"I haven't talked to Kenneth Darby, but I'll bet if you asked him he'd tell you he wanted the ball, and he wanted to take this offense and show he's one of our best players," said Alabama Offensive Coordinator David Rader after the Crimson Tide's 30-14 win over Duke.
Darby said, "Coach Shula could see in my body language that I wanted the ball," Darby said. "He said he was going to give me the ball, and I'm glad he did. I felt I played better."
I thought Kenneth ran the ball well in the second half," said Alabama Coach Mike Shula. "Some of those two- and three-yard runs in the first half turned into eight- or nine-yard runs in the second half."
After getting only 55 yards on 12 carries through the first 50-plus minutes of the game, the Kenneth Darby who has had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons emerged with Alabama clinging to a 16-14 lead against Duke in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night.
In the next four minutes, Darby would, indeed, take the offense on his shoulders. With second and 10 from the Alabama 46, Darby bulled his way to a 10-yard gain through heavy traffic on a draw play. Two more runs got nine yards, leading to a first down. From the Duke 43, he ripped off an 18-yard first down run. And then he gave Bama the opportunity to slam the door when he sprinted 20 yards over right tackle to the two-yard line.
In those four minutes he had six carries for 60 yards and finished with his first 100-yard game of the year. He had 18 carries for 115 yards, an average of 6.4 yards per carry.
The only thing he didn't get was a touchdown. "I knew when I got to the two they were coming with different personnel," Darby said. "That's what we had practiced."
Jimmy Johns replaced Darby at halfback and scored his first career touchdown for a nine-point Alabama lead at 23-14. Later Lionel Mitchell's 50-yard interception return for a touchdown would complete the scoring.
"I was pulling for him to get into the end zone when he got it down to the one- or two-yard line on that last drive," Rader said. "I was pulling for him to get into the end zone because he was running so hard."
Rader wasn't surprised by Darby's late emergence. "He came up huge," Rader said. "We felt like we were close to getting some big runs earlier. It was great it happened at that time.
"He looked good. The team needs that."
Darby said, "I felt I did a whole lot better. I think I've been improving every week. I believe the more they feed me the ball the better feel I get for it."