Weekly Alabama notebook

Alabama is playing its 350th all-time road game this Saturday in Oxford. The Ole Miss game also marks Alabama's 200th all-time regular-season televised game. <br><br>Alabama's offense has generated a season-low number of plays in each of its last four games.

Quick Notes

  • Senior RB Shaud Williams has all nine rushing TDs this season for Alabama and the last 10 dating back to last season...
  • Williams needs 106 all-purpose yards for 4,000 career all-purpose yards...
  • Williams is 178 yards shy of becoming the 10th player in UA history with 1,000 rushing yards in a single-season...
  • The Alabama defense has not allowed a touchdown in the last six quarters...
  • The Tide defense has held five of seven opponents this year to less than 100 rushing yards...
  • Junior punter Bo Freelend averaged 45.5 yards per kick against Southern Miss, including a 43.3 yard net average...
  • UA is the least penalized team in the SEC (43.1 yards/gm)

Last Week

Alabama snapped a three-game losing streak last week with a 17-3 win over Southern Miss at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama ran the ball 50 times in the win over USM, led by Shaud Williams 170 rushing yards and two TDs. Ole Miss is coming off an impressive 55-0 win over Arkansas State last weekend in Oxford.


Handling the announcing duties for the Jefferson Pilot Sports telecast are Dave Neal (play-by-play), Dave Rowe (analyst) and Dave Baker (sideline). The game will also be aired on the 80-plus station Crimson Tide Sports Network with Eli Gold (play-by-play), Kenny Stabler (color analyst) and Tom Roberts (sidelines) describing the action.

The Head Coaches

Alabama head coach Mike Shula (3-4, .429) is making his head coaching debut during the 2003 season. Shula previously served as an assistant coach in the NFL with Tampa Bay, Chicago and Miami. A three-year letterman at Alabama (1984-86), Shula was a two-time All-SEC selection and threw for over 2,000 yards as a junior (1985), leading Alabama to dramatic come-from-behind wins over Georgia and Auburn.

Ole Miss head coach David Cutcliffe (34-21, .618) is in his fifth season as the Rebels head coach. He is the only coach in Ole Miss history to lead the Rebels to seven wins in each of his first four seasons. Ole Miss is Cutcliffe's only head coaching position. A native of Birmingham, Cutcliffe graduated from Banks HS and The University of Alabama (1976).

Next Up

Alabama returns home next Saturday, Oct. 25 to face the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will be televised by CBS Sports and kickoff is set for 2:34 p.m. (CST).

Weekend Itinerary

  • The Crimson Tide will hold a brief workout in Tuscaloosa on Friday afternoon before taking a chartered flight to Memphis. The team will bus from Memphis to its road headquarters in Olive Branch, Miss.
  • The Crimson Tide will stay at the Whispering Wood Hotel and Conference Center (662-895-2941) in Olive Branch.
  • Alabama will bus back to Tuscaloosa immediately following Saturday's game with Ole Miss.

Bama on the Road

Alabama will be playing just its second road game of the 2003 season as it travels to Ole Miss this weekend.
  • Alabama has compiled a 224-113-12 (.659) all-time road record in 349 games.
  • The above record does not include neutral site games, bowl games or the Alabama-Auburn game played at Legion Field from 1948-88.
  • The Ole Miss game will be Alabama's 350th all-time road game.
  • Alabama suffered a 37-23 loss to Georgia on Oct. 4 to snap a five-game road winning streak, dating back to the 2002 season.
  • The five-game road winning streak was the longest by an Alabama team since posting seven straight road wins during the 1994-95 seasons under coach Gene Stallings.
  • Historically Alabama has been a strong road team.
  • From 1970-75, Alabama won a school record 21 consecutive road games.
  • From 1970-82, Alabama was 35-6 (.854) in 41 road games.
  • Since 1982, Alabama is 60-27-1 (.688) on the road.
  • Since 1992, Alabama is 30-16 (.652) in SEC road games, compiling the third-best winning percentage in the league.
  • Only Florida (39-9, .813) and Tennessee (34-10, .773) have a better road record in SEC games than Alabama since the 1992 season.
  • During the 2000-01 seasons, Alabama went 2-6 (.250) in SEC road games.
  • Alabama is 7-4 (.636) in its last 10 road games, including a 5-2 (.714) mark in SEC road games. Alabama posted a 5-1 (.833) road record last year, setting school records for most road games played and won in a single-season.
  • In SEC road games, Alabama was a perfect 4-0 (1.000), equalling its best conference road record since the 1999 (4-0) season.
  • Alabama won three road games last season over ranked teams, beating No. 15 Tennessee (34-14), No. 14 LSU (31-0) and No. 24 Hawai'i (21-16) away from home.
  • Prior to its win at Tennessee, the last time Alabama defeated a Top 10 team on the road was a 40-39 overtime win over No. 3 Florida on Oct. 2, 1999 in Gainesville.
  • In six road games last year, Alabama averaged 403 yards and 28.3 points per game. The Crimson Tide had 212 rushing yards and 191 passing yards on the road in 2002.
  • Alabama outscored the opposition 31-9 in the first quarter in six road games last year.
  • The Crimson Tide was even more impressive in the fourth quarter, holding a 63-37 scoring edge.
  • Alabama averaged 10.5 points per game in the fourth quarter on the road last season.

