Notes On Bama's Win Over Tulane

Javier Arenas was the star of the game for Alabama against Tulane Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium. He had a school record 147 yards in returns of Tulane punts before being injured on his only return of the second half in Bama's 20-6 victory.

Alabama got the scoring started with Javier Arenas taking Tulane's first punt 87 yards for a touchdown. It was the fifth longest punt return in Crimson Tide history.

Arenas, a junior from Tampa, Fla., now has four punt returns for touchdowns, tying him with David Palmer for the Alabama career record.

Saturday night's return was one yard longer than Arenas' previous long, an 86-yard touchdown against Oklahoma State in the 2006 Independence Bowl. He had a 65-yard punt return touchdown against Florida Atlantic in 2006 and a 61-yarder against LSU last year.

Arenas was one of three key Alabama players who suffered injuries against Tulane. Arenas and plcekicker Leigh Tiffin were both "hit in the head," according to Head Coach Nick Saban. Offensive guard Marlon Davis pulled a hamstring. Tiffin was the only one who returned to the game after being injured.

It's the nature of football that players get injured and others have to take their spots. That was the case in the Alabama offensive line. All-America left tackle Andre Smith had suffered a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee a week ago against Clemson. As expected, Bama started against Tulane the way Bama had finished up against Clemson with left guard Mike Johnson moving into Smith's spot and David Ross starting at left guard. Saban said he is hopeful that Andre Smith can return for Saturday's game against Western Kentucky, but said it will be "day to day."

There was also a new starter on Alabama kickoff returns with Mike McCoy joining Javier Arenas as deep. A week earlier freshman Julio Jones had been back with Arenas. Later, when Arenas was injured, Mark Ingram moved into a deep spot and had a nice 26-yard return.

Nikita Stover got his first start of the year at wide receiver as Earl Alexander, the starter against Clemson, sat out the game with a foot injury.

Alabama's first extra point of the game proved costly with placekicker Leigh Tiffin and right guard Marlon Davis both suffering injuries. Freshman Corey Smith got his first action as a placekicker (not an auspicious debut as he missed an extra point, then kicked off out of bounds, then later had his 37-yard field goal attempt hit the upright and fall down, no good). Brian Motley moved into the offensive line at left guard with Ross moving over to Davis' right guard spot.

When Arenas was injured, Julio Jones took his place on punt returns and Mark Ingram replaced him on kickoff returns.

The win was number 100 for Nick Saban as a college head coach. Saban came into the game with a 99-48-1 record. He is now 9-6 in his second season at Alabama.

Alabama improved to 27-11-3 against Tulane in a series that dates to 1894, but has not been played since 1994.

Alabama was scheduled to play Tulane in 2009 in New Orleans, but Bama has delayed that trip until 2012. BYU will take Alabama's place on Tulane's schedule next year. The Crimson Tide made the change in order to be able to open the season in the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta next season against Virginia Tech. That game has not been officially announced.

Saturday night's game was the home opener for Alabama. The Tide has compiled an all-time record of 94-15-3 in home openers--games that have been played in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery. Bama has won seven consecutive home openers.

Alabama game captains were 2007 captains Antoine Caldwell and Rashad Johnson and tight end Travis McCall.

At halftime, the winners of the Paul W. Bryant Alumni-Athlete awards were announced. They are former gymnast Barbara Mack Harding and former football players George "Duke" McCain, Jr., and 95-year-old Ben W. McLeod, Jr.

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