All eyes were on the players as Alabama hosted Kentucky for Homecoming Saturday. Well, of course, the eyes were on the players. That’s why Bryant-Denny Stadium sells out. But Saturday evening was a case of “Who’s In and Who’s Not.”
Partly because of injuries and in at least one case because of possible discipline, there were pregame questions about which Alabama players might see action.
Three offensive players who were injured bore watching. Sophomore Damien Harris (a native Kentuckian) injured an ankle last week and was heavily taped for this game. He didn’t start, but did see limited action, 2 carries for 11 yards and a pass reception for 6 yards. Junior wide receiver ArDarius Stewart spent his second consecutive week on the sidelines, not wearing pads. That was expected since he has not practiced in two weeks. But Rob Foster, another wide receiver who was injured last week, did make it back onto the field in a limited capacity against Kentucky, two catches for 42 yards.
On the defensive side, Tim Williams, Bama’s starting jack linebacker, did not see action until the second half, perhaps owing to his untimely – after midnight on Thursday morning – arrest and misdemeanor charge of having a concealed weapon without a permit.
After he got in, Williams was very effective with four unassisted tackles, a sack for a loss of nine yards, two other tackles behind the line, a forced fumble, and two quarterback pressures.
Although there has been no mention of inside linebacker Rashaan Evans having missed last week or the reason he missed, he was back Saturday. He, too, had a very good game, primarily his strip of the Kentucky quarterback with Ronnie Harrison picking up the fumble and returning it 55 yards for a touchdown. Evans had four primary stops and an assist, a sack, and a quarterback pressure.
Finally, defensive back Tony Brown had completed his NCAA mandated suspension and was back on the field for the opening kickoff as part of the Alabama special teams. Brown had some nice plays, but also had a muff, allowing a long JK Scott punt to squib by him and get into the end zone for a touchback instead of being downed inside the Kentucky 5.
Here are some notes from Alabama’s 34-6 win over Kentucky Saturday night.
Remember Gino Torreta and Lamar Thomas of the 1992 Miami Hurricanes? One can bet they remember Alabama’s George Teague, particularly for Teague’s strip of what looked like a Miami touchdown when the game was still close. Bama went on to a 34-13 win in the Sugar Bowl to win the national championship. Both Torreta and Thomas were in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday for Alabama’s game against Kentucky. Torreta was doing a national radio broadcast and Thomas is wide receivers coach for the Wildcats.
Alabama improved its all-time record against Kentucky to 36-2-1. Bama is 10-0 against the Wildcats in Tuscaloosa.
Under Nick Saban, Alabama has defeated 63 consecutive unranked teams.
The Tide is 82-13-1 in Homecoming games.
With the win over Kentucky, Alabama owns the longest winning streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision, having won 17 consecutive games dating back to last season (last loss: Sept. 19, 2015 vs. Ole Miss). The 17-game streak is the seventh-longest in school history (28 games twice: 1991-93 & 1978-80) and the second-longest under the direction of head coach Nick Saban (19 games 2009-10). During the current stretch the Crimson Tide has won eight games at Bryant-Denny Stadium, five straight road games, four consecutive neutral-site games and gone 10-0 against teams from the Southeastern Conference. During the streak, Alabama has outscored its opponents by 415 points (637-222; 37.5-13.1), an average of 24.4 points per game.
With Ronnie Harrison’s 55-yard run with a fumble (caused by Rashaan Evans), Alabama now has seven non-offensive touchdowns this year, most in the nation. It was the 53rd non-offensive TD in the Alabama Nick Saban Era, dating from the 2007 season.
Calvin Ridley’s 11 receptions and 174 yards against UK are new career bests for the sophomore receiver. Ridley reached his previous high of nine catches twice, most recently against Western Kentucky on Sept. 10. Ridley’s previous career high in yards was 140 vs. Arkansas last season. His two touchdowns equals his career best set against Michigan State in last season’s CFP semifinal at the Cotton Bowl.
Alabama is 98-6 under Saban when the Tide has a halftime lead. Bama was up by 17-3 at intermission Saturday. Bama has had the halftime lead in four of its five games this year and in 15 of its last 20 games.
Adam Griffith’s first quarter field goal extended Alabama’s first half scoring streak to 123 games, which is longest in the nation. (Alabama is 117-6 in such games.) Bama’s score also extended the program’s record scoring streak to 203 consecutive games.
Alabama limited Kentucky to 72 yards on 36 carries tonight. Through five games, the Tide is holding opponents to just 342 total rushing yards (68.4 ypg).
Honorary captains for Alabama were the captains of the 1966 Alabama team that went 11-0 fifty years ago. That 1966 team was recognized in pregame ceremonies.
Captains for the Tide were linebacker Reuben Foster, tight end O.J. Howard, and defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson.
Video by A.P. Steadham