Alabamaâ€™s Premier College Football Magazine
WAR for the WEST
November 7, 2009
By: Mike Parker
The Rose Bowl Volume 2, Issue 10 $3.00
By: Larry Burton
tide is a winner, too.
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Touchdown Alabama Magazine P.O. Box 3251 Tuscaloosa, Al 35403
November 7, 2009 | Volume 2, Issue 10
In This Issue 8
The Rose Bowl
Bennie Bice Mike Lacy
Photography Creative Director Graphic Design Chief Information Officer Website Designer
BDL Bryant Museum Matt Gaston Mark Lent Rivals.com UA Media Relations Jenifer McCormick Cassandra Johnson Tramayne Wright Jessie Landon Brian LaShomb Carey Landon
Angel Hufham Victoria Sheehan
Eric Hudson Katlyn Clark Drew Franklin Christopher Wilson
Advertising Director Advertising Sales
Herb Neu Ron Bush Leslie Housley Alex Schroyer
Larry Burton Anthony Johnson Amanda Kelly Katie Koenig Brad Lake Lauren Moranor Mike Parker Dr. Donald F. Staffo
M U L T I M E D I A Next Issue • Recruiting Update • Kareem Jackson • First Year Coaches • Catching Up With Sylvester Croom
Web Content • Post-Game Interviews • Game Footage • Press Conferences from Nick Saban • More From Larry Burton
Weekly Radio Show
• Coming Soon!
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Letter from the Editor Welcome back to T-town! We hope all our Bama fans, and the Crimson Tide as well, are rested and ready for a big game against LSU this weekend! With Halloween gone and Thanksgiving (also known as Iron Bowl weekend) fast approaching, it is time to start thinking about your holiday shopping. A subscription to Touchdown Alabama Magazine is truly a gift that keeps on giving! Send the latest in Alabama football right to their door! Visit us online (touchdownalabama.net), or mail in the subscription form on page 4 to set up the fan in your life with a gift that will be cherished all year long! Subscribers, don’t forget to access our online edition next week for the Mississippi State game. For those of you making
ON THE COVER
the short trip over to Starkville, drive safely and try not to let the cowbells get to you! We’ll see you back at Bryant-Denny on the 21st for our last print issue of the ‘09 season.
Roll Tide! Touchdown Alabama Staff
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The Big Man on Campus blocked two field goals against Tennessee to save the game for the Tide. Photography by BDL.
“Touchdown Alabama Magazine was created to bring Alabama football fans the coverage of their team that they crave and expect, as well as to bring them closer to the action on the field. The University of Alabama has a long college football history, rich with tradition. Each season has added more dynamic players and colorful stories to the Alabama family. It is only fitting that a program with 12 National Championships should have a weekly magazine dedicated to conveying the excitement of the game to its devoted fans. Touchdown Alabama Magazine strives to be the most up-to-date, relevant and exciting magazine covering University of Alabama football. Furthermore, we guarantee in-depth articles, exclusive interviews and quality content surrounding the Crimson Tide. We will never forget who we generate this magazine for... you, the fan. God bless.”
| TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA November 7, 2009
INDEX After a bye week, I believe Alabama should have a strong showing against LSU. After escaping disaster against Tennessee, Alabama will be a more focused team
Alabama, with itâ€™s lack luster offense, got a scare against Tennessee. From that effort, I would like to think, that was their wake up call for the 2009 season. If they plan on finishing the season strong, they need to get back to the fundamentals, and execute to get a win against LSU.
Alabama has a better offense and a better defense with the special teams washing out. Unless Alabama runs into a lot of problems they should win this game by 10 points or more. This is the game to see who represents the SEC West and maybe Alabama will play up to that challenge more than they did against Tennessee.
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Tide vs. Tigers
Defensive Coordinator’s Dream... Offensive Coordinator’s Nightmare
his upcoming Saturday the No. 9 ranked LSU Tigers will be paying another visit to their old coach Nick Saban, and his No. 2 ranked Crimson Tide. The last time the Tigers visited Bryant-Denny Stadium, they defeated the Crimson Tide 41-34 and the Crimson Tide will be looking for revenge on their home turf. LSU is ranked right behind Alabama in the SEC West standings, so whoever wins this game will be in place to play in the SEC championship. Coming off a bye week after Tennessee, Alabama should be well rested and ready to play this week against one of their main rivals. The one thing that the Crimson Tide has been
| TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA November 7, 2009
struggling with lately is scoring in the red zone. Greg McElroy, who has not scored a touchdown in Alabama’s last two games, will need to be more efficient if the Tide expects to beat an LSU defense that is coming off their first shutout win against Tulane since 1969. After starting strong this season, McElroy has been shaky for the last 3 games. Alabama will have to do more than kick field goals if they expect to have a comfortable win against LSU. After having fumbled for his first time in his career, watch for Mark Ingram to have a break out appearance if Alabama can establish a solid passing game. On defense, PHOTOGRAPHY BY BDL
Alabama has shown that they are still one of the top defenses in the nation by only giving up one touchdown against Tennessee, due to a Mark Ingram fumble. One thing that LSU will be trying to do is force high pressure on McElroy. If they can establish a monster hit early in the game on the junior QB like Tennessee did, then expect LSU’s defense to force more than a couple of turnovers. Turnovers have been the key to the Tiger’s success this year. LSU ranks second in the SEC in turnover margin with the defense coming up with five fumbles recovered and 10 interceptions while the offense has only given up 6 turnovers. With these turnovers, the Tigers have cashed in for 41 points off their 15 takeaways but have yet to allow an opponent to score following any of their turnovers.
