Countdown to Kickoff: Alabama vs. Duke (Video)
||ALABAMA at DUKE
3:30 p.m. ET
Wallace-Wade Stadium (33,941)
|LIVE TV: ABC
[Beth Mowins, play-by-play; Ray Bentley, analyst; Jenn Brown, sidelines]
Nick Saban is in his fourth season at Alabama with a record of 35-8 (.814) and 17th overall with a record of 141-67-1 (.677). The Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator is Jim McElwain and the defensive coordinator is Kirby Smart.
David Cutcliffe is in his third season at Duke with a record of 10-16 (.385) and 10th overall with a record of 54-45 (.545). The Blue Devils’ offensive coordinators are Kurt Roper and Matt Luke and the defensive coordinators are Marion Hobby and Jim Knowles.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN ALABAMA HAS THE BALL
Greg McElroy has completed 72.5 percent of his passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He is fifth nationally in passing efficiency at 191.12. McElroy has attempted 138 passes since his last interception. Trent Richardson has rushed for 210 yards and three touchdowns on just 32 carries for a 6.6 yards per carry average in Mark Ingram’s absence.
The Duke defense has forced two turnovers in both games this season with all four turnovers coming via interception. Matt Daniels is off to a strong start in 2010, leading the team in tackles (15), tackles for loss (2.0), interceptions (1) and pass breakups (3). He ranks tied for seventh in the ACC with 7.5 tackles per game and is tied for the ACC lead with four total passes defended. Ross Cockrell reached double digits in tackles at Wake Forest, leading the team with 10 stops, including seven solo tackles. He is tied for second on the team with 14 tackles.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN DUKE HAS THE BALL
The Crimson Tide has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in an astonishing 36 games, dating back to Oct. 13, and 2007.The defense has come up with five turnovers and just two giveaways in the first two games. Dont’a Hightower has 88 career tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and nine quarterback hurries. Hightower has eight tackles — three solo — a pass breakup and one quarterback hurry in 2010. Mark Barron is third on the team in tackles with nine while recording one interception, one forced fumble and one pass breakup.
After scoring 40 or more points in each of the first two games this season, Duke ranks third in the ACC with an average of 44.5 points per game. The scoring offense ranks 15th nationally. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Renfree has passed for 350 or more yards in both games this season. Renfree’s six touchdown throws on the season lead the ACC and rank tied for seventh nationally. Desmond Scott is the ACC’s leading rusher after two weeks with 99.5 yards per game. Last season, the Blue Devils ranked 120th in the NCAA in rushing as a team with 63.5 yards per game. Conner Vernon hauled in eight passes for a career-high 181 yards and two touchdowns last week at Wake.
The all-important special teams units from last season must be completely overhauled with the loss of record-setting placekicker Leigh Tiffin, four-year starting punter P.J. Fitzgerald and long snapper Brian Selman. Jones and a returning cast must replace All-America return specialist Javier Arenas, who was a mainstay returning kicks and punts during his career. Julio Jones averaged 15 yards per punt return last season and has a 12.3 yards per return average in his career.
Redshirt junior kicker Will Snyderwine ranks in the top 10 for career made field goals at Duke. He has made two field goals in each of the first two games to give him 21 in his career and move him into a tie for eighth on the school’s career list with Vince Fusco. Senior Nick Maggio is four made field goals shy of the top 10 with 15 career made field goals. True freshman running back Juwan Thompson leads the ACC with a kickoff return average of 25.7 yards per return.
Record: UA, 2-1
Alabama has won the last two meetings against Duke in a series that dates back to the 1945 Sugar Bowl... The Crimson Tide own a 2-1 lead in the series after capturing a 30-14 win in Tuscaloosa in 2006 and a 35-12 victory in Birmingham in 1972... Duke’s win in the series came at the conclusion of the 1944 season with a 29-26 victory in the 1945 Sugar Bowl at New Orleans... This is the Crimson Tide’s fi rst visit to Wallace Wade Stadium, which is named after the former Crimson Tide coach that led Alabama for eight seasons from 1923- 30 before leading Alabama to its first three national championships in 1925, 1926 and 1930, before departing for Duke, where he coached the Blue Devils for 16 seasons from 1931-50.