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November 16, 2012Take a closer look at the players who are expected to have a major impact when the Tide and the Catamounts take the field.
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Position: Tight end
Height: 6-6 Weight: 269 Class: Senior
Key Stat: Williams has 17 receptions for 134 yards and three touchdowns.
Buzz: In the last two games, however, Williams has only caught two passes for 26 yards, including a 20-yard catch on his only touch in the loss to Texas A&M. Williams is a big target who can be a difficult matchup, and his three touchdowns attest to his value in the red zone. Alabama has been a slow-starting team of late, and getting the ball to Williams to move the chains might be a good idea.
Position: Running back
Height: 6-1 Weight: 204 Class: Freshman
Key Stat: Drake has run for 206 yards on 29 carries, averaging 7.1 yards per attempt and scoring an average of one touchdown for every sixth touch or so in his young career.
Buzz: Alabama will be best served to limit Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon to keep them fresh for next week's game against Auburn and the possible shot at the SEC championship a week later. Drake has shown himself to be explosive, and the more experience he gets now the further along he will be. Alabama needs to put this game away and get the youngsters involved.
Height: 6-6 Weight: 248 Class: Sophomore
Key Stat: Hubbard has made 31 tackles, including eight in the opponents' backfield. He has four sacks, three quarterback hurries and has forced two fumbles.
Buzz: Hubbard can be a force, but Nick Saban preaches consistency. Alabama needs Hubbard to grow into his role as a disruptive pass rusher who can also play well against a physical running game. No one on the Western Carolina side can match up with Hubbard, so this is a game where he needs to play with abandon and unleash his ability.
WESTERN CAROLINA CATAMOUNTS
Height: 6-0 Weight: 190 Class: Freshman
Key Stat: Mitchell has run for 427 yards and passed for 916, with eight rushing touchdowns and four passing touchdowns.
Buzz: He is no Johnny Football, but Mitchell does provide a dual-threat challenge for the Alabama defense. Mitchell has completed 60 percent of his passes and is also averaging 4.1 yards per carry, even with sacks figured into the equation. Whatever success the Catamounts have will be generated by Mitchell, who will be facing his biggest challenge to date.
Height: 6-0 Weight: 200 Class: Senior
Key Stat: Western Carolina's other Mitchell is the team's leading receiver with 40 catches for 400 yards, including three touchdown receptions.
Buzz: Mitchell appears to be more of a possession receiver with his 10-yards-per-catch average, and that is exactly the kind of receiver Western Carolina will need in this game. The Catamounts are no LSU or Texas A&M, but they will want to try to convert third downs and keep the Alabama defense on the field the same way UA's last two opponents have.
Position: Running back
Height: 5-7 Weight: 175 Class: Freshman
Key Stat: Ramsey is Western Carolina's leading rusher with 502 total yards in eight games, with a 4.7-yard average per carry. He has also caught 23 passes for 116 yards as a safety-valve option in the passing game.
Buzz: Ramsey is a small back, even by NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) standards, but Western Carolina's running game will be an important factor if only in keeping the clock running. Ramsey will get his chance to show his stuff against a bona fide SEC defense.