On offense for the Tigers, Bradon Lafell and Torrence Toliver will be hoping to use their size to their advantage against the Alabama secondary. Lafell, with 22 catches this season, moving him into second on LSU’s career list, has 478 yards on the season with 8 touchdown receptions. Another threat that LSU has against Alabama’s defense is their dual running backs, which could open up an opportunity for LSU’s passing game. Running back Charles Scott has gained 459 yards averaging 4.5 yards per carry with 4 touchdowns. Also, LSU’s true freshman running back Russel Shepard has had an outstanding year with 28 carries for 225 yards averaging 8 yards a carry. Do not expect this game to be a high scoring one; both defenses are very well prepared to have a good game.
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82 Earl Alexander
Phenix City, AL
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OL R-Fr. 6-6 303
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San Antonio, TX
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4 Marquis Maze
WR So. 5-10 179
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49 Jonathan Atchison LB
6-2 240 6-4 190
Mountain Brook, AL Holland, OH Birmingham, AL Mobile, AL
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6- 1 160
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6- 1 225
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Ft. Myers, FL
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Mountain Brook, AL
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West Monroe, LA
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New Orleans, LA
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Vestavia Hills, AL
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Muscle Shoals, AL
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Lake Worth, FL
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Fort Lauderdale, FL Oxford, MS Olive Branch, MS
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Danny McCray S 6-1 Curtis Sutera FB 5-11 Richard Dugas FB/OL 6-1 Zach Elkins DB 5-8 Kevin Minter LB 6-1 Tyler Edwards TE 6-3 Kellen Theriot LB/FB 6-1 Austin Kinchen SNP 6-1 Barkevious Mingo LB 6-5 Joey Crappell SNP 6-2 Chris Davenport DT 6-4 Michael Johnson LB 5-11 Clay Spencer OG 6-6 Ace Foyil LB 6-3 T-Bob Hebert C 6-3 Jonathan Nixon LB 6-2 Jacob Cutrera LB 6-4 Seth Fruge LB 5-11 Perry Riley LB 6-2 Lamin Barrow LB 6-2 Tahj Jones LB 6-2 Paul Felio LB 6-0 Will Blackwell OG 6-4 Ben Domingue OL 6-3 Patrick Lonergan C 6-4 Lyle Hitt OG 6-2 Josh Dworaczyk OG 6-6 Stavion Lowe OL 6-5 Ciron Black OT 6-5 Alex Bonnette OL 6-2 Cordian Hagans OL 6-5 Alex Hurst OT 6-6 Thomas Parsons OL 6-5 Josh Williford OL 6-7 Greg Shaw OT 6-5 Chris Faulk OL 6-6 Josh Downs DL 6-1 Joseph Barksdale OT 6-5 Matt Branch OL 6-6 Terrance Toliver WR 6-5 Karl Acker WR 5-9 Mitch Joseph TE 6-5 Rahim Alem DE 6-3 Jake Bryan TE 6-2 Alex Russian TE/SNP 6-5 Cleveland Davis DL 6-0 Chris Mitchell WR 6-0 Chancey Aghayere DE 6-4 Chase Clement DE 6-5 Ian Harding WR 6-1 Lavar Edwards DT 6-4 Greg Ostrom TE 6-4 Michael Brockers DE 6-6 Charles Alexander DT 6-3 Drake Nevis DT 6-1 Bennie Logan DE 6-3 Akiem Hicks DL 6-6 Lazarius Levingston DE 6-4 Dwayne Dailey DL 6-1 Al Woods DT 6-4 Dennis Johnson DL 6-1 Sam Montgomery DE 6-4
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1 Brandon LaFell WR 6-3 2 Rueben Randle WR 6-3 3 Parker Brown PK 6-2 3 Chad Jones S 6-3 4 Jai Eugene CB 5-11 4 Tyler Listi PK 5-6 5 Keiland Williams RB 6-0 6 Tyler Glynn DB 5-10 6 Craig Loston DB 6-2 7 Patrick Peterson CB 6-1 8 Trindon Holliday RB 5-5 9 Jordan Jefferson QB 6-5 10 Russell Shepard QB 6-1 11 Kelvin Sheppard LB 6-3 12 Jarrett Lee QB 6-2 13 Ron Brooks S 5-11 13 Jordan Newell WR 5-9 14 Chris Garrett QB 6-4 15 Brandon Taylor CB 6-0 16 Jhyryn Taylor WR 6-0 17 Morris Claiborne WR/DB 6-0 17 T.C. McCartney QB 6-3 18 Richard Dickson TE 6-3 19 David Detz DB 6-0 19 Deangelo Peterson TE 6-4 21 Tayler Debusk DB 5-11 21 Chris Tolliver WR 6-1 22 Ryan Baker LB 6-0 23 Stefoin Francois S 6-1 24 Harry Coleman LB 6-2 24 Patrick Lipoma RB 5-4 25 Dexter Alexander DB 5-9 25 Drayton Calhoun RB 6-0 26 Richard Murphy RB 6-1 27 August Mangin FB 5-10 28 R.J. Jackson WR 6-0 28 Joe Maltempi DB 5-8 29 Chris Hawkins CB 6-1 29 Jarred Joseph WR 6-2 30 Trent Hebert PK 5-9 30 Josh Jasper PK/P 5-11 31 John Williams WR 5-11 32 Charles Scott RB 6-0 33 Dominique Allen FB 5-11 33 DJ Howard P 6-3 34 Stevan Ridley FB 6-0 35 Ryan St. Julien DB 6-1 35 James Stampley FB 5-10 36 Derrick Bryant DB 5-11 37 Karnell Hatcher DB 6-2 38 Drew Alleman PK/P 5-11 38 Derek Helton P 6-0 39 R.J. Gillen WR 6-0 39 Josh Johns DB 6-2 40 Rockey Duplessis S 6-1 40 Orlando Gunn RB 5-8 41 Kyle Prater LB 6-1 41 Ronnie Turpin TE 6-4 42 Michael Ford RB 5-10 42 David Impastato LB 5-11 43 Daniel Graff DB 6-0 43 Cole Richardson ATH 6-2
‘Working Through It’ Amanda Kelly
e first gained fame with fans as the unstoppable return man, but recently Javier Arenas has been making an impact in other ways. He has proven himself to be a key member of Alabama’s dominant defense. Despite personally recording 13 tackles against Tennessee and playing on a squad ranked fourth in total defense overall, Arenas knows there is enough strength on the team that the defense could be playing even better. “We made a lot of mistakes,” Arenas said of the defensive performance against Tennessee. “It was one of the worst performances of the year. It wasn’t a horrible performance, but it wasn’t what we wanted.” It’s obvious that Arenas has high expectations for his teammates, as well as himself. When he came to the University of Alabama, he had already left a mark at his high school. Arenas set the record for the most punt and kick returns for touchdowns at Robinson High School in Tampa, Fla., his senior year. That year he had four punt returns and three kickoff returns for touchdowns, with 16 touchdowns overall. When Arenas came to Alabama in 2006, he played as a true freshman and was the top kick and punt returner for the team. His sophomore year, Arenas also took on the role of backup defensive back. Since then, he has been a permanent fixture on the Tide’s defensive and special teams squads. The team found success with Arenas as their go-to return man for a few seasons, but decided to try something different this season after he suffered a rib injury. The team is now playing with both Julio Jones and Arenas back to return. Arenas does not seem too bothered by this change however, and gives credit to how well-rounded the Tide’s team is. “If they kick it to me, they kick it to me,” he said. “If not, then
