28 August 2008
Over the past two days, we have broken down the match-ups between the guys who get the headlines for the Tide and Tigers. Now we take a look at the guys who make it possible for the skill position guys to make those headlines - the big uglies.
Alabama Defensive Line vs. Clemson Offensive Line
For a Crimson Tide defensive front that is bringing back all but one (Wallace Gilberry) of their two-deep, this line-up will surely look different Saturday night in the Georgia Dome than it did in Shreveport. Bobby Greenwood is back at defensive end for his senior season after what can only be described as an inconsistent junior campaign.
Junior Brandon Deaderick steps in for the departed Gilberry at the other end spot. Deaderick played well in spots last year, but has big shoes to fill. Massive junior college transfer Terrance Cody has played so well at nose tackle that Nick Saban was able to move junior Lorenzo Washington and his 36 tackles to end - a more natural position for him.
Cody, who weighed as much as 400 pounds when he signed with Bama, is reportedly down to a slim 360 or so. His conditioning will be vital to the defense where he will be required to draw double teams from the center and guard to free up the rest of the front seven to make plays.
Behind Cody is redshirt freshman Josh Chapman whose play in camp helped make the decision to move Washington even easier. Joining Washington to add depth at end are freshman Luther Davis and Marcel Dareus along with sophmore Milton Talbert.
Clemson's dreams of going to the ACC championship and beyond might very well hinge on the play of their offensive line. Everyone knows about CJ Spiller and James Davis but if they are to live up to their hype they will need some running lanes to do it.
Senior center Thomas Austin is the lone starter from a year ago back for the '08 season. Jamarcus Grant and Barry Humpheries step into a full time starting role for their senior seasons. Humphries did make several spot starts for the Tigers last season.
At tackle senior Cory Lambert and Chris Hairston, a junior, have one career start between the two of them.
Cody be able to draw double teams from the Tiger's interior line and Deaderick will get into the backfield - he showed a penchant for that last season. Washington's move to end should push Greenwood for playing time and - as we all know - competition breeds better play.
Those three ends should prove to be a solid rotation with Davis and Talbert providing depth. The key to the defensive front for Alabama will be the number of quality snaps Cody can provide. Chapman would start for most SEC teams but the 3-4 defense requires two nose tackles to keep each player fresh.
One would imagine that Tommy Bowden would like to let his inexperienced offensive line open up with Furman or VMI, but that won't be the case as they get into a 3-point stance for the first time together on Saturday night. Bama's defensive front will be asked to keep the heat off the linebacking corp and if they can they should be able to slow the two dynamic Tiger backs.