Countdown to Kickoff
Alabama Defeats Kentucky in SEC Opener, 27-17


Saturday, September 13, 2003

Shaud Williams
Shaud Williams

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Alabama 27, Kentucky Wildcats 17

*Alabama defeated Kentucky 27-17 here tonight front of a paid crowd of 83,018 here at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

*With the win, Alabama extends its all-time series lead over Kentucky to 32-2-1.  The Crimson Tide has never lost to the Wildcats here in the state of Alabama, posting a 19-0-1 record, including a perfect 8-0 mark here in Tuscaloosa.

*Alabama also improves to 45-20-2 all-time in Southeastern Conference openers, including a school-record 12-game winning streak dating back to 1991.  The Crimson Tide has compiled a 22-4 record in its last 26 SEC openers and improves to 17-3 in SEC openers here in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

*Dating back to Nov. 10, 2001, Alabama has won 16 of its last 20 games, the second-best record in the SEC.  Also, Alabama is 9-2 in its last 11 SEC games, dating back to the 2001 season.

*Alabama improves to 2-0 all-time in games played on Sept. 13th.  In addition to tonight's win over Kentucky, Alabama defeated Southern Miss 31-17 on this date in 1986 with Mike Shula at quarterback.

*Alabama is now 17-3 all-time in night games here in Tuscaloosa.

*Alabama game captains for the Kentucky game were senior split end Dre Fulgham (offense), senior middle linebacker Derrick Pope (defense) and junior defensive back Thurman Ward (special teams).

*Former Alabama fullback Tommy Lewis ran out the game ball prior to tonight's game with Kentucky.  Lewis was born in Greenville, Ala., and played for coach Harold "Red" Drew from 1951-53.  He scored two touchdowns in Alabama's 61-6 win over Syracuse in the Jan. 1, 1953 Orange Bowl.  Lewis was also a member of Alabama's 1953 SEC Championship team. Lewis now resides in Huntsville.

*The Alabama offense had two changes in the starting lineup tonight against Kentucky.  Senior Atlas Herrion (Daphne) started in place of junior Justin Smiley at left guard.  Also, true freshman Le'Ron McClain (Tuscaloosa) started a the F position in place of Tim Castille. 

*Smiley (Ellabell, Ga.) missed the first start of his Alabama career on the offensive line, snapping a streak of 27 consecutive starts dating back to the first game of his Alabama career against UCLA on Sept. 1, 2001.

*The start against Kentucky was the second career start for Herrion, who last started for Alabama against Iowa State in the Dec. 27, 2001 Independence Bowl.

*McClain is the second true freshman to start the F position for Alabama this season. Castille started the first two games against South Florida and Oklahoma, but McClain started tonight.

*Senior running back Shaud Williams (Andrews, Texas) had a career game for the Crimson Tide in the win over Kentucky, rushing the ball 30 times for 174 yards and a career-high three rushing touchdowns.  The 174 rushing yards are the most for Williams at Alabama, surpassing his previous high of 160 rushing yards last year at Hawai'i (Nov. 27, 2002). 

*Williams three rushing TDs are the most in his career, surpassing his previous best of two rushing TDs against South Florida (Aug. 30, 2003) and Colorado (1999 while at Texas Tech).

*The senior also added a career-high 30 rushing attempts in the win over UK, surpassing his previous best of 28 rushing attempts in the 2003 season opener against USF.

*For his career, Williams has 372 rushing attempts for 2,168 yards and 16 rushing TDs in four years at Texas Tech and Alabama.  The Andrews, Texas native ran the ball five times for 30 yards on Alabama's opening drive of the ball game, pushing him over the 2,000-yard mark for his career.

*Williams had 192 all-purpose yards against Kentucky, including 174 rushing yards, 15 punt return yards and three receiving yards on 35 plays.  In all, Williams played 62 snaps in the win over the Wildcats.

*Quarterback Brodie Croyle (Rainbow City) completed 14 of 27 passes for 198 yards and one interception in the win over Kentucky.

*The Alabama sophomore quarterback reached three personal career milestones in the win over Kentucky, including his 100th career completion, 200th career pass attempt and 1,500 career passing yards.

*Croyle completed three of six passes for 59 yards in the first quarter of tonight's game with Kentucky, picking up two of those career milestones in the first 15 minutes of play.  The sophomore completed a 29-yard pass to senior split end Triandos Luke on the Tide's opening drive for his 100th career completion.  Later in the opening quarter, Croyle's 16-yard pass to senior flanker Dre Fulgham pushed him over 1,500 passing yards in his two year career. He added a third milestone in the second quarter, when he completed a one-yard screen pass to Williams was his 200th career pass attempt.

*The Crimson Tide ran 20 plays for 127 total yards in the first quarter against Kentucky, nearly tripling its offensive output in the first quarter against South Florida (9 yards) and Oklahoma (46 yards) combined. The Crimson Tide netted only 55 total yards in his first two games of the season in the first quarter.  The Crimson Tide also had 68 rushing yards in the first quarter against Kentucky, after netting only 20 rushing yards against USF (7 yards rushing) and Oklahoma (13 yards rushing).

*Five Alabama players saw action for the first time this season against Kentucky, including senior kicker Kyle Robinson (Cleburne, Texas), senior Matt Miller (Rainbow City) on special teams, sophomore tight end/fullback Greg McLain (Lineville), sophomore defensive tackle Taylor Britt (Cullman) and Brandon Brooks (Birmingham) on special teams. 

*Senior fullback Josh Smith (Mountain Brook) saw action at fullback for the first time this season tonight against UK.  Smith had played on special teams this season prior to tonight's game.

*McClain recorded his first career pass reception and rushing attempt in the game.  He finished with two catches for 35 yards and ran the ball once for one yard.

*Alabama did not force a turnover in the win over UK, extending the streak to 10 consecutive quarters without forcing a turnover, dating back to the second quarter of season opener with South Florida.  The Crimson Tide forced three turnovers in the win over the Bulls in the 2003 season opener, including two fumble recoveries in the second quarter.  UA has not forced a turnover since.

*The Alabama offense had its best of the season in terms of total yards, piling up 464 yards in the win over UK.  The Crimson Tide ran 53 times for a season-high 266 yards and three TDs.  The Crimson Tide passed for 198 yards against Kentucky, just missing its season high of 203 yards against South Florida.

*The Crimson Tide held the Wildcats to 26 rushing yards on 23 rushing attempts.  The Cats averaged just 1.1 yards per rushing attempt against Bama in the loss.

*The Alabama defense held Kentucky to 195 total yards in the game, including 169 passing yards (14-for-24) by Jared Lorenzen.

Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula Post-Game Quotes
"It feels great to get our first win in the SEC against a strong Kentucky team with a lot of weapons on offense and a strong defense.  What really stands out in my mind is Shaud's effort and what he means to this football team.  He's played two good games and this effort exceeds both of those. Our defense did a great job.  We had about three possessions in the beginning where we forced some three and outs and then they really rose up in the fourth quarter against a unique quarterback.
"The offense got going in the second half and we finally got into the endzone.  We had several possessions where we just couldn't score a touchdown.  This was a good win.
On Shaud Williams:
"He doesn't really surprise me anymore.  We've come to expect it (good games) from him and I get mad at the coaches when he's not on the field.  I just feel secure when he's out there, whether it's on offense, punt returns, hands team or whatever.
On Injuries affecting what Alabama's performance:
"Not really.  Atlas Herrion and Danny Martz did a good job stepping in and playing well.  It didn't really alter the game plan too much.  New guys stepped up and made plays.  You'll have injuries during the season and your younger guys have to step up.
On his calm demeanor during intense moments:
"I don't think they're watching me closely.  We've got an experienced staff that I lean on.  Dave Rader (Offensive Coordinator) and Sparky Woods (Running Backs Coach) came up with some nice ideas to keep us going in the fourth quarter.  Joe Kines (Defensive Coordinator) never gets rattled. Every week is going to have tight games in the SEC.
On Kentucky Quarterback Jared Lorenzen:
"He's a very unique player.  I have a lot more appreciation for him now than I did a week ago.  I was talking to Coach (Rich) Brooks (Kentucky Head Coach) before the game and they really like him.  Our coaching staff and myself have been comparing him to (Minnesota Vikings quarterback) Daunte Culpepper.  A big guy who can make plays and sheds tackles.  He'll continue to get better throughout the season.
Kentucky Head Coach Rich Brooks Post-Game Quotes

