Monthly Archives: August 2013

Bama-Va Tech postgame

Hey, it's the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. What else would you expect?

Hey, it’s the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. What else would you expect?

ATLANTA — The Alabama football team’s season began just like the last one ended — with a dominating victory.

The Crimson Tide, the consensus preseason No. 1-ranked team in the country, defeated Virginia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference 35-10 Saturday evening before a crowd of 73,114 in the Georgia Dome.

“I think we did what we had to do,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “We came out with the win. It was the first game of the season, and we’ll get better.”

Alabama fans packed the stadium to create a home game atmosphere significantly outnumbering those from Virginia Tech.

Christion Jones led the Crimson Tide to victory. He returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown and a kickoff was returned 94 yards for a score.

He also caught two passes for 47 yards and a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback AJ McCarron. McCarron completed 10 of 23 for 110 yards.

The running game was sluggish for 96 yards and an average of 2.5 per carry. Running back T.J. Yeldon gained only 75 yards on 17 carries, but scored a 2-yard touchdown.

“It’s the first game, it’s not always going to be perfect but I’m proud of my guys,” McCarron said. “It was an unbelievable job.”

Special teams and defense carried the Tide to the victory. Safety Vinnie Sunseri intercepted a pass for a 38-yard touchdown return.

“I have to give it to the coaches for studying film,” Sunseri said. “We watched the play they ran a few times. I saw it and read it, and had a chance and jumped in.”

Bama-Va Tech pregame

The Georgia Dome two hours before Alabama's season kickoff.

The Georgia Dome two hours before Alabama’s season kickoff.

ATLANTA — The journey from Tuscaloosa to the Georgia Dome was uneventful for my first chance to cover the the Alabama football team. The Crimson Tide opens the  season against Virginia Tech this afternoon.

Traffic wasn’t bad three hours before the game as we entered the area, but there were a ton of people tailgating, as expected. It looks like the Crimson Tide fans outnumber the Hokies 10-to-1.

It’s a great view from the press box, as are the seats for the fans. There are a ton of media here. We are squeezed into the seating area like sardines.

NFL scouts from Baltimore, Atlanta, St. Louis and other teams are checking out the players. Orange and Sugar Bowl officials are also scouting teams.

Feel free to comment on the blog throughout the game and follow me on Twitter.com/cokirkpatrick.

Va Tech game prep

Alabama wide receiver Christion Jones (22) runs a drill at NCAA college football practice Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

Alabama wide receiver Christion Jones (22) runs a drill at NCAA college football practice Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

The top-ranked Alabama football team goes for three national titles in a row starting this evening with a nonconference game against Virginia Tech in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

I’ll be making a day/night trip out of it. I’ll drive there with co-workers, cover the game and come home in the wee hours of the morning. Make sure to follow me on the blog, Twitter.com/cokirkpatrick and Facebook.

Here’s my preview story in the Game Day edition of the TimesDaily and Decatur Daily. Here’s some more info on the game.

My pick for the game is for the Crimson Tide to win 28-10. The offensive needs a warmup game, so the score is not too high. And the Hokies and their new offense should get some points before Alabama makes adjustments.

“I think we’re playing a quality opponent that definitely has something to prove in terms of what they experienced last year,” coach Nick Saban said. “They’ve got a lot of good returning players. I think our team needs to realize, I’ve said it all along. You do what you have to do every day to prepare yourself because everybody will want to play in the game when the game comes. The question is did you do all the things you need to do to be responsible for your own self determination and accountable to do your job for the rest of the players on the team. All of the guys that have done that are confident. They’re ready. They’re ready to go. Some of the guys that have not done that, they’re starting to get exposed. Most of these players are young players that don’t understand what you have to do to be successful.”

Alabama offensive lineman Austin Shepherd, left, and works against fellow lineman Harold Nicholson during the NCAA college football team's practice, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

Alabama offensive lineman Austin Shepherd, left, and works against fellow lineman Harold Nicholson during the NCAA college football team’s practice, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

Saban ready for opener

Alabama coach Nick Saban speaks with the media during an NCAA college football news conference Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, at the Mal Moore Athletic Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  (AP Photo)

Alabama coach Nick Saban speaks with the media during an NCAA college football news conference Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, at the Mal Moore Athletic Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

First off, check out my main story in the Friday editions of the TimesDaily and Decatur Daily. I look at who are the impact true freshmen.

