Alabama Football: Game Notes for Alabama’s win over Kent State

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Crimson Tide

ALABAMA FOOTBALL POST-GAME NOTES – ALABAMA VS. KENT STATE SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2011 • BRYANT-DENNY STADIUM • TUSCALOOSA, ALA. (courtesy of UA Media Relations)

SEASON OPENERS: With the victory over Kent State, Alabama has compiled a 93-21-3 (.815) all-time record in season openers, and is in the midst of a 10-game winning streak in season openers. Dating back to the 1977 season, Alabama is 31-4 in its last 35 season openers and the Tide has posted a 19-2 opening day record since 1991. The 2011 season marks the 13th consecutive year the Tide has opened the season with a non-conference opponent.

COACH SABAN IN SEASON OPENERS: With the win over Kent State, head coach Nick Saban is 13-3 in his collegiate career in season openers, including a 5-0 mark at Alabama. He led Alabama to a 52-6 win over Western Carolina on Sept. 1, 2007, in his inaugural game with the Crimson Tide, a 34-10 win over Clemson in 2008 and a 34-24 victory over Virginia Tech in 2009 with both the 2008 and 2009 games being played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Last season, Saban guided Alabama to a 48-3 win over San Jose State in the newly-expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium. Saban won his very first collegiate game on Sept. 8, 1990, as he led Toledo to a 20-14 win over Miami (Ohio). He was 3-2 in season openers at Michigan State and 4-1 in season openers at LSU.

SEASON OPENERS BY HEAD COACH: With the win over Kent State, head coach Nick Saban currently stands at 5-0 in season openers at the Capstone. Coach Frank Thomas (1931-46) is the school’s most successful coach on opening day, compiling a 13-0-2 record in his 15 season openers with the Crimson Tide. Legendary coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant (1958-82) is the school’s winningest coach, logging 18 opening day wins in his 25-year career. Bryant’s record in Alabama season openers was 18-6-1 (.740), including a six-game winning streak to close out his career.

SEASON OPENERS BY OPPONENT: The Crimson Tide opened with Kent State for the first time in school history. UA has opened the season with 58 different opening day opponents with the Crimson Tide’s most common opening day opponent being Howard (now Samford). Alabama has also played five current SEC teams on opening day, compiling a 14-8-1 (.630) record against Mississippi, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Florida and LSU. The Tide has not opened the season with an SEC opponent since a 28-17 win at Vanderbilt in 1999.

SEASON OPENERS BY SITE: Alabama has played its season opener in 18 different cities in its football history. The most common venue for an Alabama season opener is on the UA campus in Tuscaloosa, where the Tide has opened the season 52 times and compiled a 49-2-1 record. The Tide is 19-1-1 in season openers at Bryant-Denny Stadium (circa 1929). UA opened the 2008 and 2009 seasons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, with wins over Clemson (34-10) and Virginia Tech (34-24). The Tide has also opened the season 29 times in Birmingham and has posted a 24-4-1 record in those games.

ALABAMA VS. MAC: With the win over Kent State, Alabama has compiled a 5-1 (.833) record against the current MAC field. Kent State marked the fourth MAC opponent Alabama has faced.

TIDE IMPROVES TO 39-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: With the win over Kent State, the Crimson Tide is 39-3 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban. Alabama led Kent State, 24-0, at halftime.

GAME CAPTAINS: Today’s Alabama game captains were linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Mark Barron, wide receiver Brandon Gibson and offensive lineman Barrett Jones. Kent State won the opening coin toss and chose to receive the opening kickoff.

DEFENSE NOTES
IMPRESSIVE OPENER FOR TIDE DEFENSE: Alabama’s heralded defense opened the 2011 season with an impressive performance in the win over Kent State. The Crimson Tide held Kent State to 90 yards of total offense while limiting the Golden Flashes to minus-9 yards rushing and 99 yards passing. The outing marks Alabama’s second-lowest yield of total yardage in the Saban Era (since 2007) behind an 84-yard yield to Chattanooga on November 21, 2009. Below is a summary of the lowest yardage yields by the Alabama defensive in the Saban Era:

Yards Opponent Date
84 Chattanooga Nov. 21, 2009
90 Kent State Sept. 3, 2011
155 Virginia Tech Sept. 5, 2009
158 Western Kentucky Sept. 13, 2008
165 Georgia State Nov. 18, 2010

DEFENSE IN SEASON OPENERS: The Alabama defense has made an immediate impact in season openers over the last four seasons. No team in an opening game against the Crimson Tide over that span has tallied more than 200 yards of total offense. In the last two years Alabama has yielded just 10 points and 265 yards. In two of the four season openers the Tide has not allowed a touchdown on offense.
Aug. 30, 2008 – vs. Clemson: 188 total yards (no offensive TDs allowed) in a 34-10 Alabama victory.
Sept. 5, 2009 – vs. Virginia Tech: 155 total yards in a 34-24 Alabama victory.
Sept. 4, 2010 – vs. San Jose State: 175 total yards in a 48-3 Alabama victory.
Sept. 3, 2011 – vs. Kent State: 90 total yards in a 48-7 Alabama victory.

