A few initial impressions after the Kentucky game:
- From the outset, looking at the entire picture, the Tide simply did not play very well against Kentucky. Of course you should never complain too much any time you can go on the road in conference play and get an 18-point victory, but by the same token you shouldn't be so blinded by the scoreboard to not realize that we played poorly and that, based purely on the performances of the two teams, that this game should have been a lot closer.
- Without doubt, Kentucky was their own worst enemy in this game. They had five personal foul penalties, a slew of dropped passes to open receivers, several incredibly bone-headed throws by Hartline (many of which resulted in interceptions), and that is not counting the last-second fumble to end the first half that resulted in a Courtney Upshaw touchdown. Truth be told, Kentucky beat themselves in this game more than anything else. The lopsided margin of victory was really the result of Alabama just allowing Kentucky to keep shooting themselves in the foot.
- Offensively, our strategy in the beginning of the game really made very little sense. Kentucky never even remotely stopped our running game, but we decided to stop it ourselves by airing the football out. And making matters even more head-scratching was that we kept throwing deep, instead of trying to establish the short and intermediate passing game. And that strategy was even more perplexing given how Nick Saban talked after the game about how the strong winds made throwing the football so difficult early. I really just never understood what we were trying to do offensively, nor did anyone else, and our offensive play-calling was perhaps the most suspect it has been since McElwain arrived.
- And speaking of the running game, I worried coming in that Kentucky would be able to shut us down, but our guys really answered the bell. Kentucky never really stopped us in the running game, and Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch combined to run for 153 yards on only 24 carries. Trent Richardson's stat line doesn't look very good because he got the workhorse duty in the fourth quarter trying to run out the clock, but again in meaningful situations Kentucky never really stopped us. The problem was, really, that we stopped ourselves by simply choosing not to run the football.
- The offensive line did a very good job in pass protection. As I said in the preview, Kentucky could really get after the quarterback, and we largely neutralized them at the point of attack. McElroy was hit several times -- which is honestly a given for any team these days really wanting to throw the football a lot -- and he is clearly helping the offensive line out by not holding onto the ball too long, but even so our guys up front did a fine job. McElroy threw 26 passes yesterday, and was sacked only once. Moreover, thanks to McElroy's pocket presence, he limited that sack to only a two yard loss. Truth be told, protecting the passer is a joint effort between quarterback himself and the offensive line, but I do think it's clear at this point that McElroy and the newly revamped offensive line do a better job of it than John Parker Wilson and the group we had a year ago.
- Good news on injuries... there were none. I did see Barrett Jones gimpy at one point, but he never left the game and looked to be okay. Few things in football are more precious than staying healthy.
- The Wildcat... didn't see it a single time all day, to my knowledge. I think it's clear now that our offense uses it as a weapon -- and forces the opposing defense to prepare for it -- but for the most part we really do not see it as an integral part of our offense like many other teams do.
- Earl Alexander came up with a huge catch on the touchdown drive late in the second quarter, and the redshirt junior continues to make good things happen when he can actually get in the game. The problem is he's buried on the depth chart by Julio Jones and Mike McCoy, and he doesn't get very many balls thrown in his direction.