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I’ve just got to make the right decisions. It gets frustrating at times, but we’ve got other good guys back there. We’ve gotten to where we can put Julio back there along side with me and he’s capable of making plays.” As well as the two are working together, don’t expect any fancy moves on kick returns. When asked if he thought Jones might lateral a ball back to him to return, Arenas smiled and joked he would have to take the ball from Jones before that would happen. “I’m going to go get it from him,” Arenas said of Jones. “If they kick the ball to him it’s his, if they kick it to me, it’s mine.” Arenas does acknowledge how important teamwork is. Although Alabama almost lost to unranked Tennessee, the team made key plays to ensure the Tide remained unbeaten. Arenas knows it takes everyone to win. “That’s what makes you a great team: working through it,” he said. Fortunately, the Tide had an off week, after struggling against the Vols, to prepare for one of their most important games of the season. If Alabama can beat LSU, they clinch the SEC West. But the hype of the LSU game didn’t seem to be on Arenas’s mind too much during the bye week. “I think it will help me a great deal and I’m going to take full advantage of it, getting treatment and things like that, resting up, not putting any pressure on it,” Arenas said of his plans for the week off. For Arenas’s birthday, which fell during the bye week, he did seem to have something special on his mind, but wouldn’t reveal it. Instead, he kept the focus towards football with hope for the best. “I really can’t say in front of [reporters], but I do have a birthday wish,” Arenas said. “I guess to cover for it, I’ll just say that we have a good game against LSU.” PHOTOGRAPHY BY BDL
LOWDOWN Alabama and LSU by the Numbers
he offense of both units have come under close examination this year. But what do the numbers mean and how will they affect the outcome of the game? LSU has run 426 offensive plays this year for 2148 total yards. LSU opponents have run 481 plays for 2128 total yards. LSU averages 306 yards of offense a game, 104 yards a game behind Alabama. Simply put, LSU’s offense doesn’t control the ball enough to keep it away from opponents and the total yards made and given up are a wash out to the opponents. Alabama has run 544 offensive plays this year for 3280 total yards. Bama opponents have run 503 plays for 1943 yards. Alabama has 1132 more yards of total offense than LSU, but they have played one more game, the per game average is 410 yards. This is almost the exact same total as it has over its average opponent this year. That is 141 yards more offense a game and almost 15 more offensive plays per game. LSU loses the time of possession by over one minute per game, while Alabama wins the time of possession by over five minutes per game. LSU gets more yards through the air than on the ground, 1281 yards to 865. The Tigers average only 3.53 yards per carry on the ground and seven yards per passing attempt. Alabama gets more yards on the ground than through the air, 1741 yards to 1539. The Crimson Tide average 5.31 yards per rush and 7.125 yards per passing attempt. Alabama’s offense is better. It keeps defenses on the field longer, wins the time of possession, generates more total offense, and averages enough extra offensive plays to equal almost two more offensive drives per game than LSU. Alabama is a more balanced attack and therefore harder to stop. The turnover margins are very close, but LSU averages slightly more turnovers per game than Alabama. Bama’s ability to run the ball will allow it to control the clock and wear down the Tiger defense. Alabama’s offense is clearly better overall than LSU in almost every measurable way, so the fact that the nod in offense goes to Alabama is not very arguable. LSU has outscored opponents by an average of 10 points game. The average opponent scores only 14 points a game. The Tigers give up 304 yards of offense a game, 127 by ground and 177 by air. They have given up three TDs on the ground and seven by passes PHOTOGRAPHY BY BDL
in seven games. Alabama has outscored opponents by an average of over 20 points a game. The average opponent only scores 11 points a game. The Tide gives up just 242 yards of total offense a game, an astonishing 66.75 yards of rushing per game and 175 by air. They have given up only three TDs on the ground and just five TD passes in eight games. LSU allows teams to convert third downs 40 percent of the time, while the Tide allows teams to convert third downs just 29 percent of the time. Both teams make about 38 percent of their own conversions. There is no logical argument that Alabama’s defense won’t dominate this game. They lead in almost every measurable category, by more than impressive amounts in most. Special Teams is a wash. While Alabama is more accurate in field goals and punts longer, LSU has been better in giving up scoring returns. Penalties are a wash as well, but Alabama’s success in the red zone is just slightly better, giving them the check mark in this area as well. They say you win with defense. Alabama has that without question, but they also have the more productive offense. Figuring in home field advantage and a very noisy crowd, this makes it an even larger hurdle for LSU to overcome. Alabama should win this game, and by the numbers, the winning margin should be about 10 points. But as Tide fans saw in the last rivalry game with Tennessee, anything can, and usually does, happen. Licensed Bonded
