Tide RB Could Make Considerable Difference

FAYETTEVILLE -- Alabama running back Kenneth Darby could make a considerable difference when his team meets Arkansas at 11:30 a.m. today in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Consider this:

• Last weekend, he rushed for 145 yards on 20 carries and 1 touchdown in a 37-14 win against South Carolina on the road. For his performance, he was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

• Darby is second in the SEC in rushing with 314 yards on 59 carries (a 104.7 yards-per-game average).

• He rushed for 1,042 yards and 8 touchdowns last year.

• Darby had 51 yards on 16 carries in last year's Arkansas game that the Hogs won 27-10 in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

All things considered, there is no reason to think Darby won't be a factor in today's game.

"Winning the player of the week deal was nice," Darby said. "I was kind of surprised and excited, but it doesn't matter.

"What matters now is playing Arkansas."

Darby, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound junior, is the featured back for No. 20 Alabama (3-0, 1-0 in the SEC) and he's definitely a key factor.

"They're throwing the ball more than they have in the past, but they're not going to leave their bread and butter," said Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring. "They run the ball, they're a very physical team.

"No. 34 (Darby) is a great back."

Darby did not participate in spring practice because of a pelvic injury sustained late last year.

"I think he's looked great since he's come back," said Alabama coach Mike Shula. "He's worked hard on his rehab. He has a lot of energy. Everytime you see him he's got a big smile on his face. That makes you feel good because he's developed into a leader because of his productivity.

"I think he's become more of a leader now on the sidelines. Talks to the offensive linemen.

"I'm happy for him."

Darby said he's at full speed and ready to play today.

"I'm feeling good and I'm holding up because my body's feeling better or whatever," Darby said. "I feel like I'm doing good. I'm progressing everyday to be a good player.

"I think the reason I'm improving is my mindset. How I focus. My mindset for the upcoming season continued when the season began. I think that's the key to my improving."

Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle has seen that improvement.

"You know, the first couple of games, our offensive line was just trying to gel, trying to learn each other," Croyle said. " I think K.D. had 80 yards, 90 yards the first game. Last game, things just came together for us and K.D. was a big part of it.

"That's the K.D. we're expecting to see. Him being able to break for big runs. One-on-one with the safeties, making them miss.

"K.D. is going to be a huge, huge part of our success this year."

That success could continue today if Darby is able to run against an Arkansas defense which has been, at times, flimsy at best.

Still, he said he respects that defense.

"Arkansas has a great defense," Darby said. "They come after you. They are sometimes hard to figure out. They do all kinds of things.

"Their speed doesn't really concern me, though, not really, because we play against a speedy defense everyday in practice.

"You have to consider that."

Yeah, all things considered, Darby may have a point.

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