A look around the SEC

Originally Published: September 15, 2004
By Chris Low | Special to ESPN.com
Is Arkansas coach Houston Nutt second-guessing himself over last week's play-calling? What's wrong with Kentucky's offense? Our SEC notebook addresses those questions, along with looks at the quarterback situations at LSU and Ole Miss, Georgia's injuries at running back, and more.

Alabama may be off to its first 2-0 start since 1999 with Division I-AA opponent Western Carolina coming to town Saturday, but head coach Mike Shula obviously doesn't have a short memory. It was about this time a year ago that Northern Illinois turned the Capstone upside down with a shocking 19-16 win over the Crimson Tide, who never seemed to recover and won only twice more the rest of the way.

"We've got to continue to improve no matter who we play," Shula said. "It's hard to keep a 10-year veteran in the NFL focused, much less a kid in college."

Roman Harper's transition from strong to free safety went from OK to superb in one week's time. After recording just one tackle in the opener against Utah State, Harper finished with 11 tackles, including a sack, forced a fumble and had two pass deflections in Alabama's 28-7 victory over Mississippi.

"He's been a little bit like Brodie (Croyle) on the offense," Shula said. "He's been very productive for us on the defensive side. He just always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He's emerging more so as a leader than he's ever been. A lot of it's been because he's running the defense."

Chris Low | email

ESPN Senior Staff Writer