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R se Bowl
he Parade of Roses is older than the football game that bears its name. In 1890, citizens held a parade with horse-drawn carriages adorned with local flowers to bring in the new year. Later, planners felt that the day needed something a little more special and decided to have a football game on January first. Originally called the “Tournament East-West Football Game,” it was to match a top team from the East with a Western power. That first game, in 1902, was so bad that it almost killed the whole idea of ever hosting another football game as part of the celebration. Stanford quit in the third quarter after being pummeled 49-0
| TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA November 7, 2009
by Michigan. For the next 15 years, that New Year’s Day celebration featured ostrich races, chariot races or anything other than football. But on January 1, 1916, not only did football come back to stay, but Western pride was healed when the State College of Washington beat Brown 14-0. For nine years this was an East-West contest. A committee was formed to invite on the best of the best. Southern football was looked upon by the rest of the nation as far inferior to the great teams of the North and the powerhouses of the West. And as a result, the South was snubbed from the Rose Bowl, the “Biggest and Best.” Southern sports writers keep up the heat, saying that Southern teams could take on the best the rest of the nation had to offer. Shameless writers did everything but call the Rose Bowl Committee cowards for their reluctance to schedule a Southern power. Following the 1925 Rose Bowl, the committee sought out a Southern team that was good enough to match up with a ‘real’ national power and set their sights on Alabama. The 1925 Alabama team, led by Coach Wallace Wade, was undefeated. Yet outside the South, few thought these country boys had a chance against a team like Washington. The first half certainly cemented that belief, as Washington jumped out to a 12-0 lead. But a rousing halftime talk by Wade changed the mood and momentum of the game. The Tide came out and scored 20 unanswered points before Washington came back with six of their own. That 20-19 win did little to change the skeptics’ minds, but in the South, it was the game that changed football forever. For the first time, not only was a Southern school invited, but they won, and they won the National Championship as well. Alabama was invited back the following year to silence those from the South who claimed absolute vindication with the Alabama win the PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRYANT MUSEUM
year before. 1926 saw a Stanford team that was hailed as possibly the best football team ever assembled and no one gave a chance to the boys from Bama. Though the game ended in a 7-7 tie game, Stanford dominated the entire game with 305 yards of offense to Alabama’s 98. Late in the game, after trailing the entire contest, Alabama’s Clarke Pearce blocked a punt that set up Jimmy Johnson’s burst up the middle. Then before Stanford lined up, Alabama did a quick lineup and snapped the ball for the extra point before the Cardinals could line up to attempt a block. Sportswriters said Alabama could only tie by trickery. However, the Tide ended the season as National Champions for the second straight season. It took five years for Alabama to return after several just so-so seasons. The team was once again 9-0 and touted as the best in the nation. The 1931 Rose Bowl Committee still wanted to prove that Western teams were far superior and invited the Tide to return and face a 9-0 Washington State. The Rose Bowl had just been expanded to become one of the largest stadiums in the country, seating 81,000 people, and tickets sold out fast. By now, Wade was an old hand at settling down the boys, many of whom had never traveled more than a few hundred miles from their home. That day Jimmy “Hurry” Cain engineered one good drive after another and the Tide buried not only Washington State, but the belief that Southern football was inferior. Alabama was crowned a National Champion for that season’s work and Wade handed the reigns over to Coach Frank Thomas. Thomas fielded three teams before going undefeated in the regular season. He seemed to be a front runner for yet another
National Championship, so the 1935 Rose Bowl Committee wasted no time in signing up Alabama. This time their opponent would be again Stanford. Alabama wowed the crowd with “Dixie’s Air Circus.” Dixie Howell dazzled the attendees in what was the first great passing performance ever seen in the Rose Bowl. Alabama won 29-13, and another National Championship, that season. The 1937 team finished the regular season undefeated and went to Pasadena to face a California team that was also undefeated, with one tie. Alabama moved the ball well throughout the game, but four costly fumbles saw them lose 13-0. The 1942 team declined a Rose Bowl invitation in favor of the Cotton Bowl, where Alabama won yet another National Championship. The 1945 squad accepted Bama’s last Rose Bowl invitation and played USC, who had won their last 9 Rose Bowl appearances. Alabama simply steam rolled USC and ended at 34-14. Those 34 points that Alabama scored were more than USC’s previous eight Rose Bowl opponents combined. The loss was so humiliating for the Westerners, no Southern team was invited back until 2002, when the Rose Bowl was integrated into the BCS structure. Could this be the year that Alabama returns to the storied site and reclaims its title as the Rose Bowl’s best? Only time will tell, but that is the goal of this group of coaches and this team of young men, and the hope of the entire Bama Nation. “...Remember the Rose Bowl, we’ll win then....” How many Alabama fans would love to sing that in the Rose Bowl just once in their lives? touchdownalabama.net |
