straight season. 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. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in accounting. Gibson, a senior athletically, has already earned his undergraduate degree in public relations and finished his master’s degree in sports administration in December of 2011. 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.
DEFENSE MAKES A STATEMENT: Through 12 games, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to an average of 191.3 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 (83.97 passer efficiency rating), scoring defense (8.8 ppg), rushing defense (74.9 ypg) and pass defense (116.3 ypg).
APPLYING PRESSURE: Senior jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw ranks second in the SEC and is tied for 14th nationally with 1.42 tackles for loss per game or 17 for losses of 85 yards. Upshaw is also tied for fourth in the SEC with .71 sacks per game (8.5 for minus-57 yards) while making 45 total tackles with a team-high 11 quarterback hurries. He now has 35.5 career tackles for loss (-158 yards) and 16.5 sacks (-98 yards). His 35.5 TFLs ranks him ninth in school history while his 16.5 sacks ranks him ninth. Alabama is third in the SEC in tackles for loss (7.08 per game) and third in sacks (2.17 per game) while ranking 20th nationally in TFLs. UA has recorded 85 tackles for loss this season (-334 yards) and 26 sacks in 12 games. By comparison, the Crimson Tide had 75 TFLs and 27 sacks in 13 games a year ago.
GAMES WITH AN INTERCEPTION: With an interception against Auburn on Nov. 26, Alabama has recorded at least one interception in nine of its 12 games this season. The Tide recorded an interception in 11 of the 13 games in 2010, putting together a run of 19 games with a pick in its last 25 outings. Eight different Tide players have tallied an interception in 2011, with Dee Milliner leading the way with three.
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 12 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 Auburn scoring just seven points in the first half on Nov. 26, Alabama has allowed seven points or less in 14 of its last 15 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: Dee Milliner’s 35-yard interception return for a touchdown against Auburn on Nov. 26, marked the fifth non-offensive touchdown of the 2011 season and 25th 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 11 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 48.26 completion percentage through 12 games (153-of-317) to rank first this week. The Tide is also first in the nation in yards per attempt (4.40) and yards per completion (9.12).
YARDS AT A PREMIUM: The Alabama defense is allowing an average of 191.3 yards per game entering this week, which ranks first nationally and leads the SEC. The Tide is also surrendering only 3.4 yards per play, which also leads the nation. UA opponents have run 676 plays against the Crimson Tide defense this season and only managed 158 plays – both running and passing – that went for more than five yards, which accounts for just 23.3 percent. On the flip side of that, the Alabama offense has seen 38.6 percent of its plays go for more than five yards (307-of-796). The Tide defense has also given up only 66 plays (9.8 percent) of more than 10 yards and 25 plays of more than 15 yards (3.7 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 (2.9 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 39 times (only counts drives that started in the opponent territory), but of those 39 drives that moved into Alabama territory, the opponent passed the UA 40-yard line 28 times. Of those 28 drives, opponents have managed 78 points (nine touchdowns and five field goals). Opponents are crossing midfield an average of only 3.25 times per game in 2011. Alabama has forced interceptions on three of those drives and punts six other times. The Tide has also blocked two field goals, forced seven turnovers on downs and recovered two fumbles.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 300: Alabama limited the Auburn offense to 140 yards of total offense on Nov. 26. In head coach Nick Saban’s 66-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense 39 times, or 59.1 percent of the time.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 200: During head coach Nick Saban’s last 52 games at the Capstone, the Crimson Tide defense has held the opposing offense to less than 200 yards of total offense 20 times. Alabama has accomplished the feat seven 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, Mississippi State to 131 yards and Auburn to 140 yards. 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 126 first downs in 12 games for a an average of 10.5 per contest, which leads the nation. UA has allowed 53 total first downs rushing and 11 have come by penalty. Opposing offenses are converting 25.0 percent of their third-down attempts against Alabama (43-of-172). 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 14 times dating back to the start of the 2008 season and most recently against Auburn on Nov. 26 (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 73 three-and-outs through 12 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 (90 games), a mark that leads the nation. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007 (66 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 12 this season. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has allowed 32 rushing touchdowns while OSU has allowed 40. 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 Auburn to 78 rushing yards on 35 carries on Nov. 26. In head coach Nick Saban’s 66-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 100 rushing yards 41 times, or 62.1 percent of the time.
STIFLING DEFENSE: The Alabama defense has stifled opponents in 2011, allowing just 12 touchdowns in 12 games to lead the nation with just 1.0 touchdowns per game. A big part of that success can be attributed to allowing just 10.5 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 8.9 more points per game in 2011 (36.0 ppg) than it did in 2007 (27.1 ppg) and 59.6 more yards per game in total offense.
