Wilson Moves Up Tide Record Charts

It has been almost a foregone conclusion that John Parker Wilson would leave Alabama all -- or almost all -- Crimson Tide passing records. The senior quarterback moved up the line in a couple of key categories in Bama's 41-7 win over Western Kentucky Saturday night.

John Parker Wilson's eight-yard pass to Mike McCoy in the final minute of the second quarter gave Wilson the Alabama career total offense record.  He entered the WKU game with 6,086 career yards and accounted for 235 yards against WKU (215 passing, 20 rushing) to raise his career total to 6,321 yards.  The record was previously held by Brodie Croyle (2002-05) with 6,205 yards.

Wilson tied the Alabama career record for touchdown passes against Western Kentucky, getting the 41st passing TD of his Crimson Tide career on a 12-yard pass to Julio Jones with 4:57 remaining in the third quarter.  Wilson tied Brodie Croyle (2002-05) for the lead.

Wilson moved into second place on the Alabama career passing yardage list by completing a 27-yard pass to Earl Alexander early in the second quarter, giving him 99 yards passing at the time and passing Andrew Zow (5,983 yards from 1998-2001).  Wilson passed for 215 yards for the game while completing 17 of 27 passes for a career yardage total of 6,117 entering the second half.   He entered the game with 5,902 yards passing.  Brodie Croyle (2002-05) holds the Alabama career passing yardage record with 6,382 yards.

Junior placekicker Leigh Tiffin's 25-yard field goal with 9:57 left in the third quarter moved him into fourth place on the Alabama career field goals made list with 39, passing Brian Bostick (38 from 2002-04).   Tiffin, who also made a 22-yard field goal with 6:30 left in the first quarter, remains well behind Crimson Tide record holder Philip Doyle who made 78 field goals in his career that spanned 1987-90.

Glen Coffee may have expected to at least set a personal best in rushing after his big first half. In the opening half he had 11 carries for 97 yards. That included a career best 51-yard run that led to an Alabama touchdown late in the second quarter. He had averaged 8.8 yards per carry in the first half. He needed just 25 yards to eclipse his career single best game for rushing yards, a 121-yard effort against Houston last year. Alas, in the rout of Western Kentucky, Coffee didn't get a second half carry. He finished as the game's leading rusher with his 11 carries for 97 yards.

The Crimson Tide held WKU to 42 yards rushing Saturday night, the fourth consecutive game an Alabama opponent has failed to rush for at least 100 yards in a game dating back to a 75-yard performance by Colorado in the 2007 Independence Bowl.  Alabama is 6-2 under Coach Nick Saban when holding opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in a game. The Crimson Tide has held Clemson (0) and Tulane (86) to less than 100 rushing yards total in the first two games this season. Alabama was 3-2 last year when opponents failed to reach 100 rushing yards in a game.

Freshman tailback Mark Ingram had two rushing touchdowns against Western Kentucky and now has three on the season. The Alabama record for rushing touchdowns by a freshman is eight, set last year by Terry Grant. Grant had his first touchdown of this season against WKU.

Although Javier Arenas had a seemingly lackluster evening as a kick return man, that was mostly due to Western Kentucky caution. WKU's two kickoffs were high, short kicks. The Hilltoppers punted to Arenas a couple of times, but when Arenas ran one back for over 40 yards (much of it wiped out by a block in the back penalty), Western Kentucky began punting out of bounds and trying rugby-type low punts. Officially, Arenas had two punt reurns for 38 yards.

Arenas showed an added dimension as a blitzer against WKU.  Arenas garnered the first quarterback sack of his Alabama career on a sack of WKU quarterback David Wolke for a 12-yard loss on a third-and-7 play midway through the second quarter.

  Junior defensive tackle Terrence Cody set up a Crimson Tide field goal for a 10-0 Alabama lead by recovering a WKU fumble at the WKU 16-yard line with 8:31 left in the first quarter.  The recovery was Cody's first as a member of the Tide. He also caused the fumble.

Alabama started the game on defense with a four-man defensive front, both Terrence Cody and Josh Champman starting at tackle positions. The Crimson Tide defense started the WKU game using six defensive backs against the Hilltoppers' spread offense, creating starting opportunities for junior safety Ali Sharrief and junior cornerback Marquis Johnson.  The starting assignment was the first of either player's Alabama career.  Sharrief has now played in 28 games at Alabama while Johnson has now played in 25 contests for the Crimson Tide. Rolando McClain was the only linebacker in the starting lineup.

On Western Kentucky's first punt, Alabama had two men deep -- Javier Arenas and Julio Jones. On the second, Arenas was back by himself. A nice return by Arenas was offset by a 15-yard block in the back penalty.

One reason Alabama's 2008 recruiting class was judged the nation's best was the addition of three outstanding offensive tackle prospects. The first of those to see action was John Michael Boswell, who went in at right tackle in the second quarter. It was a short stay as on first down John Parker Wilson suffered his first interception of the season. But Boswell stayed in much of the game. Drew Davis, who started the game at right tackle, played much of the game at left tackle.

It was not a surprise that David Ross started at right guard in place of Marlon Davis, who is out with a hamstring injury. Andre Smith was back in the starting lineup at left tackle.

Will Oakley, who had been unable to report to fall camp because of a broken foot suffered in summer conditioning work, got his first game action of the year against WKU. There had been some thought the senior wide receiver might be redshirted.

In the fourth quarter, with second teamers getting considerable action, Oakley got his first reception of the year from Greg McElroy, who was getting his first quarterback action of 2008. Later Thomas Darrah got his first quarterback play ever.

There were a number of Tide players seeing their first action of the year, including true freshman offensive tackles Barrett Jones and Tyler Love, redshirt freshman running back Demetrius Goode, previously suspended wide recei8ver Brandon Gibson, and inside linebacker Prince Hall, also previously suspended. Hall had been expected to be benched for three games, but earned a one-game reduction in his penalty.

Safety Rashad Johnson and center Antoine Caldwell, elected permanent team captains at the end of the 2007 season, have been among the captains each game this year. They were joined Saturday by defensive end Bobby Greenwood. Joining the game captains on the field for the opening coin toss were honorary Crimson Tide captains Steve Webb and Martin Houston.  Webb was a linebacker for the Crimson Tide from 1988-91 while Houston was a fullback on the Tide's 1992 national championship team.

Saturday's win over Western Kentucky was the first meeting between WKU and Alabama.  With the win, the Crimson Tide owns a 16-1 record against members of the Sun Belt Conference. Western Kentucky is the first of two games against Sun Belt opponents for Alabama this season. Arkansas State visits Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 1.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 5-1 in his career against Sun Belt Conference teams after Saturday's victory, including a 4-0 mark while the head coach at LSU. He is 1-0 in his career against WKU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State and Troy and owns a 1-1 mark against Louisiana-Monroe.

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