Dec. 20, 2010
Alabama Notes | Michigan State Notes
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama makes its NCAA-record 58th bowl game appearance in the 2011 Capital One Bowl against the Michigan State Spartans. The No. 15/18 Crimson Tide square off with the No. 7/7 Michigan State Spartans at 12 p.m. (CT) on Saturday, January, 1, 2011, at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. It is the first meeting on the football field between the Crimson Tide and Spartans. The game will be televised by ESPN. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network with Barry Krauss on the sidelines.
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his fourth season with the Crimson Tide. He was named the school's 27th head coach on January 3, 2007. Saban has compiled a 37-11 record (42-11 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 128-53-1 (133-53-1) 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 11 of his 14 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban's direction. Saban is also one of two coaches (with Florida's Urban Meyer) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
RANKINGS: Alabama checks in at No. 15 in this week's Associated Press poll and No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches' poll. Alabama is 16th in the final Bowl Championship Series rankings. Michigan State is ranked seventh in both the AP poll and the Coaches' poll while holding a No. 9 ranking in the BCS rankings.
MICHIGAN STATE SERIES: The Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan State Spartans are meeting for the first time on the gridiron. The two teams are also slated for a home-and-home series in 2016-17.
ALABAMA'S CAPITAL ONE BOWL HISTORY: Alabama will be making its second appearance in the Capital One Bowl, which was formerly known as the Florida Citrus Bowl (1983-2002). Alabama's only appearance came following the 1994 season in the 1995 Florida Citrus Bowl where they defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes, 24-17. Alabama running back Sherman Williams was selected as that game's Most Valuable Player.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama's success on the field over the past two seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has coincided with the Crimson Tide's success in the classroom. After playing the 2010 BCS National Championship Game with 21 players that already had their degrees, the 2010 Crimson Tide began the 2010 season with four players that already have degrees in hand, including Earl Alexander (financial planning), Greg McElroy (business marketing), Brian Motley (general studies) and David Ross (consumer affairs). Over the past three seasons (2008-10) the Crimson Tide has seen 31 players compete for the Crimson Tide after having already graduated.
STADIUM RENOVATION: The latest expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium raised seating capacity to 101,821, making it one of the five largest on-campus football stadiums in the nation. The expansion is the fourth expansion of the stadium since 1988 and the seventh expansion in the stadium's history. It consists of roughly 9,600 additional seats, 1,700 South Zone Club seats, two corner video boards, an upper concourse with concessions and restrooms, 36 skyboxes, the Crimson Tide Foundation offices, a Donor Hall of Recognition and an outdoor market featuring Zoe's Kitchen, Yogurt Lab and a new university admissions office welcome center. UA's seven home crowds of 101,821 not only set a school record, but also set a new record for the most spectators to watch a football game in the state of Alabama.
McELROY NAMED A FINALIST FOR CAMPBELL TROPHY: Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy was a finalist for the 2010 William V. Campbell Trophy, which is presented by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame and recognizes the best and brightest from the college gridiron. The NFF announced 16 finalists, who are recognized as part of the 2010 NFF Scholar-Athlete Class, receiving an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. In the classroom, McElroy has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll four times (2007-10), the President's List (4.0 GPA) twice, the Dean's List (3.5-3.99 GPA) four times and is a UA Rhodes Scholar nominee. He is currently pursuing a degree in sports management after finishing his undergraduate degree in marketing in just three years.
McELROY JUST MISSES RHODES SCHOLARSHIP: Alabama senior quarterback Greg McElroy advanced as far as the finalist interviews in Birmingham, Ala., in his pursuit of a Rhodes Scholarship, but came up just short. He was one of two students at the University of Alabama that were endorsed by the University and one of 12 finalists in the seventh district. There are 32 Rhodes Scholarships assigned annually to students in the United States. States are grouped into 16 districts for the purpose of making these appointments. The state of Alabama is in the seventh district, which also includes the states of Florida and Tennessee. Two students from district seven were selected this past Saturday as Rhodes Scholars following the final interview process.
McELROY IS ESPN ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN OF THE YEAR: Alabama senior quarterback Greg McElroy (Southlake, Texas) has been selected as the ESPN Academic All-American of the Year in the Football Bowl Subdivision by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). McElroy is only the second Alabama student-athlete to earn Academic All-American of the Year honors. Stephanie Kite, a women's gymnast, was also selected as the ESPN Academic All-American of the Year on the At-Large Team in 2004. McElroy graduated in three years with a degree in business marketing and is finishing his graduate degree in sports administration this December. He completed his undergraduate work with a 3.82 GPA and has a 4.0 in graduate school. McElroy is a National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete and a finalist for the William V. Campbell Award. He was also a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship. McElroy was named one of Sporting News' "20 Smartest Athletes," and is a four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection.
Barrett Jones SELECTED AS FIRST-TEAM ESPN ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN: Sophomore offensive lineman Barrett Jones (Memphis, Tenn.) joined Greg McElroy as a first-team ESPN Academic All-American. It marks Jones' second straight year on the Academic All-American team after garnering second-team honors a season ago. Jones is the third Crimson Tide player to twice be selected as an Academic All-American, joining Johnny Musso (1970-71) and Randy Hall (1973-74). Jones boasts a 4.0 grade point average in finance during his third year of course work in Tuscaloosa. He is a two-time first-team All-District IV selection and was a second-team ESPN Academic All-American last season. He was a member of the 2009 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll and the 2010 SEC Academic Honor Roll. He has started 10 games for the Crimson Tide this season and 24 at right guard during his career. He missed his first career game against Georgia State after spraining his ankle in the Mississippi State game. Jones is an integral part of the Tide's offensive success this season with the Crimson Tide averaging 435.58 yards per game to rank 27th nationally in total offense.
McELROY NOMINATED FOR SI SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR: Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy was nominated for the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, awarded to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on November 30. McElroy was nominated by SI writer Lars Anderson because, he said, "More than any other player in the sport, he represents all that is good about college football."
ALABAMA ALL-SEC SELECTIONS: Alabama senior quarterback Greg McElroy was named the Southeastern Conference's Scholar-Athlete and the Crimson Tide had 11 players represented on the Associated Press and league coaches' All-SEC teams. The Crimson Tide had five players garner first-team All-SEC honors on either the AP or coaches' team. Wide receiver Julio Jones and safety Mark Barron were named to the first team for both while left tackle James Carpenter and defensive lineman Marcell Dareus were first-team selections by the league coaches. Right guard Barrett Jones was a first-team choice by the Associated Press. Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, headlined the second teams that also included center William Vlachos (coaches), running back Trent Richardson (coaches as both return specialist and all-purpose), linebacker Dont'a Hightower (AP and coaches), Dre Kirkpatrick (coaches) and safety Robert Lester (AP and coaches). Dareus (AP), Barrett Jones (coaches) and Carpenter (AP) were also selected to the second team.
BARRON NAMED FIRST-TEAM ALL-AMERICAN: Alabama safety Mark Barron was selected as a first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America. The Crimson Tide also had four players, including Barron, selected to the 2010 Associated Press All-America team. Barron and wide receiver Julio Jones earned second-team honors while defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and offensive lineman Barrett Jones were named to the third team. The Crimson Tide has now had 11 players named to the Associated Press All-America teams over the past two seasons. In 2009, UA had six first-team selections and Barron was named to the third team.
