Alabama sizzles despite early miscues

Alabama sizzles despite early miscues

October 14th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Alabama Crimson Tide logo

Alabama's offense had a historic night during Saturday's 48-7 manhandling of Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium.

It wasn't all bad for the Crimson Tide's defense, either.

AJ McCarron threw for a career-high 359 yards, and tailbacks T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake rushed for 124 and 106 yards, respectively, for the top-ranked Tide. Not in 1,196 previous games had Alabama produced a 300-yard passer and two 100-yard rushers in the same outing.

"It's always big to have balance on offense, and that's our No. 1 thing," McCarron told reporters after the game. "We made plays in the running game and passing, but at the same time, we didn't make plays when we had chances, so we've got to do a better job of capitalizing."

Alabama racked up 668 yards and 35 first downs, matching the program record for first downs set in 2007 against Western Carolina. The first downs and yards came a lot quicker than the points, however, as the Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0 SEC) and Wildcats (1-5, 0-3) played a scoreless first quarter.

The Crimson Tide drove to Kentucky's 47-yard on their first possession, but a third-and-7 pass from McCarron over the middle was dropped by Kenny Bell. Alabama drove to Kentucky's 13 the second time it had the ball before losing possession on a Drake fumble, and the Tide's third possession ended when Yeldon fumbled at Kentucky's 5.

"We stopped ourselves the first three drives of the game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said in his media session afterward. "We need to improve on those things, because those are not the kind of starts you want to get. We were still dominating the game and dominating the line of scrimmage."

Said Yeldon: "Our whole offense was just on a good tempo tonight. Besides the turnovers and the dropped balls, I thought we did a good job."

Alabama had to settle on a 25-yard Cade Foster field goal less than two minutes into the second quarter to break the ice at 3-0, but two Drake touchdown runs and one by Yeldon put the Tide up 24-0 by halftime.

The Crimson Tide defense held the Wildcats to 170 yards and 13 first downs. Kentucky did not cross midfield until the third quarter, which was also when the Wildcats got on the scoreboard with a 30-yard pass from Maxwell Smith to Javess Blue.

It was the first touchdown scored on Alabama since the fourth quarter of the Texas A&M, so it halted a 14-quarter stretch.

"We shouldn't have done that," Tide safety Vinnie Sunseri told reporters. "There were a lot of mental errors and mishaps, and a lot of guys didn't do what they were supposed to do. We've got to correct our mistakes and make sure we don't ever do that again."

Alabama will call Tuscaloosa home again these next few weeks, as the Crimson Tide will host Arkansas this Saturday and Tennessee on Oct. 26. The Tide will then be off before hosting LSU on Nov. 9.

Tide tidbits

Alabama has pitched first-half shutouts in seven of its last 10 games dating back to last season. ... McCarron needs 619 yards to break John Parker Wilson's school mark of 7,924 career passing yards. ... The Tide improved to 36-2-1 lifetime against Kentucky. ... Saban praised the play of sophomore Landon Collins, who has played free safety the past two weeks.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.