Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
The battle in the trenches when State has the ball..
Nick Saban, Kirby Smart and company play a 3-4 defense. MSU has already seen this style two weeks ago vs. Tennessee. The only difference, Alabama is actually good at it.
So, they'll have three down lineman - one nose tackle and two ends. Here they are...
- NG - Sr. Jesse Williams, 6'-4" 320: 2nd team All-American by Phil Steele.
- DE - Sr. Damion Square, 6'-3" 286
- DE - Jr. Ed Stinson, 6'-4" 282
- Watch out for DE Jeoffrey Pagan (6'-4" 285 So.) as well, he gets a lot of playing time.
Those are some big defensive ends. Not in height, but in weight. Usually your speed pass rushers are 250-260 lbs. Square has two sacks this year, Stinson has three. But in a 3-4 you don't necessarily need the DE to sack the quarterback, a lot of times you'll get more from a linebacker coming off the edge.
The good news for State is they have a very strong interior line. Dillon Day has played solid all year, Gabe Jackson is the best lineman we have a LG, and Tobias Smith has been superb when available. Smith is expected to play in this game, for most of the game, but Justin Malone will certainly see the field. How many guys will it take to contain Jesse Williams? The inside running game will be key - can Day, Jackson, or Smith contain him alone?
After Damien Robinson's misteps vs. MTSU, we can be sure he won't play in this game. So Charles Siddoway will probably man RT the entire game, with Blaine Clausell at LT. This is the biggest game either one of them have played in. Clausell played at UGA and at ARK last year but this is a different animal. They will be under the lights, in T-town, in a huge game with the best athletes they've ever seen charging hard.
This O-line will get plenty of looks, and they are likely to miss a few blocks with all the looks they will get from this defense. The preparation they will put in this week will be the key. Knowing who to block, and making sure they don't leave a linebacker or safety with a clear lane to nail Russell.
I think State's offensive line is adequate enough to hold off Bama's D-line if the game plan is right. Russell won't have much time in the pocket, that is for sure, but that is not necessarily at reflection of poor play. State should be able to hold blocks, just not as long as usual....so the decisions by the skill players will need to be made quicker. Russell will have to get the ball out of his hands, Perkins will have to hit the hole fast.