It’s only an educated guess until we see them play. Who are the true freshmen do you thing are the next Amari Cooper or T.J. Yeldon?

Check out my notebook that leads with an update on Cooper and has info on next week’s bye and the new targeting rule.

Coach Nick Saban was downright excited about the season opener in his last press conference before Saturday’s game. Here are his opening comments.

“I think it’s time to get excited about playing a game. I think it’s time for everybody to get excited about playing a game. This is an important game. You can’t have a good season if you don’t get off to a good start and don’t have a good first game. I think our players need to get excited, I think our fans need to get excited.”

“I hope our fans and our leadership on our team and everybody in the organization is excited about the mental intensity we all need to have to beat good football teams in big games,” Saban continued. “These games, playing in these neutral-site games, have a history of giving our team great momentum and a great start and great exposure. Our fans have always demonstrated great enthusiasm for this game, these games. I think it’s going to be very important that we show the same thing in this particular game. The history of these games have made a significant impact on the success that this program has had. We obviously want to go there and get ready to do a good job against a very good team. We’ll just keep on working.”

AJ McCarron notes

AJ McCarron kissed The Coaches' Trophy after the BCS National Championship college football game against Notre Dame, in Miami.

AJ McCarron kissed The Coaches’ Trophy after the BCS National Championship college football game against Notre Dame, in Miami.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron goes into his final season looking for a third national title in a row. Here are some notes of interest on him.

McCarron’s 30 touchdown passes in 2012 set an Alabama season record. He tossed a 29-yard strike to Christion Jones against Western Carolina on Nov. 17 to surpass Greg McElroy’s 20 in 2010. McElroy’s mark was set in 13 games that season; McCarron moved past it in 11 games. He threw four touchdown passes in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game to post his total of 30, which ranked third in the SEC in 2012.

In his third year as Alabama’s quarterback, McCarron  built a 25-2 record as a starter and led his team to back-to-back BCS National Championships. He has thrown 49 touchdown passes in his career against just eight interceptions, which averages out to one interception every 86.3 attempts, the best in SEC history by more than 24 attempts (Tim Tebow – 1:62.2). In 2012, McCarron threw 30 touchdown passes while tossing only three interceptions (one every 104.7 attempts) and led the nation in passing efficiency at 175.28. He is the first quarterback in Alabama history to lead his team to two national titles.

McCarron enters his senior season with a .926 winning percentage. He  ranks second in winning percentage at Alabama and second in SEC  history. Only Jay Barker‘s .934 winning percentage betters McCarron. Barker is also the school’s leader in career victories with 35 (35-1-1 record). McCarron ranks fifth in career victories. He is one win shy of Pat Trammell (26) in fourth and five wins back of Harry Gilmer in third (30). In SEC history, Florida’s Danny Wuerffel is third in winning percentage at .903 (32-3-1) and Georgia’s Buck Belue is fourth at .900 (27-3).

McCarron  led Alabama to back-to-back BCS National Championships, becoming just the sixth quarterback to do so in the modern era of college football. The winners of back-to-back titles include: Notre Dame’s Johnny Lujack (1946-47), Nebraska’s Jerry Tagge (1970-71), Oklahoma’s Steve Davis (1974-75), Nebraska’s Tommy Frazier (1994-95) and Southern California’s Matt Leinart (2003-04). No player has ever led his team to three straight national championships, although Lujack did lead the Fighting Irish to three titles in his career (1943, 1946 and 1947).

General football notes

Alabama defensive lineman Brandon Ivory (99) pops the blocking dummy during the NCAA college football team's practice, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  (AP Photo)

Alabama defensive lineman Brandon Ivory (99) pops the blocking dummy during the NCAA college football team’s practice, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

First off, check out my main story in Thursday’s editions of the TimesDaily and Decatur Daily. It’s a look at how the Alabama football team plans to stop Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas.