Bama Foes Have Been Tough

Through five weeks of the 2003 college football season, Alabama's 13 regular season opponents have a 51-24 (.680) composite record entering Saturday's game against Ole Miss.
  • Alabama's opponents were just 7-6 (.538) last week.
  • Only two of the Crimson Tide's 2003 opponents remain undefeated after seven weeks of play, including No. 1 Oklahoma (6-0) and No. 12 Northern Illinois (6-0).
  • Two opponents lost for the first time last weekend as LSU (5-1) lost at home to Florida and Arkansas (4-1) lost at home to Auburn.
  • Of the 13 teams on the 2003 UA schedule, 11 teams are .500 or better entering this weekend's games.
  • Only Kentucky (2-3) and Miss. State (2-3) have losing records at this point.
  • Alabama's four losses this season have come to Oklahoma, Northern Illinois, Arkansas and Georgia.
  • The combined record of those four teams is 21-2 (.913) entering this weekend.
  • Alabama has seven opponents ranked in this week's polls.
  • The Crimson Tide is 0-2 (.000) against ranked teams this season.
  • Alabama suffered a hard-fought 20-13 loss to No. 1 ranked Oklahoma on Sept. 6 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, snapping the Tide's four-game winning streak against Top 25 clubs.
  • Bama's four-game winning streak was the longest winning streak against Top 25 teams since the 1991-92 seasons when UA won seven consecutive games against Top 25 clubs.

Sagarin: Bama 3rd Toughest Schedule

The preseason prognostications were all correct. The 2003 Alabama football schedule would be difficult. After seven weeks, no in the Bama camp is arguing those theories.
  • According to the latest Jeff Sagarin ratings (published weekly by The USA Today), Alabama's schedule is rated as the third-toughest in the nation behind Notre Dame and Tennessee.
  • The Crimson Tide's strength of schedule rating is 78.04 entering the Ole Miss game.
  • Alabama is the only team in the country to play three teams in the Sagarin Top 10 (0-3 record) and is only of only nine teams in the country to play two Sagarin Top 10 teams.
  • The other eight teams are Auburn (1-1), Florida (1-1), Arizona (0-2), Arizona State (0-2), Colorado (0-2), Iowa State (0-2), North Texas (0-2) and Texas (0-2).
  • Alabama is 35th in the latest Sagarin ratings, with a 78.46 rating as of Oct. 12th.
  • The Crimson Tide has six opponents in this week's Sagarin Top 15, including four Top 10 foes.

1. Notre Dame 82.46
2. Tennessee 78.75
3. ALABAMA 78.04
4. Georgia Tech 77.04
5. Georgia 77.02

More Scheduling Notes

  • Alabama will not play a game in the state of Tennessee for the first time since 1942 season. The streak started with the 1944 season. In 1943, the University did not schedule any games due to World War II.
  • Alabama will play both Ole Miss (Oct. 18) and Mississippi State (Nov. 8) on the road for the first time since 1982. That year Alabama played both Mississippi schools in Jackson's Memorial Stadium beating both games.
  • The 2003 season marks just the third time in school history that Alabama has to travel to Mississippi to play both schools in the same season. Bama also played at Ole Miss and MSU in 1980 and 1982.
  • This year marks the first time that Alabama will play in Oxford and Starkville in the same season as the games in 1980 and 1982 were played in Jackson.
  • Alabama does not play Vanderbilt this year for the first time since 1944.