THREE TIDE PLAYERS EARN FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICA HONORS: Alabama had three freshmen selected to various Freshman All-America teams following the 2010 regular season. True freshman Dee Milliner and linebacker C.J. Mosley joined redshirt D.J. Fluker as Freshmen All-Americans. Milliner, a cornerback from Millbrook, Ala., has 52 tackles to rank fourth on the team while breaking up five passes and making one interception. Mosley, a linebacker from Theodore, Ala., is third on the team in tackles (66) with two interception returns for touchdowns and a team-high eight pass breakups. Fluker, who hails from Foley, Ala., started 10 games at right tackle, clearing a path for 435.6 yards of offense per game, the second-highest total in school history. Fluker was a first-team pick by CollegeFootballNews.com while Milliner was first team by Phil Steele, and CollegeFootballNews.com. Mosley was a first-team choice by Rivals.com and CollegeFootballNews.com and a second-team choice by Phil Steele.
TOUGH SLATE: Alabama faced one of the most daunting three-game stretches in school history when it challenged No. 10 Arkansas, came home for No. 7 Florida and then traveled to No. 19 South Carolina. It was only the fourth time in school history the Tide had faced three consecutive games against top 20 competition without a bye week. It was the first time Alabama has ever faced three straight games against top 20 teams with two games coming on the road. The Crimson Tide began the three-game run with a 24-20 come-from-behind victory at No. 10 Arkansas before posting a 31-6 win over No. 7 Florida at home and then falling at South Carolina. The last time Alabama faced three straight games vs. top-20 teams without a bye came in 1997 when the Tide lost to No. 14 LSU and No. 17 Mississippi State before falling at No. 3 Auburn. It also happened in 1986, losing to No. 6 Penn State before winning at No. 17 Mississippi State and dropping a home game to No. 18 LSU. The first time it happened was in 1953 with wins over No. 5 Georgia Tech and No. 16 Auburn at home and a loss in between to No. 2 Maryland on the road.
The Tide then faced another daunting stretch at the end of the season with three top-20 opponents and the Nov. 18 game against Georgia State in a span of 20 days. Alabama lost at No. 10 LSU 24-10 on Nov. 6, beat No. 17 Mississippi State on Nov. 13 and also fell 28-27 vs. No. 2 Auburn on Nov. 26 in Tuscaloosa.
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 has 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 has won 23 of his last 26 games and is coming off of his second national championship in 2009 -- his first at Alabama. Saban is one of two coaches (Bob Stoops, Oklahoma) 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 ranks fourth in winning percentage (70.6 percent) among active coaches who have coached at least 10 years of FBS football. Saban is also one of two coaches (Urban Meyer, Florida) to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 13-5 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past three seasons and 8-3 against AP top 10 teams. UA had reeled off nine straight wins against top 25 teams until the loss at South Carolina. The Crimson Tide's 31-6 win over No. 7 Florida on October 2 was the Tide's second straight win over a top-10 team and third top 25 victory in a four-week span. Alabama went 4-3 against the AP Top 25 this season.
START FAST -- FINISH STRONG: One of Alabama's priorities each week is to get off to a fast start and then win the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide's "Start Fast -- Finish Strong" motto has been evident in 2010 with a 116-43 scoring edge in the first quarter and a 62-38 advantage in the fourth quarter. UA has also had a distinct edge in the second half, outscoring opponents by a margin of 160-79 in 12 games (81 points). A season ago, Alabama outscored its opponents 121-32 in the fourth quarter, a margin of 89 points. That number grew to 201-77 in the third and fourth quarters for a margin of 124 points.
ALABAMA HAS SECOND MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 35 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, which is tied for 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 9-3 mark in 2010. Alabama is two wins back of Boise State, with 37 wins, and tied with TCU at 35 victories. The Crimson Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.
TOUGH SLATE: Alabama has played one of the most difficult schedules in the nation with as many as eight games against teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches' Poll Preseason Top 25. The Tide beat then-No. 18/14 Penn State on Sept. 11, then-No. 10/11 Arkansas on Sept. 25, and then-No. 7/7 Florida on Oct. 2. Alabama then suffered its first regular-season loss since 2007 at No. 19/20 South Carolina on Oct. 9, and dropped a 24-21 decision at No. 12/11 LSU on Nov. 6. Alabama bounced back with a convincing 30-10 victory over No. 17/18 Mississippi State on Nov. 13 and a 28-27 loss to No. 2/2 Auburn on Nov. 26. The Crimson Tide finishes the year in the Capital One Bowl vs. No. 7 Michigan State.
FIRST-TIME STARTERS: A total of 22 Alabama players have made their first collegiate starts this season - 17 positional starters and 5 specialists. Five first-time starters have been on offense: LG Chance Warmack, RT D.J. Fluker, RB Trent Richardson, RT Alfred McCullough and RG Anthony Steen. There have been 12 first-time starters were on defense: DE Damion Square, DE Luther Davis, NG Kerry Murphy, LB C.J. Mosley, Sam LB Chavis Williams, Will LB Jerrell Harris, Jack LB Ed Stinson, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB DeQuan Menzie, CB Dee Milliner, FS Robert Lester and CB Phelon Jones. Five more have made starting debuts on special teams: deep snapper Carson Tinker, kickoff specialist and distance field goal kicker Cade Foster, punter Cody Mandell and place-kicker Jeremy Shelley. Of the 20 new starters, four are true freshmen (PK Foster, P Mandell, CB Milliner, LB Mosley).
Crimson Tide Offensive Notes
2010 OFFENSE PUTTING UP NUMBERS: Alabama returned eight starters from the 2009 offense that put together one of best seasons in school history. The Crimson Tide set a school record with 5,642 yards of total offense, including 3,011 rushing yards (11th in school history) and 2,631 passing yards (5th in school history). The Tide also scored the second-most points in the 115-year history of the program with 448 (32.1 points per game).
However, the 2010 Crimson Tide offense is ahead of that pace. Alabama is averaging 435.58 yards of total offense per game to rank 27th nationally and fourth in the SEC. The rushing offense is ranked 36th at 175.25 yards per game (fifth in the SEC) while the passing offense is 28th at 260.33 yards per game (third in the SEC). The Crimson Tide is scoring 34.58 points per game to rank third in the conference and rank 21st nationally.
RETURNING HEISMAN WINNER: Running back Mark Ingram returned for his junior season after capturing the school's first Heisman Trophy on the 75th anniversary of the award in 2009. He missed Alabama's opening two games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday, August 31, but returned Sept. 18 at Duke. Ingram rushed for 1,658 yards and 20 total touchdowns in 2009 to become the first Heisman Trophy-winning running back to help his team win a national championship in the same season since Tony Dorsett in 1976. Ingram is also one of six players since 1950 to win the Heisman Trophy and a national championship in the same season and is the first Heisman-winning back to return the following season since Oklahoma's Billy Sims returned for his senior year in 1979. Sims won the 1978 Heisman Trophy, but finished second to Charles White of Southern California in 1979.
