Third Downs Mixed Results For Bama

When is success not success? How about when a third down pass is complete, but isn't enough to make a first down. Although Alabama was a 31-6 winner over Colorado State at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday evening, it wasn't because of spectacular third down success by Bama.

Six times Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron completed a third down pass that came up short of the first down marker. That helped explain why the Crimson Tide was only 2-10 on third down plays against Colorado State and why the Rams ran 64 plays to only 48 for Alabama.

Bama improved to 3-0 on the season. The Tide is 1-0 in Southeastern Conference play.

This was the first football meeting between Alabama and Colorado State. Alabama is now 27-3 against nonconference competition under Tide Coach Nick Saban with 21 consecutive Bama wins in such meetings.

When Alabama scored on Kenyan Drake's three-yard run in the first quarter, it extended the Crimson Tide's school record of having scored in 159 consecutive games. With Bama leading 17-0 at the half, the Tide improved to 64-3 under Saban when having the lead at intermission.

Kenyan Drake blocked a punt and linebacker Dillon Lee picked it up and ran it in for a second quarter touchdown. That marked the fifth non-offensive touchdown of the year for Bama and the 33rd non-offensive touchdown by the Tide in the Nick Saban era. This year Alabama has scored twice on interception returns by Vinnie Sunseri, on a kickoff and a punt return by Christion Jones, and on the blocked punt score against Colorado State. Since Saban took over at Alabama in 2007, Alabama has 14 interception returns, eight punt returns, five kickoff returns, three fumble returns, and three blocked punt returns for touchdowns.

There were some surprises on the announced starting lineups for Alabama. As expected, T.J. Yeldon was not the starter at tailback, reportedly suspended for a quarter for having earned a personal foul penalty for his conduct following a touchdown against Texas A&M. The announced lineup had three wide receivers and one running back, Jalston Fowler.

Kevin Norwood was also not dressed, so the three wide receivers announced were Amari Cooper, Christion Jones, and DeAndrew White. But the starters did not include Jones, but rather Brandon Greene as a second tight end, and Kenny Bell was in with Jones at the wide spots; White and Cooper did not start.

Additionally, Kellen Williams started at right guard in place of Anthony Steen, although Steen was dressed. Steen had been injured late in last week's win over Texas A&M.

On defense, cornerback Deion Belue and safeties Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams were in sweats on the sideline. The starting lineup announced cornerbacks as Eddie Jackson and Bradley Sylve and the star (nickel back) as Geno Smith. John Fulton and Cyrus Jones were used at left cornerback last week against Texas A&M, but were not listed with the starters.

As it turned out, Alabama did not open in nickel and so linebacker Denzel Devall got his first start.

When Alabama's first drive of the game stalled at the Colorado State 29, Cade Foster was called on for a 46-yard field goal try. It was the first field goal attempt of the season for Bama. It was wide left, no good. Later he would make a 46-yard try.

When AJ McCarron ran for an eight-yard gain on a scramble late in the second quarter, it marked the first time this year he had run for plus yardage.

Christion Jones had a career night receiving with nine catches for 90 yards. Chris Black had his first Alabama reception, and it went for a 14-yard touchdown.

Honorary captains for Alabama were former Tide players Fred Sington, Jr., a lineman in the late 1950s, and Don Salls, a fullback and linebacker in the 1940s.

Captains for Bama were quarterback AJ McCarron, linebacker C.J. Mosley, and tailback Jalston Fowler.

The game was a sellout, 101,821, the 59th sellout in the last 60 Alabama home games.

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