Alabama Crimson Tide: 2012 BCS Championship

Tide show respect for Irish defense

January, 3, 2013
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Ivan Maisel and Chris Low on the Alabama offense offering great respect for the Notre Dame defense.

Alabama's RB duo surges to South Beach

December, 30, 2012
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T.J Yeldon/Eddie LacyUS PresswireT.J. Yeldon (4) and Eddie Lacy (42) are the first two players in Alabama history to rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.
Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon don’t have a menacing/witty nickname for their dynamic partnership in Alabama’s backfield. According to Lacy, they’re just “T.J. and Eddie.”

With the way they continuously beat up defenders, that might be intimidating enough. When they carry the rock, someone is going to get smacked in the jaw, and most of the time it isn’t one of them.

“Every time we get the ball, whether it’s T.J. or myself, we want to hit them,” said Lacy, who finished the regular season second in the SEC with 1,182 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. “We want to initiate the contact.

“T.J. and I have the same mindset: To hit us is going to be physical, too. To have two people running like that, it only wears the defense down.”

It's plain to see that these two have helped numb the loss of Heisman finalist Trent Richardson, and plenty of defenses found that out the hard way.

Lacy, a junior, and Yeldon, a true freshman, became the first two players in Alabama history to rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. Yeldon currently has 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. They’re the first two backs in the SEC to each rush for 1,000 yards on the same team since Arkansas’ Darren McFadden and Felix Jones did it in 2007.

Both are averaging more than 6.4 yards per carry, and both average in the double digits when it comes to carries per game. Lacy might have the starter label, but it really is more like a 1A, 1B situation.

Lacy is more of the pounder, grinding out extra yards with defenders on his back like it’s nothing, while Yeldon packs both a punch and boosters. As center Barrett Jones puts it, Yeldon is a “freak specimen” who can run over defenders or cut right past them on a dime.

It makes blocking for each that much easier, Jones said. More often than not, Jones said, linemen don’t even know which back is in the huddle, and most of the time they aren’t concerned with knowing.

“The reason we don’t worry is because we have so much confidence in both guys,” Jones said. “We might be worried if there were a severe drop-off from one to two.”

Early on, Jones wasn’t sure whether that lack of a drop-off would exist. He was impressed with Yeldon during the spring, but wasn’t sure it would carry over to the fall. And Lacy, who has always dealt with nagging injuries, missed all of spring after undergoing surgery.

There was concern, but as players started to realize just how talented Yeldon was as he trudged through fall camp like a grown man, the fears surrounding the running game diminished.

“During camp practices, he never slowed down,” Lacy said of Yeldon.

With Lacy still not 100 percent to start the season, Yeldon raised eyebrows again, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown in the opener against Michigan. Since then, the two have become a wrecking crew in Alabama’s backfield.

And they’ve done so without egos getting in the way. It would be easy for either to pout about sharing carries, but Lacy said sharing the rushing duty has made them better players by creating friendly competition and keeping them fresh.

In a league dominated by physical abuse, recovery is key, and that makes sharing carries that much more important for Alabama’s duo.

“Whoever you play, they’re coming to play, and they’re going to hit you,” Lacy said. “Limiting the carries limits those hits and allows your body to recover.”

That became very obvious in the SEC championship game against Georgia. Those four fresh legs churned out 334 of Alabama’s title-game record 350 rushing yards. The two embarrassed Georgia’s front and left the Bulldogs gassed.

And that’s what the two hope they do against No. 1 Notre Dame in the Discover BCS National Championship. While the Irish own the nation’s No. 4 rushing defense, there’s no doubt this will be a very tall task for that unit.

Thanks to a punishing persona, Alabama is averaging an SEC-best 6.2 yards per carry on designed runs and 4.2 yards before contact. Tide rushers have made it at least 5 yards past the line of scrimmage without being touched on 35.1 percent of their designed runs, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

On designed, downhill runs up the gut, Alabama averages 6.6 yards per carry with about one in every five attempts going for at least 10 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Those are gaudy numbers for the Tide, and Jones can’t help but snicker at the thought of opponents having to face that tandem for 60 minutes.

“It’s an embarrassment of riches in our running backs room,” he said.

