Notes From Tide Vs. Clemson Football

Alabama Coach Nick Saban released a depth chart earlier this week that showed true freshmen as the back-ups at both offensive tackle positions. But, Saban said, if anything happened to one of the starting tackles, last year's starting right tackle would take over. The worst fears were realized in the third quarter of Saturday's game.



Andre Smith, Alabama's All-America left tackle, went down with a sprained knee in the third quarter. Mike Johnson, who played right tackle in 2007, moved from his left guard position to take over Smith's spot. David Ross replaced Johnson at left guard.
There will be an update on Smith's injury Monday.

"Throw to the tight end," is a common lament of Alabama fans. By halftime Saturday night, Crimson Tide tight end Nick Walker had already set a career high. Walker had six catches for 55 yards and one touchdown. He added a 12-yard reception in the third quarter.

Although the Southeastern Conference limits squad size for both the home (75) and road (65) teams in SEC games, there is no limit on the number who may dress for a non-conference game. Alabama dressed 87 for its season-opening game against Clemson in the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta Saturday night.

The Alabama travel roster included 20 true freshmen.

Captains for Alabama were last year's captains, Antoine Caldwell and Rashad Johnson, along with quarterback John Parker Wilson.

Alabama was in white jerseys for the Clemson game. As the home team Clemson, which has orange and purple as its colors, wore orange jerseys against Bama.

Alabama Assistant Coach Burton Burns had warm reunions with a number of coaches on the Clemson staff. Burns is the Crimson Tide running backs coach, the same position he held at Clemson from 1999 through 2006. One thing Burns did for the Tigers is recruit the two outstanding running backs, James Davis and C.J. Spiller.

Alabama is expected to return to the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta to open the 2009 season against Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech was upset by East Carolina, 26-22, Saturday. Going into Saturday night's game, the Tide was 7-3-1 in games played in domed stadiums. Bama was making its first appearance in a domed stadium since the Crimson Tide manhandled fifth-ranked Florida, 34-7, in the 1999 SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

Before the end of the first quarter, Alabama had used four tailbacks. Glen Coffee started the game, true freshman Mark Ingram was the second used, and then Terry Grant and Roy Upchurch were used in a two-man set.

Leigh Tiffin's 54-yard field goal on Alabama's first series was his longest (he previously had a 51-yarder) and the third longest in Alabama history (behind his father, Van Tiffin, who had a 57-yard field goal against Texas A&M in 1985, and Ryan Pflugner, who had a 55-yard field goal against Arkansas in 1998.

When Clemson's Mark Buchholz kicked a 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter, it meant that the game would not follow the trend of most Alabama-Clemson games. In the early 1900s, Clemson won the first three games by shutouts. Alabama then won the next 11 games and seven of those were shutout victories, including the last game prior to Saturday's meeting in Atlanta. In 1975, Bama beat Clemson, 56-0.

There was a bonus play in the game, and it wasn't good for Alabama. A penalty against the Tide on the final play of the third quarter meant that Clemson got to have another snap after the clock had reached zero. The Tigers took advantage with a 19-yard pass completion to Bama's 33-yard line.

Alabama controlled the ball for much of the game, a key factor in containing Clemson's potent attack.  Alabama held possession for 41:13 of the game, compared to Clemson's 18:47, while running 80 plays to Clemson' 48.  In the first half, Alabama held a 21:30 to 8:30 edge in possession time, running 45 plays from scrimmage to Clemson's 22.

Alabama held a 23-3 halftime lead.  With the victory over Clemson, Alabama has a record of 8-1 when leading at the half under head coach Nick Saban.  The only loss was a 41-34 loss to LSU last season in Tuscaloosa.

Senior quarterback John Parker Wilson surpassed the Alabama career pass completions mark in the second quarter with a 5-yard pass to tight end Nick Walker.  Wilson completed 22 of 30 passes for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns without an interception.  The completions move his career total to 500, exceeding the previous Tide record of 488 set by Brodie Croyle (2002-05).  Wilson also surpassed the Alabama career pass attempts mark with 882, exceeding Croyle's 869.  Wilson extended Alabama'searly lead to 13-0 with a 1-yard touchdown sneak with 2:51 left in the first quarter.  The touchdown run was the seventh rushing TD of his career and his 44th touchdown responsible for in his career (7 rushing, 37 passing).

With the victory, Alabama improves to 77-33-1 (.698) against the current ACC field.  The Crimson Tide's record against the ACC field includes Boston College (1-3), Clemson (12-3), Duke (2-1), Florida State (2-1-1), Georgia Tech (28-21-3), Maryland (2-1), Miami, Fla. (14-3), North Carolina (1-0), North Carolina State (5-0) and Virginia Tech (0-1) ... Alabama has never faced Virginia or Wake Forest in football.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban is 3-2 (.600) in his career against ACC teams ... In addition to the win over Clemson, Saban has posted wins against Boston College (1995) and Georgia Tech (2000) and suffered losses to Virginia Tech (2002) and Florida State (2007).  He is 1-1 against ACC teams at Alabama, including last year's 21-14 loss to the Seminoles in Jacksonville, Fla.

Alabama has compiled an 90-21-3 all-time record in season openers, including a seven-game winning streak.  Dating back to the 1977 season, Alabama is 28-4 in its last 32 season openers.  The Tide has posted a 16-2 opening day record since 1991.

Saban is 10-3 in his collegiate season openers after the win over Clemson. He led Alabama to a 52-6 win over Western Carolina on Sept. 1, 2007 in his inaugural game with the Crimson Tide.  Saban won his very first collegiate game on Sept. 8, 1990 as he led Toledo to a 20-14 win over Miami (Ohio).  Saban was 3-2 in season openers at Michigan State and was 4-1 in season openers at LSU.

With the win over Clemson, Alabama is 8-3-1 (.708) all-time in domed stadiums. The Clemson game was Alabama'sfirst appearance in a domed stadium since handing No. 5 Florida a 34-7 loss in the 1999 SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4, 1999, at the Georgia Dome. UA is 1-2 (.333) in its three SEC Championship game appearances at the Georgia Dome. In addition, Alabama is 6-1 (.857) in games played at the Louisiana Superdome, including a 5-1 (.833) mark in Sugar Bowl games. Alabama beat Penn State, 13-6, in the first Sugar Bowl game played in the Superdome on Dec. 31, 1975. The Crimson Tide also tied Oklahoma in the 1970 Bluebonnett Bowl inside the Astrodome in Houston.

Alabama is 28-27-3 (.509) all-time in games played in the state of Georgia.  The Crimson Tide owns a 16-15-3 (.514) record in the city of Atlanta and has won six of its eight games in Atlanta.

Alabama is 63-44-4 (.585) in neutral site games.  The list includes all Alabama-Auburn games not played on campus, including Legion Field from 1948-88.

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