Here are the official Alabama vs Texas A&M Preview Notes.
courtesy of UA Media Relations
THE GAME: The University of Alabama football team plays its second game of the 2013 season on Saturday when it heads to College Station, Texas, to take on Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide is making just its second trip to Kyle Field, and first since Dec. 1, 1988. The game will be televised nationally on CBS with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. (CDT). Verne Lundquist will serve as the play-by-play announcer, with Gary Danielson at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart serving as sideline reporter.
RANKINGS: Alabama enters week three of the 2013 season ranked first in the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches polls, while Texas A&M stands at No. 6 in both polls.
TEXAS A&M: Texas A&M enters today’s game with a 2-0 record, having beaten Rice and Sam Houston State by an average of 58.5 points. Last time out, the Aggies accumulated 714 yards of total offense, which tied for the fourth-most in program history. Texas A&M has now recorded 400-plus yards in its last 14 consecutive games. The Aggies are led on offense by sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel, who has thrown for 520 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for another 55 and one touchdown this season. Manziel’s top target has been sophomore wide receiver Mike Evans. Evans has 13 receptions thus far, averaging 18.4 yards per catch. The Aggies have five players with double-figure tackles, led by junior defensive back Howard Matthews with 17. As a team, Texas A&M has 18 tackles for loss and four interceptions.
SERIES HISTORY: Alabama holds a 3-2 edge in the all-time series with Texas A&M, with last season’s meeting in Tuscaloosa going in favor of the Aggies, 29-24. The 2012 matchup was the first between Alabama and Texas A&M since the two teams met in College Station, on Dec. 1, 1988, a game that the Tide would win, 30-10. The first contest in the series was played on Jan. 1, 1942, at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Alabama won the meeting, 29-21.
ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY: Alabama will be making its 27th (16-10 record) appearance on ESPN’s College GameDay when the popular pregame show broadcasts from College Station, Texas, for the top-10 showdown between the Crimson Tide and Aggies. It will mark Alabama’s 18th appearance under head coach Nick Saban (14-3). The 18 appearances in the Saban era are four better than Oregon for the most GameDay appearances since the 2007 season. The Crimson Tide was on four times in 2008 against Clemson, Georgia, LSU and Florida. The Tide then made three appearances during the 2009 season against Virginia Tech and Florida in Atlanta and Texas at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. UA hosted GameDay in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 11, 2010 and made another showing four weeks later at South Carolina. In 2011, the Tide was featured on the show three times including twice against LSU (Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa and Jan. 9 in New Orleans) and once at Auburn in the Iron Bowl (Nov. 26). Last season, the show opened in Arlington, Texas, for Alabama’s game vs. Michigan (Sept. 1) and also appeared at LSU (Nov. 3), the SEC Championship game vs. Georgia (Dec. 1) and the BCS National Championship game against Notre Dame (Jan. 7).
Alabama vs Texas A&M Preview Notes
THE ALABAMA-TEXAS A&M SERIES: Alabama leads the series with Texas A&M by a 3-2 margin, dating back to the first meeting in the 1942 Cotton Bowl (following the 1941 season). The first two meetings between the Crimson Tide and Aggies were in Cotton Bowl games. Alabama won the first meeting, 29-21, in the 1942 Cotton Bowl to secure a piece of the 1941 national championship. The Aggies won the 1968 Cotton Bowl, 20-16, to even the series. Alabama then swept a home-and-home series, winning 23-10 in Birmingham in 1985 and 30-10 in College Station in 1988. In last season’s meeting, Texas A&M came out blazing and used an early lead to win the game, 29-24.
