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Insider

Tide schedule preview: WKU

6/19/2012

The rundown

Western Kentucky's 2011 record: 7-5

All-time against the SEC: 0-17

All-time against Alabama: 0-1

Top returners: LB Andrew Jackson, DL Quanterus Smith, QB Kawaun Jakes, TE Jack Doyle, OL Adam Smith

Key losses: RB Bobby Rainey, DL Bo Adebayo, DB Derrius Brooks

Statistical leaders

Rushing: Bobby Rainey (1,695 yards)

Passing: Kawaun Jakes (1,854 yards)

Receiving: Jack Doyle (614 yards)

Tackles: Andrew Jackson (109)

Sacks: Quanterus Smith (7.5)

Interceptions: Derrius Brooks (4)

Did you know:

Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart inherited the football program in the midst of a 26-game losing streak. Two years later, the Hilltoppers finished 7-5 and Taggart earned a four-year contract extension that more than doubled his salary.

Three things to watch:

1. The unkown: The last time Alabama faced Western Kentucky was 2008. A presidential election was on and the Nick Saban system was just getting off the ground. Since then much has changed. WKU changed coaches and lost the bulk of its offense from last season when Bobby Rainey graduated. What they'll look like in 2012 is anyone's guess. They're a team predicated on playing old school, physical football. But against Alabama, expect a few wrinkles to try and catch the Tide off guard early.

2. The schedule: Don't call it a trap game because it's not. Yes, Alabama will be coming off a gargantuan match-up with Michigan, and might look past the Hilltoppers to its Week 3 showdown with Arkansas. But trap games don't appear in Week 2 of the football season. Saban will have to keep the Tide focused on the task at hand, but that shouldn't be too difficult so early in the season.

3. Attitude: How Alabama comes out to play WKU will say a lot about the mentality of a squad that's worn the "It's not going to be 2010 again" slogan around its neck all spring. Michigan is a game that hypes itself. The same cannot be said for the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky. If Alabama really has the focus and drive they claim, then they'll show it by not lollygagging against an inferior opponent, putting them down quickly and moving on.