Notes From Tide's Win Over Kent State

A.J. McCarron was the starting quarterback for Alabama. The question of opening day had been whether McCarron, a sophomore, or Phillip Sims, a redshirt freshman, would be the starter against Kent State.



Previously, Alabama Coach Nick Saban had said he would alternate his quarterbacks in three-series sets.

A.J. McCarron also served as holder on placekicks.

In the quarterback battle, McCarron completed 14 of 23 passes for 226 yards and one touchdown. Phillip Sims completed 7-14 for 7 yards and no touchdowns. Both were intercepted twice.

On defense it was a mild surprise that C.J. Mosley started at weakside linebacker ahead of Nico Johnson, but that was owing to the Crimson Tide starting in nickel defense. That also meant that back-up cornerback Dee Milliner started instead of strongside linebacker Jerrell Harris.

Barrett Jones, an All-America candidate after his play at right guard the past two years, played three offensive line positions Saturday, none of them right guard. He started at left tackle, moved to left guard when freshman Cyrus Kouandjio came in to play left tackle in the second quarter, and was center in the third quarter.

With the 48-7 victory over Kent State, Alabama has compiled a 93-21-3 (.815) all-time record in season openers, and is in the midst of a 10-game winning streak in season openers. Dating back to the 1977 season, Alabama is 31-4 in its last 35 season openers and the Tide has posted a 19-2 opening day record since 1991. The 2011 season marks the 13th consecutive year the Tide has opened the season with a non-conference opponent.

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

Saban stands at 5-0 in season openers at The Capstone. Coach Frank Thomas (1931-46) is the school's most successful coach on opening day, compiling a 13-0-2 record in his 15 season openers with the Crimson Tide. Legendary coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant (1958-82) is the school's winningest coach, logging 18 opening day wins in his 25-year career. Bryant's record in Alabama season openers was 18-6-1 (.740), including a six-game winning streak to close out his career.

Junior running back Trent Richardson scored a single-game career-high three touchdowns against Kent State.

Senior wide receiver/return specialist Marquis Maze enjoyed a big day in the season opener, setting personal single-game bests in receiving and returns. 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.

True freshmen seeing playing time for Alabama were safeties Sal Sunseri and Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix; linebacker Trey DePriest; defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan; offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio; and wide receiver Christion Jones.

Kent State got its first first down of the game with 6:42 remaining in the second quarter. At the time, Alabama had a 21-0 lead.

Pre-game activity included recognition of Alabama's 1961 national championship team, honors for first responders involved in the post-tornado events in Tuscaloosa, and a memoriam for Aaron Douglas, the Alabama lineman who died during the summer. His parents were on the field.

This year Alabama players will wear two decals on their helmets -- the houndstooth ribbon and the number 77, which was Aaron Douglas's number.

In the second quarter, former Alabama defensive tackle Marty Lyons received an on-campus salute as a member of the 2011 class of the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame.

The Bryant-Denny Stadium turf features a new logo. In addition to Alabama in the north end zone, Crimson Tide in the South end zone, the Alabama A logo at midfield, and the SEC logos on the 25-yard lines, also on the 25 are houndstooth ribbons, the symbol of Tuscaloosa recovery following the April 27 tornado.

Captains for Alabama were wide receiver Brandon Gibson, safety Mark Barron, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, and offensive lineman Barrett Jones.

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