ALABAMA-TEXAS A&M CONNECTIONS: The Alabama football team has many connections back to Texas A&M. Most of those relationships were formed via former Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s coaching stints at both schools. Two of Bryant’s protégés have served as head coach at A&M: Gene Stallings and Jackie Sherrill. Bryant and Stallings are the most notable connection between the two programs. Stallings played for Bryant at A&M before serving as an assistant coach at Alabama from 1958-64. He returned to Tuscaloosa as head coach from 1990-96, and has remained active with both institutions since his retirement from coaching. Sherrill played for Bryant at Alabama from 1963-65 and served as head coach at A&M from 1982-88. Both Stallings and Sherrill coached against the Crimson Tide as A&M head coach, with Stallings and the Aggies winning the 1968 Cotton Bowl against Bryant and Sherrill leading the Aggies against Alabama in 1985 and 1988. There are numerous other connections as well: John David Crow was the 1957 Heisman Trophy winner and an assistant coach at Alabama from 1969-71 … Curly Hallman, a native of Northport, Ala., played at A&M for head coach Gene Stallings and starred as defensive back from 1966-68 before returning to Alabama as an assistant from 1973-76 and 1996-97 … Bobby Drake Keith played for Bryant at A&M and was an assistant coach at Alabama in 1958-59 … Elwood Kettler was a quarterback on Bryant’s first A&M team in 1954 and was an assistant at Alabama in 1960 … Bobby Marks played for Bryant at A&M and was later a part of his Alabama staff from 1972-82 … Dee Powell played for Bryant at A&M and served 20 years as an assistant coach at Alabama in 1958 and 1964-82 … Dennis Franchione was the head coach at both schools, coaching the Crimson Tide in 2001-02 before taking over as head coach at A&M from 2003-07 … Doug Walker, Alabama’s Associate Athletics Director for Communications, is a 1988 A&M graduate and also worked in the Aggies’ Sports Information Office early in his career … Amy Bragg, who serves as the Crimson Tide Director of Performance Nutrition, came from Texas A&M prior to the 2010 season.
ALABAMA VS. A&M AT VARIOUS SITES: The Alabama-Texas A&M series has been played at four different sites and returns to College Station for the first time since 1988. Since the initial meeting in the 1942 Cotton Bowl in Dallas, the Crimson Tide faced the Aggies in the 1968 Cotton Bowl and then played A&M in Birmingham in 1985 and Tuscaloosa in 2012.
Alabama vs Texas A&M Preview Notes
RUSHING TO SUCCESS: Alabama is 51-0 since the start of the 2008 season when rushing for at least 140 yards. The Tide has averaged 84.57 yards per game (592 yards) in its seven losses since 2008, with the highest rushing total during those losses coming against Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship Game (136).
DEFENSIVE SUCCESS: Alabama has led the Southeastern Conference in total defense for the last five seasons. In the 60 seasons prior no team has led its respective league in total defense for more than two straight years.
10 POINTS OR FEWER: Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to 10 points or fewer 41 times since the start of the 2007 season, with its most recent in the 2013 season opener against Virginia Tech. Alabama limited seven of its opponents to 10 points or less in 2012, four of which were shutouts. The Tide was successful in holding opponents in the 0-10 point range in nine games in 2011 and eight times in 2010. Alabama limited opponents to that range seven times in both 2008 and ’09, and in 2007, posted two games in which it held opponents to 0-10 points. Alabama has shut out the opposition 10 times during the Saban era.
DEFENSE LOOKING FOR A FIRST: Alabama has led the nation in scoring defense for two straight years, allowing 8.2 points per game in 2011 and 10.9 ppg in 2012. The Crimson Tide is the fifth school to lead the nation in scoring defense in back-to-back years. Tennessee led in 1939 and 1940, Georgia Tech in 1955 and 1956, Michigan in 1971 and 1972 and Oklahoma in 1986 and 1987. No school has led the nation for three straight seasons in scoring defense.
MOSLEY LOOKING TO JOIN ELITE: Alabama senior linebacker C.J. Mosley is one of two SEC players with an opportunity in 2013 to join the 25 from the conference who have been consensus All-Americans more than once. The Crimson Tide features three of the two-time consensus All-Americans with DE Leroy Cook (1974-75), DL Terrence Cody (2008-2009) and OL Barrett Jones (2011-2012). The only player in SEC history to be a consensus All-American three times is Georgia RB Herschel Walker in 1980, 1981 and 1982.
FOUR STRAIGHT: Alabama has led the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense in four consecutive seasons (2009-12). Only one other school has led the SEC in scoring defense for four consecutive seasons — Auburn from 1986 through 1989 — and no team has done so for five straight years.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 300: In head coach Nick Saban’s 82-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited opponents to under 300 yards of total offense 53 times, or 64.6 percent of the time.
HUBBARD BECOMING PASS RUSHING THREAT: Outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard developed into one of the Crimson Tide’s top pass rushing threats in 2012. He led the team with 11 tackles for loss (-54 yards) and seven sacks (-44 yards). Hubbard was seventh on the team with 41 total tackles while adding four quarterback hurries and a team-best three forced fumbles. Hubbard closed the season with a sack in each of the final three games for the Tide. He ranked tied for eighth in the SEC (.50 sacks per game) and tied for 73rd nationally.
