Previewing three matchups for the Alabama offense in the Crimson Tide's upcoming game against Western Carolina.
Kenyan Drake should get plenty of work this week.
Alabama running backs 42 Eddie Lacy (6'0, 220, rJr.) and 4 TJ Yeldon (6'2, 216, Fr.) vs. Western Carolina strongside linebacker 51 Rock Williams (6'2, 220, Sr.) and weakside linebacker 41 Courtland Carson (6'1, 200, Jr.) .
From the UA perspective: The Alabama running game has gone three straight games without hitting the 200-yard mark. The last time that happened was 2010, when an Alabama team picked to win the national championship finished the season with three losses instead. See where I'm going here?
Dating back to Missouri, Yeldon and Lacy are virtually dead even in rushing yards (462-457) and rushing touchdowns (6-5). With 92 yards against Texas A&M last week, Lacy reclaimed the season rushing lead (771), while Yeldon's 29 yards last week were enough to push him (754) past Trent Richardson's freshman output of 751 yards.
From the Western Carolina perspective: Williams and Carson make up the second level of the Catamounts' 4-2-5 defense. Williams entered the week as the Southern Conference's leading tackler with 105 stops in eight games (13.1 tpg). Carson ranks second among WCU defenders in tackles with 93, including five stops for loss.
Who gets the nod?: There are 121 teams in Football Championship Subdivision. WCU ranks 120th in rushing defense, giving up 332 yards per game. After going two games without a touch, UA true freshman Kenyan Drake should get plenty of work this week. Edge to UA.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (6'4, 210, Jr.) vs. Western Carolina safety 29 Ace Clark (6'3, 205, So.).
From the UA perspective: The question here is, how much of McCarron will we see on Saturday? Probably enough to get the junior the one touchdown pass he needs to break Greg McElroy's single-season mark for scoring passes.
From the Western Carolina perspective: Clark headlines the WCU secondary, ranking among team leaders in interceptions (two) and pass breakups (four). In seven games, he's racked up 83 tackles, a total that ranks fourth on the team.
Who gets the nod?: The good news for WCU is that it ranks 33rd in FCS in pass defense (187 ypg). The bad news is that it ranks 114th in pass efficiency defense. The Catamounts don't give up too many yards, but when they do, they usually go for touchdowns (18). Edge to UA.
Alabama wide receivers 83 Kevin Norwood (6'2, 195, rJr.); 22 Christion Jones (5'11, 185, So.); 9 Amari Cooper (6'1, 198, Fr.); and 7 Kenny Bell (6'1, 180, rJr.) vs. Western Carolina cornerbacks 1 Elijer Martinez (5'9, 180, Sr.) and 2 Jaleel Lorquet (5'10, 165, Fr.); and safety 39 Sertonuse Harris (6'0, 180, Fr.).
From the UA perspective: After being shutout at LSU, Cooper resurfaced with a bang last week, turning in his second 100-yard receiving performance in a month. Likewise for Bell, who after taking the bagel in Baton Rouge caught three passes for 73 yards in the loss to the Aggies.
From the Western Carolina perspective: Martinez is the veteran leader of an otherwise especially green trio. That said, true freshman Lorquet is the guy to watch. He's tied for the team lead in both interceptions (two) and leads all WCU corners in tackles with 40. Harris, another freshman, heads to Tuscaloosa as the Catamounts' third-leading tackler with 85 stops.
Who gets the nod?: With Lorquet and Harris having cut their teeth in the toughest conference in FCS, the future appears bright for the WCU secondary. As far as this week goes, though, the disparity in talent and experience will be too much for the Catamounts to overcome. Edge to UA.