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Views From The
Other Side Katie Koenig
unior wide receiver Terrance Toliver is also hitting his stride this season, though he may be getting a little help from teammate Brandon LaFell. LaFell passed on his chance to head to the NFL draft last spring, and the coverage on him has created some opportunities for Toliver to really break out. “I’m sure glad Brandon stayed,” Toliver said to The Times Picayune. Toliver’s numbers in the Auburn game were career-high for him, with nine catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. He sits at second in the Southeastern Conference in number of passes this season with 34, and Toliver also managed to move ahead of team mate LaFell in number of receptions for LSU. Toliver is another player who fans had high expectations for as he was the number one ranked wide receiver recruit his senior year. He said he can tell he has improved each year. “I’m way better,” Toliver told The Times Picayune. “I was learning in my freshman and sophomore years, and I learned from the best, Brandon LaFell and Early Doucet, how to run better routes and get open. I think I’ve improved a lot as a playmaker and a blocker. I’m more consistent, so I’m getting the ball more.” Toliver will see this week just how much he has improved as he takes on the Tide’s top-rated defense.
| TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA November 7, 2009
thlete Russell Shepard spent his high school career at quarterback and managed to rack up an impressive 66 rushing touchdowns while playing at Cypress Ridge High School in Houston, Texas, with a whopping 28 of those in his senior year alone. As a true freshman at LSU, Shepard has had to make a few adjustments as he has tackled several positions for the Tigers. “I am learning quarterback, running back, receiver, and soon I have to learn some special teams,” Shepard told The Daily Advertiser of Lafayette. “I am learning four different things, but the staff has done a great job tutoring me. ... The recruitment and hype is over. Now I have to produce. The more that I produce the more touches I am going to get.” Shepard didn’t score his first touchdown in college until LSU’s October 24 victory over Auburn after he struggled to get touches through the first half of the season. The true freshman never even got a chance to carry the ball in the Tiger’s October 10 loss to Florida. He finally broke out during the Auburn game with a 69-yard touchdown run that was the kind of play Tiger fans had been waiting for all season. “Nobody will ever know how it feels,” said Shepard to The Shreveport Times of the touchdown run. “I got all kinds of things running through my mind. I got my chance and I took it.” Tiger fans will have to wait and see if Shepard can deliver the same kind of plays the rest of the season. PHOTOGRAPHY BY RIVALS.COM
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Crimson Tide Recruiting Commits
Week 10 Mike Parker The number of stars assigned to each player indicates the level pro scouts have assigned to the player after evaluating him. Out of five possible stars, the more stars you are receive, the higher your rating. Information courtesy of Rivals.com.
Nick Perry Safety 6’2” 195 lbs. 40 in 4.49 Nick Perry is getting some of the best coaching in the country at Prattville High School. Prattville has dominated Alabama’s 6A football for years and is also known nationally as a powerhouse. During last year’s 6A championship game, in which there were only two touchdowns, it was Perry who returned an intercepted ball 72 yards for a score for Prattville. Saban likes Perry at safety, which he probably will play, but at 6’2” and already 195 lbs, Perry could possibly turn into a linebacker. He was highly recruited in the SEC, especially by LSU and Auburn. Perry, with a combination of a tall rangy frame and long wingspan, is a very solid tackle with good speed and a vertical of 36”. Nick Perry is definitely one to keep an eye on, but, as far as a commitment to Alabama goes, he is as solid as they come. Austin Shepherd Offensive Lineman 6’4” 316 lbs. 40 in 5.5 Coming out of North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga., Austin Shepherd brings great versatility as an offensive linesman; at North Gwinnett, Shepherd plays any of the five offensive linesman spots. However, he does not currently have the number of college offers that most players bring with them. Shepherd will be a project for Joe Pendry, but our expectations of Shepherd should not be colored by his low recruitment offers, since last year Nick Saban recruited Chance Warmack out of Atlanta, Ga., and his offer list was not impressive either. In addition, Shepherd is already running with the second team, which says a lot in light of the fact that the highly recruited D.J. Fluker is third string. Bringing a combination of toughness and strength, Shepherd is one of the Tide’s most physical commitments. All in all, Austin Shepherd could turn out to be a solid sleeper.
| TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA November 7, 2009
Player Deion Belue Devonta Bolton Ronald Carswell Cade Foster Jalston Fowler Corey Grant Alfy Hill Harrison Jones Brandon Lewis Chad Lindsay Wilson Love Keiwone Malone DeMarcus Milliner Nick Perry Austin Shepherd Blake Sims Phillip Sims Brian Vogler DeAndrew White Jarrick Williams Jay Williams
Pos DB LB WR K RB RB DE TE DT OL DE WR DB DB OL ATH QB TE WR DB K
Ht 6-0 6-4 6-0 6-1 6-0 5-10 6-4 6-4 6-3 6-3 6-4 6-1 6-1 6-2 6-4 6-0 6-2 6-7 6-0 6-2 6-4
Wt 175 230 180 215 240 186 222 230 275 307 235 165 180 195 316 180 209 248 170 205 220
40 4.51 - 4.5 - 4.8 4.4 4.59 4.8 - 5.4 4.8 4.4 4.45 4.49 5.5 4.5 4.8 4.6 4.4 4.6 -
RR 5.6 5.8 5.7 5.4 5.8 5.8 5.9 5.7 5.7 5.6 5.6 5.8 6.1 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.9 5.8 5.9 5.9 5.3
Hometown Tuscumbia, AL Scooba, MS Macon, GA Southlake, TX Prichard, AL Opelika, AL Shallotte, NC Memphis, TN Scooba, MS The Woodlands, TX Birmingham, AL Memphis, TN Millbrook, AL Prattville, AL Suwanee, GA Gainesville, GA Chesapeake, VA Columbus, GA Galena Park, TX Eight Mile, AL Thomasville, AL
Blake Sims Athlete 6’ 180lbs. 40 in 4.5 From Gainesville, Ga., Blake Sims is one interesting prospect. At Gainesville High School, Sims has played quarterback, and a very good one at that. Various teams all over the country are recruiting Sims as a safety, QB, or wide receiver. I believe Nick Saban wants him in the secondary. In high school, Sims is a true duel threat QB; he is extremely quick and fast. When he visited Tuscaloosa, Sims shocked everyone when he committed; especially shocked was Mark Richt, Georgia’s head coach, who had just recently spoken to Sims’ father to say he wanted to take over the recruitment. This will be an interesting bidding war to the very end, with teams like Michigan, Georgia, and Tennessee still aggressively recruiting Sims, trying to pry him away from playing for the Crimson Tide. Probably the best athlete in Georgia, Sims’ films are incredible. So far, Alabama has kept Sims committed to wearing crimson, but I would be surprised if he does not take another visit or two elsewhere. Whatever position he ends up playing, Blake Sims has a huge up-side. Brian Vogler Tight End 6’7” 250 lbs. 40 in 4.67 At Brookstone High School in Columbus, Ga., Brian Vogler looks, plays, and acts like a TE should. He is an excellent blocker, as well as receiver. Because he stands 6’7”, you would not expect Vogler to jump very high, but on top of his tall frame and long arms, Brian Vogler also has a 30” vertical. At this stage, Vogler looks and plays a lot like Collin Peek, and that is just right now. Vogler still has four years of the Alabama strength and conditioning program, coaching and experience to go. There is a good reason why Volger has offers from schools all over the country, including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Miami, and Florida State: Vogler is ranked the 8th best tight end in the country. He will be an absolutely perfect fit in Jim McElwain’s two tight end set. Watch out for this one, because he is a physical freak of nature. He is by far one of the best commitments in Alabama’s 2010 class to date. You can expect to see Brian Vogler on the field early and often next season. PHOTOGRAPHY BY RIVALS.COM
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hen the Crimson Tide marched into Death Valley last season, there was no question of what needed to be done or what was at stake. The Tide entered the LSU matchup undefeated and in control of its own destiny –with the possibility of both the SEC championship and the national championship to look forward to. Yes, there were external factors to the game such as coach Saban’s return to the Bayou, where he once coached the LSU Tigers in a former life. Adding to the drama and excitement of the game was the burning effigy of Saban posted on a billboard in Baton Rouge welcoming the Tide with open arms. ESPN’S crew that hosts College Gameday each week made the trip to Tigerland to take in the raucous atmosphere with over one hundred thousand screaming fans. Nov. 7 will be 364 days since the Tide and Tigers last tussled in a turnover-ridden game that couldn’t be settled in just four quarters of play. The Tide benefited from a sensational day by All-American free safety, Rashaad Johnson, who snagged three interceptions to help lead the Tide past the Tigers and into the SEC Championship game. Johnson’s final pick came in the first overtime when he intercepted LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee’s pass in the back corner of the end zone. The Tide wasted no time capitalizing on the turnover, and on second play, John Parker Wilson connected with Julio Jones on
| TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA November 7, 2009
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BDL
Wild West the sideline to set up a first-and-goal from the Tiger 2 yard line. It took one quarterback sneak from there to end the drama and secure the Western Division crown for the Tide and send 93,000 unhappy Tiger fans into the night, listening to chants of “Saban! Saban! Saban!” The ’09 showdown has the same aura encircling the game, minus both teams being undefeated. LSU fans will certainly travel in droves with hopes that the Bayou Bengals can ruin the Tide’s unblemished record and gain control of the SEC Western division. LSU suffered its only defeat early at the hands of the No.1-ranked Florida Gators in what was a low-scoring, defensive struggle in Tiger Stadium. An LSU victory would put the Tigers atop the SEC West with two SEC games against Arkansas and Ole Miss remaining – both teams the Tide already defeated. But an LSU defeat would give the Tigers their second SEC loss of the season, and would secure the Tide a birth in Atlanta for a likely rematch of last year’s conference championship game with Tim Tebow and the Gators. LSU ‘s latest SEC victory came against an Auburn team that looked helpless and hopeless before halftime. Tiger quarterback Jordan Jefferson had the best game of his young career and will look to have the same success against one of the nation’s premier defensive teams. The Tide is coming off of a much-needed bye week still holding a perfect record after eight consecutive Saturdays, including five consecutive SEC opponents –always extremely physical teams. The formula for a Tide victory Saturday is simple: Win and you’re in.
