The 15th-ranked Crimson Tide defeated Vanderbilt, 20-0, Thursday night, extending its winning streak to 13 in a row over the Commodores and their third coach of this decade, Woody Widenhofer. Alabama is 36-2 against Vanderbilt since 1960.
But Alabama, 2-0 and 1-0 in the Southeastern Conference, played poorly enough on offense that first-year Coach Mike DuBose was happy just to escape with the victory.
"We played well through some adverse conditions," DuBose said. "Vanderbilt played extremely well."
The Crimson Tide punted eight times and didn't drive more than 22 yards for points until the fourth quarter, when Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1) was finally worn down. Alabama had only 120 yards through three quarters and wound up with 238. Vandy had 124 yards total offense.
DuBose admitted he may have overcoached his players trying to prepare for Widenhofer--Vanderbilt's defensive coordinator the past two seasons and a coach on four Super Bowl-winning teams the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I really felt that early in the game that we were more concerned with what we thought Vanderbilt might do instead of just going out and doing the things that we do well," DuBose said.
Warren Foust blocked Joe Webb's punt in the first quarter and Steve Harris recovered at the 22. That set up Freddie Kitchens' 17-yard touchdown pass to Ed Scissum with 53 seconds left in the first quarter, all the points the Crimson Tide would need.
Vanderbilt stayed close with its defense, intercepting two passes.
But the Commodores were hurt repeatedly by penalties and dropped passes as Alabama got its first shutout in the series since a 41-0 victory at Tuscaloosa in 1980. Vanderbilt got across midfield four times but wound up going backward and punting.
Their worst penalty came with 12 men on the field as running back Jimmy Williams picked up their second first down on third-and-1. Instead, Vanderbilt wound up punting a play later, and Foust blocked it.
"We can't make those kind of mistakes," Widenhofer said of a team that hasn't had a winning season in 14 years. "I'm disappointed because I believe we have a much improved football team."