Julio Jones MOVES UP CAREER RECEPTIONS LIST: Junior wide receiver Julio Jones has caught 51 passes for 762 yards (seven games) since breaking his hand early in the South Carolina game. Jones has a school-record 75 receptions for a school-record 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He is second on the Alabama career pass receptions list with 176. He moved past the 2,000-yard mark at Tennessee in career receiving yards and has become the third player in Alabama history to eclipse the total and now ranking second in school history. He joined DJ Hall (2,923 yards from 2004-07) and Ozzie Newsome (2,070 yards from 1974-77) in eclipsing 2,000 receiving yards in a career. His 6.25 receptions per game rank second in the SEC and tied for 20th nationally while his 90.33 yards per game are 17th nationally and second in the conference.
RECORD PERFORMANCE FOR Julio Jones: Jones caught 12 passes for a school-record 221 yards against Tennessee on October 23. The receptions total ranks second in Alabama history behind only DJ Hall's 13-catch outing (185 yards) versus Tennessee on Oct. 20, 2007. Jones then went for 199 yards on 10 receptions vs. Auburn on Nov. 26, which was the third-most yards in a single game in school history. He has now went over 100 yards receiving eight times in his Alabama career (ranks 2nd in Alabama history) and the fourth time this season. Jones' previous single-game yardage high at Alabama prior to this season was a 128-yard outing (on 7 catches) at LSU on November 8, 2008. His previous single-game high for catches was 9 (for 83 yards) at Auburn on Nov. 27, 2009.
JONES ON SINGLE-SEASON LISTS: With 10 catches for 199 yards against Auburn, Jones set the Alabama single-season records with 75 catches for 1,084 yards this season. That surpasses DJ Hall's marks of 67 receptions (2007) and 1,056 yards (2006).
Julio Jones MOVING THE CHAINS: Jones is the Crimson Tide's most dangerous threat in the passing game and that plays out in the statistics as the Foley, Ala., native has caught a team-best 75 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns. Maybe the most impressive statistic is the number of receptions that have translated into first downs for the Crimson Tide. Of Jones' 75 receptions, 52 have gone for a first down or a touchdown. That averages out to 69.3 percent of his receptions this season have kept an Alabama drive alive.
Greg McElroy OVER 5,000 CAREER YARDS IN TOTAL OFFENSE & PASSING: Crimson Tide senior quarterback Greg McElroy has surpassed the 5,000-yard mark for career total offense, becoming the sixth player in Alabama football history to break the 5,000-yard barrier. McElroy now has 5,538 total yards for his career. He has also become the fifth player in school history to pass for 5,000 yards. McElroy surpassed the 5,000-yard barrier with 159 yards in under a half of work against Georgia State. He now has 5,471 passing yards in 34 career games and 26 career starts.
McELROY'S CAREER TD PASSES: McElroy had two touchdown passes against Auburn, the 37th and 38th of his Alabama career, which ranks third on the UA career touchdown passes list. He has 19 touchdown passes in the 2010 season, which is a new Alabama single-season record.
Trent Richardson: MR. EVERYTHING: Running back Trent Richardson is doing a little bit of everything for Alabama this season. The sophomore ranks 16th nationally and second in the SEC in all-purpose yards (1,528 in 10 games) at 152.8 per game average. The UA school record for all-purpose yards is 2,016 by Bobby Humphrey in 1986, which averaged out to 168.0 yard per game. Richardson has 658 yards rushing (65.8 per game), 254 receiving (25.4 pg) and 616 on kickoff returns (61.6 pg). He has two 100-yard rushing games, one 100-yard receiving game and three games with more than 100-yards in kickoff returns. Richardson has also eclipsed the 200-yard barrier in all-purpose yards three times (Penn State, Arkansas and Mississippi), and has had less than 121 all-purpose yards only once (at LSU).
INGRAM VS. TOP 25 OPPONENTS: Mark Ingram has consistently stepped up his production against top 25 competition during his career at the Capstone. The junior from Flint, Mich., averaged 188.8 rushing and receiving yards vs. the top 25 last season, including 156.8 rushing yards in those games and nine touchdowns. He also had 31 runs of 10 yards or more against ranked foes in 2009. In 2010, Ingram ripped off 157 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in a 24-20 come-from-behind victory at No. 10 Arkansas on Sept. 25. Ingram's 54-yard first-quarter touchdown burst was a showcase of his vision, speed, cut-back ability, vicious stiff-arm and uncanny balance. He then scored two touchdowns and accounted for 66 all-purpose yards in a 31-6 rout of No. 7 Florida and then had 57 all-purpose yards at South Carolina. Ingram then had 97 yards rushing and a touchdown at No. 11 LSU. Ingram accounted for 149 all-purpose yards vs. No. 17 Mississippi State, rushing for 53 yards while catching two passes for 77 yards and a score.
INGRAM 4TH ON CAREER RUSHING YARDS CHART: Mark Ingram rushed for 36 yards on 10 carries vs. Auburn, which give him 3,202 rushing yards in his career to rank fourth in Crimson Tide history. Shaun Alexander (1996-99) is the Tide's career rushing yards record holder with 3,565 yards.
INGRAM OVER 100: Mark Ingram's 12 100-yard rushing performances in his Alabama career rank him tied for third in Alabama history. Shaun Alexander (15 from 1996-99) and Bobby Humphrey (15 from 1985-88) hold the record.
BALL SECURITY: Mark Ingram has earned a reputation over his 38-game Alabama career as an expert at holding onto the football. The junior has only lost two fumbles in 560 career rushing attempts, 59 career receptions and two kickoff returns for a total of 621 career touches. He has only put the ball on the ground three times, the first of which at LSU in 2008 was recovered by the Tide and the second was a lost fumble vs. Tennessee in 2009. He then lost a fumble in 2010 vs. Auburn. On average, Ingram loses a fumble once every 310.5 touches. Ingram went 332 carries into his career before losing his first fumble. Sophomore Trent Richardson has been almost as good, touching the ball 299 times and losing just one fumble while putting it on the ground six times.
TOUCHDOWN INGRAM: Junior running back Mark Ingram scored his 40th career rushing touchdown against Auburn. His 40 career rushing touchdowns rank second in school history, just one behind Shaun Alexander (41 from 1996-99). Ingram also has 44 total touchdowns during his Crimson Tide career. He ranks third in Alabama history in total touchdowns, just ahead of John Parker Wilson.
LONGEST PLAY OF INGRAM'S ALABAMA CAREER: Mark Ingram took a Greg McElroy pass 78 yards for a touchdown against Mississippi State. It was the longest gain of Ingram's Alabama career, surpassing a 69-yard pass play against Florida in the 2009 SEC Championship game and a 70-yard run for a touchdown against Mississippi State in 2009.
BIG NIGHT FOR MAZE: Despite having an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown erased by a penalty, junior wide receiver Marquis Maze enjoyed a fine all-purpose yardage game in Alabama's win over Mississippi State. Maze accounted for 166 total yards in the game. Maze caught five passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, very close to matching his single-game highs for receptions and yards. Maze's single-game high for catches is 6 (vs. LSU, 2009) and his single-game best for receiving yards is 96 (vs. Florida, 2009). He also returned three punts for 36 yards and returned two kickoffs for 41 yards in the game. For the season, Maze is second on the team with 34 receptions for 480 yards and two touchdowns.