Check out my football notebook, leading off how old Auburn video helps the Crimson Tide prepare for the season opener with the Hokies.

Here are some other general notes as the team gets ready for to begin the season.

ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama’s success on the field over the past six seasons under the direction of  coach Nick Saban has coincided with the Crimson Tide’s success in the classroom. The 2013 squad features 13 players that already have degrees in hand as the 2013 season begins (see chart below). That number is equal to Ole Miss for the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2013. Over the past five seasons (2008-12) Alabama has seen 72 players compete for the Crimson Tide after already having graduated, following the Virginia Tech game that number will increase to 85.

ALABAMA EQUALS MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Dating back to the start of the 2008 season, Alabama has won 61 games, which is tied for the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision with Boise State. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed by a perfect 14-0 record in 2009, a 10-3 mark in 2010 and a 12-1 record in 2011. Alabama finished 13-1 in 2012. Oregon is third during that period with 56 victories.

10-WIN SEASONS: Alabama reached the 10-win milestone for the fifth consecutive season in 2012, boasting a 13-1 record. In 117 seasons, the Tide has won 10 or more games 32 times, two back of Oklahoma (34) for the most 10-win seasons in college football. Alabama has produced seven 10-win seasons since the 2002 season (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012). Saban is the 11th coach in school history to lead his team to a 10-win season and is the fifth coach in school history to have more than one 10-win season.

RUSHING TO SUCCESS: Alabama rushed for 350 yards against Georgia on Dec. 1, in the SEC Championship Game and 265 yards versus Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game last season. The Crimson Tide is 51-0 since the start of the 2008 season when rushing for at least 140 yards. The Tide has averaged 84.57 yards per game (592 yards) in its seven losses since 2008, with the highest rushing total during those losses coming against Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship Game (136).

DEFENSIVE SUCCESS: Alabama has led the Southeastern Conference in total defense for the last five seasons. In the 60 seasons prior no team has led its respective league in total defense for more than two straight years.

10 POINTS OR FEWER: Under Saban, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to 10 points or fewer 40 times since the start of the 2007 season and seven times in 2012, with the most recent coming on Nov. 24 against Auburn (49-0). The Tide also shut out four 2012 opponents (Western Kentucky, Arkansas, Western Carolina and Auburn). Alabama was successful in holding opponents to 0-10 points in nine 2011 games.  In 2010, the Tide held opponents to 10 points or less eight times and limited opponents to that range seven times in both 2008 and ’09. In 2007, Alabama posted two games in which it held opponents to 0-10 points. Alabama has shut out the opposition 10 times during the Saban era.

HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 300: In Saban’s 81-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited opponents to under 300 yards of total offense 52 times, or 64.2 percent of the time.

HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 200: Saban’s last 68 games at the Alabama, the Crimson Tide defense has held the opposing offense to fewer than 200 yards of total offense 26 times, including five times last season. In 2011, Alabama accomplished the feat eight times, limiting Kent State to 90 yards and LSU to only 92 yards in the BCS Championship Game (the second and third times a Saban defense has limited its opponent to less than 100 yards of total offense). Alabama’s best came in 2009 when the Tide held Chattanooga to 84 yards of total offense. The Tide held opponents under 200 yards three times in 2010, four times in 2009 and six times in 2008.

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS: The Crimson Tide defense was No. 1 in all five major defensive categories in 2011 and held that ranking in three categories during the 2012 season. Alabama finished as the nation’s top total defense (250 ypg), scoring defense (10.93 ppg) and rushing defense (76.36 ypg). The Crimson Tide finished seventh nationally in passing defense (173.64 ypg) and seventh in passing efficiency defense (103.72). The Tide also led the nation in fewest first downs allowed per game (13.71).

RUSHING DEFENSE: Limiting opposing running backs to fewer than 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered only 12 individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season, a mark that leads the nation. Since Saban’s arrival, the Tide has allowed  seven players to rush for more than 100 yards in a game: Georgia’s Todd Gurley (122 yards on Dec. 1, 2012), LSU’s Jeremy Hill (107 on Nov. 3, 2012), Georgia Southern’s Dominique Swope (153 on Nov. 19, 2011), Tennessee’s Tauren Poole (117 on Oct. 23, 2010), Mississippi’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis (131 on Oct. 13, 2007), Houston’s Anthony Alridge (100 on Oct. 6, 2007) and Darren McFadden of Arkansas (195 on Sept. 15, 2007).

