- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
With the personnel losses on defense from a year ago, coupled with the loss of gritty senior quarterback Brodie Croyle, you had a feeling that Alabama might take a nosedive toward the middle of the conference this season. That's precisely what has happened, although the Crimson Tide (4-2, 1-2) are one made field goal or even a made extra point away from possibly being a one-loss team right now. The 24-23 double-overtime loss to Arkansas was one of those body blows that aches for weeks to come. Even so, Alabama had its chances against Florida in the second half, but two interceptions by sophomore quarterback John Parker Wilson sealed the Gators' win.
The running game has been average at best all season, and senior tailback Kenneth Darby will struggle at this rate to record his third straight 1,000-yard season. In fairness, he is running behind an offensive line that hasn't gotten consistent push and has also allowed Wilson to take too many hits. The Tide has also struggled to finish drives. The defense has given the Tide a chance in just about every game. But unlike the 2005 unit that was ranked No. 1 in the country, this isn't the kind of defense that can carry a team. Twice this season, the defense failed to come up with key stops against Arkansas in the second overtime and against Florida in the fourth quarter when Alabama trailed by only one point.
After starting the year on suspension, junior receiver DJ Hall has been Alabama's most consistent and most explosive weapon. He's third in the league in all-purpose yardage with an average of 119.2 yards per game. He's second in receiving yards per game (96.8) and is averaging 20.2 yards per catch. He also has four touchdown catches.
Florida and Arkansas are the favorites to win the SEC championship, but they'll have stiff competition from LSU, Tennessee and Auburn.