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September 7, 2012

Players to Watch: WKU

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
T.J. Yeldon
Position: Running back
Height: 6-2 Weight: 216 Class: Freshman
Key Stat: Yeldon went off for 111 yards on just 11 carries in Alabama's season opener against Michigan.
Buzz: If there was no buzz around Yeldon before - and there was to a degree from Alabama's recruiting battle against Auburn to sign him - then there certainly is now. Yeldon looks to be the next big-time running back to come through the Alabama program, but keep in mind that he's just a rookie. It should be fun to watch him mature.

Deion Belue
Position: Cornerback
Height: 5-11 Weight: 179 Class: Junior
Key Stat: Scored 10 touchdowns in one season in high school - five on receptions, two on interception returns, two on punt returns and one on a kickoff return.
Buzz: Belue made three tackles against Michigan, but also got beat on a deep ball. This game will be a good spot for him to show his growth as a cover corner, and Western Kentucky's West Coast offense will present some challenges. If Belue improves from game to game to match Dee Milliner's production, UA's pass defense will be fine.

Trey DePriest
Position: Linebacker
Height: 6-2 Weight: 245 Class: Sophomore
Key Stat: DePriest made a team-high seven tackles in his 2012 debut, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
Buzz: In this case, believe the hype. DePriest spent last season as an understudy, and even then he kept working himself onto the field in meaningful situations. Now, in just his second season, he seems to be following in the line of linebackers Rolando McClain and Dont'a Hightower that came before him. DePriest is a big hitter, but he also is able to roam sideline to sideline and understand the game.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Kawaun James
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-3 Weight: 194 Class: Senior
Key Stat: Jakes completed 18 of 23 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns with one interception last weekend.
Buzz: Western Kentucky goes as Jakes goes. He is a superior athlete with a proven ability to make plays, but whether he can do that against a fast and furious Alabama defense has yet to be seen. The Hilltoppers would ideally like him to be efficient and complete 65 percent of his passes, but that's going to be hard to do in this contest.

Antonio Andrews
Position: Running back
Height: 6-0 Weight: 211 Class: Junior
Key Stat: Pick one - he ran for 39 yards, had 59 yards in receptions and added a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown in Western Kentucky's victory over Austin Peay last week.
Buzz: The Hilltoppers will find ways to get the ball into Andrews' hands, both on offense and as a returner. He may see more action with starter Keshawn Simpson doubtful due to injury. Andrews is speedy and shifty enough to break the long plays, and he figures to test Alabama as a receiver out of the backfield adn in the return game.

Andrew Jackson
Position: Linebacker
Height: 6-1 Weight: 265 Class: Junior
Key Stat: Jackson was one of the nation's top 40 tacklers last season with 109 stops, including 17 behind the line of scrimmage.
Buzz: That's right, he's 6-foot-1 and 265 pounds of you-don't-want-none. Jackson is one of those high-caliber players who sometimes find their home at mid-major programs. He has NFL size, and this game will tell us whether he can really play at the big-boy level. Considering he made eight tackles with 1.5 sacks against LSU last year in one of his most productive outings, the answer is probably yes.

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