TOUGH SLEDDING ON THE GROUND: Alabama leads the nation in giving up the fewest rushing touchdowns since the start of the 2005 season, surrendering only 60. Since Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has allowed 42 rushing touchdowns while Ohio State is second (54). Alabama surrendered 10 rushing touchdowns in 2012.

YARDS HARD TO COME BY: Since the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has not surrendered yards easily. Over that 28-game span, the Tide defense has allowed only five opposing teams to reach 300 total yards: 341 by Georgia Southern in 2011, 435 by LSU, 418 by Texas A&M, 394 by Georgia in 2012 and 302 by Notre Dame in 2012 (Jan. 7, 2013). Teams have been held under 200 total yards 14 times and below 100 total yards twice. Rushing against the Tide has been even more difficult over that span, as teams have been held to under 100 rushing yards 22 times, under 50 yards 12 times and in negative yardage twice. 

Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood (83) and Alabama wide receiver Kenny Bell (7) do a little touchdown celebration practice between drills during the Crimson Tide's 21st preseason football practice of the 2013 season, Wednesday, August 21, 2013, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  (AP Photo)

Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood (83) and Alabama wide receiver Kenny Bell (7) do a little touchdown celebration practice between drills during the Crimson Tide’s 21st preseason football practice of the 2013 season, Wednesday, August 21, 2013, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

Midweek football report

The top-ranked Alabama football team went inside for Wednesday’s practice to install the super secret plays.

Coach Nick Saban said afterward that his team is healthy. All the guys they were being cautious with during training camp are game ready.

Start receiver Amari Cooper spoke with the media after practice. Check out the above video to hear what he said.

Below is a clip of the running backs working on their footwork and cutting into a hole during practice.

Nick Saban on SEC call

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (10) works through drills during their NCAA college football team's practice, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (10) works through drills during their NCAA college football team’s practice, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

Here are the highlights of Alabama football coach Nick Saban talking with reporters on Wednesday’ SEC conference call.

What’s the most beneficial thing playing these kickoff game environments?

“I think that there’s a couple of things it does. First of all, when you play a good opponent in the first game, it really helps enhance your offseason program, your spring practice, your summer conditioning, because players are looking forward to the challenge of playing an outstanding opponent early.”

“The second thing it does, is you play somebody good, you really see where you are, which is helpful. When you play in these neutral-site games, it’s almost preparing your team a little bit of what it’s going to be like to play against a good team on the road, which in our league, it’s critical to be able to play well on the road against good teams. And obviously the exposure that it gives the program to be in a nationally televised game the first game of the season.

Are there more external factors, social media, ESPN nowadays?

“I don’t think there’s any question about it. I think there’s a lot more external factors for your team, for individual players in terms of the attention they get. For the recruits that come in, in terms of the attention they get in recruiting now. All these things present challenges that you can’t ignore, I don’t think, in coaching. It’s something that’s just changed, and how you try to get players to respond the right way to focusing on what they need to do to be good players is more challenging because of some of that, but the focus still needs to be on that.”

How has QB AJ McCarron looked in preseason? What’s it mean to have a 3-year starter?

“AJ’s had a good fall camp. He had a good spring. I think offensively as a unit and as a team, the fact that some of these guys have played together, especially the skill players, helps. Still, for the quarterback to play well, everybody around him has got to play well. That’s the challenge that unit has, so we play together as a group. There’s a tremendous advantage to having an experienced quarterback, who has played a lot of games and can help lead and manage those players to play together.”

“I think all those players have a lot of confidence in him, which is also very helpful in the development of the offensive team. It’s been good. I think having an experienced guy is certainly an advantage. Now, just because you have experience doesn’t mean you’re going to play well. But there’s nothing that AJ has done in this offseason or in fall camp that says he won’t play well.

 How has backup QB Blake Sims developed?

