Wanted: Points

Alabama Coach Mike Shula knows that it will be a big help to the Crimson Tide's offense if star halfback Kenneth Darby can get untracked. Darby missed much of pre-season practice with an injury and being in his hometown of Huntsville with his ill father. After back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, he has struggled in Bama's first two games.

Kenneth Darby has run 37 times for only 90 yards, a paltry average of 2.4 yards per carry. Fully one-third of his yardage came on two runs in the fourth quarter of Alabama's 13-10 win over Vanderbilt last Saturday.

Speaking of Darby following Thursday's Bama practice, Coach Mike Shula said, "We've got to score points and win ball games. We've got to get the ball in the end zone. It will be a big help if we get that from one of our leaders."

Alabama hosts Louisiana-Monroe at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The only television is a Pay-Per-View broadcast. Bama is 2-0 on the season, while ULM is 1-1.

Shula said the attitude of the offense "has been good, like every other week. That has been the case with everyone on offense. This is a good group."

Alabama has been moving the ball and getting first downs (43 in the first two games). The problem has been points. Alabama has only one rushing touchdown and only two TDs passing.

Shula said following Thursday's workout in shorts and helmets, "I thought we had a good practice. We still have some things to clean up.

"The team we're playing Saturday has done a good job offensively. They've got a lot of yards. Their quarterback (Kinsmon Lancaster) really got hot and got a lot of yards. They've got a good receiver (LaGregory Sapp) and they do a good job of getting the ball to the tight end (Zeek Zacharie).

"On defense, their secondary is going to challenge us. They are good on special teams.

"It's a challenge. We're going to have to keep improving."

Louisiana-Monroe lost a heart-breaker last week, falling 21-19 at Kansas. The Warhawks missed a couple of extra points and a field goal and this week will have a new kicker, Cole Wilson replacing Ragan Walters.

On the injury front, Shula said that freshman halfback Terry Grant was improved and had practiced and could play Saturday. The kickoff return specialist injured a shoulder and was considered doubtful.

Tide placekicker Jamie Christensen, who has not played this year because of a groin injury, would not play if the game had been Thursday, but Shula said it would be "like last week," a gametime decision. In his absence freshman Leigh Tiffin has done well, being named Southeastern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week for his 47-yard game-winning field goal against Vanderbilt. Safety Cory Reamer is questionable.

Roy Upchurch has not played at halfback this fall. "He's getting closer," Shula said. "We want to have three guys, but to do that you have to have a lot of plays. And to do that you'd have to run the ball about every down."

Last week sophomore wide receiver Nikita Stover made his first appearance of the season and caught a 36-yard pass on his first play. Shula said Stover has looked good in practice this week, "like he did last week. He's got a better look in his eye. If he keeps going like that, I feel good about him."

Shula said that linebacker Terrence Jones, who has taken over for 2005 All-America DeMeco Ryans, "has been solid, like we expected. He's had a lot of snaps because he's playing on special teams. We're trying to get him some relief with Zach Schrieber coming in on pass rush situations."

Shula said that captains this week would be sophomore center Antoine Caldwell on offense, senior tackle Jeremy Clark on defense, and senior snapper Luke Spaulding onspecial teams. The Tide coach noted that Spaulding had to make two crucial snaps in the fourth quarter–one on the winning field goal and one on a punt with a minute to play–"and was solid on both of them."


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