- Cullman, Alabama

November 24, 2012

ALABAMA NOTEBOOK: Seniors take over as winningest class in program history

By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times

TUSCALOOSA — With 14 national championships resting safely in Tuscaloosa, it's safe to say winning is nothing new for the Alabama football program.

What is new for the Tide following their 49-0 melee over Auburn on Saturday is the school's winningest senior class.

The dominant class has compiled an eye-popping 47-5 record in the last four seasons, adding two BCS titles in the process. A third is more than a mere possibility if Alabama can take care of Georgia in next week's SEC championship and close the deal in Miami on Jan. 7.

“Honestly, I didn't think I would play for two national championships in the time that I've been here,” senior linebacker Nico Johnson said. “I've been blessed.”

Before the Tide could even think of heading to Atlanta, they had to dispatch their heated in-state rival. That didn't turn out to be much of a problem. It wasn't exactly boring for Johnson, either, who came up with a forced fumble in his last performance in front of the home-town crowd.

“It's real exciting. I just hate the fact it's my last game at Bryant-Denny,” the linebacker said. “We came out, we weren't worried about the scoreboard or the outcome or mistakes. We just wanted to come out and have fun. As seniors, we wanted to soak in what we had going on today, and that's what we did.”

% Injury report: On a day filled with plenty of positives for Alabama, it took quite a hit early in the second quarter when Kenny Bell left with an injury.

The wide receiver was eventually assisted off the field and taken straight to the locker room. Bell was not able to put any pressure on his left leg as he exited.

After the game, Saban disclosed the junior broke his tibia and will have to have a rod inserted. The coach was told by a doctor Bell will be out five to six weeks before he can start running again.

The only other injury Saban had to report was a twisted ankle suffered by Brandon Ivory. The defensive lineman is not expected to miss any playing time.

% Third-down triumphs: The Tide did a little bit of everything right against Auburn but may not have excelled more in any area other than its ability to convert on third downs.

Alabama started the game with seven straight conversions and finished with an impressive mark in the category.

“It worked out well for us that we were able to go 11 of 14 on third downs,” Saban said. “That was probably a really key thing for us to extend a lot of our drives.”

The Tiger offense, on the other hand, was a dismal 4 of 12 on third-down attempts. However, the unit did complete two in a row at one point in the first half.

Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at