BALL PROTECTION: The Alabama offense under coordinator Jim McElwain has protected the football better than any team in the country over the last four years. In 53 games as the offensive coordinator, the Crimson Tide has turned the ball over 57 times (30 fumbles, 27 interceptions) for an average of 1.08 turnovers per game, better the Ohio State’s second best average of 1.16 per game. Since 2009, that mark is even better as the Tide has turned the ball over just 38 times in 39 games (0.97 per game). Individually since 2009, UA starting quarterbacks have thrown an impressively-low 14 interceptions in 932 attempts (1 INT for every 67 attempts). The top two running backs in the rotation dating back to the 2009 season have only lost a fumble three times, including none this season. Over the 53-game span, the Tide’s top two running backs have recorded 1,033 carries, losing the ball just once in every 344 carries.
LONG DRIVES: Alabama ranks second nationally with six drives of 90 yards or longer. Georgia Tech has had seven drives of 90 yards or more to lead the nation. 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. Most recently, Fowler capped off a five play, 90-yard drive with a 15-yard rushing touchdown against Auburn on Nov. 26.
IMPRESSIVE GROUND ATTACK: Alabama has scored 33 rushing touchdowns this season, ranking the Crimson Tide tied for seventh nationally and first in the Southeastern Conference in that category. Alabama has scored 54 total touchdowns this season.
RICHARDSON HAVING BIG YEAR: Junior running back Trent Richardson is fourth nationally and leading the Southeastern Conference with 1,583 rushing yards, a total that is second in Crimson Tide history. He is fifth on the Alabama career rushing yards list and the fifth player to go for 3,000 yards with 3,034 yards, 227 yards shy of surpassing his former teammate Mark Ingram (3,261) for the No. 4 spot. He is tied for fifth nationally in scoring at 11.5 points per game. Richardson ranks fifth nationally with 131.9 rushing yards per game and 20 rushing touchdowns (23 total touchdowns). He is the third player – and first running back – 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 23 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, three total touchdowns vs. Georgia Southern and one against Auburn, Richardson pushed his career total to 34 touchdowns on the ground and 42 overall. The 42 touchdowns (34 rushing, 7 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 four 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. Finally, Richardson posted his first 200-yard effort with 203 yards and a touchdown catch in the Iron Bowl.
RICHARDSON VS. THE TOP 25: Trent Richardson has excelled against the nation’s best competition in the 2011 season. He has faced five top 25 teams and is averaging 142.0 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), No. 1 LSU (89 yards) and No. 24 Auburn (203 yards). Richardson has also netted 216 yards receiving on 16 receptions against top-25 competition this year. He has four rushing and two receiving touchdowns in those games with 992 all-purpose yards, an average of 198.4 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 614 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 550 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 1,185 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 nine 100-yard efforts in 12 games this year. The nine 100-yard rushing games equals Mark Ingram’s school record. 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 before setting a new-career-high with 203 yards at Auburn. 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 203 yards rushing in the Iron bowl, junior running back Trent Richardson became just the fifth player in Alabama history to crack the 3,000-yard mark. He is also fifth in career rushing yards with 3,034. Richardson is second on the Alabama’s single-season rushing yardage list with, 1,583 yards. Mark Ingram holds the Alabama single-season record with 1,658 yards in 2009, which Richardson trails by just 75 yards.
RICHARDSON MOVING UP IN RUSHES: Trent Richardson is eighth in career rushes at Alabama with 520. He is just 15 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 on Nov. 19, 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. He followed that up with an even better performance at Auburn on Nov. 26, with six receptions for 86 yards and one touchdown.
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. McCarron now stands at No. 7 with 196 completions in 2011. 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 1,844. 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 third Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week nod on Nov. 28, after rushing for a career-high 203 yards on 27 carries in the Tide’s win at Auburn.
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.
FIVE ROAD STARTS = FIVE 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, a 24-7 win at Mississippi State and, most recently, a 42-14 victory at Auburn.
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 21 receptions for 270 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 56 for 627 yards (11.2 yard average) and one touchdown. He also has 31 punt returns for 384 yards, with an average of 12.4 yards per return, ranking 10th 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 35 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 139 careers starts. Center William Vlachos leads the line with 39 career starts, making every start dating back to the 2009 season opener. Tackle/guard Barrett Jones is close behind with 35 starts, missing only two games late last season (Georgia State & Auburn) and most recently at Mississippi State and Georgia Southern with a sprained ankle. Chance Warmack has started the last 25 games at left guard and D.J. Fluker started 21 games at right tackle. Anthony Steen has had 11 starts, while he shares the position with Alfred McCullough, who has started eight 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-seven times in 34 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 reached 13 100-yard rushing efforts, sophomore Eddie Lacy with two and sophomore Jalston Fowler with one. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 33-1 in those 34 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 on Nov. 19, in the first quarter 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.
