TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- In the days leading up to the 2012 college football season, Michigan coach Brady Hoke branded Alabama's offensive line as the best he had seen.
The greatest line ever allowed six sacks Saturday to Western Kentucky.
"I think we had a rough day, and I think that we learned that any time we don't bring our best we're average," Crimson Tide senior center Barrett Jones said after his team's 35-0 win. "They had a lot of looks and they packed the box, which was expected. At the beginning, we were hitting some big throws because of it, and I think we would have continued doing that had the protection been what it should have been.
"It's hard to run the ball when you're outmanned by two people. We had a good game plan for it, but we just didn't execute it."
Alabama allowed only 17 sacks in 13 games last season, but Tide quarterback AJ McCarron was on his back twice on the second series against the Hilltoppers. WKU's six sacks totaled 38 yards, which helped result in Alabama's pedestrian rushing total of 103 yards on 31 attempts.
"The things they did are things they've done in the past," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "At least three of the sacks were just somebody getting beat on the edge. A couple other times we probably held the ball, and the last one we held the ball because nobody was really open.
"We just have to do a better job all the way around."
Missing in action
Two of Alabama's prominent defenders -- senior noseguard Jesse Williams and junior cornerback Dee Milliner -- were held out of Saturday's game.
Saban said Milliner strained a hip flexor during Wednesday's practice and didn't feel 100 percent in pregame warmups. Stepping in was fellow junior John Fulton.
Williams woke up Saturday with a headache, and Saban said he could have played but the coach was told by doctors not to use him if he didn't have to. Sophomore Brandon Ivory got the promotion and recovered a fumble, while Darren Lake entered in relief to become the ninth Tide true freshman to play this season.
Crimson Tide tidbits
After rushing for 111 yards in his Crimson Tide debut, freshman tailback T.J. Yeldon had six carries for 25 yards and four receptions for 47 yards Saturday. ... Alabama improved to 98-16-3 all-time in home openers, but four of those wins have been vacated due to NCAA sanctions. ... Third-string tailback Jalston Fowler suffered a knee injury with 5:41 remaining and will undergo an MRI today. ... Alabama's game this Saturday at Arkansas will be televised by CBS at 3:30 p.m. EDT, and the Crimson Tide's Sept. 22 matchup against visiting Florida Atlantic will be televised on a pay-per-view basis with a 5 p.m. start.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...