“Blake has really improved dramatically, I think, as a passer. His decision making, his understanding of the offense, all those things have improved. Blake was not a quarterback. We moved him to quarterback when Philip Sims left the program to transfer to Virginia. So he got kind of thrown into that after spring practice. Fall camp was really his development time. I think having an offseason to do it, he’s improved quite a bit. He’s still very athletic and he can make plays with his feet but he has improved as a passer.

Do you like the bye week being so early next week?

“No, I don’t really like it. I don’t ever remember having it that way, but it is what it is. And we’re going to do what we need to do to take advantage of it and continue to develop our team and use the extra practice days to try to improve and prepare for the opponents that we have down the road. It is what it is. We’ve known it’s going to be this way for a long time. We have a plan for it, and we’ll implement it and try to improve our team with the circumstances that we have.”

Alabama quarterback Blake Sims (6) works through drills during their NCAA college football team's practice, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

Alabama quarterback Blake Sims (6) works through drills during their NCAA college football team’s practice, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

Previewing the opener

Alabama coach Nick Saban instructs the defensive backs during the NCAA college football team's practice Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

Alabama coach Nick Saban instructs the defensive backs during the NCAA college football team’s practice Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

First off, check out my main story about the Alabama football team in the Wednesday editions of the Decatur Daily and TimesDaily. It’s on running back Dee Hart coming back from two knee surgeries to make an impact.

Here’s my notebook leading off with an anxious coach Nick Saban when it comes to the offensive line.

Here are some notes of interest about Saturday’s season opener against Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome.

MAKING HISTORY: Alabama has laid claim to three of the last four BCS National Championships and now boast 15 national championships in the program’s history. The Tide won in 2009 and then went back-to-back in 2011 and 2012. The back-to-back titles are the first in the BCS era and the first since Nebraska went back to back in 1994-95. The Cornhuskers are also the last team to win three out of four national titles. Nebraska won consensus titles in 1994 and 1995 and shared the 1997 championship with Michigan. The last team to win three of four consensus national championships was Notre Dame who captured the 1946, 1947 and 1949 championships. Minnesota is the last team to win three straight national championships (1934-36) with only the 1936 title coming in the era of the Associated Press college football poll. The Crimson Tide also won three titles in five years from 1961 to 1965.

PRESEASON RANKINGS: Alabama opens the 2013 season ranked first in the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches’ preseason polls, while Virginia Tech comes in receiving votes in both.

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies are coming off a 7-6 2012 season and a Russell Athletic Bowl victory in overtime against Rutgers. Under 27th-year head coach Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech is 216-104-2, with four BCS bowl appearances in the last six seasons. The Hokies have the sixth most wins in the country since 2001. Virginia Tech enters the 2013 season returning 15 starters and 50 letterwinnners.

SERIES HISTORY: Alabama holds a commanding 11-1 edge in the all-time series with Virginia Tech. The two teams last met in a familiar situation as they opened the 2009 season in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta. In that contest, the fifth-ranked Crimson Tide downed the seventh-ranked Hokies, 34-24. Alabama won the first 10 games in the series that began with a 9-6 Tide win in 1932. Alabama then posted shutouts over Tech in 1933 (27-0) and 1952 (33-0). Alabama and Virginia Tech met six times from 1968 to 1979 with two games in Birmingham, one in Blacksburg and four in Tuscaloosa. The largest margin of victory for the Crimson Tide came in 1973 when UA posted a 77-6 win in Tuscaloosa. Several of the Tide’s all-time single-game records that were set that day still stand, including 833 total yards, 11.9 yards per play, 748 rushing yards and 11.9 yards per rush.

RETURNING SUCCESS: Alabama returns 13 starters and 48 lettermen from its 2012 squad that won the BCS National Championship, finishing with a record of 13-1. The Crimson Tide returns six starters on offense, including Cyrus KouandjioAnthony SteenAJ McCarron, Amari CooperKevin Norwood and Christion Jones, while the defense returns seven starters, including Ed StinsonC.J. MosleyAdrian Hubbard, Ha Ha Clinton-DixTrey DepriestXzavier Dickson and Deion Belue.