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Cheering on the
ig Al made his first appearance at the 1979 Sugar Bowl when the Crimson Tide took on Penn State. He, along with the Tide’s faithful fans, cheered the Tide to their 11th national championship that night. That was the first time the university had a mascot on the sideline of a game, even though elephants had been associated with the school since 1930. That year, an Atlanta sports writer attended the Alabama-Mississippi game in Tuscaloosa and later wrote that the earth trembled and fans yelled “the elephants are coming” as the team ran on to the field. The nickname stuck, and the animal appeared on various items associated with the Tide. By the late 70s, there was an obvious need for a costumed mascot on the sidelines of games, but Coach Bryant had dismissed the idea a number of times previously. After an appeal from the students, Bryant finally agreed. “Just keep him off my field,” was Bryant’s only request. Plans for the mascot were drawn and sent to the designers at the Disney offices in New York.
| TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA November 7, 2009
Hugh Dye served as the first Big Al after becoming injured during cheerleading tryouts. A senior at the time, Dye had the responsibility of picking up the costume at the airport and driving it to the Sugar Bowl. Dye said as soon as he put the costume on and joined the crowd, he immediately had kids grabbing at him, trying to meet the new mascot. The original costume eventually was replaced and put on display in a glass case on the bottom floor of the Ferguson Center. In July of 2009, the costume was moved to its current home at the Paul W. Bryant Museum, a place museum officials say is more fitting for its legacy. Try outs to become Big Al are held every spring and students are the only ones eligible. Although more than one student is selected, many go home disappointed. Being selected to play Big Al is considered an honor. Big Al continues to be an Alabama icon, not only cheering at football games, but making appearances at various events. The mascot represents the strength, tradition and prestige of the University of Alabama.
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SEC News Lauren Moranor Florida vs. Vanderbilt - 6:15 pm(CT), ESPN2 Florida is coming off a big win against Georgia where quarterback Tim Tebow broke Hershel Walker’s record of most rushing touchdowns in the SEC. Tebow now has 51 rushing touchdowns for the record. Vanderbilt is coming off of a tough loss against Georgia Tech who plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Both teams are looking for another SEC East victory, while Florida looks to continue to remain unbeaten and No. 1 in the polls. Vanderbilt and quarterback Larry Smith are going to need to have a great passing game; Florida will likely shut down Vanderbilt’s rushing game with their No. 1 ranked defense. Vanderbilt’s top receivers John Cole and Brandon Barden will look to get open and avoid Florida’s defensive leader Brandon Spikes, who will pressure the receivers and Smith. The Vanderbilt offense will have to work hard to move the ball. They rank last in scoring offense and pass offense in the SEC. Florida will try to get their running game moving against a strong Vanderbilt pass defense. Running back Brandon James and Tebow will get the ground game moving for Florida. Vanderbilt will be looking for a big upset against the nation’s top team. South Carolina vs. Arkansas - 11:21 pm (CT), SEC Network This game looks to be another great SEC West vs. East matchup with two strong quarterbacks leading the way. Last week South Carolina had a devastating loss to Tennessee and will look to redeem themselves this week, while Arkansas is coming off of a blow out win against Eastern Michigan University. Arkansas’s Ryan Mallett and South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia are both ranked high in passing efficiency and average over 200 passing yards per game. They will look to get their offenses moving for what could be a potentially high-scoring game. Arkansas is ranked second in the SEC for scoring offense, but could be challenged by South Carolina’s strong passing defense. Eric Norwood, South Carolina’s leading defensive player who also leading the SEC in sacks, will want to put pressure on Mallett and force Arkansas to turn to their run game to move the ball down the field. South Carolina’s leading rushers Jarvus Giles and Kenny Miles will take advantage of Arkansas’s poor rush
| TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA November 7, 2009
defense to get points on the board for the Gamecocks. Both teams want to improve their records and have a dominant SEC win. Florida’s quarterback Tim Tebow now holds the record for the most rushing touchdowns in the SEC with 51 touchdowns. The record was previously held by University of Georgia’s Herschel Walker. Alabama becomes the second team this decade to beat SEC teams for five consecutive weeks. The only other team to do this was the 2002 Alabama team. Auburn safety Zac Etheridge sustained what appears to be a neck injury in a collision with a teammate against Mississippi. Etheridge was carted off the field on a backboard and taken to the hospital for evaluations. He is likely to be out for the season.