RICHARDSON ECLIPSES 100 RECEIVING YARDS: Sophomore running back Trent Richardson caught five passes for 101 yards against Mississippi on October 16 to become the first Alabama running back to eclipse the century mark in receiving yards in 12 years. Before Saturday night, the most recent Alabama back to have more than 100 yards receiving was Shaun Alexander, who caught 5 passes for 110 yards and one touchdown against Mississippi State on November 14, 1998.
RICHARDSON JOINS 1,000-YARD CLUB: With 61 rushing yards against Duke on Sept. 18, sophomore running back Trent Richardson became the 51st Crimson Tide player to rush for 1,000 career yards. Richardson now has 1,385 yards on 237 carries over the first 23 games of his Alabama career. Mark Ingram became the 50th player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards last season while Glen Coffee and Terry Grant both eclipsed 1,000 career rushing yards in 2008.
A BALANCED ATTACK: Alabama returned to the nation's elite in 2008 with a punishing ground attack that wore down defenses and took shots down the field. In 2009, the Tide brought more balance to the table on offense. UA still had an outstanding ground game and an aerial attack to match with quarterback Greg McElroy. The Tide showed good balance in their offensive numbers, averaging 215.07 rushing yards and 187.93 yards passing per game.
In 2010 Alabama again has excellent balance. The Crimson Tide has accounted for 5,227 yards of total offense (27th nationally at 435.6 ypg), including 3,124 yards (59.8 percent) in the air and 2,103 (40.2 percent) on the ground. The Tide has thrown 339 total passes (44.5 percent) -- completing 234 (69.0 percent) -- while running the ball 423 times (55.5 percent).
EXPLOSIVE PLAYS: The Alabama offense has accounted for 100 plays of 15 yards or more, scoring 19 touchdowns within those 100 explosive plays. The Crimson Tide have made 71 passing plays of 15 yards or more with Julio Jones leading the way with 24 15-plus yard pass receptions. Trent Richardson also has 14 explosive plays with nine rushes of 15-plus yards and five receptions. Marquis Maze has 12 explosive receptions while Mark Ingram had nine runs and five pass reception of 15 yards or more in nine games, including runs of 54, 50, 48, 42, 27, 23, 20, 19 and 17 yards and receptions of 41, 17, 16, 20 and 78 yards. The longest play of the season was a 85-yard scoring strike from Greg McElroy to Richardson against Mississippi with the second longest coming on a 78-yard scoring pass to Ingram vs. Mississippi State. The longest rush was a 65-yard burst by Richardson at Tennessee. That 85-yard pass play is tied for the fifth-longest scoring pass in Alabama history and is the longest pass completion of McElroy's Alabama career (previous long: 80 to Marquis Maze vs. Arkansas in 2009).
100-YARD RUSHERS AND RECEIVERS: Alabama has had 26 100-yard rushers in 25 games and 13 100-yard receivers in 13 games over the last four seasons since head coach Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. Junior running back Mark Ingram has recorded 12 100-yard rushing games during his career while Trent Richardson has four 100-yard rushing efforts and Eddie Lacy one. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 25-1 in those 26 games with a 100-yard rusher. Junior Julio Jones (8) and Trent Richardson (1) are the only current players with a 100-yard receiving game. The Tennessee game on Oct. 23 marked the six time under Saban that Alabama has had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game.
McELROY SETS CAREER BEST FOR YARDAGE: Senior quarterback Greg McElroy surpassed his single-game career best for passing yardage on a 17-yard pass to running back Mark Ingram with approximately 3:00 remaining in the second quarter against Auburn. That play gave McElroy 318 yards through the air against the Tigers, eclipsing his previous career high for yardage, a 315-yard outing against South Carolina on October 9 in Columbia, S.C. McElroy finished the game with 377 yards through the air, a total that ranks fourth all-time in Alabama history.
McELROY SETS MARK FOR CONSECUTIVE COMPLETIONS: Greg McElroy started the Auburn game by completing his first 12 pass attempts for 223 yards and two touchdowns. That pushed his string of consecutive pass attempts without an incompletion to 16 as McElroy had completed his final four passes of the Georgia State game for 68 yards and a touchdown. Over the course of the 16-pass streak, McElroy threw for a total of 291 yards and three touchdowns without an incompletion. That set a new Alabama record for consecutive completions.
McELROY STREAK ENDS: Greg McElroy's streak of 19 consecutive wins to open a career at Alabama and 35 straight wins as a starting quarterback came to an end with the Tide's loss at South Carolina. He now has a 23-3 mark over the last two seasons as a starter at Alabama. Prior to South Carolina, McElroy's last loss as a starting quarterback was in the eighth grade against Cross Timbers Middle School in Grapevine, Texas. McElroy's 19-0 start to his career is the second best in school history. It also ranked as the second-longest streak of consecutive wins by a starting quarterback in school history. Jay Barker owns both records, winning the first 22 games of his career from 1991-93.
McELROY SETS ACCURACY RECORD: Senior quarterback Greg McElroy exited the Georgia State game with 6:46 left in the second quarter and Alabama leading, 35-0, but not before setting a single-game Alabama record for completion percentage. McElroy completed 12-of-13 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. That set a completion percentage of 92.3 percent, the Alabama record for highest completion percentage in a game with a minimum of 10 completions.
RICHARDSON BACK DEEP: Sophomore Trent Richardson's 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on Sept. 18 at Duke marked the first Crimson Tide kickoff return for a touchdown since a 100-yard return for a score by Tyrone Prothro on October 10, 2004. Richardson is fourth in the SEC and ranks 31st nationally in kickoff returns this season with a 26.78 ypr average.
MAZE'S PUNT RETURNS: Wide receiver Marquis Maze made a major impact as a punt return man in the second half of the season. He returned six punts for 125 yards (20.8-yard average) including returns of 37 and 20 yards against Mississippi. The yardage against the Rebels ranked third on the Alabama single-game punt returns yardage list. Maze ranks 14th nationally and fourth in the SEC averaging 13.61 yards per punt return.
Crimson Tide Defensive Notes
SCORING DEFENSE: The Alabama defense replaced nine starters from its 2009 national championship-winning defense that finished second nationally in all major defensive categories. The 2010 defense was fairly successful. The Crimson Tide ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense and first in the league, surrendering just 14.08 points per game or 169 total points in 12 games. UA surrendering just 67 points (9.57 ppg). The secondary, which was forced to replace three of four starters and six of its top seven players, has also fared well in the national rankings with the No. 7 pass efficiency defense (102.51). The rush defense has not put up the numbers of the past two seasons, but still is just allowing just 122.33 yards per game to rank 22nd nationally. The Tide's total defense is sixth nationally at 296.0 yards per game. The Tide led the SEC in scoring, pass efficiency and total defense.
GROUND DEFENSE - PART II: Keeping the opposing running back under 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered just nine individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season (73 games), a mark that ranks second nationally behind Boston College (8). Since head coach Nick Saban's arrived in 2007 (53 games), Alabama has only allowed four players to rush for 100 yards in a game: Tennessee's Tauren Poole (117), 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 has surrendered the second fewest rushing touchdowns in the nation since the start of the 2005 season, giving up only 47. Ohio State leads the nation allowing 46 during that time span. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has given up 29 rushing touchdowns while OSU has allowed 26. In 2010, Alabama has surrendered just six rushing touchdowns in 12 games.