NEUTRAL SITES: Alabama is 73-46-4 (.610) in neutral site games. The list includes all Alabama-Auburn games not played on campus, including Legion Field from 1948-88. The Crimson Tide played three neutral site contests last season, opening the year with a 41-14 win over No. 8 Michigan at Cowboys Stadium. In the postseason Alabama downed No. 3 Georgia, 32-28 at the SEC Championship in Atlanta and No. 1 Notre Dame, 42-14, at the Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium.

DOME SWEET DOME: Alabama is 14-5-1 (.725) in domed stadiums, including a 5-0 mark since 2009, and 6-2 in Saban’s tenure. The Crimson Tide had two appearances in a dome last season with the opener against Michigan at Cowboys Stadium and the SEC Championship against Georgia in the Georgia Dome.

SUCCESS ON THE ROAD: Alabama begins the  season with a 14-game winning streak away from Bryant-Denny Stadium. The 14-game streak includes both true road games and neutral-site games and dates back to a 24-21 loss at LSU on Nov. 6, 2010. The streak also includes victories over Notre Dame (Miami Gardens), LSU (Baton Rouge and New Orleans), Michigan (Dallas), at Penn State, at Florida, at Arkansas and at Auburn. The current streak is the second-longest of its kind in Alabama history behind a 19-game streak that began on Sept. 24, 1977, and ended on Nov. 1, 1980. Since 2008, the Crimson Tide is 29-4 (.879) away from Bryant-Denny Stadium, including a 4-1 record in bowl games. During that time, Alabama is 32-3 at Bryant-Denny Stadium (.914).

ALABAMA EQUALS MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Dating back to the start of the 2008 season, Alabama has won 61 games, which is tied for the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision with Boise State. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed by a perfect 14-0 record in 2009, a 10-3 mark in 2010 and a 12-1 record in 2011. Alabama finished 13-1 in 2012. Oregon is third during that period with 56 victories.

10-WIN SEASONS: Alabama reached the 10-win milestone for the fifth consecutive season in 2012, boasting a 13-1 record. In 117 seasons, the Tide has won 10 or more games 32 times, two back of Oklahoma (34) for the most 10-win seasons in college football. Alabama has produced seven 10-win seasons since the 2002 season (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012). Saban is the 11th coach in school history to lead his team to a 10-win season and is the fifth coach in school history to have more than one 10-win season.

53 NATIONAL TV APPEARANCES IN 69 GAMES: Alabama’s appearance on ESPN in the 2013 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic is the 53rd nationally televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. The Tide played 12 nationally televised games in 2012, with one game on ABC, six on CBS and five on ESPN. In 2011, Alabama played on CBS four times, while having one game on ABC, two on ESPN and ESPN2, and one game on ESPNU. In 2010, Alabama had five games on CBS, three on ESPN, two on ESPN2, one on ABC and one on ESPNU. In 2009, UA played two games on ABC (including the BCS title game), and six on CBS, while ESPN televised two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games televised nationally, including five on CBS, three on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.

ALABAMA’S TVRECORD: Alabama has compiled a 203-127-4 (.614) all-time record in 334 televised games (not including pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts).

Alabama linebacker/defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (93) works through drills during NCAA college football practice, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

Alabama linebacker/defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (93) works through drills during NCAA college football practice, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo)

 

Va Tech prep with Backstreet Boys

The Alabama football team were heavy into Virginia Tech prep during Tuesday’s practices. The coaches went over what they expect the players to do.

There were no major players fully sitting out. The Crimson Tide should go into the season opener on Saturday relatively healthy.

Check out the above video of the tight ends working on catching a ball in a crowd.

The highlight of the day was when 1990s boy band Backstreet Boys visited the athletic facilities. A picture of them hit the Internet here.

The band was in town for a show at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. I wonder how many players on the team even know who that group is? Check them out below to jog your memory.

Women’s basketball schedule

Kristy Curry is rebuilding the women's basketball team.

Kristy Curry is rebuilding the women’s basketball team.

