PREVIEW NOTES: Alabama hosts North Texas

The Alabama Crimson Tide hosts North Texas on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Here are the official games notes courtesy of UA Media Relations:

GAME 3: Alabama (2-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. North Texas (0-2, 0-1 Sun Belt) Saturday, September 17, 2011 • 6:38 p.m. • FSS Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821) • Tuscaloosa, Ala.

THE GAME: Alabama returns home to face the North Texas Mean Green on Saturday, September 17, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. This will be the fourth time the teams have met, all of them having occurred in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide leads the series 3-0 and last faced off against the Mean Green in 2009, earning a 53-7 victory. Kickoff for the game is set for 6:38 p.m. CT on the Fox Sports South. Bob Rathbun will serve as the play-by-play announcer, with Tim Couch at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Kristina Akra. 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 Jan. 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 40-11 record (45-11 before 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 131-53-1 (136-53-1) 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 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 September 11, Alabama ranks second in both the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches’ Polls.

NORTH TEXAS SERIES: Alabama leads the all-time series with North Texas 3-0. The most recent meeting occurred on Sept. 19, 2009, where the Crimson Tide posted a 53-7 victory over the Mean Green in Tuscaloosa. Alabama and North Texas first met on October 18, 1995, as the 18th-ranked Tide posted a 38-19 win at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The two teams met again on Sept.14, 2002, as the Tide rolled up a 33-7 win in Tuscaloosa.

NEXT GAME: Alabama opens Southeastern Conference play when it returns to Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on the No. 14/13 Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, September 24. It will be the 22nd meeting between the two schools and the 10th trip to Tuscaloosa for the Razorbacks. In last season’s meeting, the Crimson Tide trailed 20-17 in Fayetteville with under five minutes remaining as Robert Lester tallied his second interception setting up the game-winning drive for the Tide. Arkansas is 2-0 on the season with wins over and Missouri State (51-7) and New Mexico (52-3).

DARIUS HANKS RETURNS: Alabama senior wide receiver Darius Hanks returns to the field for the first time this season after sitting out two games in compliance with the NCAA redshirt rule. The Norcross, Ga., native has started 20 career games – including all 13 last season – and made 58 catches for 822 yards with six touchdowns. Hanks caught 32 balls for 456 yards and three scores last year to average 14.2 yards per catch. He will be a welcome addition to the Tide’s receiving corps that has been led by Marquis Maze, who has caught 12 receptions for 160 yards.

ALABAMA UNDER SABAN IN SEPTEMBER: Alabama has been very successful in the opening month of the season under head coach Nick Saban. Now in his fifth season at Alabama, the Crimson Tide sports a 17-2 record in September following the win at Penn State. Since 2008, Alabama is a perfect 14-0 in September games.

TIDE AT HOME SINCE 2008: Alabama is 21-1 in its last 22 games at Bryant-Denny Stadium, dating back to the start of the 2008 season. During that stretch the Crimson Tide has been extremely stingy on defense and very effective on offense. Some of the most impressive numbers include 49 rushing touchdowns for the Alabama offense while the Crimson Tide defense has surrendered just two rushing touchdowns at home since the beginning of the 2008 season. UA has averaged 181.4 yards of total offense more than its opponents while rushing for 122 more yards per game. Alabama is also outscoring its opponents by 24.6 points per game (33.1 points per game [728 points] to 8.5 points per game [187]). Below is a look at the numbers for the Crimson Tide during its last 22 games at home:

By the Numbers
Total Offense: 8,976/408.0 pg/73 TD Total Defense: 4,985/226.6 pg/18 TD
Rushing Offense: 4,360/198.2 pg/49 TD Rushing Defense: 1,677/76.2 per/2 TD
Passing Offense: 4,616/209.8 pg/30 TD Passing Defense: 3,400/154.5 per/17 TD
Scoring Offense: 728/33.1 pg Scoring Defense: 187/8.5 pg

Defensive notes
DEFENSE MAKES A STATEMENT: Alabama’s defense entered the season as one of the more impressive units on paper in the country, and Kirby Smart’s bunch quickly proved they know how to make it translate to the field. The Crimson Tide held Kent State to minus-9 yards rushing and just 90 yards of total offense. Following the second week of play, Alabama ranks third in the nation in pass efficiency defense with a 60.12 passer efficiency rating and is fifth in total defense (170.5 ypg).

17 POINTS ALLOWED OVER THE LAST 12 QUARTERS: In the 12 quarters of play spanning last week’s game at Penn State, the 2011 season opener against Kent State, and the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has allowed a total of 17 points.

STOUT DEFENSIVE OUTING: The Alabama defense limited Penn State to 250 total yards (106 rushing, 144 passing) on Saturday, Sept. 10. In Saban’s 56-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense 31 times, or 55.4 percent of the time.

Offensive notes
AJ CONSISTENT AND EFFICIENT AT QB: Alabama sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron showed excellent decision making in an efficient performance in his first road start on September 10 at No. 23 Penn State. The native of Mobile, Ala., connected on 19-of-31 passing for 163 yards and a touchdown. He did not throw an interception or take a sack as the Tide beat the Nittany Lions, 27-11. McCarron has started both of Alabama’s games this season at quarterback, completing 61.1 percent of his passes for 389 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He ranks 65th national and ninth in the SEC with a 126.44 passing efficiency rating.

FIRST ROAD START … FIRST ROAD WIN: Making just his second-career start at quarterback, AJ McCarron recorded his first road win and it came at one of the most intimidating venues – Beaver Stadium – in college football against one of the most tradition-rich program – Penn State. McCarron’s initial success on the road for the first time follows in 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. He then won his first true road contest at Kentucky later that season, 38-20. McElroy finished his career 11-2 away from Bryant-Denny (includes neutral site games).

RICHARDSON HAMMERS HIS WAY PAST 100: Junior running back Trent Richardson turned in a two-touchdown, 111-yard outing at Happy Valley against Penn State for the fifth 100-yard rushing game of his career. It was his second 100-yard rushing game against Penn State after going for a career-high 144 yards against the Nittany Lions last season. He has scored five touchdowns in two games to rank tied for sixth nationally in scoring. Richardson also went over the century mark at Tennessee in 2010 (119 yards), vs. Florida International in 2009 (118 yards) and against Texas in the BCS National Championship Game.

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 showed exactly what he is capable of in the 2011 season opener against Kent State. The senior enjoyed a big day against the Golden Flashes, 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.