Alabama football notes: North Texas star Lance Dunbar finds tough time against Crimson Tide's defense

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerSeptember 18, 2011 

North Texas running back Lance Dunbar was touted as the Mean Green’s top offensive threat.

The owner of several school records had a hard time getting started against Alabama’s highly-ranked run defense.

By halftime, Dunbar had 10 carries but zero yards to show for it. He was stopped behind the line five times in the first two quarters. A preseason concussion stunted some of his progress after being named to the Doak Walker Award watch list.

He finished with 16 yards on 17 carries for an average of 0.9 per rush.

Dunbar ran for 105 total yards in losses to Florida International and Houston in the first two weeks of the season.

The second half started better for Dunbar with a 20-yard reception that gave North Texas its second first down of the night.

Field position

Alabama dominated the battle for territory in the first half.

North Texas never started a drive deeper than its 27 and took over at the 20 or deeper in four of the six first-half drives. It never crossed the 50 until the first drive of the second half reached the Tide 30 before missing a field goal.

Alabama never started deeper than its 22 and twice took over inside North Texas territory before halftime.

Richardson scores again

Trent Richardson ranked sixth nationally before the North Texas game, scoring 15 points per game.

He added to his total twice in the first three quarters Saturday.

A 4-yard first-quarter touchdown ran his season total to six before running 58 yards in the third quarter for No. 7.

Richardson scored three times against Kent State and twice at Penn State.

O-line shuffled

The Alabama offensive line didn’t change much at Penn State, but the experimentation returned against North Texas.

Coming out for its third possession, Barrett Jones shifted from left tackle to right tackle as freshman Cyrus Kouandjio took his spot. D.J. Fluker, the usual starting right tackle, went to the bench for the possession.

Jones now has played all five spots on the offensive line.

He played center the next possession after starter William Vlachos went down with an injury on Eddie Lacy’s 43-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.

No Carter

The debut of Alabama’s high-profile junior college transfer Duron Carter has yet to arrive through three games.

Proper academic clearance didn’t come before Saturday’s kickoff, so the son of NFL legend Cris Carter was not spotted in his No. 8 uniform.

Carter has been practicing since late August, when he enrolled at Alabama, but has not received the final clearance for competition. He practiced with the scout team this week.

A full house?

It was another sellout of 101,821 in Bryant-Denny Stadium, but there were far fewer in the seats after halftime.

The student section in the south end zone thinned considerably after the first 30 minutes -- a trend coach Nick Saban doesn’t applaud.

On his weekly radio show Thursday, Saban was critical of the thousands of fans who left the Sept. 3 season-opener against Kent State after halftime.

Jones stepping up

Tide freshman Christion Jones took the bold step of inheriting Mark Ingram’s No. 22 jersey number this season.

Jones had a career evening against North Texas in only his third game. With just one catch entering the game, Jones had two in the first quarter including a 30-yarder that set up the Tide’s first touchdown.

Couch in the booth

The NFL career for ex-Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch didn’t follow the script.

The No. 1 overall pick of the Cleveland Browns in 1999 still is working in football, however, and his broadcasting job with the Fox Sports Network brought him back to Bryant-Denny Stadium.

As a freshman in 1996, Couch watched from the sidelines when Kentucky visited Bryant-Denny Stadium for homecoming.

“It was a tough place to place to play,” he said. “And they beat us really bad.”

The 35-7 loss was avenged, however, a year later in Lexington. The goalposts came down at Commonwealth Stadium after the Wildcats won 40-34 in overtime. It was a game Couch called one of his fondest memories of college.

It was only the second Kentucky win over Alabama in the 38 meetings.

Hanks returns

Alabama senior receiver Darius Hanks returned from his two-game suspension without much fanfare.

He started, but didn’t factor much into the Tide offense.

A 14-yard reception on the second possession of the game was his biggest play of the night. He added a six-yard catch to finish with two receptions for 20 yards.

He was credited for throwing big blocks on the perimeter to spring a few of the long Alabama touchdown runs.

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