Final Extra: BCS title predictions 

December, 2, 2012
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Drive to the National Championship

November, 15, 2012
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video

Todd McShay goes over the latest BCS Standings and looks ahead to the schedules that remain for the three unbeaten teams still standing.

Haney: If there were a 2012 playoff ...

November, 14, 2012
11/14/12
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The seeds would be Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, Florida and LSU. But how would it play out? ESPN Insider Travis Haney lines it up, gets some help from the oddsmakers, and picks his champion.

Read the story here. Insider
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban took to the SEC's weekly teleconference Wednesday morning to talk about how his team is coping with its first loss of the season. He touched on Texas A&M's Heisman hopeful at quarterback, his team's focus moving forward and whether a one-loss SEC team should make it to the national championship game.

1. How they got here: Saban started out his turn on the teleconference by repeating what he has said since Saturday night. "We haven't played as well the last couple of games," he explained, again bringing the narrow LSU win back into the discussion.

Alabama played sloppily in the past two weeks because of a lack of effort and focus on both sides of the football. The offense bottomed out in the third quarter of both games and let the momentum gained heading into halftime slip away. Meanwhile the defense struggled to come up with big plays when they were needed, missing tackles and failing to finish plays.

(Read full post)

Video: Barrett Jones on 'sweetest' TD

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
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Chris Low interviews Barrett Jones following Alabama's victory in the Allstate BCS National Championship.

This time, Shelley gets his kicks

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
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NEW ORLEANS -- After Alabama tailback Trent Richardson finally broke the ice against No. 1 LSU in Monday night's Allstate BCS National Championship Game, scoring the first touchdown in more than 105 minutes of football played between the schools this season, Crimson Tide kicker Jeremy Shelley lined up for his easiest kick of the night.

Shelley missed the extra point.

But it didn't even matter.

After Shelley and fellow kicker Cade Foster combined to miss four field goals in the Crimson Tide's 9-6 loss in overtime to LSU on Nov. 5, Shelley made five field goals in Alabama's 21-0 victory over the Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday night.

For Mark Schlabach's full story, click here.

AJ McCarron displays maturity in win

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
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NEW ORLEANS -- Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron needed one game plus 55 minutes to lead his offense into the end zone against No. 1 LSU. By then, however, the sophomore from Mobile already had delivered the No. 2 Crimson Tide to the Promised Land.

The box score shows that Alabama kicked five field goals and that McCarron never threw a touchdown pass. The Tide's lone touchdown, a 34-yard run by Trent Richardson with 4:36 to play, gave Alabama the 21-0 lead that will be recorded in the history books.

But you will have to think long and hard to find a more dominant performance by a quarterback operating between the 10s. With masterful play-calling by departing offensive coordinator Jim McElwain and a nerveless performance by the 6-foot-4, 205-pound McCarron, Alabama won the Allstate BCS Championship Game for the second time in three seasons.

For Ivan Maisel's full story, click here.

No doubting Alabama, Nick Saban

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
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NEW ORLEANS -- To those LSU followers who think they got short-sheeted by the BCS …

To those Oklahoma State honks who insist their team belonged here Monday night …

To those Associated Press voters who said they would keep LSU atop their ballots even if the Tigers lost to Alabama …

To all of them I say, "Are you nuts?"

Alabama removed LSU (and OSU) from the national title equation and also removed all doubt about who's No. 1. The Crimson Tide's 21-0 victory was so complete, so overpowering and so convincing that it left Bama's players in a state of postgame delirium.

For Gene Wojciechowski's full story, click here.
Dont'a HightowerMatthew Emmons/US PresswireAlabama's Dont'a Hightower (30) had 1.5 tackles for loss and forced this fumble. "I don't know any feeling in the world that could top this one," he said.

NEW ORLEANS -- When Alabama senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw addressed his teammates earlier this week, he kept coming back to one word.

Legendary.

“What I told them was, ‘Let’s be legendary,’ ” Upshaw recounted. “And that’s all they heard from me over and over again during the game.”

Upshaw had a feeling what was coming. He said he even dreamed about it.

So it’s no coincidence that he was one of the catalysts for what will go down as a legendary defensive performance by Alabama in a 21-0 strangulation of LSU on Monday night in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

Not only was it a legendary performance, but it’s a defense that will invariably evoke comparisons to the most revered defense in school history.

