Notes From Alabama's Opener

Alabama got its 2009 season off to a great start because of a great finish. The Tide outscored Virginia Tech by 18-7 in the fourth quarter to come-from-behind and take the 34-24 season-opening victory at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Here are notes from the Crimson Tide's win.



The win was Alabama's second in a row to open the season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Last year Bama defeated Clemson, 34-10, in the nationally-televised contest.

Alabama was ranked fifth coming into the game, while the Hokies were ranked seventh.

Alabama had nine first-time starters against Virginia Tech Saturday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Bama had six new starters on offense and three on defense. On defense the new starters were senior jack linebacker Eryk Anders, sophomore safety Mark Barron, and sophomore defensive end Marcell Dareus. On offense the first time starters were junior left tackle James Carpenter, sophomore center William Vlachos, redshirt freshman right guard Barrett Jones, senior tight end Colin Peek, sophomore h-back Brad Smelley, and junior quarterback Greg McElroy.

Attendance at the game was 74,954. Last year attendance was 70,097.

Although Virginia Tech trailed Alabama by only 9-7 at the end of the first quarter, the Hokies ran only one offensive play that started in Crimson Tide territory in the first period, that coming on the last play of the quarter. It lost two yards to the Bama 41.

Special teams accounted for all points in the first quarter. Bama got three field goals from Leigh Tiffin (one of them set up by a Virginia Tech fumbled punt) and Virginia Tech got a 98-yard touchdown return by Dyrell Roberts on a kickoff. Although Tiffin had an unfortunate field goal miss just before halftime, he made four field goals, which matched his single game best. He had previously made four field goals in a game against Tennessee and Mississippi State in 2007 and Clemson in last year's Chick-fil-A game.

Tiffin now has 57 field goals, ranking him fourth all time in Bama history bechind Philip Doyle (78 from 1987-90), Michael Proctor (65 from 1992-95), and Tiffin's father, Van Tiffin (59 from 1983-86).

Alabama opened the game offensively with a trick play. Quarterback Greg McElroy was split out and the ball was snapped directly to tailback Mark Ingram who made a nice run up the middle.

Virginia Tech had an offensive surprise, operating out of an unbalanced line.

The first true freshman to see action for Alabama this year was Rod Woodson, a member of the kickoff coverage team. Woodson made the tackle at the 18-yard line on Virginia Tech's return.

As expected, Marcell Dareus started at right defensive end in place of Brandon Deaderick, who had been shot by a would-be robber prior to the start of the season. Deaderick was dressed out. Deaderick played on Virginia Tech's fourth possession in the first quarter.

Alabama captains were junior linebacker Rolando McClain, senior left guard Mike Johnson, and senior cornerback/kick returner Javier Arenas.

The new "handshake" policy was in effect with the two teams meeting on the field for a handshake before the coin toss.

The game balls were delivered by former Alabama All-America running back Shaun Alexander and Antonio Freeman, a former wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, representing Virginia Tech.

The Virginia Tech game was Alabama's 11th national TV broadcast in its last 15 games. In 2008 Alabama had 10 of its 14 games nationally televised, which tied Notre Dame for most in the nation.

Alabama now has an 11-1 lead in the series with Virginia Tech. The Tide has compiled a 78-33-1 record against ACC teams.

With the victory, Alabama now has a 91-21-3 record in season-openers and has an eight-game winning streak in first games of the year.

Alabama has scored 302 points in its last eight season-opening games. That's an average of 37.8 points per game.

Alabama is now 64-46-4 in netral sitge games. Bama is now 30-28-3 all-time in games played in the stgate of Georgia. The Crimson Tide is 17-16-3 in games played in the city of Atlanta and has won seven of its last 10 games in Atlanta. Alabama is 9-5-1 in domed stadiums. Bama is 178-115-5 all-time in its 298 televised games, including a 152-96-3 record in regular season televised games.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban is now 11-3 in season openers as a head coach, including a 3-0 record at Alabama.

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