How Kentucky and Alabama match up for Saturday's football game

mstory@herald-leader.comOctober 11, 2013 

UK quarterback Jalen Whitlow played the entire game and passed for 178 yards and two touchdowns against South Carolina on Saturday night.

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How Kentucky and Alabama match up for Saturday night's game in Commonwealth Stadium:

QUARTERBACKS

With no more quarterback rotation at South Carolina, UK sophomore Jalen Whitlow completed 17 of 24 passes for 178 yards and two TDs. The Prattville, Ala., product also ran for 69 yards. In his third year as the Alabama starter, AJ McCarron has as many BCS championship rings (two) as he has losses as Alabama's first-string QB (30-2). The Mobile, Ala., product is the school record holder with 59 career TD passes.

Advantage: Alabama

RUNNING BACKS

True freshman Jojo Kemp got 12 rushes against South Carolina for 40 yards and is averaging 6.8 yards a carry. Senior Raymond Sanders scored a TD last week from the Wildcat formation. Alabama sophomore T.J. Yeldon is sixth in the SEC in rushing at 89 yards per game (445 yards total, 6.2 a carry). His backup, Kenyan Drake, is averaging more a carry (7.1) than Yeldon.

Advantage: Alabama

WIDE RECEIVERS

Of Kentucky's top six in receptions, four are newcomers. True freshman Ryan Timmons caught his first college TD pass at South Carolina. With 19 catches, the ex-Franklin County star is second to juco transfer Javess Blue (22) in receptions. Junior Christion Jones leads a deep, balanced stable of Alabama wideouts with 20 catches. Sophomore Amari Cooper, who starred a year ago (59 catches for 1,000 yards with 11 TDs as true frosh) has been plagued by a sore toe and has nine receptions for 100 yards in four games so far.

Advantage: Alabama

TIGHT ENDS

Kentucky senior Jordan Aumiller caught three passes (for 34 yards) at South Carolina, the first time he'd had that many receptions in a game since Georgia in 2010. Alabama tight ends O.J. Howard and Brian Vogler each have seven catches this season.

Advantage: Alabama

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Tackles Jordan Swindle and Darrian Miller and guard Kevin Mitchell has started all five games for Kentucky. Spared from having to face Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina, UK surrendered only four tackles for loss in Columbia. Alabama junior left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is being touted as a potential top-five NFL Draft pick. His older brother, Arie Kouandjio, could get the start at left guard.

Advantage: Alabama

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Kentucky standout end Alvin "Bud" Dupree might not play after suffering a strained pectoral muscle at South Carolina. Pressed into action last week after Dupree's injury, UK true freshman Jason Hatcher broke his hand in two places but "played through it" while recording three tackles and his first career sack. Alabama senior defensive end Ed Stinson is fourth on the Crimson Tide with 19 tackles and also has half a sack and a QB hurry.

Advantage: Alabama

LINEBACKERS

Kentucky senior MLB Avery Williamson had nine tackles at South Carolina, but has slipped to second in the SEC with 51 stops, one behind Georgia's Ramik Wilson. Alabama WLB C.J. Mosley leads the Tide with 42 stops and 31/2 TFL. Hybrid linebacker/rush end Denzel Devall has two sacks and two forced fumbles.

Advantage: Alabama

SECONDARY

Kentucky DBs are still looking for their first interceptions this season (UK's lone pick so far came from linebacker Josh Forrest). True freshman nickel back Blake McClain recorded a QB sack at South Carolina. Alabama strong safety Vinnie Sunseri has two interceptions, including one against Texas A&M he returned 73 yards for a touchdown. Senior Deion Belue is Bama's top CB.

Advantage: Alabama

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kentucky kicker Joe Mansour is 6-for-6 on field goal tries, but he has not tried from outside 37 yards. Punter Landon Foster has struggled (40.5 per punt) with only one kick downed inside the opponent's 20. Alabama's special teams are top rate. Kicker Cade Foster is 5-for-6 on field goals with a long of 53 yards. Punter Cody Mandell is averaging 46.7 yards. The Tide leads the SEC in kickoff coverage (44.1 yards net average) and is second in punt returns (14.0).

Advantage: Alabama

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230.Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com.

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