Nick Saban said during his weekly Wednesday Alabama Football media update that Deontae Lawson and Jalen Key have not been able to practice this week. During the week Saban has used ‘questionable’ and ‘day-to-day’ to update the status of the two Crimson Tide defensive starters.
Saban did not completely rule out either player being available for the Kentucky game, but if neither player can practice on Thursday, there will be almost no chance they can participate on Saturday. Even if Lawson and Key ‘could’ play, it makes more sense for them to get a week or two off before the Tide’s trip to Auburn.
Neither guy is easy to replace, but the Alabama football defense should not be overwhelmed by either the Kentucky passing or rushing offenses. In September’s five Kentucky games, the Wildcats rushed for a 6.45-yard average. The schedule went from a breeze to tough in October and the Cats’ carry average went down to 3.9 yards. As a result, a 5-0 start became a 5-3 record at the end of October. Even though the Wildcats bounced back with a win over Mississippi State, Kentucky running backs gained just 86 yards on 26 carries.
The Crimson Tide will not need Deontae Lawson to handle Kentucky’s rushing attack. Trezmen Marshall is believed to be 100% and he, plus Jihaad Campbell will be fine at inside linebacker.
Kentucky quarterback Devin Leary will have to be sharp and productive with accurate throws to some good Kentucky receivers, especially Barion Brown. Leary passed for 372 yards in Kentucky’s loss to Tennessee. Though he had a minor eye problem, he is believed to be fully recovered for Saturday. Leary has had accuracy problems during most of the season. He will have to shed that weakness against Alabama or the Crimson Tide secondary could come up with a pick or two.
If Jalen Key is out, Alabama can use either Malachi Moore or Kristian Story at Safety. If Moore goes to safety, Terrion Arnold will take the Star role, with Trey Amos coming in at cornerback. Amos filled in well against LSU. An argument can be made the Crimson Tide could be better at pass coverage with Moore at Safety and Amos on the field.
During October, while having the three-loss slide, Kentucky was tied for 11th among all SEC teams with a scoring average of 20.3 points per game. They are unlikely to have equal success against the Alabama Crimson Tide defense.