That would be the 1992 defense, which paved the way for Alabama to win a national championship with a dismantling of Miami on this same Superdome turf nearly two decades ago.

History will ultimately be the judge of how good this Alabama defense was, but some of the Crimson Tide’s players think they already know.

“We’re a group of guys who wanted it … with the best group of coaches in the world, and we wanted to finish,” Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. “That was our main thing. We didn’t finish anything we did the first time we played these guys. We were going to finish this time.”

Kirkpatrick didn’t blink when asked how this Alabama defense would be remembered 15 years from now.

“The greatest defense in the world … the greatest defense to ever touch the field,” Kirpatrick beamed.

Granted, he was still basking in Alabama’s second national championship in the past three years, and that’s a dizzying label to put on any defense.

But in the realm of the best college defenses in modern times, it’s going to be hard to top this bunch.

In shutting out LSU, Alabama’s defense went all 13 games this season without allowing more than 14 points in any game (Georgia Southern scored 7 of its 21 on a kickoff return). The Crimson Tide also became just the second team in history to finish the season ranked No. 1 statistically in all four major defensive categories -- total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and passing defense. Oklahoma was the only other team to do it in 1986.

“I don’t know where our place is in history, but this should answer a lot of questions about this season,” Alabama safety Mark Barron said. “We got tired of hearing about how we shouldn’t be here and that somebody else should.

“We didn’t want to leave any questions.”

LSU came into the game unbeaten and leading the SEC in scoring at 38.5 points per game. The Tigers played eight quarters and an overtime period against the Crimson Tide this season and have still yet to score their first touchdown.

In Monday’s title game, LSU crossed midfield just one time, and that came in the fourth quarter. The Tigers were held to 92 total yards, and the reality is that the two teams could have played 10 more quarters and LSU still wouldn’t have scored a touchdown.

“We had the Saban factor on our side,” Alabama junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “You can’t give coach (Nick) Saban 45 days off and not expect him to come up with something. We were ready for everything they threw at us tonight.”

As it was, LSU didn’t have much to throw at Alabama, at least anything that worked.

The Tigers wouldn’t (or couldn’t) go downfield in the vertical passing game. They didn’t pound the middle with the running game like Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart was expecting, and they persisted in trying to get outside to no avail with the option.

Smart said LSU hardly did anything Alabama was expecting and almost sounded perplexed that the Tigers didn’t take any shots down the field.

“They got in different personnel groupings and in different formations,” Smart said. “They tried to change everything, at least everything they’d done in every other game, and our guys responded.”

Upshaw, named the game’s Defensive MVP, said the Crimson Tide were determined not to let Jefferson hurt them running the ball. He had some success on the ground back on Nov. 5.

“Watching film on those guys, we saw where we ran upfield and got ourselves blocked and let Jefferson break out,” Upshaw said. “We wanted to come in with another game plan, to close the pocket, let the DBs lock down on their man, get some pressure on Jefferson and try and make him a passer.”

Jefferson finished 11-of-17 with an interception, but mustered just 53 passing yards. He was sacked four times.

“If they tried it, we were on it,” said Hightower, who had 1.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble in one of his better all-around games of the season. “I don’t know any feeling in the world that could top this one.”

But topping this defense?

Saban hates comparisons, and he was asked Monday if this was the best defense he’s ever coached.

The closest he would come to answering that question was this: “I can’t tell you what defense was the best. I can just tell you this was one of the most enjoyable teams to coach.”

And going back to that iconic 1992 Alabama defense, it’s worth noting that the Crimson Tide surrendered an average of 9.2 points per game that season. This Alabama defense, bolstered by Monday night’s shutout, gave up just 8.2 points per game.

The Tide Nation will make the final call.

But there’s no denying one thing: Two different times, Alabama’s defense ran up against the No. 1-ranked team in the country in 2011, and the Crimson Tide didn’t give up their end zone on either occasion.

That’s truly the stuff of legends.

Jordan JeffersonChris Graythen/Getty ImagesLSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson was held to 53 yards passing and 15 yards rushing against Alabama.

NEW ORLEANS -- The ride is over.

