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November 23, 2012

Players to Watch: Iron Bowl

Take a closer look at the players who are expected to have a major impact when the Tide and the Tigers take the field.

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

Eddie Lacy
Position: Running back
Height: 6-0 Weight: 220 Class: Junior
Key Stat: Lacy has rushed for 870 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging six yards per carry. He also has caught 18 passes for 165 yards, making him a threat in the passing game when things don't develop downfield.
Buzz: Alabama is at its best when it gets its running game going, and the Tigers are giving up an SEC-worst 191 yards per game on the ground. Lacy and T.J. Yeldon should be able to move the chains, allowing Alabama to grind Auburn's defense down.

Amari Cooper
Position: Wide receiver
Height: 6-1 Weight: 198 Class: Freshman
Key Stat: Cooper is averaging 16.5 yards per reception and has six touchdown catches among his 40 receptions on the season.
Buzz: Cooper has already had breakout performances, but a big game against Auburn as a freshman is the kind of thing that helps a player make a mark in Alabama football history. Auburn will likely have to devote a lot of resources to try to slow UA's running game, and if Cooper is left in man-to-man coverage he could have a very big game. Auburn's secondary is suspect, to say the least.

Damion Square
Position: Defensive end
Height: 6-3 Weight: 286 Class: Senior
Key Stat: Square has made 31 tackles, including 3.5 sacks, and leads Alabama in quarterback hurries with seven.
Buzz: Square may hail from Houston, Texas, but he has been around long enough to understand what this rivarly is all about. With Auburn starting a freshman quarterback, Alabama will want to confuse him and pressure him into mistakes. Square will play a role in defending the run as well as rushing the passer, and as an upperclassman he hasn't forgotten Alabama's second-half collapse against AU in 2010.


Auburn Tigers

Emory Blake
Position: Receiver
Height: 6-2 Weight: 192 Class: Senior
Key Stat: Blake has caught 47 passes for 733 yards, a 15.6-yard average.
Buzz: Auburn doesn't have a lot of playmakers, but Blake is one who can make plays against the best of them. He has a knack for timely long-ball catches and can also turn a shorter pass into a longer gain. Interestingly, he only has three touchdown receptions this season after making 13 touchdown catches in his previous three seasons. Alabama can't go to sleep on him.

Onterio McCalebb
Position: Running back
Height: 5-11 Weight: 173 Class: Senior
Key Stat: McCalebb has 573 rushing yards and averages 6.3 yards per carry for the Tigers. He has scored six touchdowns.
Buzz: McCalebb is dangerous when he gets into open space and has breakaway speed. Auburn may look for new and interesting ways to get the ball into his hands to give him the opportunity to utilize his skills. While Tre Mason is a capable between-the-tackles runner, McCalebb is a long-ball hitter. He also has a 100-yard kickoff return this season, so he can test Alabama's kickoff coverage.

Corey Lemonier
Position: Defensive end
Height: 6-4 Weight: 246 Class: Junior
Key Stat: Lemonier has 5.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hurries as a pass rusher. He has made 29 total tackles.
Buzz: Lemonier has a way of getting into the backfield and disrupting opposing offenses, and he will be the most able defender on the field for Auburn. He is quick to get to the quarterback and can track down running backs from behind to snuff out plays before they really get started. While Auburn's defense as a whole hasn't been sterling, Lemonier is the kind of player who could make an impact anywhere.


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