Kareem Jackson is not on the Alabama kickoff team. For that, he is thankful.
Now that the special teams unit has allowed touchdowns in each of the first two games, the defensive back flashed a knowing smile when asked how happy he was not one of those 11 players.
“They are going to get an ear full today,” he said with a smile.
Throughout his long coaching career, Nick Saban said he can’t remember having a team allow touchdowns on kickoffs in consecutive games. The breakdowns in coverage, he said, are mental.
Players are leaving their lanes and losing the discipline necessary to cover a kickoff, Saban said.
“We have one guy in particular who is a demon running down the field, and I’m certainly not going to name any names because I don’t want to be critical of a player,” Saban said. “But I think sometimes his over-aggressiveness puts him in the wrong position relative to the rest of the players, so that’s something that we need to continue to work on with him.”
Safeties were also out of position, which the coach said is the difference between a 40-50 yard return and a touchdown.
After T.Y. Hilton’s 96-yard return of Alabama’s second kickoff, Leigh Tiffin used pooch kicks to keep the ball out of the playmakers hands. That strategy can be “feast of famine” Saban said because good field position typically goes to the opposition regardless.
The SEC recognized Trent Richardson’s first big outing by naming the Alabama running back its freshman of the week.
Filling in for the injured Roy Upchurch and Mark Ingram who was still recovering from the flu, Richardson ran 15 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns. He was also one of nine Alabama players to catch a Greg McElroy pass as he hauled in a pair of screen passes that went for 23 yards.
Florida’s Tim Tebow was the offensive player of the week and LSU’s Rahim Alem took the defensive honors. Tide linebacker Dont’a Hightower was listed under the “other outstanding performances” list with six tackles, 2 ½ for loss and a sack.
Alabama’s Mark Ingram was the offensive player of week for his career-high 150 rushing yards he gained against Virginia Tech.
The Roy Upchurch ankle sprain meant more playing time than expected for Ingram who was still recovering from the flu, Saban said Monday. Ingram ran for 57 yards and caught four passes for 47 more.
The game time for Alabama’s Sept. 26 home date with Arkansas was set for 2:30 p.m. in a Monday announcement.
A national CBS television audience will see the Tide’s Southeastern Conference opener. It will be Alabama’s second time playing on one of the networks after opening the season against Virginia Tech on ABC.
Saturday’s game with North Texas will air live on the SEC Network.
Through two weeks, SEC schools have compiled a 13-2 record against non-conference opponents. That .887 winning percentage puts the league on pace for one of its best showings in more than a decade when playing outsiders.
The next-best winning percentage came in 1997 when SEC teams won 88.9 percent of its games (32-4) again non-conference foes.
The two teams to drop games the non-SEC teams in the first two weeks of the season were Georgia (to Oklahoma State) and Tennessee (to UCLA).