The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

October 14, 2013

Top-ranked Alabama sees room for improvement

(Continued)

Drake and Yeldon each fumbled on consecutive possessions deep in Kentucky territory, the latter proving especially costly as he coughed up the ball inside the 5. A wide open Kenny Bell dropped McCarron's pass across the middle, the first of a handful of flubs by Alabama receivers.

"That was definitely something we weren't expecting, but it happened and we've got to live with it," said Norwood, who set up the Crimson Tide's first touchdown by a catching a 42-yard pass down the middle in double coverage.

"At the same time we've got to do better with it, especially the ball handling and receivers catching the ball."

Though Alabama quickly regrouped with a 24-point second quarter, Saban still let players have it about the turnovers at halftime. His message got through: tailbacks held on to the ball and put the game out of reach en route to 299 yards rushing.

"I thought both guys ran well," Saban said of Yeldon and Drake. "We haven't had a lot of turnovers this year and we haven't fumbled the ball a lot. That's something we really don't ever need to have happen and I think if our guys want to be the best, those are the kind of things they have to eliminate."

At first glance, Alabama's defensive showing should have given the SEC's second-ranked unit something to gloat about in posting four sacks and allowing Kentucky to convert just 2-of-12 third down chances. Instead, players say they are more motivated after giving up their first TD in four games.

Facing Kentucky backup quarterback Maxwell Smith after Jalen Whitlow exited with a left ankle injury, Alabama allowed the Wildcats to mount a nine-play, 75-yard drive ending with Smith's 30-yard TD pass to Javess Blue. The sequence didn't set well with a defense that had shut out then-No. 21 Ole Miss two games ago and entered having allowed just three field goals in as many games.

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