Alabama smothers Western Carolina, 49-0

QUICK HITS: After two tough weeks in a row (LSU, Texas A&M), the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide got some active recovery this weekend by shutting out the Catamounts.

Five quick hits from Alabama's 49-0 win over Western Carolina:

1. After a couple of slow starts the past two weeks, No. 4 Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC) came out Saturday with a chip on its shoulder and scored 21 points in the first quarter, had 42 by halftime and ended up beating Western Carolina (1-10, 0-8 Southern Conference) 49-0 Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"Western Carolina, they were a little bit outmanned," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "Our guys played the way we wanted to play. We improved as a team and had a good week of practice. Everything is ahead of us as a team."

The Crimson Tide only needed 52 offensive plays to score 49 points, and out-gained the Catamounts 460-163.

2. A.J. McCarron, who only played a quarter-and-a-half, went a perfect 6-for-6 for 133 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown pass, a 29-yarder to Christion Jones in the second quarter, was his 21st of the year and set the Alabama single-season record, surpassing Greg McElroy (20 in 2010).

"It's a great honor just because of the tradition, great quarterbacks that have played here," McCarron said of the record. "But like I always say, none of that would be possible without my great teammates. Credit to my O-line, I love those guys to death, and my wide receivers make great plays for me."

3. With the Crimson Tide taking such a lopsided lead early, Blake Sims, who came out of the tunnel in pregame throwing fake punches and looking pumped to play, took over at quarterback with 6:49 left in the second quarter. He immediately orchestrated a 61-yard touchdown drive—he accounted for 47 yards rushing—which was capped by Eddie Lacy's third touchdown of the day.

Sims ended up going only 2-of-6 for 27 yards through two-and-a-half quarters, but racked up 70 yards rushing and a touchdown.

"He's a different type of quarterback and he played to his strengths and took care of the football," McCarron said of his backup.

4. Several other second- and third-string players got playing time, too. Saban said after the game that he was pleased with their performance.

"We were trying to get as many guys in the game as we could," he said. "I thought our second defense guys played a little better today. There have been times they get in and make mental error after mental error, but I thought there was some maturity out of some backup players. They played with a lot more poise, which is something we haven't been able to get out of them.

"Our second offensive line made a good bit of improvement and did a good job today, too."

5. Injury report: Cornerback John Fulton (turf toe) did not play against Western Carolina, so true freshman Geno Smith (one tackle, one break up) started in his place.

Saban said running back T.J. Yeldon sprained his foot—he was being evaluated on the training table during the first half—but could have gone back in if they needed him, and should be OK.

Wide receiver Kevin Norwood, who has been nursing some nagging injuries throughout the season, was held out as a precaution.

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