'Bama looking for new identity against UK

<b>INSIDE SLANT<br> Despite two consecutive losses and just 10 points against Arkansas and South Carolina, Alabama coach Mike Shula remains convinced his team isn't that far away from turning the corner.

"That's what makes me feel good," Shula said. "I feel good about this football team. Our defense is playing their tails off. Offensively, we're moving the ball, we just came up with some turnovers that hurt our chances of winning.

"Was everyone frustrated? Yeah, we all were frustrated and yet I believe this team is going to continue to work hard. I think we've got good leadership and we've got guys who are committed to this football team."

For all those plusses, it's obvious the Crimson Tide (3-2, 1-2 SEC) is missing the leadership and playmaking of quarterback Brodie Croyle.

In the first three games of the season with Croyle at quarterback, Alabama passed for 605 yards. In the past two games since Croyle suffered a season-ending knee injury, the Tide has passed for 124 yards.

The situation took another turn for the worse in last week's 20-3 loss to South Carolina when starting quarterback Marc Guillon and backup Spencer Pennington both threw two interceptions.

"We've got to be able to learn to throw the ball away or come to our second receiver or third receiver," Shula said. "That's the No. 1 thing for the quarterback is to not lose the game, to keep from beating yourselves. ... You've got to learn to covet the football."

That's got to improve for the Tide to turn its season back around, starting with Saturday's season at Kentucky.

"We've got to move on," Shula said. "We don't have time to sit back and think about it. You've got to move on and start thinking about Kentucky."


SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Alabama leads the SEC in rushing with 227 yards per game, but it's not enough. Just when the Crimson Tide appeared to be developing into an effective offense with 605 passing yards in the first three games, QB Brodie Croyle suffered a knee injury and the offense hasn't been the same since. In last week's 20-3 loss to South Carolina, Alabama was held without a touchdown for the first time this season. Alabama has now gone six quarters without a touchdown.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Alabama forced three turnovers in the loss to South Carolina and enters the week tied for third in the SEC with 12 takeaways. Alabama also ranks third in the SEC in scoring defense (14.2 points per game) and leads in total and pass defense. Too bad the offense isn't offering enough help.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've got to get better at that position. We're not back to square one. ... We're not going to pull in the reins and have one or two passes." -- Alabama coach Mike Shula on the Crimson Tide's quarterbacks.


THIS WEEK'S GAME: Alabama at Kentucky, Oct. 9 -- After blowing opportunities against Arkansas and South Carolina the past two weeks the Crimson Tide can't afford to lose this game. Alabama could probably win this game by just running the game and wearing down the Wildcats, but the offense needs to make progress in the passing game sooner than later.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QBs Marc Guillon and Spencer Pennington -- It doesn't matter who it is as long as one, or both, provides some sort of passing game to an offense in desperate need of a spark.

TB Ray Hudson -- Despite the lack of a passing attack Hudson ranks second in the SEC in rushing, averaging 107.8 yards per game with 539 rushing yards on 74 carries and 3 TDs. He led the Tide in rushing (74 yards) and receiving (3 catches for 15) last week against South Carolina.

LB Cornelius Wortham -- He sat out the 2003 season with a dislocated elbow, but he's back with 37 tackles this season, including 14 stops last week against South Carolina.

ROSTER REPORT: When true freshman WR Keith Brown slammed into a fence post behind the end zone at full speed in the South Carolina game the incident appeared to look worse than it really was for Brown. Tests revealed no damage to his head or spine, but he does have a sore shoulder that could limit his practice time and game availability this week. ... Starting LB Juwan Garth (shoulder) expects to be back sooner than coach Mike Shula's diagnosis of at least two weeks. He needs to get back as soon as possible after redshirt freshman Demarcus Waldrop replaced him against South Carolina and recorded a career-high 10 tackles, earning Alabama's defensive player of the week honors.

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