It’s that point on the calendar when LSU plays THE game featuring THE opponent. If there is an unofficial name for this game it should be The Talent Bowl. Both teams always seem to feature multiple first rounders and five-star recruits, with this year being no different.
Linebacker Tim Williams
Bama enters this game with arguably the most feared front seven in the country and Tim Williams is one of the headliners of the group. He posted 10.5 sacks last season and has amassed 6.5 sacks so far this season.
What could cause problems.
Off the snap Williams quickly gets to the edge and if his initial speed doesn’t get him to the outside, he has the bend to shave under the tackle. Should the blocker over position to the outside, Williams shows a solid swim and spin move to counter back to the inside. He also solidly transitions his speed off the snap into a bull rush.
Williams is deceptively stout for someone who is only around 240 pounds. He generates a nice pop when he engages with the blocker and a solid job of not getting pushed around on run plays. Williams can adequately get-of blocks when the running back comes his way.
What can be exploited and how.
Although listed as a linebacker, Williams seldom spends any time in coverage. As a run defender, he can be a quarter count slow to get off blocks when the play is going in his direction. Williams does not play a ton of snaps as a whole. Part of this might be to a lack of versatility given his limited time in coverage or on running downs, and part of this is the Tide are simply loaded with great front seven players who are better in the areas.
The priority when it comes to stopping Williams will be containing him as a pass rusher, which must be multi-faceted approach. The best way to negate the pass rush is to have shorter throws on third down and find a way to disguise passing plays. For defeating Williams in particular, it might be wise to force him to use his power moves instead of his speed moves, which might be slightly less devastating.
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey
The redshirt sophomore defensive back already has an impressive resume. In 23 games Humphrey has racked up five interceptions, 50 tackles, five and a half tackles for loss and five pass break ups.
What could cause problems.
Humphrey has few limitations in coverage. His 6’1” 198 pound frame allows him to match up with bigger wide receivers. He shows good fluidity plus long speed to easily cover receivers on vertical routes. When the ball is incoming, Humphrey demonstrates a quick closing burst to close on the receiver and deflect the pass or limit the post catch yardage. Additionally, he does a solid job at recognizing routes and adjusting his position during the play accordingly.
It should also be noted that Humphrey has some physicality to his game. He does a nice job of keeping his hands on the receiver to limit separation and then when the ball approaches, stays with the play to break up the pass. In the run game, Humphrey shows little hesitation in closing on the ball carrier.
What can be exploited and how
While Humphrey is great in coverage, he has some weak points. At times he won’t locate the football, and when combined with his physical play, leads to missed turnover opportunities or a potential penalty. Although Humphrey will be physical, his technique as a tackler leaves something to be desired.
The key to defeating Humphrey might be to challenge him with short passes where he might have to do some chasing. True, on deeper passes there is a chance he generates enough contact for a penalty, but that is a risky venture. On shorter passes, force Humphrey to react and tackle, especially if he giving the receiver a solid cushion prior to the snap. Considering what Leonard Fournette did to the Ole Miss secondary last week, directing some runs towards the poor tackling Humphrey could be a key for a successful rushing attack.