Shutout streak ends

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It wasn't like it could last forever.

No matter how much the Alabama defensive starters wished it would, the scoreless streak couldn't carry on indefinitely. Twelve quarters proved long enough. A little more than 192 minutes passed before a team would score on the Crimson Tide.

What started with shutting Michigan out in the fourth quarter in Arlington, Texas, somehow made its way to the fourth quarter in Tuscaloosa, Ala., three weeks later, players standing on the bench yelling to cheer on their backups to make a stand against Florida Atlantic. The half-empty stands at Bryant-Denny Stadium cheered as loudly as the opening kickoff, hoping the streak would continue.

It had to end at some point. UA safety Vinnie Sunseri just didn't want it to end on this particular Saturday.

"We were excited," he said. "We were wanting them to get the stop. We were cheering them on like they were the first string and it was the beginning of the game."

Sunseri and a few of the starters even entered the huddle on the sideline after a timeout was called during FAU's final drive of the game. Up 40-0, their time on the field was done, but they figured the second- and third-string players could use a little guidance. For many of the rookies, it was the first time they took the field with the folks in the bleachers actually paying attention.

"We were just trying to help out with all their keys, on calls what they're looking for," Sunseri explained. "We were just trying to help them out. It's tough out there. You can't simulate a game situation."

In the end, the touchdown fell from Graham Wilbert's hand into Alex Deleon's arms, Sunseri and the starters stopped waving their towels, and the crowd exhaled. The game ended with a 40-7 final.

The new scoreless streak starts at 2:49 and counting.

"It's something we really take pride in," Sunseri said. "We wanted to keep it going. We're not mad at the twos, we were just trying to get them to do the right things."

Said linebacker Trey DePriest: "Seven points is impressive for anybody.

"It's just a number. We just want to go out there and dominate. That's our goal and we feel like we did."

Against FAU, the defense surrendered six first downs and 110 yards of offense. The Tide had three sacks and eight tackles that either went for no gain or a loss.

Through the last three games, Alabama has averaged 423 yards of offense, compared to a defense that surrendered an average of 157.

"The shutout really ain't that big a deal," DePriest said. "It would have been nice, but it is what it is. We try to hold the team to 13 points or less, and we met our goal these past few weeks. The only goal we didn't meet was the turnover goal."

That's the Alabama defense -- never quite the optimists they could be, coming from a unit ranked in the top 10 in pass defense, rush defense, total defense and scoring defense. Even the lack of turnovers DePriest lamented is misleading. Alabama is tied for fourth in the country with 12 turnovers gained this season.

"I don't think we've arrived," DePriest said. "We're getting there. We're trying to establish our identity as this year's defense, and I feel like every game we take a step toward that."

Said senior nose guard Jesse Williams: "We're doing good so far."

"We haven't played to our potential yet," he continued. "I think we still have a lot in the tank."