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September 21, 2012

Players to Watch: Florida Atlantic

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

Blake Sims
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-0 Weight: 212 Class: Soph.
Key stat: Sims is 2-for-2 passing for 15 yards and has two carries for 25 yards and a touchdown in limited duty, but has played as a reserve the last two weeks.
Buzz: Sims gives defenses a different look with zone-read option plays and more mobility than starter AJ McCarron. He rotated in and out of last week's game with Phillip Ely, giving the impression that Alabama's back-up plan at quarterback is a two-headed monster. Today's game may afford more insight.

Amari Cooper
Position: Wide receiver
Height: 6-1 Weight: 198 Class: Fr.
Key stat: Cooper has caught five passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. He scored on a 20-yard catch-and-run last weekend at Arkansas.
Buzz: The Crimson Tide's rookie receiver has shown flashes of what made him one of the top wideout prospects in the country, but the best is yet to come. Cooper is the kind of playmaker Alabama needs in its offense, and UA would be wise to find ways to get the ball into his hands. He has the speed to make things happen and he doesn't hesistate when he has the chance.

Denzel Devall
Position: Linebacker
Height: 6-2 Weight: 243 Class: Fr.
Key stat: In limited playing time, Devall has made four tackles, including one sack.
Buzz: Devall's motor runs on high at all times, and he looks to have a chance to be another in a long line of big-time linebackers at Alabama. He seems to make something happen every time he is on the field, whether it's making a stop or just disrupting a play, and he has a knack for being around the ball. As he gets more and more playing time, Devall is a freshman who figures to stand out. He has a bright future at UA.

Florida Atlantic

Graham Wilbert
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-6 Weight: 225 Class: Sr.
Key stat: Wilbert has the size to stand up to Alabama's pass rush and he's still standing after getting sacked five times this season and leading an offense that gave up 33 sacks in 2011.
Buzz: Gilbert has held up well under center in an offense that has struggled so far. He has passed for 190 yards per game with four touchdowns and just one interception while completing 68 percent of his passes. He will be under duress today.

Damian Fortner
Position: Running back
Height: 5-10 Weight: 200 Class: Jr.
Key stat: Fortner is averaging 4.6 yards per carry, which isn't bad on a team that has only 19 first downs on the ground and is gaining 133 rushing yards per contest.
Buzz: Florida Atlantic needs to generate some kind of ground attack against Alabama to keep the UA defense honest. Fortner is the guy who is going to have to carry the biggest load. He is averaging 61.5 yards per game, but his yards-per-carry average is strong enough to give FAU some hope of scratching out a few yards with its running game.

David Hinds
Position: Linebacker
Height: 6-2 Weight: 234 Class: Sr.
Key stat: Hinds had 110 tackles last season and has 28 so far in 2012.
Buzz: Hinds has the size and attitude to play with the big boys, but he will get tested today. Florida Atlantic's defensive front averages less than 270 pounds per man, so the linebackers will spent a lot of the game trying to fight off Alabama offensive linemen who get to the second level. Hinds and his fellow 'backers will have to find a way to get to the ball to have any chance of keeping Alabama's offense in check, which won't be easy.


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