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November 16, 2012

The Call: Western Carolina

Tommy Deas breaks down who holds the advantage when Alabama and Western Carolina meet in Tuscaloosa.

The Call: Alabama vs. Western Carolina



Advantage: Alabama
Alabama needs to decide what it wants to be on offense, and UA will need a strong, physical running game to play up to its potential the rest of the way. Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon will be the focal point of the ground attack, which should create opportunities for AJ McCarron to look downfield for Amari Cooper, Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood. Western Carolina is averaging better than 25 points per game at the Football Championship Subdivision level. Darius Ramsey leads the WCU ground game.


Advantage: Alabama
If ever an Alabama defense was motivated to prove itself, it should be this one. UA hasn't been able to get off the field on third down the last couple of weeks, and the Crimson Tide is no longer feared the way it was early in the season. Jesse Williams is a monster in the middle, and Alabama needs to dominate this game in the trenches. Linebackers like Nico Johnson and defensive backs led by Robert Lester need to step up and make this a total team effort. Western Carolina is allowing 40 points per game.

Special Teams

Advantage: Alabama
If there has been an unsung hero for Alabama over the last couple of weeks, it is Cody Mandell, who has been booming his punts sky-high and a long way. The return game hasn't really taken off with turnovers and injuries affecting the lineup and keeping UA from really getting any continunity, but Jeremy Shelley is a sure shot on field goals of 40 yards and under. The Catamounts have made just over 50 percent of their field goals and are so-so at best on returns, but Clark Sechrest is a solid punter.


Advantage: Alabama
Let's not kid ourselves, Nick Saban is still the best coach in all of college football. Whatever you think of the red-zone play-calling last week or the failure of the defense to show up for the first quarter, Saban is without peer. His challenge now is to keep this team together and keep it getting better. Alabama can still win the Southeastern Conference championship, always a worthy goal, and with a good bit of help could still play for a national title. Right now, however, it's all about getting better today.


Advantage: Alabama
Maybe this Alabama team needed a wakeup call, the way last year's team needed to lose to LSU in the regular season to provide motivation to put it all together down the stretch. The Crimson Tide comes into this contest with its pride wounded, and that is probably not good news to Western Carolina. Whether UA is destined to repeat last year's national championship or not, the 2012 team will be remembered for what happens from this point forward.


Alabama 60, Western Carolina 7
This isn't a matter of who will win but by how many points Alabama will win. UA could probably name the score, but the important thing is that the Crimson Tide shows up ready to play and maintains intensity throughout the game regardless of what the scoreboard says.

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