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TRips: Three matchups for the D

Previewing three matchups for the Alabama defense in the Crimson Tide's upcoming game against Western Carolina.

For as long as the game is competitive, WCU's spread offense should keep Mosley busy.

Alabama inside linebackers 32 CJ Mosley (6'3, 232, Jr.); 33 Trey DePriest (6'2, 245, So.) and 35 Nico Johnson (6'3, 245, Sr.) vs. Western Carolina running backs 20 Darius Ramsey (5'7, 175, Fr.) and 5 Michael Johnson (5'10, 205, Sr.).

From the UA perspective: Mosley's 14 stops against Texas A&M marked his fourth double-digit tackle performance of the season. His sack of quarterback Johnny Manziel served as the lone tackle for loss by a UA inside linebacker in the game.

Outside of Mosley, there hasn't been a lot of negative play production from the inside spots as Johnson and DePriest have combined to make just four tackles for loss in 10 games. While Mosley is tied for the team lead in sacks with four, Johnson and DePriest have yet to post one this season.

From the Western Carolina perspective: Ramsey is part of a WCU youth movement that has eight true freshmen among its starting 22, including five on offense.

With 502 rushing yards in eight games, Ramsey leads a Catamount ground game that ranks fifth (176.6 ypg) in the Southern Conference.

Who gets the nod?: Ramsey going against Alabama's linebackers isn't as big of a mismatch as the one that will confront the diminutive back's offensive line, as the Catamounts will likely start three freshmen up front Saturday. Edge to UA.

Alabama safeties 6 HaHa Clinton-Dix (6'1, 209, So.) and 37 Robert Lester (6'2, 210, Sr.) vs. Western Carolina quarterbacks 10 Troy Mitchell (6'0, 190, Fr.) and 9 Eddie Sullivan (6'0, 200, So.).

From the UA perspective: Not the best of performances for Alabama's safeties in the loss to A&M, as they were a tad late on some occasions and out of position on others. After intercepting passes in seven of their first eight games of the season, Alabama defensive backs have gone two games without a takeaway of any kind.

From the Western Carolina perspective: In a cruel twist, a freshman quarterback who can make plays with his legs will visit Bryant-Denny Stadium this weekend.

And while no one is referring to Mitchell as "Troy Football", he does lead the Catamounts in rushing touchdowns (eight) and checks in second in rushing yards (401).

Sullivan, a decent runner himself (4.9 ypc), has started six games behind center this season and leads WCU in passing yards (916).

Of particular concern for Catamount quarterbacks this week will be protection, as they'll be counting on two true freshman tackles -- Josh Wineberg and Matt DeGraffinreed -- to help keep them clean.

Who gets the nod?: Western is averaging a respectable 25.7 points per game, but after seeing Manziel, the Catamounts' version of the spread will seem two steps slower to the Alabama defense. Edge to UA.

Alabama cornerbacks 28 Dee Milliner (6'1, 199, Jr.); 13 Deion Belue (5'11, 179, Jr.); 24 Geno Smith (6'0, 182, Fr.) and safety 3 Vinnie Sunseri (6'0, 215, So.) vs. Western Carolina wide receivers 8 Spearman Robinson (6'4, 215, Fr.); 4 Jacoby Mitchell (6'0, 200, Sr.); and 3 Deja Alexander (6'0, 205, Jr.).

From the UA perspective: With John Fulton (turf toe) likely out for WCU, another shakeup to the Crimson Tide's nickel and dime packages could be in the offing.

Based on UA coach Nick Saban's comments following Wednesday's practice, Smith could play a large role in the final two regular season games -- and perhaps even the SEC Championship Game. He's worked at star while see spot duty this season, so it will be interesting to see if the true freshman mans the nickel spot or works at corner, with Milliner lining up inside for the second straight week.

From the Western Carolina perspective: Working from the slot, Mitchell leads WCU in receptions (40), receiving yards (400) and touchdown receptions (three). Meanwhile, true freshman Robinson ranks second in receptions (39) and receiving yards (376).

He's not listed as a starter, but keep an eye on 14 Kamorris Benson (6'1, 200) when he enters the game. The junior is averaging 18.4 yards per catch and has a long reception of 62 yards.

Who gets the nod?: A WCU passing attack that ranks 88th in FCS would seem to be just what a UA pass defense that has given up more than 250 passing yards in each of its last two games needs. Edge to UA.

Also see: TRips: Three matchups for the O.

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