Alabama notebook: Kouandjio suffers twisted ankle
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Nov 23, 2013 | 1755 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama's Christion Jones (22) runs down the sidelines on his way to a 75 yard punt return for a touchdown. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Alabama's Christion Jones (22) runs down the sidelines on his way to a 75 yard punt return for a touchdown. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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TUSCALOOSA -- Alabama coach Nick Saban said starting left guard Arie Kouandjio “twisted his ankle” in the second quarter Saturday.

Kouandjio didn’t return to the game, but Saban said Kouandjio could have gone back in, if needed.

“I don’t think it’s that serious,” Saban said. “Hopefully, he’ll be able to practice enough this week to be able to play the game. He’s a pretty tough guy. It’s an ankle sprain. Sometimes these things react a little bit differently.”

Saban also said running back T.J. Yeldon (ankle), tight end Brian Vogler (ankle) and cornerback Deion Belue (toe) could have played, but sat out as a precaution to have them healthy for the Iron Bowl.

Cornerback rotation

Alabama decided to rest starting cornerback Deion Belue, who has battled nagging injuries all season. The Tide has given Belue a light practice load all season. He also missed the Colorado State game Sept. 21.

True freshman Maurice Smith got the start opposite Cyrus Jones, who has started the past four games. Smith also played some at star, which is Alabama’s fifth defensive back in nickel and dime packages.

“Maurice did a good job out there, especially when he played corner,” Saban said.

During the second quarter, Smith was replaced by Bradley Sylve, who has been out with an injury. It was Sylve’s first action since the Arkansas game Oct. 19.

Jones' touchdown

Junior wide receiver Christion Jones recorded his second punt return for a touchdown of the season, going 75 yards for the score. It was also the first punt return for a touchdown given up by Chattanooga since its matchup with Alabama in 2009 when Javier Arenas scored on the 66-yard return.

“It was a good return,” Jones said. “Our guys did a great job this week of blocking our scheme blocks. That was the one that was called for the day and we did a great job of blocking. I saw a few holes and took it down field for the touchdown.”

It was the 35th non-offensive touchdown of the Nick Saban era. Since Saban took over in 2007, the Tide has racked up 15 interception returns, nine punt returns, five kickoff returns, three fumble returns and three blocked punt returns for a touchdown.

McCarron to Norwood

Senior day wouldn’t have been complete without a AJ McCarron to Kevin Norwood touchdown. McCarron found Norwood for the 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Norwood has not scored in each of the last four games. Norwood has 11 career touchdowns, six of them coming this season.

“AJ and I have had a connection since we came in,” Norwood said. “To get the last touchdown on this field was exciting.”

Staffer out

Corey Harris, the Alabama staffer who provided safety HaHa Clinton-Dix with an improper loan during the summer, is no longer employed by the university, an Alabama spokesman confirmed.

The Tuscaloosa News first reported that Harris was fired.

Harris was an assistant strength coach who provided Clinton-Dix with a loan of less than $500 during the summer. The loan was against NCAA rules. An internal investigation by Alabama’s compliance office showed that Harris had a connection to a representative of a sports agent and placed him on administrative leave near the end of September.

Clinton-Dix repaid the loan before it was discovered, but was suspended for two games.

Up next

Another week, another monster matchup for Alabama. The Crimson Tide will travel to Auburn for a top-10 showdown in the Iron Bowl, with the winner advancing to play for the SEC title.

This will be the first winner-take-all Iron Bowl since the SEC Championship Game was created in 1992. A win for Alabama would give the Tide its first undefeated regular season since 2009. A win for Auburn would give the Tigers its first trip to the conference championship game since 2010. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
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