Alabama Eager to Get Back on the Field Versus Kentucky
Teams are always eager to back on the gridiron after a bye-week. The Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0) are more than ready to get back on the playing field after going through two bye-weeks. The Crimson Tide were forced to have their game at the LSU Tigers (2-3) postponed due to the impact of COVID-19 in Baton Rouge. This weekend, the Tide are back as they will host the Kentucky Wildcats (2-3) in Tuscaloosa. The Tide are coming into this matchup with a six-game win streak versus the Wildcats. The last time the Wildcats defeated the Crimson Tide was in 1997 when Kentucky beat the Tide 34-30 in Lexington. Alabama is not looking for any chances for mistakes as they are trying to remain perfect in the chase for the SEC Championship and the College Football Playoffs. They will get that chance versus the Wildcats on Saturday.
Run game bound to weaken Kentucky’s defense
The Tide’s offense has one of the most well-balanced offenses in the nation. Their passing game ranks second in the nation in passing yards per game (369.2). Their quarterback Mac Jones is one of the leading candidates this year for the Heisman Trophy. Alabama has not abandoned the running game led by senior running back Najee Harris, who rushed for 714 yards and 14 touchdowns on 124 carries. Alabama ranks fourth in the SEC in rushing yards per game (175.2) as they have weakened some of the more efficient run defenses in the SEC like Georgia and Texas A&M. This Saturday, the Tide will look to do the same against the Kentucky Wildcats and their efficient defense. Their defense ranks 24th in points allowed per game (21.3) as they have playmakers throughout the field.
Kentucky’s defense can be beaten in deep passing game schemes, but they are sneaky in making stops in short-to-mid-range passes. In seven games, the Wildcats defense has accounted for 11 interceptions including three from cornerback Kelvin Joseph. The gameplan for the Tide’s offense to assert themselves in the run game with Harris and Brian Robinson Jr. Kentucky’s defense isn’t highly efficient in stopping the run in-between the tackles. Their defense ranks 50th in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game (148.6). This could be a huge game for Harris to account for another 3+ rushing touchdown performance.
Tide’s defense will have to be alert
Throughout the season, Alabama’s defense has been becoming more efficient in every phase of the game. They’ve come a long way from their embarrassing performance at the hands of the Ole Miss Rebels in week six. This Saturday, Alabama faces another dynamic offense with an efficient flex running game. Their star linebackers in Dylan Moses and Christian Harris have been more determined to have the defense to stop dual-threat quarterbacks efficiently. They will continue to showcase their increased productivity this Saturday against the Wildcats’ dual-threat quarterback Terry Wilson. He is not a player that can light up the scoreboard like other dual-threat quarterbacks in the SEC can but he can create some concerns for the Tide’s defense. Wilson’s ability as a game-manager can help extend drives and tear our defenses.
This game will require focus from the pass rushers of the Tide like outside linebacker Will Anderson to keep him from escaping the pocket, therefore, giving Kentucky the first down. Defensive end Christian Barmore and defensive tackle D.J. Dale will have to close the running lanes for Wildcats running back Christopher Rodriguez Jr. The biggest goal for Alabama is to avoid the missed tackles which allow Kentucky to extend the drive. Kentucky’s offense ranks 38th in the nation (second in the SEC) in rushing yards per game (195). Kentucky might try to get the ball out quickly to get a fast-tempo consistency going. Alabama true freshman Malachi Moore has been one of the most efficient slot coverage players in College Football this season. Moore has forced eight incompletions from the slot throughout the season, which is the most in the slot passing game.