Moorehead looks for different result

For competitive athletes, losing is never acceptable. And giving up double-digit, fourth-quarter leads in two consecutive conference games is doubly hard to take. "It's real frustrating--especially on the defensive side of the ball," said junior defensive end Kindal Moorehead. "Starting off the season we didn't even give up a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but then we came back and in two games we give up two touchdowns to lose both games."

"It's real frustrating."

Defensive breakdowns? Offensive play-calling? Or just a wet field?

Moorehead has heard the explanations, but to him the solution is simple. "We've got to have players to step up and make that big play when needed. We have to play hard for four quarters. Once we get the lead everybody is talking about how it's supposed to be this or it's supposed to be that, but we need somebody to step up and make the big play when we need it at the end of the game."

As a sophomore, Moorehead was voted All-SEC by the Birmingham News. A torn Achilles tendon sidelined him in 2000, but he was a pre-season All-SEC selection this year.

Though Moorehead is only a junior in terms of eligibility, Saturday will be his fourth year in Crimson versus Tennessee. And he's ready for the streak to end. "I'm definitely tired of the past outcomes," Moorehead admitted. "They've won six in a row, and we'd like to win one. But there isn't anything we can do about past history now. We can just focus on this game Saturday. It's real important to get that win. We're coming off a hard loss last week, so this will be a good game for us to win."

Of course the Memphis native has an additional personal stake in the game's outcome. "Being from Tennessee can be tough with the fact that we've lost six in a row," Moorehead explained. "I've got one more teammate from high school still on (Tennessee's) team, Andre Lott. We played high school football together. He was a year ahead of me, and every time we go home we get together. Every time I go home, they talk about it. It'll be good for me to have a chance to brag.

"They say things like ‘We own Alabama,' and ‘Six in a row.' Each year they have the opportunity to (brag), but there's nothing I can say, because they have won."

Besides Moorehead, Alabama has seven other players on its roster from the state of Tennessee: Ahmaad Galloway (Millington), Jason McAddley (Oak Ridge), Dennis Alexander (Memphis), Santonio Beard (Nashville), Donnie Lowe (LaVergne), Victor Ellis (Chattanooga) and Nick Signaigo (Colliersville). "(My high school friends) wanted me to go to Tennessee," Moorehead said. "Because of Lott and the other guys being there, I guess they just automatically assumed I was going to go. But it wasn't for me."

But in spite of his personal battle for bragging rights back home, Moorehead is handling Saturday's game like any other. "We're not going out there for revenge," he said. "This is a new year. I can't worry about the past six. This game Saturday is a good game for us, we've just got to go out there and play hard. We take one game at a time. Every game is important. This is the next game, so it's most important.

Shown pursuing a running back versus Vanderbilt, Moorehead was named to the 2001 pre-season Lombardi Award Watch List as one of the top 81 linemen and linebackers in the country.

"We're going to go out there and play hard for four quarters. We know it's going to take four quarters of football to win that game."

The series record between Bama and UT is notoriously streaky, and unfortunately for Tide fans Tennessee now owns the edge. One upside of the teams' shared history is that everyone knows what to expect. Moorehead explained; "They're a physical football team. They are going to try and run right at you. They're a balanced team. They'll run and they'll pass. You know what they're going to do, but it's up to you to stop them. They'll line up physical and come off the ball. It's up to our defense to stop their offense. It's up to us to be able to play for four quarters."

Having lost a star athlete (Anthony Munoz) before the season even began, Tennessee has struggled to stay healthy in the offensive line. "That won't affect us," Moorehead said. "Tennessee always has good offensive linemen--physical guys. I'm pretty sure somebody else will just step right in. We have to worry about us and how we're going to play."

Touted as one of the top defensive lines in the nation back in July, the Bama unit has struck for 11 sacks in its first six games--solid numbers, but not what fans had hoped for. "I think we've played alright, but it could be a lot better," Moorehead agreed. "We're going into the real big part of our schedule. If we haven't played well before, then we have to pick it up in these games if we want to win. These are teams that will come at you physical, so we have to get ready for these next few games."

During his career, Moorehead (#54) has appeared in 29 games, totaling 96 tackles, including 62 solo stops. He has 30 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 14.5 sacks. Fellow defensive lineman Anthony Bryant (#97) stands at right.

"I don't think our pass rush has met our expectations," Moorehead continued. "There is a lot more that we can do. Some teams have kept us off balance. You think it's run and then it's a pass. Then they come out with quick throws, three-step (quarterback) drops. Then when you're looking for the three-step, they go to five. They kind of keep you off balance."

Generally acknowledged as one of Alabama's most gifted pass rushers, Moorhead has found a new role this year. Defensive Coordinator Carl Torbush will often utilize a zone blitz, in which a linebacker rushes the passer while a lineman drops back in coverage. And along with his three and a half quarterback sacks, Moorehead has an interception to his credit.

"I just go out there and play the call," he said. "I don't ask about my role, I just play the call. I don't think I've been used in pass coverage too much. At some time all four of us drop back in pass coverage. It may be me a little bit more, but I haven't really paid attention to that."

Even better than Alabama's fans, Moorehead understands the reality of his team's situation. Two conference losses have essentially removed all margin for error, and Alabama is facing the toughest part of its SEC schedule. Moorehead explained; "It's in our hands. Losing to Ole Miss was bad, but if we can go on and win the rest of our games we will be in the SEC championship. The players on the team know that. They know what we have to do.

"It's up to us to go out there and make the plays that need to be made."

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