FORCING TURNOVERS: Alabama's ability to produce turnovers in recent years has fueled the Crimson Tide's success. The Crimson Tide has been good in 2010 with 25 turnovers and 14 giveaways (plus-11) in the first 12 games. UA has intercepted a national-best 21 passes and recovered four fumbles for a +.92 turnover margin that ranks 13th nationally and first in the SEC.
Alabama has forced 105 turnovers in 53 games under head coach Nick Saban (an average of 1.98 per game) while forcing 56 turnovers over the last 26 games (2.15 per game). The Tide finished the 2009 season ranked fourth nationally in turnover margin at plus-19 (1.36 per game). The UA offense only turned the ball over 12 times (5 interceptions, 7 fumbles) in 2009. Alabama forced 24 turnovers in 2007 for a plus-4 turnover ratio and then recorded 25 turnovers and ended the season with a plus-6 turnover margin in 2008. Alabama has recorded at least one turnover in 46 of 52 games under Saban. UA is 39-8 under Saban when gaining at least one turnover. Alabama is 3-3 in games without gaining a turnover over the last four seasons.
DEFENSE TOUGH ON THIRD DOWN: Third down defense has been crucial for Alabama over the past three seasons. The Crimson Tide is strong once again in 2010, allowing just 59 third down conversions in 175 attempts (33.71 percent) to rank 11th nationally. The Crimson Tide defense was strong on third down in 2009, ranking sixth nationally and allowing a 29.90 conversion rate (58 for 194). The Crimson Tide finished third nationally in third down conversion defense in 2008, holding opponents to a 28.14 percent (56 of 199) conversion rate.
LESTER LEADS SEC & THIRD NATIONALLY IN INTERCEPTIONS: Sophomore safety Robert Lester leads the SEC and is third nationally with seven total interceptions. The native of Foley, Ala., is averaging .58 interceptions per game this season, which ranks second nationally and first in the SEC. Lester has two multiple interception games (Arkansas and Mississippi State) and has recorded five picks in league games. Junior Mark Barron and sophomore Dre Kirkpatrick are close behind with three picks on the season to rank tied for 82nd nationally.
TIDE THIRD NATIONALLY IN INTERCEPTIONS: The Crimson Tide is third nationally with 21 interceptions on the season. Alabama is two interceptions behind national leader Hawai'i (23) and one back of Virginia Tech (22). UA has one more interception than Oregon in fourth and two more than Nebraska, Connecticut, Tulsa, Boston College and Toledo. Alabama finished second nationally with 24 interceptions last season (one behind Texas). The Crimson Tide managed 14 interceptions during the 2008 season.
HIGHTOWER RETURNS: Sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower returned for his third season at the Capstone as the man in the middle of Alabama's complex defensive scheme. Hightower received a medical redshirt for the 2009 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the fourth game of the season against Arkansas. An amazingly quick recovery returned him to the practice field with full contact during spring drills. Hightower has split time between the Mike and Will linebacker spots in 2010 while also seeing time with his hand in the dirt on passing downs to take advantage of his pass-rushing skills. The Lewisburg, Tenn., native has 147 career tackles with 10.0 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hurries. Hightower has 67 tackles, three pass breakups and eight quarterback hurries in 2010.
BARRON MAKING PRESENCE KNOWN: Safety Mark Barron is one of the most prominent safeties in the nation. The Mobile, Ala., native was a first-team All-SEC player a year ago, leading the league with seven interceptions while garnering third-team All-America honors. He registered 76 tackles to rank second on the Alabama defense in 2009. Barron led the SEC -- along with teammate Marquis Johnson -- in passes defended with 18 (11 PBU, 7 INT) and ranked tied for sixth nationally with 1.29 passes defended per game.
In 2010, Barron is playing well as the leader of the Tide secondary. He leads the team with 75 tackles while recording three interceptions, two sacks (-15), 3.0 tackles for loss (-19), one forced fumble, two quarterback hurries and six pass breakups.
LINEBACKER C.J. Mosley TIED FOR SECOND NATIONALLY IN PICK-6s: Alabama true freshman linebacker C.J. Mosley is tied for second nationally with two interception returns for touchdowns in 2010. Mosley's first pick-six was a 35-yard return against Florida, and his second was a 41-yard return vs. Georgia State. His two interception returns for touchdowns are second only to Prentiss Wagner of Tennessee, who has returned three this season. Joing Mosley with two are Ricardo Allen (Purdue), A.J. Klein (Iowa State), Bruce Miller (Central Florida), C.J. Wilson (N.C. State) and Blidi Wreh-Wilson (Connecticut). Mosley, who earned his first career start at South Carolina, now has started three games, made 66 tackles on the season with a team-high eight pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.
UPSHAW STUNS GATORS: Junior Jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw had an impressive outing for the Crimson Tide against Florida as he was credited with seven tackles, including four for losses, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups. Upshaw's performance keynoted a strong defensive effort by Alabama, which posted eight tackles for loss with three interceptions and one quarterback sack. Upshaw, who has battled a high-ankle sprain leading up the Florida game, has now recorded 47 tackles on the season with a team-best 11.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, two pass breakups, one fumble recovery, three forced fumbles and two quarterback hurries.
THREE AND OUT: Consistently forcing three-and-outs has been a trademark of Alabama's defense. A year ago, on its way to a national championship, Alabama led the nation with an average of 5.61 three-and-outs per game. In 2010, the Tide is once again among the nation's best averaging 4.00 three-and-outs per game or 478three-and-outs in 12 games. TCU currently leads the country in three-and-outs with 6.41 per game.
DEFENSE HELD AUBURN OFFENSE TO SEASON LOWS: Alabama's defense limited the explosive Auburn offense to season lows for total offense and rushing yards in the 28-27 loss on November 26. The Crimson Tide held the Tigers to 108 rushing yards (previous low: 190 at Mississippi State) and 324 total yards (previous low: 348 vs. Mississippi State).
UPSHAW LEADS DEFENSE: Junior linebacker Courtney Upshaw led Alabama's defense against Auburn with a stellar outing. Upshaw garnered 10 total tackles (7 solos) including three quarterback sacks and three tackles for loss. He also forced two fumbles and had a quarterback hurry. Defensive back DeMarcus Milliner had nine tackles, linebacker C.J. Mosley added six stops and five other Alabama defenders were credited with four tackles each.
Crimson Tide Opponent Notes
ALABAMA-MICHIGAN STATE SERIES: This is the first meeting between Alabama and Michigan State on the football field.
FAMILIAR COLORS FOR SABAN: Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is very familiar with the school on the opposing sidelines. He was the head coach for the Spartans from 1995-99, posting a 34-24-1 record. After playing in just one bowl game in the previous four years, Michigan State made four postseason appearances in Saban's five years at the helm. In 1999, Saban led his final Spartans team to a No. 7 national ranking as MSU finished in a tie for second in the Big Ten. The Spartans defeated Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State in the same year for the first time since 1965 and recorded six wins at home for the first time since the 1912 season. The Spartans' performance that year landed them a spot in the Citrus Bowl (coached by current UA assistant Bobby Williams). Saban also spent time on the sidelines at Michigan State as an assistant coach, serving as the Spartans defensive coordinator from 1983-87.