Alabama on the Tube

Alabama has compiled a 148-88-5 (.624) all-time record on television in since its first televised game in 1951.
  • The Crimson Tide has made 241 television appearances since 1951.
  • The Ole Miss game will be Alabama's 200th televised regular-season game. The Crimson Tide has compiled a 124-72-3 (.631) in those previous 199 regular-season TV games.
  • The Ole Miss game is being televised regionally by SEC syndicator Jefferson Pilot Sports.
  • This is Alabama's first appearance on JP Sports since a 39-24 win over Middle Tennessee in the 2002 season opener at Legion Field.
  • Alabama is 18-9 (.667) all-time in games televised by JP Sports, including a 5-4 (.556) road record.
  • The Ole Miss game is Alabama's sixth televised game of the season.
  • Alabama first three games were all televised by ESPN, with the Oklahoma and Kentucky games aired in primetime.
  • Alabama has also had two games -- Arkansas and Georgia -- shown nationally by CBS Sports.
  • The Crimson Tide has also had two pay-per-view telecasts this season, including Northern Illinois and Southern Miss.
  • The Alabama-Tennessee game (Oct. 25) will also be televised by CBS Sports.
  • The 2003 season opener with South Florida (2:07 pm kickoff) drew a 26.9 rating in the Birmingham market.
  • On a national scale, Coach Mike Shula's debut was the highest rated sporting event on network or cable television during the Labor Day weekend holiday.
  • Following its win over South Florida, Alabama is 12-5 (.706) in televised season openers since 1960.
  • The South Florida game marked the seventh straight year the season opener has been televised.

Bama/Ole Miss on the Tube

This will be the 16th televised game in the Alabama-Ole Miss series, dating back to the Jan. 1, 1963 Sugar Bowl. Alabama is 12-3 (.800) in televised games against Ole Miss. Since 1992, the Alabama-Ole Miss game has been televised 10 times. The game was not televised in 1995 or 1998.

Jefferson-Pilot Sports will televise this year's game live from Oxford, marking the fourth time the Crimson Tide and Rebels have been aired by the SEC syndicator.


Alabama has compiled a 312-95-16 (.757) all-time record in 423 games in the month of October. This season Alabama has four games scheduled in the month of October against Georgia (Oct. 4), Southern Miss (Oct. 11), Ole Miss (Oct. 18) and Tennessee (Oct. 25).
  • Alabama has compiled a 39-11-1 (.775) all-time record in games played on those above mentioned dates.
  • Since 1983, Alabama is 42-25 (.627) in the month of October.
  • The Crimson Tide has compiled a 5-7 (.417) record in its last 12 October games.
  • Alabama played its first-ever October game on Oct. 14, 1893, losing 4-0 to Birmingham Athletic Club here in Tuscaloosa.
  • In 1909, Alabama posted a 4-0-1 record in October and shutout all five opponents. The Crimson Tide and Ole Miss played to a scoreless tie.
  • Alabama posted an impressive 16 consecutive shutouts from Oct. 21, 1916 through Oct. 30, 1920.
  • Coach Xen Scott's 1920 squad shutout all five opponents in the month of October by a composite 205-0 score.
  • Alabama posted a 26-game winning streak in the month from Oct. 31, 1914 through Oct. 22, 1921.
  • The Crimson Tide also posted a 14-game winning streak during the 1924-26 seasons.
  • Alabama had three significant winning streaks during in the month of October during Coach Paul Bryant's 25-year tenure.
  • The Crimson posted 28-game unbeaten streak from Oct. 9, 1976 through Oct. 16, 1982.
  • Alabama had a 23-game winning streak from Oct. 24, 1970 through Oct. 25, 1975.
  • During those same two periods (Oct. 24, 1970 through Oct. 16, 1982), Alabama lost only one football game in the month of October and posted an incredible 50-1-1 (.971) record over a 12-year period in the month.
  • The Crimson Tide's only loss in that 12-year period was a 21-0 shutout loss at Georgia on Oct. 2, 1976, snapping Alabama's 69-game scoring streak.