The emotional roller coaster that was LSU’s season ended tragically inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The team that had shaken off a plethora of distractions and back-to-back games with double-digit first-half deficits never made its way out of the French Quarter as No. 1 LSU (13-1, 8-0) fell to second-ranked Alabama (12-1, 7-1) 21-0 in Monday’s Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

For once, there was no spark for the Bayou Bengals. The team that had rolled over each and every opponent it faced this season -- and was on its way to a historic finish -- fell flat when it mattered the most.

“You have to play through adversity,” defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. “That’s what our coaches teach us.

“(Alabama) made all the big plays and made all the tough plays tonight and tip my hat off to them for making all the big plays and winning tonight.”

The defense had more bend then it has been accustomed to Monday, allowing nearly 400 yards, five field goals and a late-game touchdown. Still, for staying on the field for 35 minutes that’s pretty good.

For everything the defense did for the offense, it got nothing in return. It got no adjustments, no originality. What it did get was five first downs, 92 total yards, 2.1 yards per play and zero points.

It got an offense that crossed into Alabama territory just once … and that came in the fourth quarter.

Followed by criticism throughout the season, Jefferson couldn’t get his offense moving. He couldn’t run and his arm didn’t help. The vertical passing game LSU promised wasn’t there because Jefferson admitted to holding onto the ball too long on designed deep passes because he wasn’t confident in where Alabama’s defenders were.

Some passes ranged from erratic to short. He was sacked four times and heard boos late in the first half and throughout the second when he took snaps instead of demoted quarterback Jarrett Lee.

Jefferson threw for 53 yards and an interception, and was beautifully contained by Alabama’s defense, rushing for 15 yards on 14 carries.

“I was seeing things clearly,” Jefferson said. “Making decisions with the ball wasn’t an issue.”

Jefferson turned the ball over twice, but it was his ill-advised flip-pass to an unsuspecting Spencer Ware that was extremely devastating. Jefferson thought Ware was ready for the pass, but Ware had turned up field to block before Jefferson released the ball, which was intercepted.

“Other than that, I made great decisions with the ball,” Jefferson said. “Offensively, we just fell short.”

Very short.

Though there was no sign of Lee. He just stood on the sidelines, tossing the ball occasionally to keep his arm warm.

“It’s disappointing,” Lee said. “I would have liked to have gotten some snaps, but it is what it is. Didn’t get any snaps, so you gotta move on past that.”

LSU coach Les Miles' only explanation for not playing Lee was that with Lee’s lack of mobility he didn’t feel as if he could sustain Alabama’s pass rush.

Even with as poorly as Jefferson played, the pounding, wear-‘em-down running game that moved this offense never arrived. The Tigers’ got 12 carries from their running backs. (Leading rusher Michael Ford got four for 1 yard.)

Offensive lineman Will Blackwell said the plan was to run the ball up the middle, but that never materialized so the staff directed runs to outside. Even after those didn't work, adjustments weren't made.

“I feel like we got away from our game plan a little bit,” Blackwell said. “We planned on running it inside and pounding them to maybe get the edge.

“We fell away from that and I don’t know what the reason for that is. Our game plan just fell apart.

“We got away from the things we’ve been doing all season and whenever you do that in a championship game it usually doesn’t work out for you very well.”

LSU finally succumbed to all the adversity. For a team that fed off the negativity, the Tigers weren’t ready Alabama. There was no game-changing play from the Honey Badger, the defense didn’t force any turnovers, there was no emotion in the second half and the offense never showed up.

For the defense, Monday must have hurt the most. They hunkered down near their own end zone and played well enough to win.

In the end, LSU’s defense just couldn’t play both ways for the Tigers.

“It was very disappointing,” linebacker Ryan Baker said. “We were clawing and fighting out there and we were just sitting back watching them go three-and-out.”

Video: Alabama's Jeremy Shelley

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
2:06
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Chris Low interviews Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley following Alabama's victory in the Allstate BCS National Championship.

Video: Alabama's Kevin Norwood

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
2:04
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Chris Low interviews Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood following Alabama's victory in the Allstate BCS National Championship.

Video: Alabama's Mark Barron

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
2:00
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Chris Low interviews Alabama defensive back Mark Barron following Alabama's victory in the Allstate BCS National Championship.

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