"I thought our kids played with a lot of heart and made some key plays.  We played like a football team tonight.  We played like we care.  We played like we wanted it.  We did some very good things against a very good football team on the road, in a hostile environment.  We got down a little bit, obviously, in the fourth quarter with the size of their offensive line and the speed and quickness of Shaud Williams.  Sometimes we had him in the backfield and he just broke through.  You've got to give Alabama credit. They've got amazing speed on defense.  Alabama's defense is the best thing we've seen all year.  They are big and physical." 
"The Chad Anderson interception before the half was key, but we had major problems with the gap play.  Williams was running up the inside. 
"What our defense needs is more team speed.  (Alabama) just has a lot of talented, speedy football players.  We missed some tackles, but you have to give their offensive line some credit.  They created some creases for Williams."
(Jared Lorenzen)
"He sprained his knee when he got spun around and sacked in the middle of the third quarter.  At this time I do not know the extent of that injury. He made some key throws tonight and got some things done."
(Alabama vs. Oklahoma)
"(Alabama) held a really good football team last week to 20 points.  The only thing Oklahoma really hurt them with was three passes."
"The speed of Alabama and physical size of particularly their offensive line, I think were the biggest differences."

Kentucky Player Postgame Quotes:

Jared Lorenzen

"I'm not too worried about it. Right now it's obviously sore and it will obviously be sore for a few more days. But it's just an MCL sprain."
"We didn't come down here just to contend. We didn't want that. We wanted to win. We had a lot of chances to do that but you have to give credit to Alabma. They just found a way to win. Their fans are unbelievable and this is a great place to play. It was extremely loud at times, especially when we got down near the student section."
"Their defense is huge. They are absolute monsters. And every one of them was very fast. Their defensive line was incredible. They kept knocking the ball down at the line of scrimmage. They knocked it down all night long."
"We played with heart all night but unfortunately heart does not win games. We came to Alabama with a chance to win but we just didn't execute the way we were supposed."

Durrell White

"Alabama was our first SEC game. We haven't beaten them but only two times in the series. The Alabama fans were really nice. It was a really good atmosphere."
"I thought we had more of a mental breakdown than a physical late. It was not due to not being physically prepared. We are a very well-conditioned team."
"Shaud Williams is a great back. He's probably the best back we've seen so far and maybe the best we'll see all year. You have to hit him low and wrap him up good or you saw what happened."
Chad Anderson:

"The mood was electric. We obviously needed a big stop for momentum. The coaches told us that Brodie (Croyle) had a habit of staring down his intended receiver, so I stepped up and made a play. Anyone could have made the play; I was just in the right place at the right time."
"Our biggest problem right now is to make sure we don't miss any tackles. As a team we've gotten a lot better. We just have to be strong in the third and fourth quarters. The difference was their running game. (Shaud) Williams was great. They ran a very basic passing attack. It was nothing we haven't seen in practice."
Derek Abney:

"It wasn't from a lack of understanding how important the game was. Nor was it the lack of preparation. We just couldn't get going. It was our first away game and a place like Bryant-Denny is going to put some pressure on you. All week we pumped in crowd noise at practice. But this was a very hostile environment."
"We are all disappointed. We just didn't get it done tonight. I saw the fight in our team and I saw it in Jared. We just have to put it all together. When we finally put it all together, you're going to see a great team. We just have a lot of room for improvement."