October 31, 2007

Alabama-LSU: 5 on the spot

The Alabama football team faces Louisiana State at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday, with sole possession of first place in the SEC West at stake. Here are five players to watch against the Tigers:

1.] Evan Cardwell

Cardwell makes his fourth consecutive start at center. LSU All-American defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, if healthy, will be his toughest assignment by far. Dorsey leads the Tigers defensive line in tackles (39), TFLs (6.5) and sacks (4), which is virtually unheard of for a tackle. After a vicious chopblock put him out of the Auburn game with knee pain, however, Dorsey's effectiveness could be limited. Regardless of Dorsey's status, Cardwell will have to play his best game of the season if Alabama is to sustain any success with an inside running game.

2.] Keith Saunders

The senior outside linebacker still seeks his first TFL of the season and has made just 12 solo stops in eight games. His performance against LSU, however, is especially important given the ankle sprain that hampers UA's starting OLB on the opposite side, Ezekial Knight. If Knight is unable to make his usual presence felt, Saunders will need to play his best game since his season-high 10-tackle performance against Georgia. That will mean getting a hand in a few big plays, not just cleaning up with assists on gains of six.

3.] Mike Johnson

Johnson will spend most of the day blocking LSU standout defensive end Tyson Jackson, who is as talented as any end Johnson has seen this season. Jackson is big enough to play tackle at 6-foot-5, 290 pounds. While he's not had a stellar year in the sack department (0.5 in eight games), he is tough to move at the point of attack and plays the run very well. Jackson also has batted down five passes to lead the LSU defensive line. Johnson played one of his better games against Tennessee after having a rough time with Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy.

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