10 September 2008
This week Alabama has their final tune-up for the always daunting SEC schedule with Western Kentucky. The first year Division 1 Hilltoppers bring a 1-1 record to Tuscaloosa Saturday night for a 6:07pm kick-off.
WKU dropped their opener to Indiana 31-13 but rebounded last week to drop their cross state directional rival Eastern Kentucky 37-13.
Sophomore starter K.J. Black is out with a separated shoulder so senior David Wolke will step in to run the WKU spread attack. Black will be missed - having thrown for 269 yards for the season and posting an impressive 63% completion percentage after splitting time as a starter a year ago.
Wolke went 9 of 18 for 84 yards passing with a touchdown after replacing Black last week.
Black has several targets to throw to with Jake Gaebler, Quinterrance Cooper, Derrius Brooks, and Jessie Quinn all averaging over 10 yards per catch in the Hilltopper spread offense.
Cooper leads the group with a 15.8 yard per catch average and Gaebler is the leader in yards with 126 for the season.
Diversity is also the name of the game at the running back position. Tyrell Hayden is the season leader with 103 yards on 29 carries for the season. K.J. Black and Marell Booker have a combined 105 yards rushing as well for the 2008 season.
The Hilltoppers bring back five starters from a defense that surrendered 20 points and 320 yards per game a year ago.
The linebacking corps appears to be the strength of the defense as the top three Hilltopper tacklers coming from this position. Alonso Higgins leads the team with 22 total tackles followed by Blake Boyd with 16 and Darvis McBride with 10.
This is the second of four games for WKU against BCS opponents. Their first one didn't turn out well - against lowly Indiana no less - so I would look for more of the same this week.