Senior corner Simeon Castille has been a bit overshadowed this season by true freshman Kareem Jackson starting at the opposite corner spot. Jackson
has shut down many of the Tide's top opposing receivers all season hauling in three interceptions on the season. Free safety Rashad Johnson has also produced plenty of big plays in the secondary recording an SEC-best five picks while leading the team in tackles. Strong safety Marcus Carter is a solid run stopper but has struggled in coverage.
With each passing week Wesley Carroll shows an improving knowledge of the MSU offense. That was certainly the case during the upset of the Wildcats as the Bulldogs opened up the play book - showing some creativity. This new offensive approach has allowed the Bulldogs to get WRs Tony Burks and Jamayel Smith more involved in the offense thus keeping defenses honest when playing the run. Carroll is completing 54 percent of his passes while Burks paces the team with 13.8 yards per catch.
Senior Darren Mustin has become a vocal leader on the Tide defense providing consistent play in the middle for the Tide as well as impressive blitzing ability while freshman Rolando McClain has shown a great deal of promise at the weakside spot. Outside linebacker Ezekial Knight has excelled in the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker role hauling in two interceptions in pass coverage this season in addition to providing plenty of pressure as a speedy pass rusher.
Under Coach Croom the Bulldogs are dedicated to pounding the football and to do that they turn to Anthony Dixon, who is tied with D. McFadden with 12 rushing touchdowns. Dixon
has been a beast at times this season, but he has also put the ball on the ground - particularly against UK
. When Dixon
is not carrying the mail for the Bulldogs, Christian Ducre' gets the call. Against UK Ducre' carried the ball 19 times for 119 yards and a score, proving to me more than just a backup RB.
Thought to be the Tide's primary weakness this season, the defensive line has shown steady improvement producing plenty of quarterback pressure all season, particularly against SEC opponents. Senior defensive end Wallace Gilberry has come on strong in the past month causing plenty of disruption in the backfield while defensive tackle Lorenzo Washington
has done an admirable job of plugging the hole and stopping the run. Brandon Deaderick has brought a tenacious energy to his defensive end spot as well.
The big guys up front are taking a lot of pride in being able to control the line of scrimmage. The experience of tackles, Michael Brown and J.D. Hamilton as well as center,Royce Blackledge, gives the Bulldogs the ability to run the football even though the opposition knows what is coming. They have also protected the QB better of late, only allowing 14 sacks (sixth in the SEC) which is down from the 29 of a season ago.