Darby grateful for more 'touches'

With Ray Hudson suspended for Saturday's game, Kenneth Darby assumed the back-up role as Bama's change-of-pace running back. For most of the night the Tide rushing game was stymied, but Darby managed to contribute some bright spots.

"I'm all right with (my performance)," he said afterwards. "But it's nothing that I can rejoice over. I've got to be ready for next week."

For most of the season Alabama's coaches have been careful not to overload starting tailback Shaud Williams. Saturday Kenneth Darby actually got almost half of the carries, totaling 41 yards on 10 runs. Williams gained 39 yards on 11 carries.

"It was real nice to get some touches Saturday," Darby said. "When I do get in there I try my hardest to make the best of every carry I get. I try to make them count. When (the coaches) do put me in and give me the ball, I try my best to make positive yards."

Kenneth Darby (#34, right) talks with Bama's other two tailbacks, Ray Hudson (#27, left) and Shaud Williams (#21, middle), at practice.

Taking into account plays that the Tide actually lost yardage, Alabama finished with a meager 65 yards on the ground Saturday. Darby contributed more than half of the total.

"LSU had a great defense, even better than last year," Darby said. "They were really focused on stopping the run. They didn't move around. Their linebackers just stayed and read run the whole time."

The Bengal Tigers entered the game with one of the most highly touted stop units in the country. Swarming the ball constantly, the LSU defense more than lived up to its billing. Darby and the rest of Bama's running backs were met at the line of scrimmage on almost every play.

But scratching and clawing for yardage, Darby finished with a 4.1 yards per carry average. Can he take pride at least in his effort?

"I feel good, because I was able to get some yards with a hurt shoulder," Darby replied. "But I don't want that to be an excuse. It felt good to gain some yards, but it hurts coming out with the loss. You can't feel good about a loss."

Still struggling with an injured right shoulder that has limited his production for several weeks, Darby knew that with Hudson's suspension he had to step up.

"Saturday I played well, but my shoulder was aching the whole night," he acknowledged. "It's not 100 percent. But I try not to think about that too much. I know I'm not completely healthy, but I'm going to do the best I can. Go as hard as I can for my teammates. I'll pull through the pain to help them out."

Against a swarming LSU defense, Darby had to battle for every precious yard. (AP photo)

A compact, powerful athlete, Darby combines speed and strength. But his recent health problems have been hard to deal with.

He explained, "I hadn't ever been hurt until I got to college. It was a shock. It's a learning experience for me, to see how good I come through adversity.

"Since I've gotten to college, it seems like it's been something new every week."

With his shoulder already injured, each additional blow absorbed brings excruciating pain. But Darby says he doesn't feel anything during the play.

"It's God," he said, explaining how he blocks out the pain. "I put on my wristband ‘God is the greatest,' and touch it before every carry. When I do that I don't feel any pain at all until afterwards when the play is over."


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