published Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Nick Saban impressed with UTC's Huesmans

  • photo
    Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his team on to the field in this Oct. 26, 2013, file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TIDE, TAKE THREE

Three tidbits regarding top-ranked Alabama entering Saturday's game against visiting UTC.

1) Alabama is 11-0 all-time against the Mocs, but they've played just three times since 1960. The Crimson Tide won 53-7 in 1991, 42-13 in 1994 and 45-0 in 2009.

2) Frank Thomas, who coached Alabama from 1931 to 1946 and won two national championships, coached the Mocs to a 26-9 record from 1925 to '28. Harold "Red" Drew replaced Thomas at Chattanooga and then later at Alabama.

3) The Crimson Tide have held opponents scoreless in the first half 11 times in their last 15 games.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban often talks about respecting the opponent, even if it comes from the Championship Subdivision, but he doesn't always offer specifics about the foe.

That was not the case Monday, as Saban praised the 8-3 UTC Mocs, coach Russ Huesman and Huesman's son during his weekly news conference in Tuscaloosa.

"I think Russ does a really good job of finding ways to get the most out of his players in terms of what they can do," Saban said. "His son, Jacob, is a really good quarterback whether he's running it or throwing it. They have a lot of quarterback runs and do a lot of multiples of things.

"They are very good defensively in terms of what they've been able to accomplish statistically this year."

The younger Huesman is averaging 230.1 yards a game, having thrown for 1,637 yards and rushed for 894. He has accounted for 25 total touchdowns but will face an Alabama defense that is No. 1 in the FBS in scoring (allowing 10.2 points per game), No. 3 against the run (yielding 91.1 yards a game) and No. 5 overall (272.8).

Alabama is hosting UTC a week before traveling to Auburn, which will decide the SEC West champion.

"We know we have to focus on this game," Tide safety Landon Collins told reporters Monday. "We had a bad game last week."

Saban wants to greet the Mocs with a packed house at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and he wants fans to be there well before kickoff. Saturday afternoon's game will be preceded by senior day festivities, with the likes of quarterback AJ McCarron, receivers Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood, guard Anthony Steen, defensive end Ed Stinson, linebackers C.J. Mosley and Tana Patrick and cornerback Deion Belue being recognized before their final home game.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for all the players in our program and the things that they do on a daily basis," Saban said. "We tell guys in recruiting that to be successful in college, it's not always going to be fun or really easy. There is some difficulty to it, and it's lot of hard work to be a good football player.

"These guys have dedicated themselves to being good people and have a great academic record in terms of the graduation rate of this group."

Alabama's seniors are trying to make history this season by leading the program to a third consecutive BCS championship. The top-ranked Tide have won eight of their 10 games this season by at least 25 points, but one of the exceptions occurred this past weekend when they struggled to a 20-7 win at Mississippi State.

Four turnovers hindered the Tide from producing another rout.

"I'd rather not have close games," Saban said, "but since we had one, the benefit is that we had some tough circumstances and situations, especially on defense, and came through a couple of times. They were circumstances we created ourselves by having a couple of turnovers, but in close games you learn how to finish.

"At some point in time here in the near future, we're going to have some close games."

Tide tidbits

Sophomore tailback T.J. Yeldon suffered a sprained ankle at Mississippi State and was seen after the game in a protective boot, but Saban said he would be fine for this Saturday. Junior tight end Brian Volger, who scored his first career touchdown in Starkville, is day-to-day with an ankle sprain. ... Alabama's game next week at Auburn will be televised by CBS with a 3:30 p.m. EST kickoff.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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