TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- Wednesday's practice for the University of Alabama football team was geared towards this weekend's nonconference game against Duke University as the Crimson Tide worked out for two hours in helmets and shoulder pads.
Alabama will try to continue its improvement in the running game. Kenneth Darby, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in the past two seasons, leads the Crimson Tide with 309 yards on 91 carries. His two best games have come against Louisiana Monroe and Florida this season. He had 14 carries for 79 yards against the Warhawks and last week he ran the ball 14 times for 76 yards against the Gators. Jimmy Johns is averaging a team-high 4.9 yards per carry with 27 runs for 133 yards. Tim Castille and Roy Upchurch each have two rushing touchdowns.
"Duke is misleading," said head coach Mike Shula. "You look at the stats defensively and they are pretty good on defense. They have had a lot of short fields after turnovers, punt returns or blocked punts where teams have had a chance to get on the board early. They have done a good job against the run with a lot of zone blitzes. We need to somehow find a way to win and get better."
The Duke defense ranks 26th in the country against the run, allowing just 92.5 yards per game. They have not allowed a running back to go over 100 yards in any of the four games this season. The Blue Devils are 40th in the nation in total defense at 297 yards per game. The Crimson Tide will try to open the running game by utilizing of the nation's top wide receivers duo. Keith Brown and DJ Hall have combined for 806 receiving yards, second only to Tennessee's Robert Meachem and Jayson Swain who have combined for 955 yards.
"If they are doubling your wide receiver, it is going to help your running game" said Shula. "Last week was the first significant week where teams changed their coverages. There are a couple of ways they do it. One is the corner rotating and the safety helping out over the top which we call a cover-2. The other is everyone else is man-to-man and you have two guys covering one receiver. Just because you are doubled doesn't mean you can't get open."
The game will kickoff at 6:07 p.m. CT and will be televised on a pay-per-view basis with David Crane (play-by-play), Tyler Watts (analyst) and Chris Stewart(sideline reporter). The game will also be carried on the 65-station Crimson Tide Sports Network with Eli Gold (play-by-play), Kenny Stabler (analyst) and Tom Roberts (sideline reporter).