Darby Says Don't Worry

Something sure seemed wrong with Kenneth Darby, with most signs pointing to the hip pointer injury Darby suffered in last week's season opener against Hawaii. The Crimson Tide senior and hopeful for the career rushing title at Alabama finished with 65 yards on 21 carries Saturday, coming off just 25 yards last week.

"I'm stumbling a lot more now," Darby said, "but it's just something that's going to have to heal."

But in Alabama's 13-10 win over Vanderbilt, Darby came up big for Alabama in the fourth quarter. His longest run of the day was a 17-yard jaunt on third down and two in the drive that set up Leigh Tiffin's game-winning field goal.

His previous long in the game was five yards, and 35 of the 65 yards came in the fourth quarter. In the Crimson Tide's final series, when trying to milk time off the clock, Darby had runs of three, six, and 13 yards in the six play drive.

"That lets you know it's still there," Darby said. "It's coming out but it's coming out a little slowly. I felt like I was in a nice little groove and I started being myself running the ball, running where they weren't."

And praise will be heaped upon Darby after the films are graded for lesser recognized things like pass protection, and picking up blitzing linebackers, which he did exceptionally well Saturday. Time after time Darby was a key in making sure quarterback John Parker Wilson had plenty of time to pass.

"Even though I'm probably not doing too well in the running game my pass protection has gotten a lot better than what it was," he said. "Everything happens for a reason and I think I'm going to be a complete package after I get through this little thing."

It might not be only the hip pointer injury that slowed Darby. Defenses are keying on him, and there were certainly times when an Alabama offensive lineman was backed up way too much for Darby to do much with the ball.

"He looked like he was (100 per cent)," Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said. "Only KD knows. I know he was better today than he was in Sunday's practice and Tuesday's practice. We're not running the ball as good as we should, but we'll keep working on it."

But far more than in the past, Darby can't seem to get his feet underneath him, and the first man is having a lot more success tackling him than normal. Backup Jimmy Johns said it was evident the hip affected Darby's running.

"KD is a shifty back," Johns said. "When you have to plant and you're hitting that hip, it's hard. But you saw the signs today. Everybody saw late in the game. He's going to be back. He's a warrior."

Darby said Saturday that he was "like I want to be. I can't say I'm 100 per cent. I'm pretty average right now, I think. My hip was just sore today."

More scrutiny than ever will come on Darby in the coming week – questioning of Mike Shula, running backs coach Sparky Woods, his teammates and himself for analysis on his performance, introspection and troubleshooting.

"Don't worry," Darby said. "I haven't had my break out game yet. It's coming. I'm just going to be patient and get what I can get."

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