King, a rare bright spot on defense

Defensively, Saturday's serial demolition at the hands of LSU was about as bad as it can get. But one player did stand out. With two pass deflections, an interception and a fumble recovery, Kenny King had a good day. <br><br>But don't try to convince him of that. "A loss is a loss," he said following the game.

"I can't dwell on the things I did well. I've got to look at the things I did bad. During the game, I tried to do the things that I feel I can do well. I tried to get more of a pass rush. Sure, getting the two turnovers felt great, really good. But a loss is a loss, and I've got to deal with that."

A three-year starter on the Bama defensive line, King made no excuses for his unit's performance. "LSU had a good offense, a variety of plays. They came out and executed. There wasn't anything that happened in the game that surprised us. They just executed their plays. We just came up short."

Kenny King (#55) had two pass deflections, an interception and a fumble recovery versus the Bengal Tigers.

Following the game, Bama fans lit up the radio call-in shows, asking for more aggressive play calling on defense. But schemes aren't the answer. "We did a lot of things--a lot of blitzes," King explained. "But they were picking up the blitz. We were rushing three and bringing linebackers. Zone blitzing. They covered the field real well. I give LSU credit for that."

"Their quarterback (Rohan Davey) threw off of a lot of three-step drops," King continued. "And it's hard to get pressure on that. It's tough. You're in the middle of rushing the quarterback, and then you see the ball already in the air. They did a great job of executing their plays."

The LSU offensive plays were nothing particularly fancy, but athleticism and flawless execution led to a record-setting 528 yards through the air. "They had some great wide receivers that can make plays and get yards after the catch," King said. "They're able to get the ball to their receivers and their receivers made plays."

In assessing blame after the loss, most pointed to an undermanned Tide secondary. And indeed, in the locker room afterwards, several defensive backs took responsibility.

But King disagrees. "I give it to the D-Line. I feel that if we had put more pressure on the quarterback, then maybe things would have been different. I put it on myself."

King has started all season at nose tackle for Alabama, but Saturday he handled a different job. "I practiced at defensive end all last week," he related. "Ever since Kindal (Moorehead) was out. I moved to the ‘stud' position where Kindal played."

Kindal Moorehead (#54) and King (#55) work on moves in practice. In Moorehead's absence, King moved to defensive end versus LSU.

Moorehead strained his medial collateral ligament against Tennessee. And while it's team policy not to comment publicly on injuries, obviously fans hope he will return this week.

But in the Memphis native's absence, King filled in ably, being especially effective on the zone blitz. Toward the end of the second quarter with LSU driving for its third touchdown, King ended the threat by picking off a Rohan Davey pass attempt.

"I ended up making the interception from the ‘stud' position," King explained. "My responsibility was to just cover the flats. We ran a scheme where I dropped back in coverage, and I was there to make the play. It was a great job by Brooks Daniels to tip the ball."

At the time, LSU looked unstoppable. And the play provided a temporary respite from the Tiger attack. "Kenny certainly made a big play there at the end of the first half," acknowledged Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione. "That was a big play for us. It helped keep us alive. It gave us a chance to stay with them. We would have been behind the eight ball if he hadn't gotten that interception."

But King's one-man turnover fest wasn't finished. Initially, the Tide offense was unable to take advantage of his interception, going three-and-out and punting the ball back to LSU. But when the Bengal Tiger return man laid the ball on the ground, a late substitution to the punt coverage team raced down the field to recover the football.

King related what happened. "On the fumble recovery, ‘Chief' (Nautyn McKay-Loescher) had some muscle spasms. That was my first time going in on the punt team. The ball was on the ground, and I made a play."

A two-year starter for Alabama at defensive end, King moved inside to tackle this season at the coaching staff's request.

The Tide took advantage of that turnover, scoring a quick TD, which narrowed the halftime deficit to 14-10. LSU made it 21-10 on their first drive of the second half. But a field goal, a touchdown and a two-point conversion later, Alabama found itself in a tie ball game.

"When our offense went down and scored, making it 21-21 in the game, I felt the momentum changing," King said. "The crowd was getting back into it. We started executing our plays."

The Homecoming crowd was praying for an upset, but at that point LSU took control, scoring easily on two touchdown drives to pull away. King explained; "They went down and scored on us, and then they went down and scored it again. LSU scoring that quickly killed our momentum."

Though their effort was not enough, the Tide offense had a solid day. But many times their defensive counterparts seemed completely overmatched. "We got frustrated," King admitted. "We had to forget about one play and go on to the next play. It's a 60-minute game. When we messed up, we just had to go on to the next one."

King certainly never gave up. He's listed in the game program at 6-5, and 277 pounds, which is hardly the prototype for a pass defender. But on another play in the game the big lineman was at it again, batting down an attempted pass in the flats. "It was the same pass coverage that the interception was on," King related. "I followed the man out to the hash, and the quarterback was throwing it to me. I reached out and got it."

Another Saturday. Another game. Another tough conference loss.

But the Mississippi State Bulldogs come to town this Saturday, followed by games with Auburn and Southern Miss. So quitting is not an option. "It's frustrating," King admitted. "It was our homecoming, and we lost. We've just got to learn. You always learn from a loss. We've got to go in and watch more film. We've got to correct our mistakes this week."

BamaMag Top Stories