MICHIGAN STATE/ALABAMA COACHING CONNECTIONS: The Alabama sideline features several Michigan State coaching connections beginning with Tide head coach Nick Saban (1995-99) and UA assistant Bobby Williams, who coached MSU from 1999-2002. There are also several former Michigan State assistants on the Alabama sideline, including Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain (MSU assistant head coach/receivers/special teams, 2003-05), the Tide's assistant head coach and offensive line coach Joe Pendry (MSU offensive coordinator, 1980-81), assistant head coach and linebackers coach Sal Sunseri (MSU linebackers/special teams, 2000). In addition, Alabama associate athletics director for football Mike Vollmar served as the assistant athletics director and director of football operations for Saban and Williams at Michigan State. On the Michigan State staff, offensive coordinator Don Treadwell coached on Williams' staff at MSU as receivers coach from 2000-02.
DANTONIO SERVED UNDER SABAN: Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio and Alabama head coach Nick Saban are also closely tied by their association with Michigan State. Dantonio spent six years (1995-2000) as Michigan State's secondary coach, including five seasons under Saban (1995-99) and one under Williams (2000). Dantonio was promoted to associate head coach in 2000.
INGRAM HAS SPARTAN TIES: Junior running back Mark Ingram is the lone player on the Alabama roster from the state of Michigan, hailing from Flint. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner has deep ties to the Spartans with both his father and maternal grandfather having played for Michigan State. Ingram's father, Mark, Sr., lettered for the Spartans from 1983-86 earning All-Big Ten honors three times before going on to star in the NFL and winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants. Senior ranks ninth in career receiving at Michigan State with 1,944 yards while ranking tied for eighth in career touchdown receptions with 14. His grandfather, Art Johnson, was a running back for the Spartans from 1956-58 and accounted for 826 yards on 164 career carries. He ranks 22nd on the school's career yards per rush chart at 5.04 yards per carry.
Crimson Tide Bowl Notes
ALABAMA EARNS NCAA-BEST 58TH BOWL BERTH: The University of Alabama football team makes its NCAA-leading 58th bowl appearance as the Crimson Tide is set to face the Michigan State Spartans in the 2011 Capital One Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011, at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. This is Alabama's second in the Capital One Bowl and first since 1995 (1994 season). Alabama has played in more bowl games (58) and earned more bowl wins (31) than any team in college football history. The Crimson Tide has posted a 31-22-3 record in its previous bowl appearances. Alabama is bowling for the seventh consecutive season, something that has not happened since the Crimson Tide played in 10 straight bowl games from 1985-94. UA played in the Music City Bowl (2004), Cotton Bowl (2005), Independence Bowl (2006-07), Sugar Bowl (2008) and BCS National Championship Game (2009) over the past seven years. Alabama's bowl history dates back to the Jan. 1, 1926, Rose Bowl. The Tide has played in 16 different bowl games in its storied history. Alabama has played bowl games in 10 different states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Hawai'i, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. Alabama players have garnered 42 "Most Valuable Player" awards in its 56 previous bowl games. Another 21 players and coaches have been selected to various all-time bowl teams.
CAPITAL ONE BOWL NOTEBOOK: Alabama will be making its second appearance at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. The Crimson Tide played in the Florida Citrus Bowl (now Capital One Bowl) in 1995. Alabama defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes, 24-17, before a capacity crowd of 71,195 at the Citrus Bowl. The Crimson Tide rallied from a 17-14 fourth quarter deficit with 10 unanswered points in the final quarter. Crimson Tide running back Sherman Williams was named the game's Most Valuable Player after rushing for 166 yards, catching eight passes for 155 yards, and scoring two touchdowns.
ALABAMA 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 in the Rose Bowl. 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 linebacker Lee Roy Jordan set a bowl record with 31 tackles in Alabama'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 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 Bryant'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 defensive back 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 No. 1-ranked 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 16 different bowl games since its first bowl appearance following the 1925 season (1926 Rose Bowl). Overall, Alabama has made 35 of its 57 bowl appearances in the Cotton, Orange, Rose or Sugar Bowls. Alabama has a .500 or better winning percentage in 13 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 35 different opponents in its illustrious bowl history. The 2011 Capital One Bowl will mark the first time in history that Alabama and Michigan State 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 seven bowl games against teams from the Big Ten Conference and boasts a 4-3 (.571) record in those games. The most recent bowl game against a Big Ten foe was the 2004 Music City Bowl where the Tide lost, 20-16, to Minnesota. 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 10 Conference, where Alabama has compiled a 7-1-1 (.833) all-time bowl record.
SABAN, UA COACHES BOWL RECORDS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is the 12th coach to lead the Crimson Tide to a postseason 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. He has taken three different teams to bowl games, including Michigan State, LSU and Alabama. He is 5-6 (.455) in his 11 career bowl games. Saban has made four career BCS Bowl appearance, including two at LSU and two 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.
ALABAMA COACHES BOWL EXPERIENCE: Alabama's on-the-field coaching staff has combined to work 118 bowl games, including this year's Capital One Bowl. Coach Saban and three UA assistant coaches have been directly involved in multiple bowl games that decided the national championship. The list includes Burton Burns (Nebraska, 1971 & Alabama, 2010), Bo Davis (LSU, 2003 & Alabama, 2010) and Kirby Smart (LSU, 2003 & Alabama, 2010). Burns played in four straight New Year's Day bowls under head coach Tom Osborne at Nebraska. In 1971, Nebraska won the national championship with a 38-6 win over Alabama in the 1972 Orange Bowl. Burns was on four Nebraska teams that outscored Alabama, Notre Dame, Texas and LSU, 110-25. He also coached under Tommy Bowden at Tulane and Clemson and was on the staff of the Green Wave's only undefeated 12-0 team that beat Brigham Young in the 1998 Liberty Bowl. Davis and Smart were on Saban's LSU staff that won the 2003 BCS National Championship with a 21-14 win over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
COACHING STAFF PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: The Alabama coaching staff recognized six players of the week following the 28-27 loss to Auburn. William Vlachos and Julio Jones were named the offensive players of the week while Courtney Upshaw and Dee Milliner earned defensive honors. Upshaw and DeQuan Menzie were special teams selections.
SEC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Alabama has garnered seven SEC Player of the Week this season. Trent Richardson's 144-yard effort in Alabama's 24-3 win over No. 18/14 Penn State earned him SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors in week two. Robert Lester was then selected as the SEC Defensive Player of the Week at No. 10/11 Arkansas when he made seven tackles and intercepted Hogs quarterback Ryan Mallett twice. The Tide received two accolades after a 31-6 thrashing of Florida as Chance Warmack was selected as the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week while Courtney Uphaws' seven-tackle, four-TFL performance earned him SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Marquis Maze was the co-Special Teams Player of the Week following his 125 yards of punt return yardage against Mississippi. James Carpenter's effort along the offensive front garnered him SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors following Tennessee. Lester was again honored after picking off two passes in a 30-10 win over No. 17 Mississippi State.