 

Date Opponent Location Time
Nov. 4 West Alabama (Exh.) Tuscaloosa, Ala. 7 p.m.
Nov. 8 at Chattanooga Chattanooga, Tenn. 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 11 at Nebraska Lincoln, Neb. 7:05 p.m.
Nov. 17 at Duke Durham, N.C. 1 p.m.
Nov. 21 Wisconsin Tuscaloosa, Ala. 7 p.m.
Nov. 25 Alabama A&M Tuscaloosa, Ala. 7 p.m.
Nov. 29 at St. Mary’s! Moraga, Calif. 4 p.m.
Nov. 30 vs. Cal State Fullerton! Moraga, Calif. 2 p.m.
Dec. 4 UT Martin Tuscaloosa, Ala. 7 p.m.
Dec. 8 Houston Tuscaloosa, Ala. 2 p.m.
Dec. 17 Jacksonville Tuscaloosa, Ala. 11 a.m.
Dec. 20 Troy Tuscaloosa, Ala. 7 p.m.
Dec. 28 vs. Princeton Charlottesville, Va. 11 a.m.
Dec. 29 at Virginia/vs. Coppin State Charlottesville, Va. 11 a.m./1:30 p.m.
Jan. 2 Kentucky* Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBD
Jan. 5 at Texas A&M* College Station, Texas TBD
Jan. 12 Ole Miss* Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBD
Jan. 16 Auburn * Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBD
Jan. 19 at South Carolina* Columbia, S.C. TBD
Jan. 23 at Kentucky* Lexington, Ky. TBD
Jan. 26 Georgia* Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBD
Jan. 30 at Florida* Gainesville, Fla. TBD
Feb. 2 Tennessee* Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBD
Feb. 9 at Missouri* Columbia, Mo. TBD
Feb. 13 at Arkansas* Fayetteville, Ark. TBD
Feb. 16 Texas A&M* Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBD
Feb. 20 Mississippi State* Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBD
Feb. 23 at Vanderbilt* Nashville, Tenn. TBD
Feb. 27 at Auburn* Auburn, Ala. TBD
March 2 LSU* Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBD
March 5-9 SEC Championship Duluth, Ga. TBD

! Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Classic (Moraga, Calif.)

# Cavalier Classic (Charlottesville, Va.)

* Southeastern Conference game

Brothers on the line

Alabama offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio (77) works through drills during an NCAA college football practice. (AP Photo)

Alabama offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio (77) works through drills during an NCAA college football practice. (AP Photo)

The Kouandjio brothers earned starting jobs on the left side of the offensive line for the Alabama football team.

Cyrus, a junior, was a given since he was a returning starter. Arie,  a sophomore, bounced between guard and tackle during training camp. He finally landed at guard.

With less than a week to go before their first game together, Cyrus was thrilled on Monday about playing next to Arie.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Wow, almost there. Hopefully, it goes well.”

This will be the first time they played side-by-side. Cyrus likes the concept.

“I know he’ll break his back trying to help me out and I’ll do the same for him,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Offensive linemen need great communication, and the thinking is they will do well since they are related.

“He knows what I’m thinking and I know what he’s thinking just by a look,” Cyrus said. “So it’s a slight advantage.”

 Check out my main story in Tuesday’s TimesDaily about Alabama’s first opponent, Virginia Tech. And check out my notebook that leads with looking at their last meeting.

Depth chart

Alabama helmet honoring Mal Moore.

Alabama helmet honoring Mal Moore.

Here’s the Alabama football team’s depth chart that coach Nick Saban said was just for the media’s benefit, but not what he follows in games. Also, check out the picture what the helmets will look like this year to honor Mal Moore.