On this Date

Alabama has compiled an 8-5 (.615) all-time record in games played on Oct. 18th. The Crimson Tide's first game on this date was a 20-0 loss to Georgia in Birmingham during the 1913 season.
  • Alabama has not played a game on this date since dropping a 38-21 decision to Tennessee at Legion Field during the 1997 season.
  • Alabama is 3-2 (.600) in road games played on Oct. 18, with all five games coming against Tennessee in Knoxville.
  • For many, many years "The Third Saturday in October" was reserved for the annual Alabama-Tennessee game. The Crimson Tide and Vols have played 10 times on Oct. 18, with UA winning six of those games.
  • In fact, Tennessee has four of the five wins on this date against Alabama. Georgia (1913) has the other.
  • One of the biggest wins in school history came on Oct. 18, 1930 as the Crimson Tide posted an 18-6 victory over Gen. Robert R. Neyland's football team, snapping the Vols 33-game unbeaten streak streak.
  • The win by Alabama was the first against a Tennessee team since Nov. 13, 1926 when Vanderbilt posted a 20-3 win in Nashville.
  • After the loss to Alabama, Tennessee would post a 28-game unbeaten streak and would not lose again until Oct. 14, 1933 at Duke (10-2).
  • From Nov. 25, 1926 through Oct. 7, 1933, Tennessee compiled a stellar 56-1-5 (.984) record, with its only loss to Alabama during the 1930 season.

Penalty Free

The Alabama Crimson Tide is the least penalized team in the Southeastern Conference. Through seven games, Alabama paces the SEC in fewest penalty yards (43.1) per game.
  • Alabama has the second-fewest penalty yards (302) in the SEC this season. Only Arkansas has fewer penalty yards (229) than Alabama.
  • In addition, Alabama has the third-fewest number of penalties (36) in the SEC behind Arkansas (28) and Vanderbilt (34).
  • In last week's 17-3 win over Southern Miss, the Crimson Tide was penalized twice for 20 yards, both season lows.
  • The offense did not incur a penalty in the win over Southern Miss.
  • The two penalties came were a five-yard procedure penalty on the first extra point attempt and a 15-yard personal foul (helmet to helmet contact) against the defense. The personal foul kept a USM drive alive after an incomplete pass on third down and led to an eventual field goal.
  • The Alabama offense has only had one delay of game penalty all season long and that came in the Georgia game with third-string quarterback Brandon Avalos.

Special Teams Show Improvement

The Alabama special teams has shown improvement during each of the last two games.
  • Junior punter Bo Freelend (Eutaw) has taken significant strides the last two weeks against Georgia and Southern Miss.
  • In the last two games, Freelend has punted 10 times for a 45.5 yard average.
  • In the five previous games, he punted 26 times for a 36.9 yard average and averaged only 40 yards per kick (South Florida, 41.0 avg) in one of those previous five games
  • He had his best game of his UA career against Southern Miss (Oct. 11), punting six times for a 45.5 yard average.
  • His net punting average against USM was a career-best 43.3 yards.
  • Four of his six punts were inside the 20-yard line.
  • Four of his six punts were 49 yards are better.
  • Southern Miss' average starting field position after the six punts was the Golden Eagle 17-yard line.
  • For the season, Freelend has punted 36 times for a 39.3 yard average and landed 12 kicks inside the 20-yard line.
  • Junior Chris James (Albany, Ga,) has also been a force on special teams this season, blocking two punts (Oklahoma and Southern Miss) this season.
  • James had his best game against Southern Miss (Oct. 11), recording two tackles, one TFL (-24) and one blocked punt on 17 special team snaps.
  • James' tackle for loss (-24) and blocked punt came on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter.
  • James was credited with a tackle for loss (-24) when USM punter Luke Johnson bobbled the snap from the Golden Eagle 47-yard line and eventually recovered the ball at the USM 23-yard line, giving Alabama a first down.
  • The Crimson Tide failed to convert on a golden scoring opportunity when Brian Bostick missed a 36-yard field goal attempt.
  • On the next possession, James blocked punt set up the Crimson Tide with a first-and-goal at the USM one-yard line with 8:42 remaining the game. Shaud Williams scored on the very next play to give Bama a 17-3 lead.
  • In the loss to Georgia, redshirt freshman Juwan Garth (Decatur) was credited with a 10-yard fumble return when Georgia punter Gordon Ely-Kelso fumble a fourth-quarter snap at the Bulldogs 10-yard line.