THREE SENIORS NAMED TO SENIOR BOWL: Three Alabama seniors have been selected to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Saturay, January 27, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Quarterback Greg McElroy, left tackle James Carpenter and tight end Preston Dial will get their chance to practice and play in front of many NFL coaches and front office personnel.
Greg McElroy FINALIST FOR JOHNNY UNITAS GOLDEN ARM AWARD: Senior quarterback Greg McElroy (Southlake, Texas) is one of 10 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The prestigious Golden Arm Award is presented annually to the nation's top senior quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation, Inc. McElroy ranks fourth in the country in passing efficiency (165.58) and has thrown for 2,390 yards with 17 touchdowns and only five interceptions. The senior has thrown for more than 250 yards on three different occasions and tossed two or more touchdowns on seven different occasions.
McELROY ALSO A FINALIST FOR WUERFFEL TROPHY: McElroy has been named a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy. The Wuerffel Trophy honors the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with outstanding academic and athletic achievement. The award is named after former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel. McElroy has volunteered with Read Across America, Habitat for Humanity, the West Alabama Food Bank and Hospice of West Alabama. Since 2007, he has been a member of the university's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is also a member of the UA Athletics and Academics Committee.
McELROY SELECTED AS FINALIST FOR WOODEN: McElroy is one of five collegiate finalists for the 2010 Citizenship Wooden Cup. The finalist include, Kimberly Reeves, Agnes Scott College; McElroy; Sarah Leyman, Amherst College; Quinton Carter, Oklahoma Daniel Crawford, Dennison University. The Wooden Cup is given to one collegiate and one professional athlete who have made the greatest positive influence in the lives of others.
INGRAM A SEMIFINALIST FOR THE DOAK WALKER AWARD: Junior running back Mark Ingram was of 10 semifinalists for the 2010 Doak Walker Award. Ingram, who was a finalist for the award last season, is the only back representing the Southeastern Conference. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has rushed for a team-high 816 yards on 146 carries and scored 11 touchdowns. He is averaging 5.7 yards per carry and 81.6 yards on the ground per game.
BARRON A SEMIFINALIST FOR THE THORPE AWARD: Junior safety Mark Barron was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award. He was one of two players from the Southeastern Conference among the semifinalists. Antonio Langham (1993) is the only Crimson Tide player to have ever captured the Thorpe Award. Javier Arenas is the most recent Tide player to be selected as a semifinalist (2009). Barron paces the Tide this season with 715 tackles, has three interceptions and six passes defended.
BARRON A SEMIFINALIST FOR LOTT TROPHY: Alabama safety Mark Barron was one of 23 quarterfinalists for the annual Lott IMPACT Trophy the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation announced. Named after NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, the Lott Trophy is awarded to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. It is the first and only college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player. Barron was chosen as the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week on October 5 for his performance in Alabama's 31-6 victory over Florida in which he recorded a game-high 11 tackles, including nine solo stops a sack (-9) and two pass breakups.
HIGHTOWER A SEMIFINALIST FOR BUTKUS AWARD: Alabama sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower was selected as one of 15 semifinalists for the 26th annual Butkus Award, which goes to the nation's top linebacker, by the Butkus Foundation. Hightower, who missed most of the 2009 season with an injured knee, is second on the team in tackles with 67 through 12 games. The native of Lewisburg, Tennessee, has also broken up three passes and leads the team with seven quarterback hurries. Hightower is one of the leaders of an Alabama defense that ranks in the top 17 nationally in all defensive categories. Alabama has had two Butkus Award winners with Derrick Thomas taking home the award in 1988 and Rolando McClain this past season.
TIDE WEARS NIKE PRO COMBAT UNIFORMS: The University of Alabama football team wore the 2010 version of the Nike Pro Combat uniform, featuring the lightest football uniform Nike has ever created, on November 13 for their game against Mississippi State at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The materials and fabrication elements, which debuted in 2009, was incorporated into the Crimson Tide's traditional uniforms whose design featured a Houndstooth pattern incorporated into the uniform's numbers - a tribute to legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Also, as a gesture to honor veterans of the armed services, the Alabama uniform featured an American flag patch on the right sleeve. The flag was featured with the stars facing forward (to the right) per military protocol. Nike worked closely with coaches and administrators at Alabama to capture a dynamic look that was true to the Crimson Tide's tradition.
RETURNING SUCCESS: Much of the talk in the preseason was about Alabama`s high-powered offense, and the offensive side of the football is where the Crimson Tide returns the biggest portion of its players from last year's BCS National Championship team. UA features 10 total returning starters and 39 lettermen this season, but eight of those returning starters are on the offensive side of the football with two on defense. The offense returns 84 percent of the rushing yards from last season (2,526 of 3,011). Greg McElroy, who took 94 percent of the snaps at quarterback last season, returns with five of his top six receivers from 2009 (Jones, Ingram, Maze, Hanks and Richardson).
PRESEASON ACCOLADES: Ten Alabama players were named to 15 different preseason awards watch lists prior into the 2010 season. The players were recognized before the start of the 2010 season as potentially the top players at their position nationally.
Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower and Greg McElroy appeared on four watch lists. Barron, Dareus and Hightower were on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player), as well as the Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year). McElroy was named to every major quarterback award watch list announced, including the Manning Award (top quarterback), Davey O'Brien Award (top quarterback) and the Unitas Golden Arm Award (top senior quarterback). McElroy was also named to the Maxwell Award (most outstanding player) watch list.
Crimson Tide offensive stars Mark Ingram and Julio Jones were prominent in watch lists as well. Jones appeared on the lists for the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver) and the Maxwell Award, while Ingram appeared on watch lists for the Walter Camp Award (player of the year), the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award (best running back). Last year as a sophomore, Ingram ran for a school single season record 1,658 yards in route to winning the school's first ever Heisman Trophy.
TWO TIDE PLAYERS NAMED PLAYBOY ALL-AMERICANS: Alabama landed two players on the 2010 Playboy Magazine annual preseason College Football All-America Team. Mark Ingram was selected as a running back and Julio Jones was picked at wide receiver. Alabama has now had six Playboy All-Americans in the last three years after Andre Smith was chosen in 2008 and Rolando McClain and Javier Arenas were selected in 2009. This is Julio Jones' second straight year on the Playboy All-America team.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: The Crimson Tide had six players earn preseason All-America accolades from various publications prior to the 2010 campaign. The list includes Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower, Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones and Julio Jones. Both Ingram and Julio Jones were selected to the Playboy Preseason All-America Team.
McELROY WINS ANSON MOUNT: Senior quarterback Greg McElroy was selected as the winner of the Anson Mount Student-Athlete Award by Playboy when the publication named its preseason All-America team. Playboy will send a check for $5,000 to the University of Alabama's general scholarship fund in McElroy's name.
INGRAM AT&T ESPN ALL-AMERICA PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Mark Ingram's 184-yard, two-touchdown effort in the Crimson Tide's 24-20 comeback win at No. 10 Arkansas on September 25 earned him the AT&T ESPN All-America Player of the Week. Ingram rushed for 157 yards on 24 carries while scoring two touchdowns and catching two passes for 27 yards. The 2010 AT&T ESPN All-America Player of the Week and Player of the Year are chosen by the fans. Each week, four finalists are selected by ESPN analysts. The fans then decide the winner by voting online. Each weeks winners are then in the running for the All-America Player of the Year.
