Previewing three matchups for the Alabama defense in the top-ranked Crimson Tide's matchup with Georgia State.
Sunseri's presence gives the secondary the luxury of having an additional play caller.
From the UA perspective: With the suspension of HaHa Clinton-Dix, Sunseri becomes the primary play caller for the secondary. Fortunately for Alabama, it's a role the junior is fully comfortable handling.
What isn't certain is how defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will go about replacing Clinton-Dix. There are a couple of potential scenarios worth pondering. The first has Collins joining Sunseri at safety in the base and nickel packages and sliding to money in the dime, with Smith back filling at safety. Or it could be as simple as Smith taking over at safety in all three packages, with Collins maintaining his role as the money defender (dime back) when UA goes with six defensive backs.
From the GSU perspective: It's been a bit of an up and down start to the 2013 season for Bell, who sandwiched lackluster performances against Chattanooga (70 passing yards) and West Virginia (63 passing yards) between productive outings against Samford (391 passing yards and three touchdowns) and, most recently, Jacksonville State (250 passing yards and two touchdowns).
Who gets the nod?: Bell hasn't completed more than 50 percent of his passes in a game since the Panthers' season-opening loss to Samford. He did rush for 57 yards against Jacksonville State a few weeks ago, so he's shown he can make plays with his legs.
As for Alabama, this isn't the kind of opponent that can exploit the loss of Clinton-Dix with a great deal of success. Whether it's Collins or Smith (or both) who is charged with the task of replacing UA's second-leading tackler, the back end of the Crimson Tide defense should be in good enough hands that Clinton-Dix's absence won't be noticeable. Edge to Alabama.
Alabama inside linebackers 32 CJ Mosley (6'2, 232, Sr.) and 33 Trey DePriest (6'2, 245, Jr.) vs. Georgia State running back 21 Travis Evans (5'11, 190, Sr.).
From the UA perspective: In wins over Colorado State and Ole Miss, Mosley and DePriest combined to make 26 tackles, including 2.5 for loss. With the Georgia State offense operating mostly from "21" (two backs and a tight end) and "11" (one back and a tight end) personnel groupings, look for base and nickel personnel from the Alabama defense, which means plenty of DePriest (while the game is in doubt, at least).
From the GSU perspective: Saturday will present Evans with his second crack at the UA defense. As a freshman in 2010, he rushed for 30 yards against the Crimson Tide in a 63-7 loss.
As has been the case with the rest of the GSU offense, Evans has struggled to find a level of consistency. As a result, GSU entered Alabama week averaging just 97 rushing yards per game.
After sitting out the season opener while serving a suspension, Evans returned to rush for 25 yards on 10 carries in a 42-14 loss to Chattanooga. He followed that up by rushing for a career-high 118 yards, including a career-long touchdown run of 65 yards, in a 41-7 loss at West Virginia on Sept. 14. Despite seeing his workload increase against Jacksonville State the following week, Evans, who ranks second on GSU's career-rushing list with 1,283 yards, managed just 45 yards on 20 carries in an overtime loss to the Gamecocks.
Who gets the nod?: Along with Sunseri's knowledge of the playbook, Mosley's presence on the second level is another reason why Clinton-Dix's absence shouldn't present much of an obstacle to the Crimson Tide defense over the short term. Given this week's opponent, expect the next wave of Alabama inside linebackers to get plenty of work. With Mosley in his swansong season at UA, Reggie Ragland, Dillon Lee and Reuben Foster need all the reps they can get. Edge to UA.
Alabama cornerbacks 13 Deion Belue (5'11, 183, Sr.); and 4 Eddie Jackson (6'0, 175, Fr.); and star 20 Jarrick Williams (6'1, 210, Jr.) vs. Georgia State wide receivers 2 Albert Wilson (5'9, 200, Jr.); 17 Danny Williams (6'4, 210, Sr.); 19 Robert Davis (6'2, 190, Fr.); and 4 Kelton Hill (6'0, 185, Sr.).
From the UA perspective: The list of potential participants for Alabama in this matchup has narrowed considerably. That's a direct effect of Jackson's performance against Ole Miss. In stuffing the stat sheet in his first SEC start, the rookie showed the physical and mental maturity needed to not only survive at the position as a true freshman, but play at a high level.
Combine the emerging Jackson with the steady Williams at star and an all-conference caliber corner in Belue and the outlook for the corner and nickel spots is much brighter than just a week ago.
From the GSU perspective: If Wilson's name sounds familiar to UA fans it's because he was responsible for the Panthers' lone score in the 2010 meeting. As a freshman, the speedster returned a Cade Foster kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.
As a receiver, Wilson's career average of 19.6 yards per catch ranks first among active FBS players. Of his 19 career touchdown receptions, 17 have covered 25 yards or more, with eight of those spanning 50 yards or more.
True freshman Davis has made an immediate impact on the offense, hauling in at least three passes in each of his first four games on the collegiate level. Davis posted his first 100-yard game against Chattanooga on Sept. 7 and caught his first touchdown pass against Jacksonville State two weeks ago.
Williams and Hill, who has two touchdown grabs on the season, round out the rotation. Williams started against UA in the 2010 meeting, catching one pass for nine yards. As a backup quarterback in 2010, Hill, the only player in GSU football history to account for touchdowns as a receiver, rusher and passer, also saw action against Alabama, tying Evans for leading rushing honors with 30 yards in the game.
Who gets the nod?: Don't sleep on Wilson, who caught a 75-yard touchdown pass on the opening play of the Jacksonville State game. He's had three 100-yard games already this season and GSU offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski is creative in how he gets Wilson touches. In addition to giving Alabama's corners a good look, he'll test a UA kickoff coverage unit that has been stout to this point.
The question is, will Bell be able to get the ball to Wilson and his fellow receivers with any type of consistency through the air? It was a problem at West Virginia, as Wilson was shutout by a defense that ranks 31st nationally against the pass. Edge to Alabama.
Also see: Three matchups for the offense