CURRENT POLLS AP TOP 25
1. Florida 2. Texas 3. Alabama 4. Cincinnati 5. Boise State 6. TCU 7. Oregon 8. Iowa 9. LSU 10. Georgia Tech 11. Penn State 12. USC 13. Houston 14. Pittsburgh 15. Ohio State 16. Miami (FL) 17. Utah 18. Oklahoma State 19. Notre Dame 20. Oklahoma 21. Arizona 22. Virginia Tech 23. California 24. Wisconsin 25. Brigham Young
BCS Standings 1. Florida 2. Texas 3. Alabama 4. Iowa 5. Cincinnati 6. TCU 7. Boise State 8. Oregon 9. LSU 10. Georgia Tech 11. Penn State 12. USC 13. Pittsburgh 14. Utah 15. Houston 16. Ohio State 17. Miami (FL) 18. Arizona 19. Oklahoma State 20. California 21. Wisconsin 22. Notre Dame 23. Virginia Tech 24. Oklahoma 25. South Florida
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Catching Up With
Tyler Watts Donald F. Staffo
ennessee week was always special to me,” stated former Alabama quarterback Tyler Watts, who played for the Crimson Tide from 1998 through 2002 and holds the school passing completion percentage record for QBs with a minimum of 200 completions (57.5%) and ranks fifth in career passing with 4,668 yards. As important as the Tennessee game is for the players, Watts said, “Rivalries are for the fans to enjoy.” Watts said that he grew up in the 1980s and “Alabama wore Tennessee out, winning seven years (1986-92) in a row. During that time Tennessee had no confidence when they played Alabama. Regardless of how good Tennessee was doing, they didn’t think they could beat Alabama. And regardless of the season we were having, Alabama knew they could beat Tennessee. As (former Crimson Tide center) Roger Shultz stated at the time, ‘They ought to make us pay taxes in Tennessee because we own Neyland Stadium.’ (Former Tennessee coach Phillip) Fulmer hated Alabama, and he didn’t hide it either. He knew the importance of this particular football game. “Then the next seven years (1995-2001) were just awful,” continued Watts, who in addition to owning an insurance company in Vestavia Hills, now works as a sports analyst for the Crimson Tide Sports Network’s pre-game radio segment ‘Around the SEC’ as well as on the post-game show. “When I was here we lost four in a row. We got manhandled because Tennessee was bigger, faster, stronger and better than us. One year they were No. 3 in the country. Their front seven on the defensive side of the ball had three All-Americans. They had some great football players. “My senior year we finally had a football team that was ready to compete with Tennessee. Unlike past years, we kept Tennessee week simple. We didn’t put a big orange “T” on the helmets and there was no Rocky Top music blaring over the speakers during practice. We got back to basics. We just practiced. It wasn’t the hype, but the preparation that helped us get a big win at Tennessee and end their seven-year winning streak. At the end, they lost their swagger. It was a great day.” Watts pointed out that both schools now have coaches who are not steeped in the history of the Crimson Tide-Big Orange rivalry- the most storied in the South- which Alabama now leads 47-38-7. Speaking about Alabama football in general, Watts said that Nick Saban and his staff “have done an outstanding job, and just as important, they’ve got some great players here. This year’s team is bigger and faster, and they fly to the ball. We have quality players at every position, so they push each other to get better. This staff expects a lot from the players. Alabama’s (‘4th quarter’) conditioning program is the reason they can play so hard. They push them harder so they can accomplish more than
| TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA November 7, 2009
Former Tide QB talks the Tide - past and present they think they can accomplish. If you can be the team that pounds the other team, you’re going to win. That’s what this staff has brought. It’s not fair right now (for the opposition), but that’s great for us.” As a former quarterback, Watts explained that “the more complex the offense, the more looks you give the other team, the more basic the defense has to become.” He said that his greatest satisfaction came from changing the play at the line of scrimmage and getting your players in the right position, and then having the new play be successful. “That was the most rewarding feeling I had,” he recalled. “From a defensive standpoint, you try to make the other team one-dimensional. Ole Miss applied a lot of pressure on (quarterback) Greg McElroy. As a result, they couldn’t stop the run,” he explained. “Very few teams have the ability to stop the run and the pass at the same time.” As for Alabama’s defense, Watts said “Very few teams in the country can audible to another defense, after the offense audibles. Alabama’s defense can do that.” Watts said that Alabama is recruiting top-notch players, “but the current players don’t see the recruits as a threat (to their positions). The current players do such a great job of embracing the recruits. “This staff doesn’t promise the recruits anything- just the chance to compete. That way you weed out a lot of players who don’t want to compete,” he stated. When asked what he would do differently to make the offense, which has had problems the past couple of weeks, more productive, Watts referred to McElroy’s drop-off in performance and running back Mark Ingram’s career-high 246 yards rushing against South Carolina. Watts stated, “I’d run it more. It seems to be working pretty well.” Watts concluded with, “This place is going to be rockin’ this weekend. That’s what college football is all about.”
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