THE ALABAMA-LSU SERIES: Alabama leads the series with LSU 45-25-5 in the series that dates back to the 1895 season. The second meeting of the 2011 season will be the 76th meeting between these two long-time Southern football rivals. The Tigers won the inaugural meeting in Baton Rouge, 12-6, on Nov. 18, 1895. The two teams did not meet again until the 1902 season, with LSU prevailing once again. Alabama’s first series win came on Nov. 9, 1903, in Baton Rouge as the Crimson Tide scored a 10-0 victory. From 1919-45, Alabama posted a 12-game unbeaten streak (9-0-3) against LSU. The series was resumed during the 1944 season with the Tigers gaining a slight advantage over the next nine meetings, posting a 5-3-1 record from 1946-58. Alabama went 16-2 (.889) against LSU from 1964-81, including a series-long 11-game winning streak from 1971-81. LSU also ended UA’s school record 31-game (30-0-1) unbeaten streak with a 17-13 win at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 1993. The Tigers snapped a 15-game winless streak to the Crimson Tide in Tiger Stadium with a 30-28 win in Baton Rouge on Nov. 4, 2000. LSU has won eight of the last 14 meetings, dating back to 1997. Alabama snapped a five-game series skid with the 27-21 overtime win in Baton Rouge in 2008 and followed that with a 24-15 win in Tuscaloosa in 2009. LSU has won the last two games, including a 24-21 victory in Baton Rouge and the 9-6 overtime win in Tuscaloosa earlier this season.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONS: Nick Saban, Les Miles, Steve Spurrier and Gene Chizik are the four active SEC coaches to win a national championship. Saban led Alabama to the 2009 BCS National Championship and LSU to a 13-1 record and the BCS National Championship in 2003, while Miles led the Tigers to the BCS National Championship in 2007. Spurrier guided Florida to a 12-1 ledger and the school’s first national title in 1996. Chizik led Auburn to a 14-0 mark and a national title in 2010.
ALABAMA-LSU AT VARIOUS SITES: The Alabama-LSU series has been played at six different sites since the initial meeting in 1895. The city of Baton Rouge has hosted the most games in the series (35), with Alabama posting a 25-8-2 record on the LSU campus. Only one other Louisiana city has hosted this series, with Alabama and LSU playing to a 7-7 tie in New Orleans in 1921. Four Alabama cities have played host to this rivalry, including Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham.
ALABAMA-LSU SERIES IS A LONG ONE: The LSU series is the fifth-longest series in school history. The two teams began playing in 1895, the 15th game in Crimson Tide history. Only Mississippi State (96), Tennessee (94), Vanderbilt (83) and Auburn (76) have played Alabama more than LSU.
SABAN VS. LSU: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 2-4 in his career against LSU, following last year’s 24-21 loss at Tiger Stadium and this season’s 9-6 overtime loss. Prior to that, Alabama had won a pair of games with a 27-21 overtime victory in 2008 and a 24-15 win in 2009. Before his arrival in Tuscaloosa, Saban-coached teams were 0-2 against LSU, losing 46-25 to the Tigers while at Michigan State in the 1995 Independence Bowl in Shreveport and 41-34 in 2007 Tuscaloosa. Saban was the head coach at LSU from 2000-04 and compiled a 48-16 (.750) record, leading the Tigers to the 2003 BCS National Championship and two SEC Championships during his tenure. In 2003, Saban led the Tigers to a 13-1 record and a 21-14 win over Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship Game played at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La.
ALABAMA VS. LOUISIANA SCHOOLS: Alabama owns an 85-41-8 record against teams from the state of Louisiana. The Crimson Tide has played 116 of those 134 games against LSU (75) and Tulane (41).
