Countdown to Kickoff
UA Special Teams Shows Improvement this Week



Oct. 2, 2008

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama football team held a 90-minute practice in helmets and shorts on Thursday afternoon, putting the finishing touches on its game plan for Saturday’s game with Kentucky.

The Crimson Tide has emphasized improved special teams play this week, after allowing a 92-yard punt return against Georgia last week and facing the top-ranked kickoff return team in the NCAA this week.  UK leads the nation with a 38.5 yard average.  Derrick Locke leads the Wildcats with a 55.7-yard average, including a 100-yard touchdown return against Western Kentucky last weekend. Locke has three returns for 133 yards this season.

“Well I have actually seen some improvement,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “We have actually made some changes, in terms of how we went about what we did.  We’ve tried to raise the standard of awareness that the players have. Most of things that have gone wrong are very easily correctible and in most cases are things that we have practiced; the decision-making and judgement on the field, relative to recognition to responding and reacting. I think we have to create a higher awareness of what we need to do to prepare to do it the right way and we have a little better attitude about what we’re doing on special teams.

“I have seen some improvement this week and (Kentucky) is good on special teams. They have one of the best kickoff returners in the country.  They have done a good job of holding down the punt returns, as well as putting pressure on the punter.  So this will be a challenging game for us from that standpoint.  We need to do better and we need to improve.”

Alabama and Kentucky will meet at 2:30 p.m. (CDT) on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.  The game will be nationally televised by CBS Sports with Verne Lundquist (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (analyst) and Tracy Wolfson (sideline reporter).