Alabama up on Kentucky at halftime

Just a quick note as Alabama leads Kentucky at halftime 21-6.

Sorry for not hosting a live game blog today, but I’ve been sick all week and forgot. I know…I know. Sorry about that. We’ll have to make it up. Anyway, here are some halftime game notes courtesy of UA:

QUOTE FROM HEAD COACH NICK SABAN
“We struggled on offense with field position and were against the wind in the first quarter,” Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said. “We really wanted to throw the ball against these guys, so the last drive was really the thing that I think was the difference. It was great that the defense was able to get a turnover but we need continue to play. Kentucky is playing well and we’re going to have to continue play hard in the second half.”

On the play of quarterback Greg McElroy:
“We didn’t have an opportunity to throw it,” Saban said. “I think we were throwing it into the wind and the ball was floating and sailing on him a little bit in the first quarter, so it definitely went better in the other direction. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue spreading them out and throwing the ball effectively.”

TIDE SCORES ON OPENING DRIVE
Alabama took the opening kickoff and marched to a touchdown for a 7-0 lead on an 11-yard run by Mark Ingram with 14:03 left in the first quarter. Alabama has now scored on its opening possession in four of the first five games of the 2009 season, having marched to two field goals and two touchdowns this season. In the Nick Saban Era, Alabama has scored on its opening possession in 19 of 31 games. Over those 31 games, the Crimson Tide has started games by scoring 10 touchdowns and has kicked nine field goals. Alabama scored on its first possession in nine of its 13 games in 2007 and six of its 14 games last season.

OFFENSE AWAKENS WITH 97-YARD TOUCHDOWN DRIVE
Alabama’s offense broke out of its early doldrums with a 13-play, 97-yard drive in the second quarter that extended the Crimson Tide’s lead to 14-6 late in the first half. It marked the second straight game that Alabama has constructed a march of more than 95 yards. Last week against Arkansas, Alabama moved 99 yards in 13 plays for its final touchdown in a 35-7 victory over the Razorbacks. Through the first half of the Kentucky game, Alabama has marched 80 yards or more seven times and 90 yards or more three times this season. On the three 90+-yard drives, quarterback Greg McElroy has completed 14 of 16 passes for 174 yards.

FAST STARTING TIDE
With the touchdown on Alabama’s opening drive accounting for the Crimson Tide’s lone score of the first quarter against Kentucky, Alabama has scored on nine of its 16 first quarter possessions this season (five field goals and four touchdowns). The Crimson Tide has run 92 first quarter plays this season and totaled 506 yards after being held to 26 yards on nine plays in the first quarter against Kentucky.

ARENAS RETURNS OPENING KICKOFF 60 YARDS TO SET UP TIDE TOUCHDOWN
Senior return man Javier Arenas set up Alabama’s first offensive possession of the Kentucky game by returning the opening kickoff 60 yards to the Wildcat 38-yard line. That return gives Arenas 201 yards on six kickoff returns this season, raising his average per kickoff return to 33.5 yards. Arenas, Alabama’s career leader in kickoff returns and yardage, now has returned 77 kickoffs for 1,816 yards for an average of 23.6 yards per kickoff return.

BARRON’S INTERCEPTION
Sophomore defensive back Mark Barron made his second interception of the season (and his career) at the Kentucky 38-yard line to end Kentucky’s first possession. Barron also intercepted a pass against Florida International and has broken up four passes in the two games leading into today’s contest.

PEEK SCORES FIRST TD AT ALABAMA
Senior tight end Colin Peek capped a 13-play, 97-yard touchdown drive with a three-yard catch, his first touchdown reception in an Alabama uniform. A transfer from Georgia Tech who saw action in 2005 and 2007 for the Yellow Jackets, Peek’s touchdown was the second of his collegiate career. Peek’s first scoring catch came for Georgia Tech against Georgia on a 17-yard pass from Taylor Bennett on November 24, 2007.

COURTNEY UPSHAW RETURNS FUMBLE FOR TOUCHDOWN
Sophomore linebacker Courtney Upshaw has already had a memorable first career start against Kentucky, grabbing a fumble out of the air and returning it 45 yards for a touchdown to give Alabama a 21-6 lead in the second quarter. Junior linebacker Roland McClain caused the fumble after a pass reception. It is the first fumble returned for a touchdown by the Crimson Tide since McClain returned a fumble 4 yards for a score against Kentucky on October 4, 2008.

TODAY’S GAME CAPTAINS & COIN TOSS
Alabama’s game captains for the Kentucky game were senior deep snapper Brian Selman, junior quarterback Greg McElroy, senior cornerback Javier Arenas and junior linebacker Rolando McClain. Alabama won the opening coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. Kentucky chose to defend the West end zone.