AP No. 2 Alabama (1-0, 0-0 SEC) beat the unranked Kent State Golden Flashes 48-7 in its season opener before a sold-out crowd of 101,821 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Saturday, September 3, 2011. (ONLINE REPLAY)
Alabama’s helmets were decorated with small ribbon stickers in remembrance of the tornado victims and a circle sticker for deceased teammate Aaron Douglas.
Several Kent State players visited Tuscaloosa in July to help with tornado relief, and Crimson Tide fans applauded as the Golden Flashes jogged on to the field before kickoff.
Bryant-Denny Stadium fell still during a moment of silence to remember tornado victims, and the Million Dollar band performed a tribute at halftime. Fans in the uppermost seats could see twisted trees and mangled homes along the trail of destruction in the distance.
The quarterback competition kicked off with A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims alternating in three offensive series sets each. The game also featured seven true freshmen, proving once again to future recruits that Alabama makes space in its lineup for players with the ability to compete:
FS: Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix
OLB: Trey DePriest
ILB: Xzavier Dickson
WR: Christion Jones
LT: Cyrus Kouandjio
DL: Jeoffrey Pagan
SS: Vinnie Sunseri
The Tide also played nine redshirt freshmen and two JUCO transfers:
DL: Quinton Dial
JLB: Adrian Hubbard
TE: Harrison Jones
C: Chad Lindsay
RT: Austin Shepherd
RB: Blake Sims
QB: Phillip Sims
TE: Brian Vogler
WR: DeAndrew White
P: Jay Williams
DL: Jesse Williams
Saturday confirmed what everyone suspected leading up to this season: Alabama’s defense is the real deal. Led by freshman Trey DePriest's 10 tackles, the defense held the Golden Flashes to 90 yards total offense and minus-9 rushing. LSU transfer DB Phelon Jones had Bama’s sole interception in the game, although many players almost had interceptions with eight passes broken up (PBU). CJ Mosley and Quinton Dial recorded a sack each, and Dont’a Hightower, Damion Square, Undra Billingsley, JUCO transfer Jesse Williams and freshman Trey DePriest each had a quarterback hurry.
The Tide finished ranked nationally No. 1 in rushing defense,
No. 13 in passing defense and No. 2 in total defense.
The offense has room for improvement, however, after the Tide had four interceptions and the ball was on the ground four more times. Coach Saban quantified Phillip Sims’ two interceptions as “bad” since he “didn't throw the ball to the right place,” and A.J. McCarron’s two interceptions as “good” since his throws “could have been caught…got tipped…the other team ends up intercepting.” Additionally, the offensive line shuffled and reshuffled position players while it pretty much stifled the rushing game. Jalston Fowler ended up as the leading rusher with 69 yards on 4 carries, Eddie Lacy in second with 58 yards on 8 carries, and Trent Richardson in third with 37 yards on 13 carries. Marquis Maze ranked No. 4 nationally with 253 all-purpose yards: receiving of 118 yards, punt returns of 96 yards and kickoff returns of 39 yards.
It was over when... Alabama lost in the Iron Bowl. The Tide have outscored their last two opponents 97-14.
Game ball goes to... Trent Richardson, who punched in three TDs, including two in the first quarter, on 13 carries.
Stat of the game... 6. Alabama's ferocious defense allowed Nick Saban's alma mater just six first downs.
Surprise of the game… no Wildcat with Blake Sims.
Alabama will next travel to State College, Pennsylvania, to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday, September 10, 2011. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. central time and will be televised by ABC.
Box Score with top performers AJ McCarron 226 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT; Trent Richardson 13 CAR, 37 YDS, 3 TD; Marquis Maze 8 REC, 118 YDS, 1 TD. Play-by-Play with Alabama scoring in all four quarters. Drive Chart shown quarter-by-quarter.
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