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November 21, 2009

Notebook: Tide enjoys record day

TUSCALOOSA _ It was a record-breaking day at Bryant-Denny Stadium, maybe not quite as epic as the famously failed promotion Disco Demolition Night in Chicago, but the University of Alabama football team did make some history Saturday.

With his 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, sophomore running back Mark Ingram finished the game with 1,399 to move into second place on the UA single-season rushing list, ahead of Shaun Alexander (1,383 yards, 2008).

Ingram had 11 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns before being pulled with 9:57 remaining in the first half. He needs just 72 yards over his final three games to break Bobby Humphrey's mark of 1,471 (1986).

Ingram's also had only 205 carries this season, while Humphrey had 236 and Alexander 302. His 6.8 average per carry is second in Alabama history behind Bobby Marlow's 7.5 (882 yards, 118 attempts in 1950).

Meanwhile, senior cornerback Javier Arenas set both a team and Southeastern Conference record with his seventh career punt-return for a touchdown, and also had an interception.

"It's tremendous for Javy that he set some kind of touchdown record or whatever today, I'm not always up on those things, but we're happy for him," Coach Nick Saban said. "It was great that they kept punting the ball to the single-gunner where they got three on the other side so we returned it to the single-gunner and he broke it out and it was great for him. He's made a lot of big plays and it's good for him to make a big play today.

"We had to do a lot of adjusting out there because there was a lot of new stuff that we had to see today, which has pretty much been the case for the defense most of the time, and I was really pleased with the way the guys adjusted. One of the adjustments we made was the quads-formation, all four receivers on the same side, was what Javy did there when he made the interception. The ability to make adaptations like that and go and execute them is a great credit to all our players."

With two returns for 68 yards, Arenas has 1,658 career punt-return yards on 119 returns. He's 38 yards shy of breaking Lee Nalley's SEC record (1,695, 1947-49), and 104 of Wes Walker's NCAA record of 1,761 set in 2003.

Finally, while senior kicker Leigh Tiffin has already scored more points than anyone in Alabama history, his 41-yard field goal tied Phillip Doyle (1987-90) on the school's career list at 78. He's fourth on the SEC's career field goals made list, just nine behind Georgia's Billy Bennett (87).

Auburn week begins
Alabama's 24-hour rule, the limit Saban lets players talk about a game, pretty much went out the window as soon as the team left the locker room Saturday.

The Tide has one less day to prepare for Friday's game at Auburn, which is coming off a bye.

"You just have to front-end load it," Saban said. "Basically, what we usually do on Tuesday we do on Monday, what we do on Wednesday we do on Tuesday, what we do on Thursday we'll do on Wednesday.

"There's some advantage to the fact that we didn't get guys beaten up today by playing a lot of plays so hopefully their recovery and rest will get us energized earlier in the week so that we can have quality practices to get ready for the game."

Most players were already talking about Auburn before leaving the stadium, and even though Alabama has already clinched the SEC West the Tide knows it'll get the Tigers' best effort.

"Real big in my mind," said senior safety Ali Sharrief, who chose Alabama over Auburn when he was being heavily recruited by both schools.

"It's Auburn," Arenas said. "If you can't get up for someone like that there's something wrong with you."

Pre-game ceremony
Alabama honored 27 seniors and their parents during a pregame ceremony.

"My parents were trying to hold back the tears, my sister for sure she was pretty upset about it," senior linebacker Cory Reamer said. "It was pretty exciting to get with the parents, and realize it's been five years. Unfortunately it's over with, but it was a good one to go out on."

"It was a day that you never think is going to come," senior right tackle Drew Davis said. "You're just amazed that it's here. It hits you that you’ll never get to do this again in this stadium."

Tide-bits
While working the headset for backup Star Jackson, junior quarter Greg McElroy tried to call a time out prior to one play. "We were in the wrong formation, I think the running back lined up on the wrong side," he said. "So I tried to get our trainer, Jeff Allen, to call time out because he looks more like a coach. It didn't work out so well."

The officiating crew was headed by Marc Curles, which was suspended for two high-profile mistakes earlier this season. The crew flagged Georgia's A.J. Green for excessive celebration against LSU on Oct. 3, and a personal foul Arkansas defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard in the fourth quarter against Florida on Oct. 17.

According to the participation chart, the Tide used 77 players. ... Alabama has not allowed a first-quarter touchdown in seven games. ... Even though he didn't know anyone on the other team, numerous Chattanooga players lined up to meet and congratulate senior nose tackle Terrence Cody after the game. ... Team captains were Arenas, Mike Johnson, Rolando McClain and McElroy.


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