Part two of the two part series in my Q&A with Tony Breland, the managing editor from the Alabama site on the FanSided network, Bama Hammer takes a closer look at the offense LSU will face Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.
Related: Part 1 with Bama Hammer
1. How healthy is Amari Cooper? Norwood’s looked great, but who will be the second and third options in the pass game that can exploit LSU?
Healthy is a relative term. Cooper has had nagging injuries all season, and it has kept him from getting the touches he had a freshman last season, which in turn has led to some frustration on his part. He looked good against Tennessee, catching five passes for 75 yards and a score, and hopes to add more against LSU. As for Kevin Norwood, I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s absolutely clutch when you need a first down, and he is almost impossible to defend. Beyond them, Christion Jones has become a reliable receiver, and DeAndrew White and Chris Black give Alabama plenty of options at receiver
2. T.J. Yeldon is the workhorse back, but Kenyan Drake has been awfully effective the past three games. How does his presence impact the offense and what they like to run?
It’s no secret to BamaHammer readers that we’re huge Kenyan Drake fans. Drake was in Saban’s doghouse early on, but worked his way back into the No.2 spot and has been spectacular. He’s got a quicker initial burst than Yeldon, who is more patient and waits for the holes to open up. Drake has had problems with ball security though, and that limits what he’ll be allowed to do. Still, Yeldon-Drake is a different than the smashmouth tandem of, say, Richardson-Lacy. It’s speed on top of speed, and it’s been really effective.
3. The OL lost 3 All-American’s last year, how has this unit come together after some early-season questions?
Much, much better than anyone expected. The chemistry has improved among the players on the offensive line and the trust and communication is there. That’s led to AJ McCarron having plenty of time to throw, and has allowed the run game to develop. McCarron has only hit the dirt seven times this season, which is a testament to the protection he’s getting.
4. Who has been the unsung hero on offense and defense this year?
I think Cade Foster deserves recognition. He’s 8-of-9 in field goal attempts this season, including one from 53 yards out. But ridiculous as it sounds, I think AJ McCarron is an unsung hero outside of Tuscaloosa. He’s been called a game manager, and an on-field coach, but the kid is more than that. He has made the throws he’s needed to make, and been a true quarterback and leader on this team. He could leave Alabama with four national championships (including one as a backup to Greg McElroy), and is still not getting anywhere near the Heisman trophy. If that’s not unsung, I don’t know what is.
5. How does the hype for this game compare to the Week 2 game at A&M?
I don’t think the hype is at that level, simply because the hype for A&M was off the charts. For this game, the hype is whether Alabama can stay unbeaten and keep alive the pursuit of a third BCS title. LSU is the last real roadblock for Alabama in the regular season, with the possible exception of Auburn. Still, it’s a very big game, and there’s no doubt both teams will be ready.
6. Will the hype for an Alabama-LSU game ever come close to matching 2011′s “Game of the Century?
I hope not; it was exhausting. In all seriousness, it’s just great for Alabama fans that we’re at the pinnacle of college football, and we should be enjoying every second of it, because it won’t last forever.
7. Excluding the 2011 BCS Title game (I assume that’s your favorite) what has been your favorite moment/game during the Saban-Miles era in this rivalry?
I’d have to say that last year’s miracle run by T.J. Yeldon stands out because of everything that was at stake at the time. Alabama was held in check that game, in Death Valley, and still managed to find a way to win out. That’s the sort of thing that makes any rivalry special.
8. What’s your prediction for Saturday night?
Alabama 31 – 17