Bama Starts Third QB of Season

Redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Avalos (Ah-va-los) became the Crimson Tide third different starting quarterback of the season when he made his first career start against Southern Miss (Oct. 11).
  • Avalos was subbing for injured quarterbacks Brodie Croyle and Spencer Pennington.
  • Avalos directed a ground-oriented offense than ran 50 times for 243 yards and two scores. He completed just three of seven passes for 12 yards in the win over Southern Miss.
  • Croyle started the first five games, but did not start the Georgia (Oct. 4) due to an injury.
  • Croyle played two snaps against Georgia and was re-injured and did not see action against Southern Miss.
  • Redshirt sophomore Spencer Pennington filled the void against the Bulldogs before suffering an injury in the third quarter.
  • Avalos finished the Georgia game and then made his first career start in the Tide's 17-3 win over Southern Miss a week later.
  • Croyle, Pennington and Avalos have all started at least one game under center for Alabama this season, marking the first time since 1987 that Alabama has used three starting quarterbacks in the same season.
  • Prior to Avalos, the last time a third-team quarterback eventually started a game for Alabama was Oct. 17, 1987 when Jeff Dunn led the Crimson Tide to a 41-22 win over Tennessee at Legion Field.
  • Dunn replaced an ineffective Vince Sutton after a 13-10 loss to Memphis State the previous week (Oct. 10). Sutton had become the starter when David Smith suffered a season-ending injury at Vanderbilt on Sept. 26, 1987.

Three Starting QBs In Same Season (Since 1980)
1981: Alan Gray, Ken Coley and Walter Lewis
1987: David Smith, Vince Sutton and Jeff Dunn
2003: Brodie Croyle, Spencer Pennington and Brandon Avalos

Quarterbacking Trios

Alabama has started three different quarterbacks in each of its last three games.
  • The last time Alabama had three different signal callers in three consecutive games came in the 1993 season, when UA started three different players under center against LSU, Miss. State and Auburn.
  • In 1993, Brian Burgdorf got the starting nod over the injured Jay Barker in the Crimson Tide's 17-13 loss to LSU, snapping UA's 31-game unbeaten streak.
  • The following week, the versatile receiver David Palmer was under center for the first snap of the game with Miss. State. Palmer took five snaps as "quarterback" in the win over the Bulldogs.
  • Barker returned to the lineup the following week at Auburn before leaving the game with an injury in the third quarter.
  • Burgdorf then directed the Tide offense to a 24-10 win over North Carolina in the 1993 Gator Bowl.

Three Different Quarterbacks/Consecutive Games
1993: Brian Burgdorf vs. LSU
David Palmer vs. Miss. St.
Jay Barker vs. Auburn

2003: Croyle vs. Arkansas
Pennington vs. Georgia
Avalos vs. Southern Miss

This too Shall Pass

Alabama completed only three of seven passes for 12 yards in its 17-3 win over Southern Miss on Oct. 11.
  • The three pass completions are the fewest by Alabama since Oct. 8, 1988 when the Crimson Tide did not complete a pass in a 22-12 homecoming loss to Ole Miss.
  • The seven pass attempts are the fewest by Alabama since Mike Shula completed one of six passes for 17 yards in a 38-3 rout of Miss. State on Nov. 1, 1986 in Starkville. In that game, Bama ran 67 times for 514 yards and scored five rushing TDs.
  • The 12 passing yards are also the fewest since the 1988 Ole Miss game.
  • The Southern Miss game was the fewest passing yards by an Alabama team with at least one completion since a 21-20 win over No. 1 ranked Southern Cal on Oct. 8, 1977 at the Los Angeles Coliseum -- a span of 307 games.
  • In that win over USC, Alabama completed ust two of six passes for only eight yards in the upset win over the Trojans.

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