Western Kentucky vs. Alabama: Complete Game Preview

Sanjay KirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystSeptember 4, 2012

Western Kentucky vs. Alabama: Complete Game Preview

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    Fresh off a dominating victory over Michigan, the Alabama Crimson Tide will play their first home game of the young season when they welcome Western Kentucky to Bryant-Denny Stadium this weekend.  

    The non-conference matchup with the Hilltoppers out of the Sun Belt Conference is a prelude to the Tide’s SEC schedule, which begins next week with a date at No. 10 Arkansas.  

    Although this seems like a mismatch of epic proportions in favor of Nick Saban’s ball club, it should be noted that Western Kentucky traveled to Death Valley and gave top-ranked LSU fits for three quarters last season.  

    So what can Tide fans expect from the visiting Hilltoppers this weekend?

    Find out in this complete game preview of the matchup between Western Kentucky and Alabama.

Gameday Information

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    Who: Western Kentucky at Alabama 

    When: Saturday, 3:30 (EDT) 

    Where: Tuscaloosa, Ala. 

    Stadium: Bryant-Denny Stadium, (101,821) 

    TV: SEC Network 

    Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Sirius Channel 112, XM Channel 200 

    Internet Stream: ESPN3

Depth Chart for Alabama

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    Offense 

    QB – 10 – AJ McCarron, JR (6’4”, 205)

    12 – Phillip Ely, FR (6’1”, 198)

     

    RB – 42 – Eddie Lacy, JR (6’0”, 220)

    45 – Jalston Fowler, JR (6’1”, 242), or 4 – T.J. Yeldon, FR (6’2”, 216)

    1 – Dee Hart, FR (5’9”, 190)

     

    TE – 89 – Michael Williams, SR (6’6”, 269)

    84 – Brian Vogler, SO (6’7”, 258)

     

    H – 31 – Kelly Johnson, SR (6’3”, 230)

    82 – Harrison Jones, SO (6’4”, 244)

    21 – Brent Calloway, FR (6’1”, 217)

     

    LT – 71 – Cyrus Kouandijo, SO (6’6”, 311)

    63 – Kellen Williams, JR (6’3”, 303)

     

    LG – 65 – Chance Warmack, SR (6’3”, 320)

    Chad Lindsay, SO (6’2”, 290)

     

    C – 75 – Barrett Jones, SR (6’5”, 302)

    70 – Ryan Kelly, FR (6’5”, 288)

     

    RG – 61 – Anthony Steen, JR (6’3”, 303)

    77 – Arie Kouandijo, SO (6’5, 310)

     

    RT – 76 – D.J. Fluker, JR (6’6”, 335)

    79 – Austin Shepherd, SO (6’5”, 312)

     

    WR (X) – 2 – DeAndrew White, SO (6’0”, 185)

    9 – Amari Cooper, FR (6’1”, 198)

    80 – Marvin Shinn, FR (6’3”, 198)

     

    WR (Z) – 83 – Kevin Norwood, JR (6’2”, 195)

    7 – Kenny Bell, JR (6’1”, 180)

     

    WR (H) – 22 – Christion Jones, SO (5’11, 185)

    8 – Cyrus Jones, FR (5’10”, 192)

     

    Defense

    DE – 49 – Ed Stinson, JR (6’4”, 282)

    8 – Jeoffrey Pagan, SO (6’4”, 285)

     

    NG – 54 – Jesse Williams, SR (6’4”, 320)

    62 – Brandon Ivory, SO (6’4”, 315)

     

    DE – 92 – Damion Square, SR (6’3”, 286)

    90 – Quinton Dial, SR (6’6”, 304)

     

    Sam OLB – 42 – Adrian Hubbard, SO (6’6”, 248)

    19 – Jonathan Atchison, JR (6’3”, 236)

     

    Mike ILB – 33 – Trey Depriest, SO (6’2”, 245), or 35 – Nico Johnson, SR (6’3”, 245)

    18 – Reggie Ragland, FR (6’2”, 247)

     

    Will ILB – 35 – Nico Johnson, SR (6’3”, 245). or 32 – C.J. Mosley, JR (6’2”, 232)

    11 – Tana Patrick, JR (6’3”, 236)

     

    Jack OLB – 47 – Xzavier Dickson, SO (6’3”, 262)

    30 – Denzel Devall, FR (6’2”, 243)

     

    CB – 28 – Dee Milliner, JR (6’1”, 199)

    10 – John Fulton, JR (6’0”, 187)

     

    CB – 13 – Deion Belue, JR (5’11”, 179)

    24 – Geno Smith, FR (6’0”, 182)

     

    SS – 37 – Robert Lester, SR (6’2”, 210)

    27 – Nick Perry, JR (6’1”, 208)