DEFENSE

DE: Ed Stinson, A’Shawn Robinson or LaMichael Fanning

NG: Brandon Ivory, Darren Lake or Korren Kirven

DE: Jeoffrey Pagan, Davlin Tomlinson or Jonathan Allen

OLB: Adrian Hubbard, Dillon Lee

ILB: Trey DePriest, Rueben Foster

ILB: C.J. Mosley, Tana Patrick or Reggie Ragland

OLB: Xzavier Dickson or Denzel Devall

CB: Deion Belue, Bradley Sylve

S: Vinnie Sunseri, Landon Collins or Jarrick Williams

S: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Nick Perry

CB: John Fulton, Cyrus Jones

OFFENSE

LT: Cyrus Kouandjio, Kellen Williams

LG: Arie Kouandjio, Kellen Williams or Issaac Luatua

C: Ryan Kelly, Chad Lindsay

RG: Anthony Steen, Alphonse Taylor

RT: Austin Shepherd, Leon Brown

TE: Brian Vogler, O.J. Howard or Brandon Greene

H: Jalston Fowler, Harrison Jones

QB: AJ McCarron, Blake Sims

RB: T.J. Yeldon, Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart or Derrick Henry or Altee Tenpenny

WR: Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White

WR: Kevin Norwood or Kenny Bell

WR: Christon Jones, Chris Black

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK: Cade Foster, Adam Griffith

Hold: AJ McCarron, Vinnie Sunseri

P: Cody Mandell, Adam Griffith

LS: Cole Mazza, M.K. Taylor

PR: Christion Jones, Dee Hart

KOR: Christion Jones, Kevin Norwood, Cyrus Jones, DeAndrew White

AJ McCarron talks Virginia Tech

Here’s the full video interview with Alabama football team quarterback AJ McCarron on Monday as the top-ranked Crimson Tide prepares to open the season Saturday in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome against Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech scouting report

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer tosses a football into the air while having pictures taken with his senior class leaders during the NCAA college football team's media day in Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va., Saturday, Aug. 10 2013. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Matt Gentry)

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer tosses a football into the air while having pictures taken with his senior class leaders during the NCAA college football team’s media day in Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va., Saturday, Aug. 10 2013. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Matt Gentry)

It’s game week so it’s time to look at the Alabama football team’s first opponent, Virginia Tech. First, check out my story in Monday’s TimesDaily and Decatur Daily on starting CB Deion Belue. Now to the game.

KICKOFF: 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Atlanta’s Georgia Dome

TV: ESPN

RECORDS: Virginia Tech 0-0; No. 1 Alabama 0-0

SERIES: Alabama leads 11-1

LAST MEETING: In 2009, Alabama won 34-24

LATEST LINE: Alabama by 19.5

COACH: Frank Beamer, 26th season at Virginia Tech (216-104-2) and 32 overall (258-127-4)

OFFENSE: RB J.C. Coleman is doubtful with two ankles sprains. He was the No. 2 backs last season with an average of 4.5 yards a carry and 37.8 a game. Redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds is expected to carry the load. … QB Logan Thomas returns after a season where he completed 220 of 429 for 2,976 yards, 18 TDs and 16 INTs. … The offense was only average. The rushing offense (145.6 ypg) ranked 79th nationally, the passing offense (230.9 ypg) was 64th, total offense (376.8 ypg) was 81st and scoring offense (25.1 ppg) 81st. … Demitri Knowles is the top returning receiver. He had 19 catches for 240 yards and a TD. He ranked fifth on the team last season.

DEFENSE: The Hokies are a defense-first team just like Alabama. The rush defense (134.1 ypg) ranked 29th in the country last season, pass defense (199.1 ypg) was 24th, total defense (333.2 ypg) was 18th and scoring (22.9 ppg) 32nd. … They were 19th in sacks (2.7 a game), but the team was only 86th in turnover margin with 21 forced. … LB Jack Tyler was the top tackler last season with 119. … CB Antone Exum was the top pass defender with five INTs and 16 pass breakups, but he’s out with a knee injury. … DE James Gayle is the top returning pass rusher with five sacks.

SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Cody Journell returns after he hit 20 of 25 field goals with a long of 43. Four of his misses were from beyond 40 yards. … P A.J. Hughes returns. He averaged 40.6 yards on 79 attempts with a long of 57. He had 22 downed inside the 20-yard line and 18 fair caught.

NOTABLE: The Hokies are coming off a 7-6 season with a 13-10 overtime win over Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl. … Injuries have ravaged the team. Players out for the game are RB Tony Gregory (knee), DT Corey Marshall (personal), OT Mark Shuman (knee) and LB Ronny Vandyke (shoulder). OG Augie Conte (ankle) is questionable.