TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban’s message early in the week was all about respecting Chattanooga regardless of its Football Bowl Subdivision membership.
He stuck to that Saturday while reminding his team what a loss to the Mocs would have meant.
“I told the players this, if we would have lost this game, there would be nothing that would tarnish what you’ve accomplished more than that,” Saban said. “You would someday be an NFL player with a Mercedes-Benz and you’d roll your window down to talk to a pretty girl, and she’d say, ‘You lost to Chattanooga when you played at Alabama.’ Nobody would ever forget that.”
Saban went on to say he had a lot of “respect and admiration” for Chattanooga in light of its rebound from a 1-11 record to a 6-5 season capped with Saturday’s loss at Alabama.
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A first in his last home game
Cory Reamer came to Alabama as a defensive back, but it took four years to record his first interception Saturday afternoon.
Now a starting outside linebacker, Reamer did not fall for the trick play Chattanooga tried late in the first quarter. He stepped in front of the wide receiver pass to end his streak without an interception.
“It was too long to not have one,” he said with a smile afterwards. “I enjoyed that first one. It’s a good way to end my last home game.”
Reamers’ was the first of three Alabama interceptions as Javier Arenas and Justin Woodall followed suit later in the game.
Empty seats; more on way
For the first time all season, large expanses of empty seats were spotted in Bryant-Denny Stadium on an Alabama game day. Most of the vacancies were in the student section as the FCS opponent apparently didn’t draw much interest on campus.
Still, the official attendance was listed at 92,012 the identical number provided for each of the six previous home games this season.
It will likely be the smallest crowd the stadium will see in some time since the south end zone expansion is on schedule for completion before the 2010 season. By the time San Jose State comes to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 4, Bryant-Denny Stadium will seat more than 101,000.
Tiffin toes up more records
Leigh Tiffin’s record-setting season reached two more milestones Saturday.
Alabama’s place-kicker tied school records for field goals in a season (25) and in his career (78). He now shares the career mark with Phillip Doyle (1987-90) whom he passed earlier this season for the kicking points school record.
Tiffin almost had a chance to break the all-time field goal mark in the fourth quarter, but backup kicker Jeremy Shelley was sent out to attempt a 41-yarder. The freshman came up well short of the crossbar on the field goal attempt, but connected on an extra point later in the quarter after Roy Upchurch’s 21-yard touchdown run.
If there is one thing Nick Saban hates most, it’s an absence of discipline.
Of the five flags thrown for Alabama offenses, four fall into the undisciplined category. There was a personal foul late hit (Baron Huber), roughing the passer (Marcell Darues), roughing the long snapper (Chris Rogers) and a substitution infraction.
“The penalties were a little disappointing,” Saban said. “There were some undisciplined penalties today that we need to do without that would affect field position. It certainly gave them some first downs in some critical situations after we already had them stopped.”
Of the five Chattanooga first downs, two came by Alabama penalties.
Walk-on blocks for score
Athens, Ala., product Rob Ezell was on the field for Alabama’s final scoring drive.
Ezell did not catch any passes but blocked well as the backup running backs took care of the offense.
A walk-on, Ezell was the Daily 4A-5A football player of the year in 2006 when he led Athens to a state title.
Cody plows hole for score
Every one sitting in the north end zone stood and cheered as Terrence Cody came in as a fullback on Alabama’s second possession.
If they were hoping to see the nose guard’s first rushing attempt, the Tide fans were disappointed. Cody led the way for Trent Richardson’s 2-yard touchdown run as he had several times this season.
27 seniors honored
The Tide recognized 27 seniors during pre-game festivities on Saturday.
It was a moment the seniors tried to relish.
“We finally got on the field and it was kind of surreal,” Johnson said. “I went back after the game and kind of looked around. I tried to soak it all in. It’s been a good ride. We’ll continue on from here.”
The senior starters certainly had plenty of time to take in the moment, since coach Nick Saban pulled his starters after one series in the second half.
“I stopped playing like second half, so my thoughts started in the second half,” defensive back Javier Arenas said. “That was the last time. I knew I was going to be back in the stadium for games but not playing, so it kind of hit me.”
Christa Turner contributed to this report