Robert Lester BRINGING HOME THE HARDWARE: Alabama free safety Robert Lester collected some hardware following his seven-tackle, two-interception performance in a 24-20 comeback win at Arkansas. He was named the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week and the Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week. Lester's second interception of the game set up the Crimson Tide's winning touchdown when he returned a Ryan Mallett pass 33 yards to the Arkansas 12-yard line late in the fourth quarter. His other interception was a second-quarter grab in the end zone to halt a Razorback drive. He was added to the 2010 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List.
32 NATIONAL TV GAMES IN LAST 40 GAMES: The Capital One Bowl game will be broadcast on ESPN and will be the Crimson Tide's 32nd nationally televised game since the start of the 2008 season. In 2010, Alabama has had five games on CBS, two games on ESPN, two games on ESPN2 and one on ABC and one on ESPNU. In 2009, UA played two games on ABC, including the BCS National Championship Game, and six games on CBS while ESPN broadcast two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcast nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.
ALABAMA 37-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 37-3 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban. Alabama had a 28-game winning streak snapped earlier this season 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 2-2 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 two wins when tied at halftime came at LSU on Nov. 8, 2008, (a 27-21 victory) and at Auburn with a 26-21 win on Nov. 27, 2009.
DOUBLE-DIGIT DEFICIT: Alabama's 13-point deficit in the third quarter at Arkansas on Sept. 25 was the second-largest deficit overcome by Alabama under head coach Nick Saban. When Arkansas led, 17-7, at halftime, it marked the first time Alabama had trailed by at least 10 points at intermission since Utah led the Crimson Tide by 11 points, 21-10, at halftime of the 2009 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on January 2, 2009, in an eventual 31-17 loss by the Tide. The Tide trailed Arkansas by 13 points (7-20) in the third quarter before going on a 17-0 run to end the game. Below is a summary of the largest deficits faced by Alabama since head coach Nick Saban took over the program in 2007.
OVERTIME RECORD: Alabama is 4-7 (.364) all-time in overtime games. In its last overtime game, the Crimson Tide defeated LSU, 27-21, at Tiger Stadium on Nov. 8, 2008. Alabama has lost six of its last nine overtime games. The Crimson Tide is 4-6 (.400) in overtime games against SEC teams. Alabama is 2-4 (.333) in overtime home games. The Crimson Tide is 3-4 (.429) in single-overtime games.
ALABAMA'S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 179-125-4 (.588) all-time record in 308 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts.
MICHIGAN GAME SET FOR COWBOYS STADIUM IN 2012: Alabama will open the 2012 season against the Michigan Wolverines on Sept. 1, 2012, in the "Cowboys Stadium Classic" at Cowboys Stadium. The primetime kickoff will be televised by either ESPN or CBS and will mark the fourth time the schools have played. The Alabama-Michigan contest will mark the third time since 2008 that the Crimson Tide has opened the season at a neutral site in front of a prime time national television audience. Alabama opened the 2008 and 2009 seasons with victories against ACC opponents Clemson and Virginia Tech, respectively, in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta, Ga. Alabama will be the home team and the Wolverines will be the away team. The game officials will be from the Big 12 Conference.
CRIMSON CATHEDRAL: Sporting News selected its top `Saturday Shrines' in its most recent issue and Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium was listed at No. 1. The voting was done by 70 former coaches, current coaches and broadcasters, who voted based on each school's stadium, fans, city/surroundings, traditions and history. The latest expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium, which raised the seating capacity to 101,821, and was called a `masterpiece of mixing history and modern updates.' The two-page Alabama spread also lists Sporting News' opinion of the `Five Biggest Moments' and `A Fan's View.'
NEW HIRES: The Alabama football staff features a new face in 2010 with the promotion of Jeremy Pruitt to assistant coach of the secondary. Pruitt joined the Alabama staff as Director of Player Development in 2007 after a successful stint as an assistant coach at Alabama high school powerhouse, Hoover. At Hoover, he served for three seasons as defensive backs coach with the final two as the defensive coordinator. He tutored a defense that helped the Bucs reach the Class 6A State Championship in 2004, 2005 and 2006, winning titles in 2004 and 2005. Pruitt served as an assistant coach under his father, Dale Pruitt, at Fort Payne High School from 2001-03.
TOP AIDES: Alabama's coaching staff has a wealth of knowledge across all levels of football. The nine-man Crimson Tide staff features a former head coaches at the Bowl Subdivision level in Bobby Williams (Michigan State). The staff also has six coaches that have spent time as assistant coaches in the NFL in Bo Davis (Dolphins), Jim McElwain (Raiders), Joe Pendry (19 years with multiple teams), Kirby Smart (Dolphins), Sal Sunseri (Panthers) and Bobby Williams (Lions and Dolphins). Alabama's coaching staff boasts 40-plus years of combined NFL coaching experience.
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 over $1.5 million - including over $450,000 this year - for "Nick's Kids" and made a total of more than 140 donations to children's charities throughout the state of Alabama.
NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw seven players selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Rolando McClain (eighth overall to the Oakland Raiders) and Kareem Jackson (20th overall to the Houston Texans). Alabama also had two more second-round picks in cornerback Javier Arenas (Kansas City Chiefs) and nose guard Terrence Cody (Baltimore Ravens). Offensive guard Mike Johnson went in the third round to the Atlanta Falcons while cornerback Marquis Johnson (St. Louis Rams) and Brandon Deaderick (New England Patriots) were taken in the seventh round. The Tide had eight more players sign free agent contracts, including Colin Peek (Atlanta), Eryk Anders (Cleveland), Lorenzo Washington (Dallas), Justin Woodall (Chicago), Cory Reamer (New York Jets), Leigh Tiffin (Cleveland) and P.J. Fitzgerald (New Orleans).
CRIMSON TIDE PLAYERS ON NFL ROSTERS: The Alabama football program was well represented in the NFL during the 2010 season with former players and coaches dotting league rosters. The Tide has 39 former players and coaches working in the NFL this season. Roman Harper is the only Alabama player on the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. The Crimson Tide has 28 current NFL players. There are 13 former UA players and/or coaches serving as assistant coaches in the NFL this season, including Sylvester Croom (St. Louis), Freddie Kitchens (Arizona) and Richard Williamson (Carolina).
FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Alabama's 2009 freshman class did more than just excel on the football field, the Crimson Tide placed 12 rookies on the 2010 SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll, by far the highest total in the SEC -- double the second-place team. Mississippi State was second with six while Mississippi had five and Kentucky had four. The Crimson Tide's 12 honorees equaled the total number of Arkansas (3), Tennessee (3), Florida (2), Georgia (2), Auburn (1), Vanderbilt (1) and LSU (0) combined. Alabama freshmen that made the list include: Kenny Bell, Chris Bonds, D.J. Fluker, Nico Johnson, Kendall Kelly, Eddie Lacy, A.J. McCarron, William Ming, Kevin Norwood, Trent Richardson, Chance Warmack and Kellen Williams.
ALABAMA SENIORS HONORED ON SENIOR DAY: Alabama's annual Senior Day ceremony was held prior to the start of the Iron Bowl vs. Auburn on November 26. Below are the Crimson Tide seniors that were honored.