     

    FS – 3 – Vinnie Sunseri, SO (6’0”, 215), or 6 – HaHa Clinton-Dix, SO (6’1”, 209)

    26 – Landon Collins, FR (6’0”, 202)

     

    Special Teams

    PK –  5 – Jeremy Shelley, SR (5’10”, 165), or 43 – Cade Foster, JR (6’1, 218)

    Kickoffs – 43 – Cade Foster, JR (6’1”, 218)

    Holder – 10 – AJ McCarron, JR (6’4”, 210)

    3 – Vinnie Sunseri, SO (6’0”, 215)

     

    P – 29 – Cody Mandell, JR (6’4”, 202)

    5 – Jeremy Shelley, SR (5’10”, 165)

     

    LS – 51 – Carson Tinker, SR (6’1”, 220)

    31 – Kelly Johnson, SR (6’3”, 230)

     

    PR – 22 – Christion Jones, SO (5’11”, 185)

    1 – Dee Hart, FR (5’9”, 190)

     

    KR – 22 – Christion Jones, SO (5’11”, 185)

    1 – Dee Hart, FR (5’9”, 190)

    28 – Dee Milliner, JR (6’1”, 199)

    83 – Kevin Norwood, JR (6’2”, 195)

Depth Chart for Western Kentucky

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    Offense 

    LT – 52 – Cameron Clemmons, SO (6’6”, 305) 

    60 – Ed Hazelett, JR (6’8”, 318) 

     

    LG – 63 – Luis Polano, JR (6’2”, 295) 

    77 – Forrest Lamp, FR (6’4”, 286) 

     

    C – 65 – Sean Conway, JR (6’3”, 305) 

    69 – Luke Stansfield, SR (6’4”, 290) 

     

    RG – 76 – Adam Smith, SR (6’5”, 325) 

    68 – Cliff Burns, SR (6’8”, 332)

     

    RT – 75 – Seth White, SR (6’5”, 291) 

    79 – Delryn Wilson, FR (6’3”, 308) 

     

    QB --  6 – Kawaun Jakes, SR (6’3”, 194) 

    13 – James Mauro, FR (6’7”, 227) 

     

    RB – 34 – Keshawn Simpson, JR (6’0”, 237) 

    5 – Antonio Andrews, JR (6’0”, 211) 

     

    FB – 32 – Kadeem Jones, JR (5’11”, 246) 

    35 – Demetrius Coley, JR (6’2”, 244) 

     

    WR (X) – 2 – Boe Brand, SO (6’0”, 156) 

    47 – Neil Wilson, JR (6’2”, 195) 

     

    WR (Z) – 10 – Willie McNeal, SO (5’10”,163) 

    85 – Austin Aikens, FR (5’11”, 180) 

     

    WR (ZE) – 4 – Rico Brown, SO (5’11”, 185) 

    36 – Will Adams, JR (5’11”, 183) 

     

    TE – 82 – Jack Doyle, SR (6’6”, 253)

    88 – Ryan Wallace, SR (6’5”, 254)

     

    Defense 

    DE – 45 – Cole Tischer, SR (6’4”, 250) 

    91 – Calvin Washington, JR (6’5”, 264)

     

    DT – 43 – Jamarcus Allen, SR (5’11”, 286) 

    94 – Bryan Shorter, FR (6’2”, 274) 

     

    DT – 96 – Rammell Lewis, SR (6’2”, 299) 

    95 – Kenny Martin, SR (6’0”, 289) 

     

    DE – 93 – Quanterus Smith, SR (6’5”, 249) 

    88 – Gavin Rocker, FR (6’2”, 230) 

     

    Sam LB – 12 – Tye Golden, SR (6’2”, 234)

    40 – Bar’ee Boyd, JR (6’1”, 227) 

     

    Mike LB – 4 – Andrew Jackson, JR (6’1”, 265)

    17 – Daqual Randall, FR (6’0”, 245)

     

    Will LB – 13 – Xavius Boyd, JR (6’2”, 235) 

    7 – Daerius Washington, FR (6’0”, 202) 

     

    CB – 22 – Tyree Robinson, JR (5’10”, 196) 

    19 – Cam Thomas, SO (6’1”, 190) 

     

    SS – 29 – Kiante Young, JR (5’11”, 220) 

    37 – Vince Williams, JR (5’9”, 198)

     

    FS – 1 – Jonathan Dowling, SO (6’3”, 198) 

    14 – Kareem Peterson, SR (5’11”, 186) 

     

    CB – 21 – Arius Wright, JR (5’10”, 189)

    26 – Brett Harrington, JR (6’0”, 180)

     

    Special Teams 

    PK – 56 – Jesse Roy, SO (6’0”, 189) 