Alabama vs Texas A&M Preview Notes
BALANCED ATTACK: Alabama has fielded one of the most balanced offenses in the nation over the past four years. That trend continued in 2012, as the Crimson Tide gained 3,185 yards rushing and 3,052 yards passing, a difference of only 133 yards. Since the 2009 season, Alabama has passed for 11,985 while rushing for 11,458, a difference of only 527 yards.
SCORING STREAK CONTINUES: With Christion Jones’ 72-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter against Virginia Tech on Aug. 31, Alabama has scored in 157 consecutive games – the longest streak in program history.
2012 TIDE SET SCORING MARK: The 2012 Alabama offense set a program record for points scored (542) and offensive touchdowns (68), doing so in 14 games. The Crimson Tide surpassed the 1973 team, which scored 477 points and 61 offensive touchdowns. With 6,237 yards of total offense, the 2012 team also set the school record for total offense (was 5,773 yards in 2010). The Crimson Tide’s 445.5 yards of total offense per game is the second-best in school history, while the 31 passing touchdowns is the most all-time and the 37 rushing touchdowns are sixth. Alabama averaged 6.95 yards per play in 2012, good for second in the school record book.
COOPER HAD STELLAR FRESHMAN YEAR: Wide receiver Amari Cooper turned in a fantastic freshman season, breaking Julio Jones’ (2008) freshman receiving records. Cooper finished with 59 catches (Jones has 58 in 2008) for 1,000 yards (Jones has 924 yards in 2008) and 11 touchdowns (a school record). The 11 receiving touchdowns broke Al Lary’s school record of 10 set in 1950. Cooper’s 59 catches in 2012 rank sixth in school history while his 1,000 yards is tied for the fourth-best season in program history.
1,000 & COUNTING: Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper set a freshman record with 1,000 receiving yards in 2012. Now in his sophomore year, Cooper is looking to join D.J. Hall (2006 and 2007) as the only players in Alabama history to have multiple 1,000 yard receiving seasons. The only other Alabama players with 1,000-yard receiving seasons are David Palmer in 1993 and Julio Jones in 2010.
McCARRON SET SEASON TD PASS MARK: AJ McCarron’s 30 touchdown passes in 2012 set an Alabama season record. He tossed a 29-yard strike to Christion Jones against Western Carolina on Nov. 17 to surpass Greg McElroy’s 20 in 2010. McElroy’s mark was set in 13 games that season; McCarron moved past it in 11 games. He threw four touchdown passes in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game to post his total of 30, which ranked third in the SEC in 2012.
THE MAKINGS OF A WINNER: In his third year as Alabama’s quarterback, AJ McCarron has built a 26-2 record as a starter and led his team to back-to-back BCS National Championships. He has thrown 50 touchdown passes in his career against just nine interceptions, which averages out to one interception every 79.2 attempts, the best in SEC history by more than 17 attempts (Tim Tebow – 1:62.2). In 2012, McCarron threw 30 touchdown passes while tossing only three interceptions (one every 104.7 attempts) and led the nation in passing efficiency at 175.28. He is the first quarterback in Alabama history to lead his team to two national titles.
IN RARE AIR: Crimson Tide signal-caller AJ McCarron enters his senior season with the best interception ratio (attempts to interceptions) in NCAA major-college football history among QBs with at least 600 pass attempts. The Mobile native has tossed just nine interceptions in 713 attempts for a ratio of one pick every 79.2 attempts. The NCAA record is one interception every 77.8 passes, set by Fresno State’s Billy Volek from 1997 through 1999 (12 interceptions in 934 passes). McCarron also has the lowest interception ratio of any SEC player with at least 200 passes with Florida’s Tim Tebow in second place at one interception every 62.2 passes (2006-2009). Last season, McCarron set an SEC record for the lowest interception ratio in a single season (with at least 160 attempts) with three in 314 passes — one in every 104.7.
A NUMBER TO NOTE: Alabama senior quarterback AJ McCarron has as many BCS National Championship Game victories (2) as he does career loses as the Tide’s starting quarterback. McCarron boasts a 26-2 career record for a .929 winning percentage, which is the second best in school and SEC history.
