TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The awards keep piling up for Robert Lester.
Alabama’s sophomore safety added the Bronko Nagurski Award National Defensive Player of the Week to his haul Tuesday afternoon. He picked up the SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after his clutch performance Saturday at Arkansas.
His two interceptions came at critical moments in the No. 1 Tide’s 24-20 win at then-No. 10 Arkansas.
The two takeaways also put him on top of the SEC’s interception list. Lester now has four in his first season as a starter. Three Gators are tied for second with three: Ahmad Black, Jonathan Bostic and Jeremy Brown.
Fellow Crimson Tide safety Mark Barron was the overall interception leader for the SEC last season with seven. He cracked a smile when asked about Lester’s emergence as a ball hawk.
“I’m happy to see that he’s doing good,” Barron said. “I told him today though, that he can’t just take my prime, I’m not going to let it be that easy. I’m happy to see that he’s doing good and happy that he’s doing good so far.”
Rock star status
Looking back on it, Florida coach Urban Meyer could only say it was a learning experience.
The days and weeks leading up to their eventual fall from the conference and national pedestal in the SEC Championship Game created just too many distractions, he told reporters in Gainesville on Monday.
“We’d walk out to practice and it would take us a half-hour to get to practice and a half-hour back because of signings and things like that,” Meyer said. “We’d go on the road and it would be a Ringling Bros. three-ring circus. If it distracts a 46-year-old guy, I imagine it distracts 20-, 18-, 19-year-olds. I know it did. It was the rock star status that happens when you have some success.”
Of course, Alabama took advantage of the situation and left Florida’s shot at a dynasty in Atlanta with a 32-13 title game win.
A ratings bonanza
The game drew a school record crowd in person and one of the largest on television in some time.
The CBS broadcast of Saturday’s Alabama win at Arkansas drew the largest television audience for a regular season afternoon game in seven years, according to the Associated Press.
The Tide and Hogs drew a 5.2 rating and 12 share. It is the biggest TV audience since No. 9 Florida State at No. 11 Florida drew a 5.7/13 on Nov. 29, 2003.
The rating is the percentage of homes with televisions that tuned in, and the share represents the percentage of televisions in use.
Stallings to be honored
Former Tide coach Gene Stallings will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s game with Florida for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Stallings’ induction was announced in May and officially will be inducted Dec. 7 in New York City. He is the fourth former Alabama coach to be enshrined, along with Bear Bryant, Wallace Wade and Frank Thomas.