3 things to know as Alabama football returns to field against Kentucky

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

After a two-week hiatus — the first half planned, the second half impromptu — Alabama football returns on Saturday.

Here are three things to know going into Alabama’s home game against Kentucky (3 p.m., SEC Network).

Good defense? No problem

Alabama has already faced two of the top three defenses in the SEC by yards per play allowed. Against Georgia, currently first in the league, Alabama became the first team to put more than 550 yards on the Bulldogs since 2013. Two weeks later, against the SEC’s other Bulldogs (currently ranked third in yards per play allowed), Alabama’s 41 points were the most Mississippi State had allowed in nine games.

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Kentucky’s defense, ranked second by the same measure, may not be intimidating to UA.

What the Wildcats have that Georgia and Mississippi State don’t is excellence against explosive plays. Kentucky leads the SEC with six plays of 30 yards or more allowed despite being one of just three teams to play seven games. Texas A&M is in second with eight such plays allowed, but did so in only six games.

DeVonta Smith on the brink of history

DeVonta Smith’s next receiving touchdown will break Amari Cooper’s school and SEC career record of 31; Cooper shares the SEC record with former Florida receiver Chris Doering.

The touchdown would also give Smith nine for the season, which would move him into a tie for eighth in single-season school history; Smith’s 2019 season, with 14 touchdowns, is tied for second.

Mac Jones against school he first chose

Before Mac Jones was the Alabama quarterback lighting up college football and well on his way to a Heisman Trophy finalist position, he was a three-star prospect out of Jacksonville, Florida. He was a high school sophomore when Kentucky extended a scholarship offer, one he would take a month later.

Then came Jones’ junior season. More Power 5 schools showed interest, even some of the top schools such as Alabama and Texas A&M. The opportunities became too grand, and just before his senior season, Jones flipped his commitment from Kentucky to Alabama.

Jones will now face the Wildcats, and Kentucky coach Mark Stoops will sees up close and in person the prospect he and his staff identified before nearly everyone else.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson