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October 23, 2012TUSCALOOSA | Tennessee wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter combined for just five receptions for 95 yards against the University of Alabama Saturday. And on a night where the Crimson Tide pass rush generated no sacks and only two quarterback hurries, much of the credit for containing the Volunteers' dynamic pair of receivers goes to cornerbacks Dee Milliner and Deion Belue.
Both were named by the UA coaching staff as defensive players of the week, along with safety Vinnie Sunseri.
"His ability to be physical -- you can't get by him, you
can't shake him," UA receiver Kevin Norwood said of Milliner. "He's very quick and explosive. He has an eye for the ball, too. When the ball is in the air it's usually his or no one else's."
Milliner leads the nation in pass defenses (breakups plus interceptions) with 15. He has 13 breakups and a pair of interceptions. On Saturday, Milliner and Belue both got man-to-man action against the Vols pair, with Milliner opening the game on Hunter and later working against Patterson. Saban said that while Tennessee made four explosive plays in the passing game, the UA secondary did a good job of staying sharp mentally and recovering after each of them.
"You know, you always want to have amnesia, and once a play happens, whether it's good or bad, just forget and just be ready to play the next play," said Sunseri. "... They made plays, but we just wanted to bounce back and be able to make the next play."
Patterson caught just one pass for 25 yards, while Hunter caught four for 70.
With a school freshman record 162 receiving yards against Tennessee, Alabama's Amari Cooper was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week on Monday.
"He's been making big plays for us and that's what we need down the field," receiver Kevin Norwood said of Cooper. "He comes out to practice every week and practices hard. AJ has a lot of confidence in him and that's one thing he wants to keep."
Cooper leads the Crimson Tide in receptions (28), receiving yards (425) and touchdown catches (five).
Mosley up for Butkus
Candidates for the Butkus Award, given each year to the nation's top linebacker, were narrowed to 12 Monday with Alabama's C.J. Mosley making the cut. Two other SEC players, LSU's Kevin Minter and Georgia's Jarvis Jones, also made the cut.
Former UA linebacker Rolando McClain won the award in 2009.
"He says 'Yeah, going down there will be like taking candy from a baby.' So, he just about got killed. They tried to kill him down there for 60 minutes in the game." - Saban on Plexico Burress, who inspired Saban's rule prohibiting freshmen from speaking to media with a comment about facing Michigan when he played for Saban as a freshman at Michigan State.
Saban said the Crimson Tide has no new injuries of significance, and that a few players who are "banged up" shouldn't be limited after Monday's practice. ... Quarterback AJ McCarron was named to the Davey O'Brien Award semifinalist list, a group of 16 quarterbacks vying for the college game's oldest individual honor, given to the country's top quarterback each year. Two other SEC passers, Georgia's Aaron Murray and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, also made the cut. ... The UA coaching staff named nine players of the week from a 44-13 win over Tennessee: Cooper, Michael Williams and McCarron were named on offense, defensive backs Vinnie Sunseri, Deion Belue and Dee Milliner on defense, and Nico Johnson, T.J. Yeldon and Cyrus Jones on special teams. ... Saban on the status of defensive lineman LaMichael Fanning, who did not travel with the Tide to Knoxville after drawing a controversial personal foul at Missouri: "If he's healthy, he'll be available to play (against MSU)."
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.