Bama scouting report

Alabama enters tomorrow's 11 a.m. contest with Ole Miss ranked number 6 in the nation and with an unblemished record of 5-0. Here's a rundown of their history and current team.

The University of Alabama, founded in 1831, was the first university chartered in the State of Alabama. Their school colors were originally crimson and yellow but were quickly changed to crimson and white. Bama first played football in 1892, beating the Birmingham High School All-Stars 56-0.

Their varsity team in the beginning was called the "Crimson White." In a 6-6 tie with Auburn in 1907, a sports writer for the Birmingham Age-Herald described the muddy, wet scene of Alabama players as a "sea of Crimson Tide." The nickname Crimson Tide caught on and has been used since.

The use of an elephant as a mascot resulted from the Ole Miss game of 1930. Alabama coach Wallace Wade started the game using his second team against the Rebels. He brought his varsity out of the dressing room at the end of the first quarter. As the varsity entered the stadium, someone in the stands shouted, "hold your horses, the elephants are coming." The much bigger varsity mauled the Rebels that day 64-0, thus a tradition of using a "red elephant" as their mascot began at Alabama.

The Crimson Tide has one of the best winning traditions in college football history, having won 769 games, lost 299 and tied 44. Alabama lays claim to 12 national championships, 21 SEC championships and have had 91 All-Americans honored 102 times. They play in Bryant-Denny Stadium that seats 81,018 and are adding 10,000 more seats to be ready in 2006 when the Rebels go back there.

The Tide's biggest margin of victory was in 1922, defeating little Marion Institute 110-0, their most lopsided loss was to Vanderbilt in 1906, 78-0. Alabama has played in six Rose Bowls and a NCAA record 52 Bowl games. The only team in the SEC that Alabama does not have a winning record against is Arkansas. Their 24-13 win this season brought their record to 9-9 versus the Hogs.

Former Alabama player Bear Bryant later coached the Tide to the best coaching record in Bama history. Bryant won 232 games, lost only 46 and tied 9. A former Bama All-American Johnny "Hurri" Cain coached many years at Ole Miss under Johnny Vaught. in 1932, Cain punted 19 times in the Tennessee game averaging 48 yards per punt. Alabama has had 27 10 or more wins seasons, last going undefeated at 13-0 and winning the national championship in 1992.

Alabama comes into the game Saturday with a 5-0 record and 3-0 in the SEC, their best start since 1996. The Crimson Tide opened the season with wins over Middle Tennessee 26-7 and Southern Mississippi 30-21. They went on the road to defeat South Carolina 37-14, came back home for wins over Arkansas 24-13 and nationally ranked Florida 31-3.

This will be the 53rd meeting between Ole Miss and Alabama dating back to 1894, a game won by the Rebels in Jackson, 6-0. Alabama has a lopsided lead in this series, 41-9-2, and one of the Rebels win was a 19-14 forfeited in 1993. The Rebels have won the last two games played in Oxford, 27-24 in 2001 and 43-28 in 2003. Last year the Crimson Tide prevailed in Tuscaloosa 28-7.

The head football coach at Alabama is former Tide quarterback Mike Shula. Shula, the son of former NFL great Don Shula, is in his 3nd year as the head coach with a 15-15 record, taking over a Tide team in 2003 that was on NCAA probation. The 1987 graduate of Alabama played under Ray Perkins and helped lead the Tide to a 32-15-1 record during his years as a player. Shula later coached in the NFL at Chicago, Tampa Bay and Miami before taking over at Alabama.

The Alabama offense is a multiple 2-back set that is currently ranked 5th in SEC averaging 402 yards of offense per game. Their offensive coordinator is Dave Radar, a 1979 graduate of Tulsa with 22 years coaching experience. He was the quarterbacks coach at Bama when Shula played. Radar has seven returning starters on offense and will start three seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and two red shirt-freshmen. The Tide is scoring an average of 29.6 points per game and converts third downs at a 41.4% rate. The offensive line averages 287 pounds, tackle-to-tackle. Their key offensive players include:

- QB # 12 Brodie Croyle, Sr., 6-2, 200 - completed 76-of-126 passed for 1111yards, 60.3%, 9 TD's, 2 INT's, rushed for 5 yards.

- RB # 34 Kenneth Darby , Jr., 5-11, 205 - 92 carries for 513 yards, 5.6 average, 1 TD, long 33yards.

- FB # 29 Tim Castille , Jr., 5-11, 236 - Designated TD maker with 6 rushing TD's.

- WR # 22 D.J. Hall, So., 6-3, 190 - 12 catches for 231 yards, 19.2 average.

-WR #81 Keith Brown, So., 6-3, 192 - 11catches for 269 yards, 24.5 average.

- C # 74 JB Closner, Sr., 6-4, 290 - returning starter.

- RT # 58 Kyle Tatum, Sr., 6-8, 290 - returning starter.

Note: The Crimson Tide lost Tyrone Prothro in the Florida game with a nasty broken leg. Prothro led the SEC with 691 all-purpose yards, was their best receiver, kickoff return and punt return man.

Defensively the Crimson Tide runs a 4-3-4 and is the number one defense in the SEC, allowing just 251 total yards per game. Their defensive coordinator is Joe Kines, a veteran of 38 years of coaching. Kines has been the defensive coordinator at four SEC schools, Florida, Arkansas, Georgia and now the second time at Alabama. The Tide defense is giving up only 11.6 points per game, only 98 yards rushing per game and third down conversions at a 25% rate. Kines has nine starters back on defense with a defensive line that averages 275 pounds per man across the front four. He will start seven seniors, three juniors and one sophomore against Ole Miss. The key Bama defensive players include:

- SLB # 35 DeMeco Ryans, Sr., 6-3, 232 - 20 solo tackles + 19 assist = 39 total tackles.

- FS # 41 Ramon Harper, Sr., 6-1, 200 - 17 solo tackles + 14 assist = 31 total.

- WLB # 42 Juwan Simpson, Jr., 6-3, 222 - 12 solo tackles + 15 assist = 27 total.

- DE # 47 Mike Anderson, Sr., 6-5, 253 - 11 solo tackles + 7 assist = 18 total.

- MLB # 8 Freddie Roach, Sr., 6-2, 248 - leads SEC with 8 pass breakups.

- LCB # 2 Simeon Castille, So., 6-1, 188 - has 6 pass breakups.

- SS # 26 Charlie Peprah, Sr. 5-11 193 - Started 38 consecutive games for the Tide.

Note: Not a single Alabama defensive back is in top 25 among SEC tacklers, ballcarriers are not getting past the defensive line and linebackers to the defensive backs.

The special teams players Alabama may use include:

Punter # 25 Jeremy Schatz, Sr. - 15 punts for a 41.9 average, # 2 in SEC.

Punt Return # 22 D J Hall, So. or # 5 Brandon Brooks, Sr.

Place Kicker # 86 Jamie Christensen, So. - 6-of-8 FG's & 14-15 PAT, long 41 yards.

KO Return # 22 D J Hall, So. or # 5 Brandon Brooks, Sr.

THOUGHTS - The Rebels have to build off the second half effort against The Citadel offensively. It will be imperative to eliminate costly penalties and things they can control in their own execution. Alabama's defense feasts on mental and physical errors. . . The Rebel defense must slow down the running game of Darby and find a way to pressure Croyle and not let Croyle throw over the top to Hall and Brown. It would be great to hang the 300th loss on the Crimson Tide Saturday, but it will certainly take a near-flawless effort on the part of the team to do so. The Rebels, however, are due to play a game more up to their potential.

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