QUARTERBACK WINS: AJ McCarron has 26 career wins and a .929 winning percentage at Alabama. He currently ranks second in winning percentage at The University of Alabama and second in Southeastern Conference history. Only Jay Barker’s .934 winning percentage betters McCarron. Barker is also the school’s leader in career victories with 35 (35-1-1 record). McCarron is tied for fourth in career victories with Pat Trammell 26 and is four wins back of Harry Gilmer in third (30). In SEC history, Florida’s Danny Wuerffel is third in winning percentage at .903 (32-3-1) and Georgia’s Buck Belue is fourth at .900 (27-3).
BACK-TO-BACK QUARTERBACKS: AJ McCarron led Alabama to back-to-back BCS National Championships, becoming just the sixth quarterback to do so in the modern era of college football. The winners of back-to-back titles include: Notre Dame’s Johnny Lujack (1946-47), Nebraska’s Jerry Tagge (1970-71), Oklahoma’s Steve Davis (1974-75), Nebraska’s Tommy Frazier (1994-95) and Southern California’s Matt Leinart (2003-04). No player has ever led his team to three straight national championships, although Lujack did lead the Fighting Irish to three titles in his career (1943, 1946 and 1947).
EFFICIENT IN PASSING GAME: AJ McCarron finished the 2012 season ranked No. 1 nationally in passing efficiency with a 175.28 mark. He is the first Alabama player to lead the nation in passing efficiency. He tossed 30 touchdowns with only three interceptions (314 pass attempts) in 2012, completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 2,933 yards.
PASSING EFFICIENCY: AJ McCarron became the sixth quarterback in SEC history to lead the nation in passing efficiency last season. In 2013, he will have the opportunity to become the fifth player to lead the nation in passing efficiency twice. McCarron had a rating of 175.28 in 2012, which is based on completion, touchdown and interception percentages and yards per attempt. Other SEC QBs who have led the nation in passing efficiency include Alabama’s Steve Sloan, 153.8 in 1965; Tennessee’s Dewey Warren, 142.2 in 1966; Florida’s Danny Wuerffel, 178.4 in 1995; Florida’s Rex Grossman, 170.8 in 2001; and Florida’s Tim Tebow, 164.2 in 2009. The two-time national leaders are Nebraska’s Jerry Tagge in 1970 and 1971, BYU’s Jim McMahon in 1980 and 1981, Michigan’s Elvis Grbac in 1991 and 1992, and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford in 2007 and 2008. To qualify, players had to average at least 11 passes per game through the 1964 season and 15 passes per game since 1965.
RUSHING INCREASE: Alabama has increased its average yards per rush for six consecutive seasons. In 2006, the season before head coach Nick Saban arrived at The Capstone, Alabama averaged 3.5 yards per carry. Under Saban, that increased to 4.0 in 2007, 4.6 in 2008, 5.0 in 2009, 5.1 in 2010, 5.5 in 2011 and 5.6 in 2012. The school record for average yards per rushing attempt in a season is 6.1 set in 1973.
THRICE AS NICE FOR JONES: According to the Alabama record books dating back to 1944, Christion Jones is the first player to score two returns/non-offensive touchdowns in one game. Jones had a 72-yard punt return in the first quarter against Virginia Tech on Aug. 31, and a 94-yard kickoff return in the second quarter. Jones then added on a 38-yard reception for a touchdown in the third quarter, becoming the first major college football player to score a touchdown on a punt return, kickoff return and pass reception in the same game since Kentucky’s Derek Abney in 2002.
MANDELL SETS SCHOOL RECORD: Punter Cody Mandell had his finest season for the Tide in 2012, averaging 44.3 yards per punt on 50 attempts to set a school record for punting average for a minimum of 50 attempts. He placed 19 of 50 punts inside the 20-yard line and had 14 punts of 50-plus yards, including a season-long 61-yarder against Mississippi State and a 60-yarder against Texas A&M.
THREE RINGS: Alabama has seven fifth-year seniors on the roster in 2013 and all are in possession of national championship rings from the 2009, 2011 and 2012 seasons. These seven players – AJ McCarron, Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, Tana Patrick, Anthony Steen, Ed Stinson and Kellen Williams – all redshirted during the 2009 season as the Tide captured the school’s 13th national championship at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. This group of seniors then helped secure Alabama’s 2011 and 2012 national championships.