Tide Needs Better Run Blocking

Most of the talk since the Arkansas game has centered on the "cut block," because that was what caused Alabama star linebacker Dont'a Hightower to have a season-ending knee injury. But there also was concern in the Crimson Tide camp regarding run blocking by the offensive line.

Alabama right tackle Drew Davis said, "I don't think we did as good a job on run blocking as we should have. Our blocking in the passing game had improved from the week before, but I think we could improve on our run blocking."

Alabama had only 134 net yards rushing on 41 carries against Arkansas, an average of just 3.3 yards per carry. Bama's Trent Richardson got a big chunk of that yardage—52 yards—on one carry in the first quarter. Even with that lackluster performance, Bama is averaging 234.2 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry and leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing touchdowns with 13.

The Arkansas defensive scheme was designed to stop the run. "They certainly had enough guys in there to stop the run all the time, and that put a lot of pressure on their secondary and we took advantage of that on a few occasions," said Alabama Coach Nick Saban. The Tide's Greg McElroy completed 17 of 24 passes for a career high 291 yards and three touchdowns in the 35-7 win against the Razorbacks.

Saban said, "I think there were times when we had a hat on a hat and just didn't finish the blocks. there some other times we made some mental errors on who we were supposed to block. There were times when we didn't play with enough power.

"When people play us that way, that's when we need to be aggressive."

The bottom line, Saban said, is "We are certainly capable of playing better than what we played, finishing blocks better, making less mental errors, and getting a little better execution, regardless of what they did."

Davis, a 6-7, 306-pound senior and second year starter, said, "We made the corrections from the (Arkansas) game on Monday and came in Tuesday and saw our scheme and what we were going to do."

Davis doesn't know for sure what to expect from Kentucky, but said, "They are a tough team. They always play tough and we expect them to be just like they were last year and play us very hard. It will be a contest.

"They are pretty big. They're an SEC line, so we have to come with our ‘A' game."

Davis said he thinks that Alabama's offensive line has been good overall. He noted that the new men – left tackle James Carpenter, center William Vlachos, and right guard Barrett Jones – "have been in the offense for a while and they understand was is expected of them. I think they've done a good job of stepping up to the plate."

Alabama goes to Lexington Saturday to take on the Wildcats. Kickoff will be shortly after noon EDT (11:21 a.m. central time) with regional television coverage on the SEC Network. Alabama is 4-0 and ranked third in the nation. Florida is 2-1 and coming off a 41-7 loss to Florida.

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