Eight Players Get Coach Recognition
Alabama, the number one team in the nation again this week, ran its record to 11-0. Bama is off this week then faces Auburn in the regular season finale in Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 29. The Crimson Tide then meets Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta on December 6.
An adage of football (not always recognized)is that the kicking game makes up about a third of the game. Alabama's coaching staff certainly recognized that in the list of honors from the Mississippi State game. Four of the eight players of the week come from special tams.
Junior return specialist Javier Arenas, senior Rashad Johnson, junior punter P.J. Fitzgerald and junior kicker Leigh Tiffin were honored for their play on special teams, which proved to the difference in the game. The UA special teams scored 20 of the Tide's 32 points against Mississippi State, including a punt return for a touchdown, a safety, three field goals and three extra points.
Arenas had six punt returns for 153 yards and one touchdown. He set Alabama records for punt return yards in a game, punt return yards in a career and punt returns for touchdowns in a career. He was also named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Johnson was named special teams' player of the week for the second time in three weeks after another solid game, which included downing two punts inside the 2-yard line and one resulted in a safety.
Fitzgerald averaged 43 yards on five punts and dropped three inside the MSU 20-yard line.
Tiffin made all six kicks, including three field goals and three extra points, and scored 12 points for the Tide. He was recognized as a Lou Groza Star of Stars for his performance.
On offense, junior right tackle Drew Davis and senior tight end Travis McCall were recognized for their blocking on the offensive line. The duo helped the Tide average 4.1 yards per carry on the ground as UA finished with 198 rushing yards against a physical MSU defensive front. Davis was honored for the second straight week. McCall also added a 12-yard reception in the third quarter that led to a Leigh Tiffin field goal that pushed the Tide's lead to 22-7.
On defense, sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain and junior linebacker Brandon Fanney were rewarded for their play against the Bulldogs. The duo combined for 16 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, one pass break-up and one quarterback pressure in the game. McClain had a game-high 11 tackles, including a career-high two sacks (-12 yards) and one pass break-up in the win. It was his third double-figure tackle game of the season. He also had 15 stops against Tulane on Sept. 6 and 10 against Kentucky on Oct. 4. Fanney added five tackles, forced a fumble and added one quarterback pressure in the MSU game.
For the season, McClain leads all UA players with nine player of the week honors, followed by Johnson with eight. Fanney is third with five awards, followed by Tiffin, Arenas, Fitzgerald, John Parker Wilson, Glen Coffee, Marquis Johnson, Chris Rogers and Julio Jones with four apiece.
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