BOWL GAME NOTES
BOWLING WITH THE TIDE IN NEW ORLEANS: Alabama has college football’s most storied bowl history. The Crimson Tide has posted a 32-22-3 (.588) all-time record in its previous 58 bowl appearances. Alabama owns the NCAA record for most bowl games (58) and most victories (32). The Crimson Tide is bowling for the eighth year in a row after playing in the Music City Bowl (2004), Cotton Bowl (2006) and Independence Bowl (2006-07), the Sugar Bowl (2009), BCS National Championship Game (2010) and the Capital One Bowl (2011) the last seven seasons. Alabama’s bowl history dates back to the Jan. 1, 1926, Rose Bowl where coach Wallace Wade’s team upset the Washington Huskies 20-19 to finish with the school’s first perfect 10-0 season. The landmark win over the Huskies also secured the Crimson Tide the 1925 national championship, the first of 12 titles won by the school. Alabama has played in 17 different bowl games in its storied history, including 13th appearances at the Sugar Bowl, more than any other bowl in school history. It is the Crimson Tide’s second visit to the BCS National Championship Game (in Pasadena, Calif., 2009). Alabama has played bowl games in eight different states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Hawai’i, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. Alabama has played bowl games in 19 different stadiums. Alabama players have garnered 45 “Most Valuable Player” awards in its 58 previous bowl games. Another 21 players and coaches have been selected to various all-time bowl teams.
ALABAMA SEEKS 14th NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: The second-ranked Crimson Tide will be playing for its 14th national championship in school history at the 2011 BCS National Championship Game on Monday, Jan. 9, 2012 in New Orleans, La. Alabama has won national championships in 1925, 1926, 1930, 1934, 1941, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992 and 2009. The combined record of the 13 previous national championship teams is 145-6-2.
NO. 1 VERSUS NO. 2 MATCHUPS: The 2011 BCS National Championship Game will mark the 46th time since the inception of the Associated Press football poll in 1936 that the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams have met. Alabama is ranked No. 2 in the latest AP poll, while LSU is the unanimous No. 1 team. Alabama and LSU will square off in their second No. 1 vs. No. 2 meeting this season on Jan. 9, 2011, in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game. LSU edged the Crimson Tide in overtime in the Nov. 5 meeting. The first of these meetings came on Oct. 9, 1943, when No. 1 Notre Dame defeated No. 2 Michigan, 35-12. There have only been 25 regular-season meetings counting the 2008 and 2009 SEC Championship Games between Alabama and Florida. It is the fourth No. 1 vs. No. 2 game for the Crimson Tide in the last four years, gong 2-2 in those matchups Alabama is playing in its eighth No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup. Alabama is 4-3 in its previous seven games matching No. 1 vs. No. 2 with wins over Penn State (1979 Sugar Bowl), Miami (1993 Sugar Bowl), Florida (2009 SEC Championship Game) and Texas (2010 BCS National Championship Game and losses to Nebraska (1972 Orange Bowl), Florida (2008 SEC Championship Game) and LSU (2011 regular season).
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE BOWL HIGHLIGHTS: Below are some highlights of the Crimson Tide’s storied bowl history that dates back to the 1925 season.
• Alabama made its bowl debut on Jan. 1, 1926, with a 20-19 come-from-behind win over Washington. The Crimson Tide erased a 12-0 halftime deficit with a 20-point third quarter to earn its first bowl win. Pooley Hubert scored the first touchdown in UA bowl history with a 1-yard run in the third quarter. Johnny Mack Brown had two touchdown receptions (59 yards and 27 yards) in the win.
•The Tide captured back-to-back national championships with Rose Bowl wins in 1926 and 1927. In fact, the Tide’s first five bowl appearances came at the Rose Bowl. Alabama went 3-1-1 in those games with wins over Washington (1926), Washington State (1931) and Stanford (1935).
• UA great Harry Gilmer rushed for 113 yards in the 1946 Rose Bowl win over Southern California. The 113 rushing yards ranks 15th on the NCAA’s all-time bowl list for quarterback rushing stats. Gilmer had eight straight pass completions, the ninth-highest total in NCAA bowl history.
• Alabama’s Bobby Luna tied the NCAA bowl record with nine extra point attempts (made seven) in the Crimson Tide’s 61-6 win over Syracuse in the 1953 Orange Bowl. The Crimson Tide’s 55-point win is the largest margin of victory in NCAA bowl history. Alabama’s 61 points are the second most in bowl history after Nebraska posted a 66-17 win over Northwestern in the 2000 Alamo Bowl.
• All-American and future All-Pro Lee Roy Jordan set a bowl record with 31 tackles in the Crimson Tide’s 17-0 win over Oklahoma in the 1963 Orange Bowl.
• Alabama’s Tim Davis drilled four field goals on a snow-covered Tulane Stadium as Alabama beat Mississippi, 12-7, in the Jan. 1, 1964 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Davis connected on 4-of-5 field goals in the win. The four made field goals are tied for the sixth most in NCAA bowl history, while the five attempts equal the fourth-most in history.
• UA quarterback Richard Todd had an excellent game against Penn State in the Dec. 31, 1975 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Todd completed 10-of-12 passes (.833) in the Crimson Tide’s 13-6 win over the Nittany Lions. Todd’s .833 completion percentage is the fifth-highest in NCAA bowl history.