    56 – Garrett Schwettman, FR (5’11”, 160)

     

    P – 99 – Hendrix Brakefield, JR (6’4”, 235) 

    56 – Jesse Roy, SO (6’0”, 189) 

     

    Kickoff – 99 – Hendrix Brakefield, JR (6’4”, 235) 

    56 – Jesse Roy, SO (6’0”, 189) 

     

    Long Snapper – 88 – Ryan Wallace, SR (6’5”, 254) 

    61 – Nolan Dowling, FR (6’3”, 218) 

     

    Holder – 99 – Hendrix Brakefield, JR (6’4”, 235) 

     

    Kickoff Returns – 5 – Antonio Andrews, JR (6’0”, 211) 

    22 – Tyree Robinson, JR (5’10”, 196) 

     

    Punt Returns – 5 – Antonio Andrews, JR (6’0”, 211)

    10 – Willie McNeal, SO (5’10”,163)

What Happened to the Crimson Tide Last Week

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    In the opening weekend’s most anticipated matchup, Alabama jumped all over Michigan, securing a 31-0 lead in the second quarter en route to a 41-14 demolition of the Wolverines.  

    It was a decisive showing and shattered any notions of pundits that believed Alabama lost too much production from last season to compete for another national title.  

    The performance was good enough to move the Tide into the top spot in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Poll.  

What Happened to the Hilltoppers Last Week

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    While the Hilltoppers did not exactly face an opponent comparable to Michigan, Willie Taggart’s squad was equally impressive in its opener. 

    The Hilltoppers routed Austin Peay, 49-10, racking up 596 yards of total offense while limiting the Governers to 154 yards.  

    Senior quarterback Kawaun Jakes threw for 296 yards and four touchdowns in the victory.  

What It Means to Both Teams

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    This non-conference matchup is unlikely to change the course of the season for both teams.  

    The Crimson Tide are heavy favorites to make quick work of the Hilltoppers, whose main goal is to rise up and challenge for the Sun Belt crown this season. 

    For Saban and his staff, this game should provide a chance to develop key depth and evaluate some of the younger players on the roster while working on key areas that need improvement on both sides of the ball.  

    Meanwhile, Taggart’s club—who finished 7-5 last season—is continuing to build a solid foundation for a program that was winless in 2009 . 

Key Player for Alabama

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    One of several Tide players to see his first action on the college level, junior Deion Belue had an up-and-down debut against the Wolverines.  

    As one of two new starters in the secondary, Belue was part of a strong defensive effort that held Heisman hopeful Denard Robinson and the high-powered Michigan offense to just 14 points, which is less than half of their average from 2011.  

    However, Belue gave up a 71-yard reception to Wolverines receiver Jeremy Gallon that ultimately led to Michigan’s first touchdown, and the JUCO transfer struggled at times in coverage.  

    Getting Belue some confidence heading into next week’s contest against the Razorbacks would be a boost for the Tide’s secondary.  

Key Player for Western Kentucky

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    Coming off an opener where he set career bests for passing yards and touchdowns, Jakes has to enter this game with perhaps the most confidence he has ever had during his career. 

    The senior is entering his fourth year as the starting quarterback for the Hilltoppers—and came into 2012 completing slightly less than 56-percent of his passes in his career with 29 touchdowns and 27 interceptions.  

    In order for Western Kentucky to have any shot at staying in the game, Jakes must avoid turnovers like he did last weekend.  

    However, considering that the Tide just hounded Robinson last week—perhaps a more accomplished version of Jakes—the Hilltoppers signal-caller is likely to relapse into a mistake-filled performance this weekend.  

Alabama Will Win If ....

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    The Crimson Tide will win easily assuming they are dialed in and not looking ahead to their showdown against Arkansas next weekend.  

    While it may be possible for the Hilltoppers to hang around until maybe halftime, Alabama is simply too deep and talented to get upset by a team from the Sun Belt.  

    By the second half, fans should expect to see plenty of reserves on the field.  

Western Kentucky Will Win If ....

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    Western Kentucky will win if Alabama’s team catches the flu, shrinks by an average 50 pounds per player and Saban pulls an Urban Meyer and retires before the weekend and is replaced by Mike Shula or Mike DuBose.  

    In short, the Hilltoppers do not have a chance.  

    Taggart’s main objective should be to keep it competitive for as long as they possibly can and use the positives gained from this experience to help it make a run at capturing its first Sun Belt conference title.  

Prediction

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    With this matchup being a sandwich non-conference contest in the middle of games against top 10 teams, there is potential for Alabama to have a bit of a letdown and maybe get off to a slow start.  

    That said, the Tide should physically wear down the Hilltoppers and cruise to an easy non-conference victory.  

    Prediction:  Alabama 49 Western Kentucky 10