Cats’ fight not enough in loss to No. 1 Alabama



By Chris Angolia

In what was nearly a perfect start for UK after benefiting from a dropped ball on fourth down and a fumble, things quickly changed for the Cats against No. 1 Alabama beginning at the 4:29 mark of the first quarter and ending in a 34-6 loss at the hands of the nation’s top team.

After grabbing a 3-0 lead on the number one team in the country early in the game Saturday, it looked as if UK was going to tack on some more points. Then on 3rd and 10 at the Tide’s 22 yard line, quarterback Stephen Johnson was sacked, fumbled the ball and Alabama recovered.

The Tide would then go on to capitalize on the fumble and even up the score at three, but that was unfortunately just the beginning of a long night for the Cats.

On the second drive following the field goal, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin called seven plays, all of which were runs, and the drive resulted in a Joshua Jacobs touchdown which gave the Tide a 10-3 lead which they would not relinquish.

The following drive saw Johnson get sacked and fumble again, only this time free safety Ronnie Harrison would scoop it up for the Tide and take it 55 yards to the house, and although it was 17-3, things looked positive for the Cats heading into the half.

One thing that might have been the game-changer, was something that happened off the field.

In his post-first half interview, Alabama head coach Nick Saban talked about what his team failed to do well in the first half, throw the ball.

“We’ve got to do a better job of throwing the ball and create some explosive plays in the passing game,” Saban said.

The Tide, who had only 89 yards through the air in the first half, must have heard their coach’s message loud and clear

On the team’s first drive of the second half Alabama threw for 72 yards including a 10-yard touchdown pass to start receiver Calvin Ridley who was just getting started in the third quarter which would prove to be deadly for UK’s defense. Ridley would go on to explode for 133 yards in the third quarter to go along with his two touchdown receptions, and would finish with a total of 11 catches for 174 yards and the two scores.

Ridley was not the only member of the Crimson Tide who had a big day against a Cats defense that was doing all it could to slow down Alabama’s powerful offensive attack. Freshman Joshua Jacobs had a nice day on the ground rushing 16 times for 100 yards and a touchdown, and not a single time did Jacobs rush for a loss of yards.

Regardless of the Crimson Tide’s powerful offensive attack, UK’s offense struggled against the stout defense that Alabama put out there as well, racking up only 161 yards of total offense Saturday night. Despite the team’s lack of yardage and points, you have to keep in mind how good this Alabama team is, allowing over 10 points just once so far this season and scoring over 30 in every game.

“We’ve got something to build off of. We cannot turn the football over, we have got to get better at protecting, throwing and catching,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said following the game. “For us to grow and get where we want to be, we have to do that and we are going to be just fine.”