Oct. 4, 2008
Box Score |
by Scott Latta, UA Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - A career day for junior running back Glen Coffee was enough to overcome 10 penalties and three turnovers for Alabama on Saturday, sending the No. 2 Crimson Tide (6-0 overall; 3-0 in the SEC) past Kentucky (4-1; 0-1 SEC), 17-14, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
Coffee rushed 25 times for 218 yards, the highest individual rushing yardage total since Shaun Alexander's 291-yard performance against LSU in 1996, and the first time an Alabama back has had more than 200 rushing yards since 2004. The total is the sixth-highest in a game in Alabama history. In all, Alabama gained 282 yards on the ground.
"We want to be able to go out in any game and control the running game," Coffee said. "When we can establish the run it sets the tone for us. The offensive line has been a huge factor for us all season long and they played great again today."
Coffee busted out of the gate for Alabama, rushing for 101 yards in the first quarter alone against a Kentucky defense that came into the game as the nation's fifth-best, giving up just 50 yards per game on the ground. Coffee's early dominance included a 78-yard touchdown on Alabama's second drive of the afternoon to give the Tide an early 7-0 lead. The touchdown run was Coffee's second of the year of more than 75 yards. Against Arkansas, he broke an 87-yarder, the longest of his career.
"Glen has consistently showed his speed and has been able to stick it up the middle as well," said senior quarterback John Parker Wilson. "He has been powerful and can do it all for us. He is a really good back and was obviously a big part of this win."
Alabama extended its lead to 14-0 on a 4-yard fumble recovery runback by sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain after Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline fumbled near his own end zone. The score was Alabama's fifth non-offensive score of the year, which leads the nation. Penalties and turnovers played a large part in containing the Alabama offense until two minutes left in the game, when junior Leigh Tiffin kicked a 24-yard field goal to give Alabama a 17-7 lead.
The field goal capped a 15-play, 76-yard drive that consumed 8:10 of the game clock, giving Alabama a 10-point lead with 2:12 remaining. Kentucky answered the field goal with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Hartline to DeMoreo Ford to cut the lead to 17-14 with less than a minute to go. The ensuing onside kick sailed out of bounds, sealing the game for the Tide.
"We're certainly happy to win, but we also put on a clinic today on how to keep the other team in the game," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "There are a lot of lessons for us to learn today, and it's great to be able to learn those lessons and not have to lose."
Forty-nine of Alabama's 66 total plays were rushing plays, with Wilson completing 7-of-17 passes for 106 yards with an interception. Freshman Julio Jones was Wilson's top target in the game, catching three passes for 52 yards. In addition to Coffee's rushing total, freshman Mark Ingram carried the ball 11 times for 71 yards and junior Roy Upchurch had five carries for 19 yards.
The Alabama defense forced two turnovers in the game and was led by McClain, who had 10 total tackles. Junior cornerback Javier Arenas was second with six tackles.
Alabama has next Saturday off, returning to Bryant-Denny Stadium in two weeks to face Mississippi (3-3; 1-2 SEC) on October 18. The game time is still to be determined.