Tiffin says it's all about the leg _ not the tape

Oct 29, 2009 - 1:37 PM By JOHN ZENOR AP Sports Writer

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Talk about pressure. Leigh Tiffin had to come through in a big rivalry game when the offense wasn't producing touchdowns.

No. 2 Alabama's kicker had to show it was about the leg, not the tape.

Tiffin came through in the aftermath of "Tapegate," kicking four field goals in a 12-10 win over Tennessee when one miss would likely have cost the Crimson Tide its shot at a perfect season.

"It couldn't have come at a better time, could it?" Tiffin said, grinning.

Tiffin and Alabama holder P.J. Fitzgerald were unwittingly thrust into the limelight when Steve Spurrier reported to the Southeastern Conference and made public comments about their use of white tape to spot kicks against South Carolina.

That's a 5-yard penalty when officials catch it. Spurrier's report prompted the league to remind teams of the rule against spotting kicks.

"I told P.J., 'Man, I hope we do well this week. If we miss one, they're going to blame it on the tape,"' Tiffin said.

"I wasn't worried about it. I didn't think it would affect anything, and it didn't."

Tiffin's four field goals included a 50- and a 49-yarder and were enough to beat the Volunteers. The senior hadn't received much attention pre-Tapegate, lost on a star-packed team that is 8-0 and squarely in the national championship hunt.

But Tiffin is having the best season of his career, leading the SEC in scoring and ranking fifth nationally with 84 points. Only UCLA's Kai Forbath is making more field goals per game than Tiffin, who has made 20 of 23 attempts.

Tiffin has also climbed Alabama's career scoring chart among kickers, passing his father, Van, and moving into second all-time. Chances are, he'll break Philip Doyle's 19-year-old record against No. 9 LSU on Nov. 7 after Alabama's open date. He needs only three points to break the record of 339.

"Whenever we've needed him to go out there, he's knocked one through," Tide tailback Mark Ingram said. "He's doing a great job. I think the whole team's confident when he goes out there it's going to be three points. If he ever does miss it, I think everybody's going to be probably more shocked than anything."

Shocked pretty much sums up Fitzgerald's reaction when their use of tape got so much attention. He said he and Tiffin started using something to spot the ball at some point last season after seeing a kicker do it in a game either on film or TV.

"My jaw just dropped, like 'Really? Wow,"' Fitzgerald said. "At least we know he's paying attention to detail on the film."

Most of the time, he said, "We just picked up a blade of grass and dropped it. But no more of that. There's no tape necessary."

The kickers were given a pre-game reminder that spotting kicks was a no-no. Lining up for their first attempt, an official made a point of looking down at the ground in front of Fitzgerald while walking to his position.

"We weren't going to try to pull one on him," Tiffin said.

Coach Nick Saban said Tide players would stop spotting the ball since it violates the NCAA rule that "no material or device" can be used that affects the field and gives an advantage to a player or team. But he also said Alabama coaches found that more than half of SEC teams had used something on the ground for kicks.

"I think it's pretty common," Tiffin said. "Probably not in the SEC anymore."

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