Tide defense shuts down Vanderbilt

Saturday, September 8, 2007 at 4:58pm

Stifling defense led Alabama to a 24-10 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

The Crimson Tide (2-0) held the Commodores (1-1) to 232 yards of total offense.

VU quarterback Chris Nickson completed only five of 18 passes before leaving the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. Commodores star wide receiver Earl Bennett caught only four passes for 52 yards.

Vanderbilt averaged 351.0 yards per game in 2006.

“I was really concerned about their offense, their quarterback and their ability to make explosive plays, because they made a ton on people last year,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I thought we did a really good job.”

Alabama targeted Nickson as the key to stopping Vanderbilt’s offense, which scored 41 points in the Sept. 1 season-opener against Richmond.

“We tried to hit him and get in his head,” Crimson Tide linebacker Darren Mustin said. “I tried to hit him when I had the chance, because if you get in somebody’s head early, it will mess them up the whole game.”

Freshman tailback Terry Grant rushed for 174 yards to lead the Alabama offense, while quarterback John Parker Wilson completed 14 of 28 passes for 150 yards.

“Alabama did a good job of just taking it to us in the first half, and we made too many first half errors to win this game,” Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. “We can’t help the other team, and we certainly did, and we worked right into their hand.”

VU backup quarterback Mackenzi Adams relieved Nickson in the third quarter and engineered the team’s only scoring drive, connecting with receiver George Smith for a 15-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

GAME NOTES: With four receptions, Bennett now ranks 13th all-time in the SEC with 178. The all-time league record is 208. ...Vanderbilt receiver Justin Wheeler and tight ends Justin Green and Jake Bradford caught their first career passes Saturday. Adams tossed his first career touchdown pass. ...VU linebacker Marcus Buggs was a defensive standout Saturday, posting eight tackles, a quarterback sack and two quarterback hurries. ...Vanderbilt starting offensive guard Merritt Kirchoffer missed the second half of Saturday's game with a leg injury and was replaced by Bradley Vierling. ...Alabama's defense has allowed one touchdown in two games this season. ...Vanderbilt has scored 10 points or less in 10 of its past 13 games against Alabama. The Commodores have not beaten the Crimson Tide in Nashville since 1969.

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