DEFENSE STIFLING IN OPENING HALF: The Alabama defense had an impressive opening half against Kent State. In the first half, Alabama allowed 23 total yards (minus-5 yards rushing, 28 yards passing) by the Golden Flashes, including only one first down. The Tide did not allow a first down until 6:42 remained in the second quarter. The Crimson Tide defense garnered four tackles for loss (21 yards) including two quarterback sacks (15 yards) in the first half.

LEADING TACKLERS: Alabama’s leading tacklers against Kent State were linebacker Trey Depriest with 10 tackles (3 solos), linebacker Courtney Upshaw with seven (4 solos), including 1.5 tackles for loss and half of a quarterback sack; linebacker Dont’a Hightower with 7 tackles, half of a tackle for loss and half of a quarterback sack; cornerback DeQuan Menzie with six tackles (3 solos), 1.5 tackles for loss and half of a quarterback sack; and defensive back/linebacker Vinnie Sunseri with six tackles (3 solos).

OFFENSE NOTES
RICHARDSON SETS CAREER BEST FOR TDs: Junior running back Trent Richardson scored a single-game career-high three touchdowns against Kent State. He opened the scoring for Alabama with a 1-yard touchdown run with 10:22 remaining in the first quarter, marking the second consecutive season in which Richardson has scored Alabama’s first touchdown of the year. Richardson added a second touchdown run later in the period, a 9-yard scoring run with 26 seconds remaining to give the Tide a 21-0 lead and had a 1-yard scoring run with 5:16 left in the third period to give the Tide a 31-7 advantage. Richardson rushed for 37 yards on 13 carries and caught one pass for 16 yards.

MAZE CAREER-BEST DAY: Senior wide receiver/return specialist Marquis Maze enjoyed a big day in the season opener, setting personal single-game bests in receiving and returns. His 27-yard return of a punt set up the Crimson Tide at the KSU 36-yard line from where the Tide marched to its first touchdown of the season. Maze scored Alabama’s second touchdown to conclude the Tide’s second offensive possession, grabbing a pass from AJ McCarron for a 24-yard touchdown catch for a 14-0 lead. 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 totals are single-game highs for Maze at Alabama, exceeding his prior high of six catches against LSU in 2009 and 96 yards against Florida in 2009.

McCARRON AND SIMS UNDER CENTER: Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s predetermined plan of playing time for his two primary quarterbacks yielded significant playing time for both players today. Sophomore AJ McCarron began the game at quarterback for the Crimson Tide. McCarron completed 14 of 23 passes for 226 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. He garnered his first touchdown pass of the season with a 24-yard toss to Marquis Maze. Redshirt freshman quarterback Phillip Sims entered the game for his Alabama debut under center late in the first quarter and led the Crimson Tide on a 34-yard drive in four plays to a touchdown to give Alabama a 21-0 lead with 26 seconds remaining in the opening period. Sims ended the day with seven completions in 14 attempts for 73 yards with two interceptions thrown.

OTHER NOTES
UNIVERSITY RECOGNIZES FIRST RESPONDERS TO APRIL 27 TORNADO: In a pregame ceremony on the field of Bryant-Denny Stadium, the University of Alabama and Alabama Governor Dr. Robert Bentley held a brief recognition ceremony honoring all first responders throughout Alabama for their efforts to assist recovery from the April 27 tornadoes that devastated much of the state. Representing first responders were University of Alabama Police Department Field Training Officer Maranda Foust, Northport Fire Department Lieutenant John Poole, Tuscaloosa City Police Lieutenant Perry Madison, Tuscaloosa Fire Department Firefighter Miles Dutton, Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jeremy McCracken, North Star Paramedics Services Director of Operations Edgar Calloway, Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management Agency Director David Hartin, Tuscaloosa County Protection Agency Assistant Chief of the Carrolls Creek Fire Department Tommy Davis, DCH Regional Medical Center Dr. Kenneth Aldridge.

AARON DOUGLAS MEMORIAL: The family of former University of Alabama lineman Aaron Douglas was recognized in a pregame ceremony prior to kick off on Saturday. David and Karla Douglas, with their daughter, Ashley, were recognized in memory of their son who passed away in May. In memory of Aaron Douglas, the Alabama football team is wearing a helmet sticker with Douglas’s number 77 on the back right of the Alabama helmet.

1961 TEAM REUNION: Alabama’s 1961 National Championship football team was recognized as honorary game captains in a pre-game ceremony on Saturday. Members of the team, including current Alabama Director of Athletics Mal Moore, were represented by Billy Richardson, Butch Wilson and Mike Fracchia. The 1961 Crimson Tide was head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s first national championship team at Alabama. That team finished the season 11-0 overall (7-0 in the Southeastern Conference) and outscored opponents by a 297 to 25 margin for the season, including a 10-3 win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.