TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban challenged his players to play a complete game last week against Kent State.
The players did that in Saban’s eyes, and now the head coach is hoping the team can build on that momentum in their homecoming matchup vs. Kentucky. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
“Now that we are back in SEC play, I think it’s time to build on that; build on the momentum,” Saban said. “If we want to be the team that we are capable of being, I think it’s important for everyone to buy into that and do that. The SEC is a tough league and every game you play in this league is an important game as this game will be against Kentucky.”
Kentucky marks the first of four straight SEC games before Alabama’s bye week.
The Wildcats are 2-2 (1-1 SEC) after a 17-10 victory over South Carolina last weekend. While they may not appear to be a threat to the Crimson Tide, Saban isn’t taking Kentucky lightly.
“Kentucky has played their best in the last two games that they have played,” Saban said. “Mark Stoops has done a really good job of sort of finding out who they are and how they want to play. They played really well in the last two games.
“They have really good skill players on offense, good running backs and good receivers. They have explosive guys that have put up pretty impressive performances to this point. Their quarterback has played well for them, even though he had to come in for the starter, and he has done a nice job; they haven’t really skipped a beat.”
One of the many Kentucky players who has Alabama’s attention is running back Stanley “Boom” Williams. Williams leads Kentucky’s rushing attack, but Saban also believes the Wildcats’ other two running backs — freshman Benny Snell and senior Jojo Kemp — are tough to stop as well.
During practice on Tuesday, Alabama outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi could be heard screaming “8 yards a carry” at his position group. That was in reference to Williams’ season average of 8 yards per carry. Through four games, Williams has rushed for 464 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s third in the SEC with an average of 116 yards per game.
“They have three backs that have been productive, in my opinion,” Saban said. “(Williams is) obviously the most productive, but they’ve been able to run the ball very effectively and they certainly controlled the game last week by controlling the line of scrimmage and running the ball against South Carolina. He’s certainly going to be a challenge for us and maybe the best back we’ve played against so far this year.”