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October 12, 2012

Players to Watch: Missouri

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Deion Belue
Position: Cornerback
Height: 5-11 Weight: 179 Class: Junior
Key Stat: The junior college transfer has intercepted two passes and broken up two others, and has been an effective blitzer with three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Buzz: Belue went down with a shoulder injury against Ole Miss in Alabama's most recent game, but appears to have made a full recovery with the aid of an open date on Alabama's schedule. UA's defensive backfield will need to be sharp in this game against an offense that likes to show run when it passes.

Eddie Lacy
Position: Running back
Height: 6-0 Weight: 220 Class: Junior
Key Stat: Lacy is averaging just under 13 carries per game so far, gaining 62.8 yards per game with a 4.9-yard average per carry.
Buzz: Lacy has battled nagging injuries throughout his career, but should have fresh legs for this game. With Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart lost for the season to injury, Lacy will probably need to carry a bigger load the rest of the way. Missouri's run defense is one of the best in the country, so Lacy will have to earn his yards. He needs to be physical at the point of attack.

Amari Cooper
Position: Wide receiver
Height: 6-1 Weight: 198 Class: Freshman
Key Stat: Cooper has caught 17 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns, and is coming off a breakout game against Ole Miss where he had eight receptions for 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Buzz: With DeAndrew White out for the rest of the year with a knee injury, Cooper will have the opportunity to become Alabama's deep threat. He has shown athleticism and the ability to make tough catches in his young career, and now needs to show he can do it on a weekly basis.

Missouri Tigers
Corbin Berkstresser
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-3 Weight: 230 Class: Freshman
Key Stat: Berkstresser went 21-of-41 for 198 yards with a rushing touchdown against Arizona State in his first career start earlier this season.
Buzz: James Franklin, Missouri's injured starter, presents more of a dual threat than does Berkstresser, who is more of a pocket passer. The rookie at least has some on-the-field experience. He will need to be prepared to work through some tough times in taking on Alabama's fierce defense.

Marcus Murphy
Position: Punt returner
Height: 5-9 Weight: 185 Class: Sophomore
Key Stat: Has returned three punts for touchdowns this season and averages 20.1 yards per return.
Buzz: Murphy leads the NCAA in touchdown returns this season, going 72, 70 and 66 yards for scores. He isn't that big, but Murphy has explosive speed. Alabama's punt return unit hasn't faced anyone this dangerous in 2012, so this will be an interesting matchup for UA's special teams. Murphy is also a reserve tailback, averaging 20.3 yards per game. He dislocated a finger last weekend against Vanderbilt.

Marcus Lucas
Position: Wide receiver
Height: 6-5 Weight: 215 Class: Junior
Key Stat: Lucas caught a combined 14 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns in Missouri's games against Georgia and South Carolina.
Buzz: He isn't listed as a starter, but Lucas has shown the ability to have big games against the better teams on Missouri's schedule. Corbin Berkstresser will need all the help he can get, and Lucas will need to have another big game to give the rookie quarterback a dependable target in this game. Lucas only had four receptions for 35 yards in Berkstresser's start against Arizona State.



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