We're now 100 days away from the start of the 2024 Alabama football season, and the anticipation continues to build for Kalen DeBoer's first season as the head coach of the Crimson Tide.

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As we get closer to the start of the season, we are beginning our previews of Alabama football's opponents for the 2024-2025 season. This is only for the regular season, and this is only previewing Alabama's opponents for the season. SEC previews will also come during the offseason, but later in the summer as we get closer to SEC media days.

Last Meeting - September 10, 2016

Alabama - 38
Western Kentucky - 10

Last Season

Western Kentucky went 8-5 last season, including a bowl win over Old Dominion in the Famous Toastery Bowl.

Tyson Helton is entering his sixth season as the Western Kentucky head coach. Helton has been to a Bowl Game in every season as the Hilltoppers' coach, with a 4-1 record in those games. The quarterbacks coach, Drew Hollingshead, is the same from 2023, but Western Kentucky hired Will Friend as the team's offensive coordinator for 2024.


Last Season's Leaders

Passing Yards - Austin Reed - 3,340 yards, 31 TD, 11 INT.
Rushing Yards - Malachi Corley - 984 yards, 11 TD
Rushing Yards - Elijah Young - 474 yards, 3 TD

Western Kentucky threw the ball 60.2% of the time last season and ran the ball 39.8%. Austin Reed accounted for 86.7% of the team's passing yards in 2023 and must replace that heading into 2024.

Western Kentucky will debut a new starting quarterback against the Crimson Tide, which is less than ideal for a quarterback potentially making his first career start for Western Kentucky. However, the quarterback will not be an opponent unfamiliar with Alabama, as the expected starter is set to be former LSU, Auburn, and Texas-State quarterback TJ Finley. Finley was the starting quarterback for LSU in 2020 when Alabama won 55-17 en route to an undefeated season, and he was the starting quarterback in 2021 for Auburn when Bryce Young led a comeback drive en route to a 24-22 win and a National Championship appearance. Finley had a much better season with Texas-State in 2023, throwing for 3,439 yards and 24 touchdowns.

If it is not Finley, then Caden Veltkamp will make his first career start in college football as a redshirt freshman. He replaced Turner Helton mid-game in the bowl game against Old Dominion. Veltkamp threw for 383 yards and five touchdowns, adding 53 yards rushing as well, en route to the 28-point comeback victory for WKU.

WKU returns their top running back from last season, with Elijah Young spending three seasons at Missouri before starting for Western Kentucky last season. Young's best game came in week 10 against UTEP, where he rushed for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns on 12 carries in a 21-13 win.

With Malachi Corley heading to the NFL, Dalvin Smith is expected to step up as the leading wide receiver for the Hilltoppers. In 2023, he had 50 receptions for 513 yards and six touchdowns as the Hilltoppers' wide receiver two. His best game came in week 12 against Sam Houston State, where he recorded seven receptions for 125 yards and one touchdown. His only multi-touchdown game of the season was in Western Kentucky's bowl game, where he recorded nine receptions for 77 yards and three touchdowns. Two of Smith's touchdowns were one-handed catches.


Last Season's Leaders

Tackles - Kylan Guidry - 54 total tackles
Sacks - Kendrick Simpkins - 6.5 sacks
Pass Breakups - Upton Stout - 8 PBU
Interceptions - Anthony Johnson Jr. - 4 INT

Western Kentucky is returning its leading tackler from 2023, but losing the next three for the 2024 season. The Hilltoppers' are also replacing their leading sack leader from 2023, with Simpkins transferring to Baylor. Stout and Johnson Jr. are returning to the secondary, which will help provide stability to a defense that ranked No. 108 in total defense and tied for No. 90 overall in scoring defense.

Alabama will take on Western Kentucky at 6:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, August 31, 2024. You can watch the game on ESPN or listen to Chris Stewart on the call for the game on Tide 100.9 FM, 1230 WTBC AM, or the free Tide 100.9 app. You can also listen to the game on 95.3 The Bear FM and the free 95.3 The Bear app.

Wyatt Fulton is the TIde 100.9 DME and Brand Manager, primarily covering Alabama Crimson Tide football and men's basketball. For more Crimson Tide coverage, follow Wyatt on X (Formerly known as Twitter) at @FultonW_.

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