• Alabama defeated Illinois, 21-15, in Coach Paul Byrant’s final game as head coach of the Crimson Tide on Dec. 29, 1982 at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. On that frigid night, senior Jeremiah Castille recorded an Alabama and Liberty Bowl record three interceptions en route to game MVP honors.
• Alabama captured the school’s 12th national title with a 34-13 win over then-No. 1 Miami in the 1993 Sugar Bowl (1992 season). Derrick Lassic earned MVP honors with 135 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
• The Crimson Tide’s most recent national title, the school’s 13th, came in the 2010 Citi BCS National Championship Game following the 2009 season. The Tide defeated the Texas Longhorns 37-21. Mark Ingram was named the Offensive MVP while Marcell Dareus was selected as the Defensive MVP.
ALABAMA’S BOWL BREAKDOWN: Alabama has played in 17 different bowl games since its first bowl appearance following the 1925 season (1926 Rose Bowl). Overall, Alabama has made 36 of its 58 bowl appearances in the Cotton, Orange, Rose, Fiesta or Sugar Bowls as well as the BCS National Championship Game. Alabama is making its second appearance in the BCS National Championship Game and will be playing in its 14th game at the site of the Sugar Bowl (13 in the Sugar Bowl). Alabama has a .500 or better winning percentage in 14 of the 17 different bowls. Below is the record breakdown at each game in which the Crimson Tide has played.
ALL-TIME BOWL OPPONENTS: Alabama has played 36 different opponents in its illustrious bowl history. The 2011 Allstate BCS National Championship Game will mark the first time in history that Alabama and LSU have squared off in a bowl game.
CONFERENCE BOWL BREAKDOWN: Alabama has faced teams from 10 different conferences and six independents in its bowl history. Taking into consideration all of the expansion and conference realignment, the Crimson Tide has played three previous bowl games against another team from the current Southeastern Conference, but only once was the team in the SEC at the same time. The Crimson Tide beat Mississippi 12-7 in the 1964 Sugar Bowl. Alabama also met Arkansas, when they were members of the Southwestern Conference, beating the Razorbacks 10-3 in the 1962 Sugar Bowl to secure a national championship and then again in the 1980 Sugar Bowl, again winning a national title. The Tide has also played four bowl games against future SEC foes, Texas A&M and Missouri, posting a 1-1 record against both teams. Alabama has played 24 bowl games against those teams the currently comprise the Big 12, which is the most of any conference for the Tide. The Crimson Tide’s most success has come against the Pac-12 Conference, where Alabama has compiled a 7-1-1 (.833) all-time bowl record.
SABAN, ALABAMA COACHES BOWL RECORDS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is the 12th coach in school history to lead the Crimson Tide to a post-season bowl game. Saban made his Alabama bowl debut during the 2007 season with a 30-24 win over Colorado in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. Saban captured the school’s 13th national championship with a win over Texas in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena, Calif. He made his Alabama BCS bowl debut in the 2009 Sugar Bowl with a 31-17 loss to Utah and defeated Michigan State 49-7 in the 2011 Capital One Bowl. He has taken three different teams to bowl games, including Michigan State, LSU and Alabama. He is 6-6 (.500) in his 12 career bowl games. Saban is making his fifth-career BCS Bowl appearance, including two at LSU and three at Alabama. He led the Tigers to 47-24 win over Illinois in the 2002 Sugar Bowl and then won the BCS National Championship by leading LSU to a 21-14 win over Oklahoma 2004 Sugar Bowl. Saban’s first bowl game as a head coach came on December 29, 1995, when he led Michigan State to a berth in the Independence Bowl. The Spartans lost to LSU, 45-36, in Shreveport. He was 0-3 in bowl games at Michigan State. He also led the Spartans to the 2000 Capital One Bowl, but did not coach the game after taking the head coaching position at LSU. Saban was 3-2 (.600) in bowl games at LSU.
40 NATIONAL TV GAMES IN LAST 51 GAMES: Alabama’s contest at Auburn on Nov. 26, marked the 40th nationally-televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. This season Alabama has played on CBS four 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 broadcasted two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcasted nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.
TIDE 48-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 48-3 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 190-126-4 (.600) all-time record in 319 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
FIRST-TIME STARTERS: Seven Alabama players have made their first starts for the Crimson Tide this season: wide receiver Kenny Bell, defensive lineman Quinton Dial, wide receiver Brandon Gibson, quarterback AJ McCarron, linebacker Alex Watkins, wide receiver DeAndrew White and defensive end Jesse Williams.
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.
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.
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.