Grading the Kentucky game

While there may be better players and a few better running backs, there is not a single player in football who means as much to his team as Shaud Williams.

If Shaud Williams doesn't get into the NFL, I hope there will be a graduate assistant spot for this man. He represents the spirit of Alabama football and would have a lot to offer our program in the future.

A stat that gets overlooked sometimes is the number of plays each team runs. Bama is averaging 77 plays while the opponent is getting 55. The Tide can win a lot of games by keeping the ball around 80 snaps per game.

Brodie Croyle gets an ‘A+' for his on-the-field leadership. (Barry Fikes photo)

Kentucky is not a very good football team, but they are a dangerous football team. I don't believe they will win very many games, but they will make a lot of good teams sweat. They cannot run the football, and if a team can keep Jared Lorenzen off balance, Kentucky's passing game is weak.

Additionally, Kentucky's defense is not very creative. Their defensive line didn't appear to be very strong or aggressive. The Wildcat linebackers are fair at best. The defensive backs do a good job of taking away the deep routes by keeping the receivers from finishing the routes. But they are pretty loose on the short stuff.

Grading the game:

Quarterback: B-

Brodie does some things that look like a seasoned vet at times. But he still makes some of the same sophomore mistakes. He seems to lock on one receiver and will not go through his progression. The interception at the end of the half was the result of a bad decision and inexperience. But, I still believe he will continue to mature as a QB and will be a great one in the near future.

He gets an A+ as a leader on the field.

Running Backs: A+

These guys consistently run hard and aggressive. They block extremely well. Every tailback and fullback is a threat both on the pass and the run. They are learning how to read and use their blocking better each week.

Offensive Line: B-

The linemen did a much better job staying with their blocks. They do a good job blocking laterally. We still seem to struggle blocking vertically and our pass protection lapses at times.

This season right guard Dennis Alexander has been much more than just a cheerleader.

I still believe we are struggling in getting to the linebackers. The misdirection is doing a good job of freezing the linebackers and getting them leaning the wrong way, but that isn't going to work every week.

Special Teams: B-

The Tide special teams look immeasurably better than the last several seasons. But we still have room for improvement. Alabama kept Derek Abney from scoring, but still allowed him to get Kentucky out of some deep holes a few times.

A noticeable improvement, no players were running onto the field at the last second.

Bama's return blocking was very good the first two games. I don't believe it was quite as good this week.

Defensive Line: B+

Alabama's D-Linemen still get caught a little deep in penetration sometimes, giving up the Utah and screen passes, but these guys do a very good job keeping the offensive line blockers off of Bama's linebackers.

As the season progresses, Alabama is going to have to find or create more depth here. Hopefully, this will be the week some of the young guys step up and get the much needed playing time.

Linebackers: A+ stopping the run, B+ on pass coverage

I really like watching these guys work. They are true headhunters. They all cover the field very well and do an outstanding job filling gaps.

While they struggle at preventing the catch from being made, they almost always make the receiver or back get up slowly. The backside linebackers are always very patient and do not blow their assignments. That is evidence of very good discipline and coaching.

Defensive Backs: C+ before the catch, A after the catch

Strongside linebacker Derrick Pope (left, #6) talks to Demeco Ryans (#35) and Mark Anderson (#47) on the sidelines.

Alabama's secondary does a great job punishing receivers after the catch and is outstanding in run support. But the Tide DBs still are not preventing the catch and get caught with their backs turned a lot.

It's true that Alabama's players only give up a couple of big plays per game, but in a close game even one can be costly. Plus, I don't believe the secondary has gotten a turnover other than the one against USF.

Considering the extremely limited time this team and staff has been together, every position should probably get an 'A.' When you really think about it, it's pretty amazing that Alabama has won two games and had a chance to beat the number 1 team in the NCAA. That is credited to very competent leadership at the top, very dedicated position coaches and coordinators, and probably most of all, the tremendous heart and courage of the Tide's players.

There should be a special place in the Bryant Museum for the 2003 squad.

EDITOR'S NOTE: David Bittinger is a veteran high school coach, now teaching in North Alabama. Each week during football season he'll watch the games with some of his coaching friends, and afterwards pass along some of their thoughts/comments about what they saw.

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